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Raccoon River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Raccoon River Brewing CompanyRaccoon River Brewing Company
BEER AVG
3.29/5
Based on:
10 Beers
78 Ratings
Place Score: 84
Ratings: 27
Reviews: 24
rAvg: 3.6
pDev: 17.22%
Taps: --
Bottles: --
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Brewery, Bar, Eatery ]

200 N 10th St
Des Moines, Iowa, 50309-3609
United States
phone: (515) 362-5222

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @raccoonriver

Notes:
Bar hours:
Monday - Thursday: 11am -– Midnight
Friday - Saturday: 11am –- 2am

Food is served from:
Monday - Thursday: 11am –- 10pm
Friday - Saturday: 11am -– 11pm

(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
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Ratings: 27 | Reviews: 24 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Billolick:
Photo of Billolick
3.84/5  rDev +6.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

This downtown, des Moines suds factory, is housed in a large multi leveled room with some pool tables upstairs. The room is fairly dark, low lighting, lots of dark wood, large windows. Bar is close to the entry way and L shaped. They also have a small, but pleasant out door seating/drinking area. The menu was extensive and all the food smelled and looked good (no time to try it however). About 10 of their brews available on tap, as well as a full drink menu available. Definatly a worthwhile stop if in town. Classy and pleasant place to try some new brews and lots of tasty looking food for lunch or dinner.

More User Reviews:
Photo of gjoker321
3.25/5  rDev -9.7%

Really good food, nice flight of beers.

Photo of bufante
3/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of KAF
3.25/5  rDev -9.7%

Photo of Joey-bags1990
2.25/5  rDev -37.5%

Photo of Herky21
2.95/5  rDev -18.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 1.25 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 3.75

Atmosphere - this is a well done brewpub (in design). The downstairs has a bar, and tables for dining. Upstairs there is a second bar and a huge row of full sized pool tables.

Quality - Unfortunately, the beer here is well below average and inconsistent. There are times where the carb levels are way off, a lot of beers are coyingly sweet, the IPA is pretty boring when it is carbed. A lot of my friends and I like to go there, but will often order wine or from the bottle selection of Green Flash.

Service - bartenders and servers are always great. The bartenders aren't bashful either. I remember once I ordered a seasonal scotch ale or something of that style, and the bartender said, let me get you a sample, you won't like it. He was right and I than got something else.

Selection - they do brew a decent selection. There's a lighter beer, than a sweeter vanilla cream ale, a red, a stout, and often seasonal selections.

Food - the food is pretty good. I've had a steak there, and a pulled pork sandwich. The pulled pork was really good. I've never been disappointed with the food.

Value - overall, beers are priced reasonably, food is what you'd expect, from sandwiches to pastas etc. The quality of the beers certainly detracts from the perceived value, however.

Photo of MilwaukeeCrusher
3.4/5  rDev -5.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 3

Stopped here on a Saturday afternoon... beers were standard fare, nothing that pushed the envelope. It was a nice location and the atmosphere/ servers where nice. Not a good sign when I strike up a consersation with someone about microbreweries and they start talking immediately about Boulevard. Worth a stop but there is a better option in town.

Photo of msubulldog25
3.41/5  rDev -5.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 3.25

Tuesday August 28, 3:45-4:30pm

Considering I was staying next door at the Hotel Des Moines, there wasn't a closer or easier to find beer locale. I entered through a pair of sturdy wooden doors to find an eerily quiet (few patrons this early on a Tuesday afternoon - just before 4pm), but cheery enough space. The tall ceilings (partially divided into two floors), wood trim and grey/white tile patterns give away the buildings age; a sturdy bar with chipping lacquer looks a bit 'tired'...er, 'loved'.

The stop on this day was strictly for beer; the mid-90s Iowan heat after a long flight from Portland and a brief business meeting made RRBC an easy pick. I sat alone at the bar, tended by a friendly young woman (missed her name) who gladly offered samples (free) of their three IPAs: Bandit, Midnight Bandit and El Bandito Loco. I tasted diacetyl in both the Bandit and Bandito Loco, so I chose the Midnight Bandit (normally don't like 'Black IPA' much, but this was pretty good to me). A few minutes later, my co-worker arrived and asked for tastes of the pilsner, wheat and red (which she chose for being 'smooth').

Overall, there were 9 beers on draft, all pretty standard styles. I noticed a few bottles in an under-counter cooler, all 'macro' lagers for the unadventurous.

I wasn't overly impressed with any of the beers, but appreciated the generosity with tastes and the $7.25 tab for two pints (we tipped well). Not a 'must', but a possible pit stop if I'm ever back in DSM.

A side note: we skipped food, but were told by a couple different people (not affiliated with the brewery) that the quality of food was greatly improved in recent months

Photo of ndolover
3.2/5  rDev -11.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 3 | food: 4.5

Located downtown and for whatever reason a very dark place. I agree with some other reviews. This is a food place first and a beer place second.

The IPA and DIPA were okay..a bit too sweet and catty for my likes...but a typical midwest IPA.

There seemed to be a lot of locals that really liked the place. I was there by myself, and was dissapointed by the 2 small tv's.

However, this is a food place and not a place that highlights their beer. I would reccomend the ramen soup, which was WONDERFUL! If you are in town for a night I would go other places. However, it is certainly worth a try and a freindly place.

Photo of Yetiman420
3.4/5  rDev -5.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3 | food: 4.5

I was in town on business and got to spend a Thursday night touring the three brewpubs that have creative license to brew beers on site.

Ranked by quality of beer, they are - Court Avenue, Rock Bottom, and Raccoon River.

Raccoon River was my second stop. Urban Spoon gave them and Court an 85% like it for food so I decided to eat at my second stop - Racoon River.

Racoon River is more of a good restaurant that happens to brew beer as opposed to a brewpub that focuses on beer.

The bartender gives samples when people ask questions about the beer.

I had an IPA and he gave me a sample of the double IPA (El Bandit). They also had a light, vanilla cream, red, stout, pils, and pumpkin.

The IPA was mellow and sweet with not much hop aroma. While drinkable, I left half a pint.
The double IPA was a mouthfull of sweetness.

The food was very good. I had an appetizer of the seared ahi tuna and the greek salad. The greek salad was probably the best greek salad I've had in Greece or the USA.

Photo of jt31914
1.88/5  rDev -47.8%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 2 | service: 1 | selection: 1.5 | food: 4

Went in expecting this to be my favorite brewery on my trip to Iowa, left horribly disappointed! The food was very good, I got a bacon ranch cheeseburger that was huge and tasty, but everything else about the restaurant was terrible. The beer was awful, far, far, far too flat for me to enjoy - even the light beer tasted like syrup almost. Our server knew next to nothing about the beer, I asked what style the el bandito loco was and the women looked at me and said it was simply an "ale". When I pressed further she mumbled something about Imperial IPAs, walked away awkwardly and then came back and told me the beer was an english bitter. I then tasted the beer and realized that it was definitely an IPA. Suffice to say, she didn't receive the best tip. The service was poor, the atmosphere was average, the beer sucked, I won't be returning.

Photo of RLaurel
4.7/5  rDev +30.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

This a great value! The selection was enough to satisfy me with a puzzling choice because I could not try them all!

The service was great! Joe directed me on making what I thought to be superior choices.

The food was outstanding! What I ordered, the chicken wings with sauce on the side, is pretty standard bar room fare. I order them cooked crisp & that is exactly what they delivered.

Things were never bad from the last review submitted, they only got better.

They have a very supportive & friendly clientele. One jovial customer, identified my traveling experience and suggested another establishment 120 miles west of Des Moines in Omaha, Nebraska. He clearly knows his beers & makes the very best recommendations. I may never see him again, but I will always remember. I left a very satisfied customer.

Be aware, as explained to me, Iowa law prevents the brewer from refilling growlers & directly returning it to the customer. The refilled growler must be sent to the distributor where it must remain for 24 hours. Then the distributor must return the growler to the brewer 24 hours later who can then sell it filled back to the customer. Extra handling, transportation & cost! If you are traveling, send your growler ahead & trust they have what you like on hand.

It sounds to me like the distributor wants a percentage of every beer sale & fears growler sales will hurt their profits! It is the three tiered system, brewery, distributor, reseller. The proverbial "middle man" wants his cut of the action!

Photo of slander
4.28/5  rDev +18.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Yes, Desfucking Moines, and it was all Witzel's idea. I wanted to spend the entire time in Minneapolis but you just can't tell him shit when he gets something into his head (Yeah, that's what I need for vacation, hours and hours and hours in the car, right). He totally had that look of crazy to him, too. And had I not commandeered the rental Sunday morning, he would have had us in like Omaha or somewhere. Seriously, he is a bad man...

On the corner, in and then through a gaggle of uniformed soccer kids or something (go away!) Cavernous, split level place with lots of space. Stairs to up wrapped around the glass front brewroom to the left, and the bar to the right corner in; a darkish stained wood half a hex beaten and worn some; with a lip & foot rail, and lined with spotty bar candles. Seating for 9 and towers of 8 a piece on both ends. Barback is a wood unit, uprights with glass shelves of booze & glassware, and a light wood backing with spots illuminated. Alternating growlers & malt filled quart jars lining the top, and wines on their sides and coolered bottled macros below. Hanging sampler paddles on one end and flat screens above in the corners, one more behind me, and I know there are others. Drop cone colored lamps over the bar and tracks too.

Honeycomb tile floorings, and brick & large paneled windows up front. We are mocking the Grace Perm-A-Barrier near wall, meaning that the whole side of the place looks like it's under the construction that it is. Light art work, plants & vintage local auto shop signage riddled about, and a vertical slat wood board mounted displaying tap selections. A huddle of drop mini light sabers at different heights over the reception area, some large ball of yarn lamps up front and track spots, spinny fans & exposed ducts.

A ½ dozen+ mixed booths, tables & hightops forward the bar area and a dozen square tables up front to the left in an open area off the entrance. Straight back through under the over, a ½ dozen tables on the floor to the rear alongside 6 adjacent booths slightly raised, a large seating area to one side holding 18 tables and The River Room banquet space off to the other. Carpeted there, the walls wood slatted, large pillars lining, and a massive mural to the rear.

Upstairs, a 7 seat straight wood bar with angled mirrored piece over tiered booze. Nearly a dozen and a half raised & low square tables across the bridge as it is, and a pair of long bar counter tables, too. Good views out over everything from uppa there. Through to a long narrow lounge area with 5 billiards tables running to the rear.

Sampler gives you 5 house beers (Tallgrass Light, it's all corned up, next; Vanilla Cream Ale, to its credit, you can't smell it from afar and it's not over the top or offensively vanilla's ass, it's really a decent light Summer Ale; Homestead Red, some nice malty sweetness; Bandit IPA, a solid session IPA, Centennial & Cascade; Stonecutter Stout, licorice! It's just liquid good & plenty, I do like), and 3 seasonals (Octoberfest Lager, a good malty sweet Octo; Zustandfest Pils, a crisp clean Bohemian Pils; El Bandito Loco, a double hopped IPA, pleasant enough). The Bandit IPA, Stonecutter Stout, Octoberfest Lager and Zustandfest Pils were the best. Also 20 wines and a dozen decent random bottles micro & import that they're into just now.

Sooo, what's the soup? Cream of chicken & wild rice, yes, a bowl please, and the grilled chicken sandwich with bacon, I'll take the lettuce, tomato, onion & mustard, hold the cheese please, and a salad for the side with spicy Thai. The sandwich was damn good in a "it's hard to screw it up" kind of way. Witzel had the make your own burger which someone else did for him. "Lovely", he said, "cooked medium rare as requested, and juicy".

Long damn day doubtfully done. It was pretty late in the evening when we rolled in, so we caught a light but decent crowd and good tunes. It's chill, yo. Servicewise barside, Emilie was just excellent; she's lovely, we do like her. Fine foodings and they make pretty good beer here, too.

Photo of Rayek
3.83/5  rDev +6.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

I stopped here for Saturday lunch while driving from IL to CO. It was a gorgeous day out, so Raccoon River wasn't getting much action. That made for a quiet experience that I really appreciated. It also meant that I had my own personal waitress. She was friendly and quick, but didn't know much about the beers beyond what was on-tap that day.

Like many a downtown brewpub, this one is in an old brick building that was used for something else that's now long gone. In Raccoon's case, a former car dealership. Because of its original purpose, the building has huge windows that let in ample light. That's a nice shift from the darkness present in many older buildings.

Also like many brewpubs, there's a ton of exposed brick and dark wood. The tables, bar and booths are dark wood too. So the windows are all the more welcome.

Enough with the ambiance. Let's talk food and beer. I ordered the asiago cheese dip. It was large and tasty. Other menu items didn't stray far from standard pub fare: burgers, sandwiches, pasta, etc. There were 8 beers on-tap. Six were year-round and two were seasonal. The Saison I drank was quite good. Since I had to drive, I didn't try any of the others.

All in all, Raccoon River is a nice brewpub that I'm glad I visited.

Photo of Ragingbull
4.05/5  rDev +12.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

I have been into Raccoon River a few times as I have travelled through the area and was able to "take it all in" this past weekend on a mini-vacation with the family while in town for the Hy-Vee Triathlon. I must admit that eating dinner was a very different experience than eating lunch at the pub. During the day everything is bright with natural light and it all seemed a little dark to me the night I was there. It perhaps was simply because I have come to expect the place to bright and clean. They have some pool tables in the upstairs and a large seating area downstairs. There is a bar in the main entry way and another at the top of the stairs. They had a decent number of beers on tap. I had a pint of the saisson and a pint of their "amber waves of grain." The saisson was a little sweet to me, but I have picked up some other saissons as I don't want to review until I have an adequate number of comparisons, although I did take notes. The amber was solid, though not as good as the server would have one believe. I was disappointed to not find the rio arriba porter this time, but can't say whether its a freak occurrence or not as I am just a travelling customer. In any event, I have yet to have a meal at Raccoon River that didn't satisfy. Everything tends to be above average to excellent. Maybe I do a good job selecting meals, but I have been with others and everything seems to be very good. I do prefer the daytime atmosphere to the evening. Service is pretty decent, but was less stellar on my most recent visit compared with past experiences. I can't fault a place for an "off night" however. The quality of the beers was good, but the food definitely stole the show. I am very pleased with the brewpubs in Des Moines and think that they compare well with the brewpubs around the country. Any beer lover would enjoy a stop at this establishment.

Photo of BretSikkink
4/5  rDev +11.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5

Generally quiet and pleasant during the evening hours. The building is quite large, with the dining downstairs and the pub upstairs. Not bad, except you have to go a long ass way to the restroom. Lots of pool is a plus, free pool on Mondays is a huge plus.

The beers are moderately well crafted, with the occasional dud thrown in. I generally think that the regular rotation is unchallenging and palate-friendly, while the seasonals tend to go a little overboard in some way (over-spiced wit, e.g.). They seem to have a carbonation issue on their taps - none of the flavors really jump like they could, and some of their similar beer styles really taste a lot alike.

The wait staff is attentive and pleasant - if you're in a nook somewhere they occasionally forget, but the bar doesn't seem to get hugely crowded very often.

I would like to see a few more taps, but since they're frequently rotated it's not too bad. I haven't had the food recently enough to comment - I remember it as decent and it looks perfectly fine.

The prices are commensurate with the area - it would be extremely cheap in a larger metro area but I doubt the lads who come in just for the pool would appreciate a price hike. Pretty solid brewpub with decent craftsmanship and a clean, quiet atmosphere.

Photo of DesMoinesMike
4.08/5  rDev +13.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Move over Court Ave. Brewing Company, your superior is being announced.

RRBC has a nice, relaxing atmosphere with almost a dozen home-made brews to quench your thirst. The interior is in the style of an old warehouse, like so many places in downtown Des Moines. The menu has a lot of variety and good quality. Service is decent.

Their beer selection includes: light lager, wheat, pale, red, stout, pilsner, three seasonals, and one other that escapes me. I chose the Belgium White because it had an interesting fruit character and the others seemed a bit bland.

Photo of DreamFielder
3.73/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 2.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Ambled over for dinner. Since it's a bit outside the central downtown district, getting there via the skyway is a challenge best attempted with plenty of time. Got a nice seat by the window looking out on dreary Des Moines, but what can they do? Best part of the meal was the menu; an interesting, enjoyable variety. My calamari salad was terrific. Apple crisp dessert was lame, though. Should have been wary of any beer called "cherry wheat," which was, as feared, insipid, maybe nice for newbies. Java Joe's porter, on the other hand, was rich, tasty, and satisfying. Which was good since Stonecutter stout was thin, not deserving the name. Well, give Des Moines credit for having a variety of brewpubs in the middle of Iowa, even if this isn't the best of the bunch. Not bad, just not the best.

Photo of woodychandler
4.3/5  rDev +19.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

The entrance was on 10th Street, just down from Walnut and there was an abbreviated outdoor patio on the right side of the building. The entire front of the building featured a number of high windows with the double doors of the entryway in the middle. They had two heavy wood doors at the inside end of the vestibule with dining areas on either side of the entryway. The maitre d’ station was at a left oblique with the copper-jacketed brewhouse visible just behind it. Beyond the m.d.s. was a set of steps leading to an upstairs bar, with a line of high tables and chairs along the railing above the first floor and a bank of six pool tables. The second floor was in a “U”-shape, so as not to create too much overhang above the first floor restaurant area, with its booths to the left and tables to the right. They also had the River Room – a small meeting room to the right, as I headed aft, followed by the kitchen and then the washrooms.

I found it interesting that a white board announced, “Welcome to the River!” and yet, the raccoon motif was prevalent, with ceramic and plush toy renditions of the critter seemingly everywhere. I had a seat at a corner of the bar, where a plush toy raccoon had his masked eyes on me the whole time. One of the waitstaff came over and shyly asked me if I had ever been told that I look like Woody Allen. HA! I shouldn’t have laughed that hard, but wow … I gave her my business card and then it was her turn to laugh. It all worked out. The bar was a long, angular dark-wood affair with the back bar made of the same darkly stained wood. Lest I forget, the sampler paddles were also of that same wood, which was perfect. Yes, I was paddled at this establishment. I was such a bad boy on this trip.

The beers were sooo good here, perhaps in comparison to some that I had drank in recent days, but they were still very good. It might have been the result of drinking so many passable, but not great, beers for so long that the swing back north restored my faith in craft brewing. Actually, allow me to amend that: the Tallgrass Light had an unpleasant sharpness. The Vanilla Cream Ale was their “alternative to the common raspberry beers” and was quite interesting. I actually enjoyed a red, Homestead Red, for the first time in a long while because of its lack of cloying sweetness. The Rio Arriba Porter had a great cocoa aspect to it. Stonecutter Stout had a nice smoky quality with a lingering roasty aspect.

Photo of warmstorage
3.55/5  rDev -1.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

Two visits in three days, one for lunch, and one between lunch and dinner. Overall, I'd probably rank this place as roughly a tie with Court Avenue Brewing. Good beers, good food, but not amazing.

Had a sampler, and numerous pints. Overall, the quality of the beer was quite good. The highlights were the Bandit IPA, spicy, grassy, earthy, and a great basic west coast style IPA, full of centennial and cascade; and Stonecutter Stout: thick, sweet, and full of chocolate and rich roasty flavors. It's probably a false association, but the stout reminded me a lot of the Sagebrush Stout at Wynkoop. Decent but nothing to write home about were a chocolate porter (but it warmed very well, and I eventually got a pint), the Homestead Red, and a light modied but pleasantly spicy seasonal Maibock. Mediocre to underwhelming was the overly sweetish Rye.

$6 sampler racks are difficult to meddle with: they seem to like to force you to drink what they want you to. But I eventually convinced my kind and accommodating server that I really, really didn't want to drink a few of the styles, and really, really wanted to sample a couple more of the seasonals/richer styles, and tipped her heavily for her kindness. Got pints of the stout, IPA, and chocolate porter. For Des Moines, and the midwest generally, the beer selection was solid.

Food: had an excellent Maytag blue cheese entree salad, and some average to decent appetizers. Prices are great on the lunch menu; they definitely climb rapidly at dinner (which I didn't have.)

Atmosphere: lunchtime was a little stuffy in terms of suits engaging in business conversation and deals. The physical setting is nice, big, open, long glass windows, and was an easy place to eat and drink alone.

I was actually a little disappointed, since I love Wynkoop in Denver, which apparently has some sort of a business and brewing history relationship with this place (their house ale yeast was apparently chosen by a Wynkoop brewer.)

While I wasn't overwhelmed, it's certainly a solid option in downtown Des Moines, and I will return when I'm in town next.

Photo of jhammerly
4.45/5  rDev +23.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

While on a roadtrip to go see Omaha Lancers play in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, I made sure this brewery was on the agenda, since it was closed the first time I tried to go there.Hampered by a snowstorm, my girlfriend and I finally found the place in downtown Des Moines.

As we walk into the building through the two huge doors (which I believe have some kind of history to them), the place was spacious and empty. Which, I'm sure, that the snow had a lot to do with. It was around noon on a Saturday. Coming in from that mess, the atmoshere was very relaxing and comfortable.

We were seated right away and our waitress was very prompt. I ordered the sampler (that is all I had because I had a some more driving to do). The beers that I tried were all very good. I didn't have a complaint with any of them. They didn't stand out, but they were good quality beers that I would go back and try again.

The food was really good as well. We ordered the chips and salsa as an appetizer. The salsa alone was worth the trip. Our lunches were good quality - neither of us had any complaints. The price range was fair for lunch.

I think our waitress really added to the experience. Very nice and attentive. I had asked for some coasters and she wanted to know how many. I told her, "As many as you can give me." She came back with a handful and asked, "Is this enough or do you want more?" Needless to say, I walked out with two handfuls.

Overall, I liked the place. I would definitely go there again whenever I am in town. Good beer, good food, and good service. What more could you ask for?

* On their beer menu they state that their beers are brewed with Des Moines' famous water or something along those lines. I may have an idea what they're talking about, but does anyone know the real story behind this statement?

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.73/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3

Despite the fact that I work less than 1/2 mile from Raccoon River Brewing Company, I've never been there in the 9+ years that I've lived in Des Moines. In fact, I don't ever remember walking or driving past. Needless to say, I don't get downtown much.

I found a parking spot right in front of the brewpub at high noon, but parking should never be a problem because there's a parking garage right across the street. The inside is open and airy with a 'warehouse' feel that includes bare brick walls and minimal wall decorations. I can't say that I was overly impressed with the decor, but it's functional I guess. There's an upper level that contains several pool tables and even though it's open to the lower level dining area, the noise wasn't really noticeable with the murmur of a busy lunchtime crowd.

The food was average. My wife thought that her hamburger was passable, but nothing special and I thought the same about my BBQ pork sandwich. I only had one pint of beer (Bandit IPA) which I found to be good, though it seemed more of an APA to me. Our waitress was pleasant and attentive, but she did give me a funny look and asked if my beer was alright when she saw me holding it up to the light to check the color and clarity. My wife just rolled her eyes and sighed. She's used to me by now.

Not a bad lunch by any means, but I won't be counting the days until I can return, at least for the food. I will be making an effort though to stop in on occasion to have a pint or two. Something tells me that the Bandit IPA may a highlight, but I'm still looking forward to sampling the rest of RRBC's offerings. I have to agree with the BeerFly consensus, Court Avenue is the superior brewpub in downtown Des Moines.

Photo of mentor
3.08/5  rDev -14.4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 2 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3

I stopped in to the Raccoon River Brewing Company with a friend before walking to an Iowa Cubs minor league baseball game. As Raccoon River is a bit of a walk from the stadium, we eventually went back to the car and drove the a closer parking place.

This brewpub is located near the commercial portion and is on the edge of the social-scene portion of Des Moines. Parking was ample (we had our choice of meters steps away from the front door). Suppertime (6:30 pm) on a Tuesday is a slow time in Raccoon River and few other patrons were present. We seated ourselves at the bar and were promptly greeted by the bartender. Outdoor seating is available in summer months. The brewing equipment is visible behind large windows and added to our experience.

We ordered a pizza to split and I ordered the beer tray, which is a row of 8 glasses with a small sample of each of the 8 beers on tap. The bartender was friendly and, when I mentioned that I homebrew, she pulled out the brewery recipe instruction book for me to peruse. When sampling the beers, I started with the Light and worked my way to dark and then hoppy. I was not impressed. The Light was a hands down winner to other Light Beers (Bud Light, etc), but the other 7 beers were all quite lacking in malt sweet and/or body. Watery. Really nothing here to get excited about. The pizza arrived hot and quick (few other people placing orders) and tasted mediocre. Pricing was about right for this kind of establishment.

I found the too quiet atmosphere and food not to my liking. Perhaps on a busier evening, the bar would have been happening and enjoyable. The food may be better when the kitchen is in high gear, or I may simply have picked one of the poorer menu selections. If you can only visit one brewpub in Des Moines, visit Court Avenue Brewing...Raccoon River doesn't hold a candle to it (I stopped by Court Avenue after the ballgame...see my review in BeerFly).

Photo of brewQ
3.93/5  rDev +9.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

Found this place by accident passing through Des Moines.
Stopped at the Hotel bar down the street and tried Raccoon River IPA. When I asked where the brewery was the bartender said it was about 100 feet away at the corner.

Nice big restaurant/bar. Got the sampler with Mai Bock, Wheat, more IPA, a red ale and the Vanilla Cream Ale. (They threw in a sample of the windex blues Cream soda as well).

They have no big beers. Even the IPA doesn't give you a hop bite.
However, my service was excellent and friendly. It was Salsa night and a steady stream of dancers were arriving. The server explained that the blue cream soda was the owner's kid's idea. A fun place.

I liked the atmosphere. This is the kind of place that is great for making folks comfortable with different beers. Will BAs rate it in their top ten? No. Still, it is worth a stop. (The food is decent if pricy by Iowa standards).

Photo of gueuzegeek
4/5  rDev +11.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I was out in Des Moines for work, and wanted to try some local beer while I was there. I walked there via the skywalk, which is a terrific way to go! I sat down at the bar, and was greeted by a tremendously friendly bartender. It was early on a Wednesday evening (5:30ish), so it was not all that crowded, so she was able to talk. At the racoon, they do a really nice sampler tray where you can try every one of their brews, even the seasonals, and due to the fact that they had just put a new one on and the previous ones had not kicked, I actually got an extra one on my tray.

Overall, the beers were decent, and not necessarily the best ever, however, there were enough choices that anyone could find one or two to really enjoy. I found the Java Joe's porter seasonal to be one of the top two. It was reportedly brewed with coffee from a local roaster, and was quite tasty (if you like coffe, of course). The other one I liked was their IPA. It was not at all bitter, and was pretty floral over all. I shall post individual reviews of most of what I tried. The place is in an old ford model T factory building, so it was pretty cool looking. The old elevator is still there, but it is covered with two very nice, very large wooden doors. The bar has a nice shape to it as well. I did enjoy my visit, however at one point, a guy walked up to the bar and ordered some big 3 lite beer. I asked him why he didn't get one of the beers brewed there and he responed with something like "Because they are so big, they know what they are doing". The bar tender and I had a very nice discussion about that after he departed. She said she tries to encourage people, but some just will not even consider it! Their loss!!

I did have food as well, and as vegetarian, there was really only one dinner choice, which was a penne pasta with broccoli and sundried tomatos with freshly grated parmesian cheese. It was cooked perfectly, even the brocolli and I was quite pleased.

Overall, if you are in the area, it is worth a visit.

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Raccoon River Brewing Company in Des Moines, IA
84 out of 100 based on 27 ratings.