el Bait Shop reels in customers with 180 beers on tap5/13/2015
When it comes to beer connoisseurs in the central Iowa area, most know about the rustic bar with the rusty tin roof nestled in a corner of downtown Des Moines near the Des Moines River. El Bait Shop is not the biggest or shiniest bar around, nor is it even the best located. But anyone who drinks beer knows it is one of the best bars for celebrating craft beer.
With the largest selection of American craft beers in the world, el Bait Shop boasts an astounding list of more than 100 beers on tap — 60 of which were added this month. When was the last time you went to a bar that had more than a dozen taps?
The double-rowed wall of taps behind the bar is as much an art form as the foamy nectar it holds behind it. There are taps of every color, size, shape and object you can imagine, forming its own kind of functional decoration.
Everything from chocolate porters and cherry stouts to barleywine and root beer can be found on that wall. It also has a large variety from local Iowa breweries such as Exile, Firetrucker, Sutliff and Flix Brewhouse. Its beer list is updated regularly on the website, which is nice for those enthusiasts looking to certain brews that might not be found at a regular sports bar.
Even though it is located a few blocks away from the Court Avenue district, el Bait Shop still fills its seats as well as the beer fills the glasses. Stop in around 2 p.m. for a late lunch and you might be hard-pressed to find a space at the bar, which is filled with patrons sharing flights and sampling new arrivals, all the while chatting with the bartenders filling their orders. El Bait Shop can all at once have the small-town feel of a local tavern and the big-city charm of a hidden gem. Regulars are sipping their favorite brew over in one area and first- or second-time visitors are in another testing out the famous broasted chicken with a couple flights in the middle of the table.
Speaking of food, el Bait Shop has its own full menu of appetizers and entrees, but it also partners with the High Life Lounge next door to offer more homemade specialties such as beef stroganoff, Mom’s Pot Roast, liver and onions and a meatloaf dinner.
El Bait Shop’s reputation spreads further than the metro, and it has garnered more than 12,000 “likes” on Facebook and more than 30,000 “check-ins,” which is an impressive fact by any bar’s standards. It might be a little more redneck than some of the bars and dance clubs on Court Avenue, but when it comes to finding any beer to fit your fancy — or discovering new names you’ve likely never heard of — there’s no place like it. CV
EL BAIT SHOP
200 S.W. Second St.
11 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day