El Bait Shop
Taps: 105 / Bottles: 115
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: Y
Ratings: 36 | Reviews: 30 | Show All Ratings:
4.43/5 rDev +3.5%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75 | food: 3.75 | $$
The best place in Des Moines to get craft beer. An absurd amount of drafts, all quality taps.
You can buy a bottle and take it with you, and they also do growlers, both halves and full.
Foods were not bad. Nothing appeared to be from local farms however. But it'd work in a pinch and seemed to be at least made from scratch.
Definitely worth the visit(s)
12-13-2013 14:21:31 | More by wapcap
4.49/5 rDev +4.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | $$
This place was one I was told to try because of selection alone, I was not disappointed! They have such a selection that you will never get bored and will always find one to your liking! The service was excellent, I would give our bartender a 5/5 for knowledge of their selection and tastes. This is a great place to go if you have nothing on your schedule for a couple hours as it is almost overwhelming the selection to choose from!
12-12-2013 18:05:45 | More by ALC82
3.69/5 rDev -13.8%
vibe: 1.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | $
Went here while in town for some family graduations.
Atmosphere is definitely not what I'd expected. Small and somewhat cramped with lots of nooks and crannies. Was incredibly packed even though it was only 7:30 at night. A live band started at 8 which I hate in a craft beer bar that's already crowded and loud.
The draw obviously was the 100+ beers on tap including a lot of local stuff. By far the main draw. I wish the menu were laid out a bit better to easily see what was draft vs. bottle, but great selection.
Didn't have the food, but the appetizers we saw looked like typical greasy bar food.
Decided to leave after a beer to find someplace we could actually sit down since we were there for 45 minutes without any seats opening up.
Very disappointing place after all the good things I heard. Beer selection is second to none, but the atmosphere was a total turn off. I'd like to go back sometime when it's a bit warmer and the patio is open or at a less busy time. I'd like to be able to sit down and have a conversation and this was not the place for that.
05-30-2013 17:21:57 | More by jmarsh123
4.73/5 rDev +10.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
I came to El Bait Shop as an Iowan who discovered beer while living in another state. This year I moved our family from Northeast Ohio back to Iowa. El Bait Shop had been much heralded and I wasted no time making a trip once we were settled. I can comfortably say this the best Beer Bar I have ever stepped foot into.
The atmosphere is very charming in the sort way one might expect a craft beer establishment to be. Lots of posters and signs on the wall to grab your attention while sipping on a beer. The frustrating part about this place is that it is a very popular destination for travelers coming through Des Moines. I've noticed that the city has taken every chance it can to fill it's downtown areas with festivals, marathons, concerts, rodeos and countless other gatherings. This results in El Bait Shop being increasingly busy which is a turn off for me. We have already decided against El Bait Shop a couple times when traveling into the city because we knew the crowds would be more hassle than it's worth.
The service that I've experienced at El Bait Shop has been absolutely outstanding. Our first trip there our server was prompt, courteous, professional, and very knowledgable. That particular evening they were busy and our server still took time to endulge me in a bit of conversation about some of the special releases they had on hand, which made an impression on me. My second trip there I purchased some bottles out of their cooler and took in a pint of Bell's Black Note. Their point of sale system crashed right when I was trying to pay. The bartender rewarded my patience with a liberal taste of the 2012 Stone Vertical Epic. Both instances left me extremely impressed.
The selection at El Bait Shop speaks for itself. 100 taps filled with with high quality brew top to bottom. They even got on the Beer Menus website which allows for more frequent updates to their beer menu. Local breweries are well represented as are several major players such as Founders, Bells, and Stone. If there weren't impatient drunks lingering behind me as I examine the expansive tap wall, I could easily take up 30 to 40 minutes just deciding on which amazing beer to choose. Again, best beer selection I have ever seen in the course of 5 years that I've been a "beer guy".
My wife and I had appetizers and burgers during our first visit. It's nothing fancy or overly imaginative but it all tasted good and left enough room for the beer to get the attention it deserved. I would eat there again, no question. I'd say the pricing on the food and beer is competitive to other craft beer bars or brewpubs.
El Bait Shop is a fantastic establishment doing god's work in a state that is still developing its craft beer culture. It's easily one of Des Moines best attractions for those that are so inclined.
05-17-2013 22:01:53 | More by darvinlikemarvin
4.15/5 rDev -3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.75 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 2 | $$$
I have been to El Bait shop countless times. It is a Des Moines Staple and the selection and atmosphere have rightfully earned it a spot in the top 100 bars in America. I love to go during the week and to see what is on the seasonal brews menu, which can be around 20 beers in itself. There is a huge selection here and some very rare brews. The food is average to below average, don't let anyone tell you different. Some of it is unique, like bacon wrapped tator tots, but most is run of the mill bar food. You can order from either the el bait menu or the high life lounge menu, which is the attached bar.
Value: They have very few beer specials and I'd say the lowest pint price is about $4.75. In my opinion, it is a bit overpriced. There are times where I see a low abv summer ale or something on my bill and it's still $4.75. I have always been willing to buy expensive beers, and I do, but there is so much bar competition in Des Moines these days that I have less and less desire to go here because of the prices. It's funny because I'll happily pay $7 for other beers, but when it's a lighter, low abv style that I know the bar didn't have too pay much for I always feel like I'm getting a poor deal.
That being said, the place is awesome. It's a must visit if you're passing through Des Moines. I'm just being a little nitpicky. I always drink the expensive stuff here anyways. I do wish the service was a bit better.
04-05-2013 00:19:49 | More by Herky21
4.51/5 rDev +5.4%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.25 | $$
I have always thought El Bait Shop was a bit quirky, but I like it and it keeps getting better. With the antiquated Iowa beer laws of the past this bar did it's best to bring a wide selection, and nowadays the sky is the limit. There must be a hundered taps and a fine selection of bottles. The food is solid, and with two different menus there is plenty to choose from. The prices are reasonable too. The only negative is the markup on some of the premium bottled beers, although that sort of thing is not atypical. For example the Cantillon Kriek was $45 for a 750ml.
On my most recent visit, I noticed some great stuff available such as: Bourbon County Stout, Founder's Breakfast Stout, Toppling Goliath (multiple), Jester King (multiple), and a good selection of sours including Tilquin, Cantillon, Panil, etc. I like that the bartenders there are pretty laid back, one even let us bring in a bottle of Surly Smoke to share with the group.
Bait Shop is definitely a place I will keep checking out whenever I am visiting. I highly recommend it if you are in the downtown Des Moines area.
04-01-2013 04:55:19 | More by bennetj17
3.47/5 rDev -18.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 2.25 | selection: 5 | $$
El Bait Shop is my favorite place in downtown Des Moines. If you want to try new beers, this is the place to go! They have a lot of local beers which is great. They are often out of a lot of the beers on tap though, which is kind of a bummer. Huge beer menu. Never had the food here.
01-28-2013 19:32:36 | More by KateK
4.45/5 rDev +4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | $$$
I enjoyed. Every time I've gone before I was not in the right frame of mind to realize they had such an extensive craft brew selection. Now probably one of the only places I will frequent when thirsty in DSM.
For the new beer connoisseur or someone just getting into craft brews it can be a little intimidating, but just give it a chance and make sure to ask lots of questions to your server or barkeep.
01-20-2013 01:18:34 | More by lionnusmb
4.4/5 rDev +2.8%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75 | $$
Visited August 28, 10:00pm-ish to about midnight
This was probably my only 'must' place on my recent trip to Des Moines (a Top 100 mention in Draft magazine helped, so did an endorsement from Mike at Toppling Goliath Brewing Co). After a quick stop at nearby Court Avenue, I found EBS easily enough; it's a low-slung single story, with large logos painted on its facade, a block or two from the river. And ubiquitous Harleys are parked outside. Inside has a 'roadhouse' feel with lots of neon and signage, taxidermied stuff and wood paneling. There's a lone folksy-bluesy dude crooning at a mike, lots of folks laughing and drinking. As an Oregonian, I noticed the 'Oregon Brewers Guild' sign mounted right next to the bar, and all sorts of stickers and schwag elsewhere. Pretty great vibe.
I snagged a stool midway down the 6-seat bar (there's an odd little octagonal extension to my right) and faced a bounty of tap handles, er... 'draws', (over 100) and three reach-ins worth of bottled/canned goodness. On this night, New Belgium had an additional 18 handles as part of a 'Tap Invasion' (lots of great stuff, including: Tart Lychee, Cocoa Mole, Mo Betta Bretta, Matt's Cascadian Dubbel and an all-time fave, La Folie). My bartender was Charles, who seemed a little curt, but was honest with his opinions and efficient with his service. He whole-heartedly recommended Toppling Goliath's Golden Nugget IPA as his 'favorite' to me and several others (which was great, because TG was at the very top of my list of Iowan breweries to try), so I ordered a pint right off the bat. WOW, it is GOOD!
Eventually the live music ceased and the guitarist sat next to me, quietly sipping a local lager. I watched as more and more people arrived, most seeming to have only a passing interest in the beer choices - and it made me wonder how well ingrained the beer culture is here, even in what seems to be the best beer bar in Iowa. I never once heard anyone order any of the New Belgium beers on tap (although I'm sure some did - right?). After my first Nugget, Charles poured me a Brau Brothers IPA (not on the printed menu) and added a special dose of hop oils that were steeping in a nearby French press. Whoa ~ what a burst of 'green!' that was - I'm anxious for Fresh Hop season now more than ever!
I'd eaten a hearty dinner earlier so I skipped food altogether at EBS. I finished with a Bell's Two Hearted (an all-time favorite) and a small taster of Frangelic Mountain Brown, downing the last sip just as a rowdy, liquored-up group fresh off the nearby Def Leppard/Poison concert came loudly stumbling in. My tab was under $15, so either beers are really cheap here or something got comped; I left a $20. Regardless, I had a great couple of hours at EBS (even stuck my head in its adjoining sister bar, The High Life Lounge) and made it back to the hotel without incident. Whenever I'm in Des Moines again, I know where I'll be going for great beers.
PS: While jotting down notes, I was asked "do you write for a magazine?". Nope, but I did say that BA was kinda my 'travel journal' and that a review would likely wind up here soon... and here it is! Cheers!
09-05-2012 19:32:56 | More by msubulldog25
4.53/5 rDev +5.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5 | $$
105 on tap and more in the fridge. Although 14 were either sold out or coming soon there was a wide selection. Granted that today is an unusually warm day in the middle or March, but the place is packed on a Wednesday night.
First up is Bells Hopslam on draft. Being a hop head, I love the aroma and bitterness of this ale. I bope to make a beer as well as this. Next up is Old Rasputin. $2 for chips and salsa.
The crowd is younger than me, but hey, it's proactive one of the few places where PBR is in a bottle.
I had a good time, the food was bar food, but the bed selection was great!
03-14-2012 23:42:46 | More by prmurphy63026
El Bait Shop in Des Moines, IA
94 out of 100 based on 36 ratings.