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Hessen Haus

Not Rated.
Hessen HausHessen Haus

15 Reviews
Reviews: 15
Visits: 28
Avg: 4.18
pDev: n/a
Taps: 30
Bottles: 140
Cask: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

101 4th St
Des Moines, Iowa, 50309-4741
United States
phone: (515) 288-2520

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Place added by: BuckeyeNation

Open for lunch on Friday & Saturday at 11am.
Dinner served everyday from 3pm - 1am.
Bar closes at 2am.
Place: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 15 | Visits: 28
Reviews by OregonGrown7:
Photo of OregonGrown7
4.95/5  rDev +18.4%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

Great rustic atmosphere, feels very traditional German. Huge beer selection of very high quality beers. Awesome beer boots. Great bottled selection as well. I got two boots of Ayinger Oktoberfest and Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen, a bottle of Samichlaus Helles and a Stiegl Pils, plus kraut balls and a wild game queasadilla for $56!! Amazing food and prices are not that bad at all but it varies when you go( early as opposed to late). Staff is actually incredibly knowledgeable as well, our waitress lived in Germany and knew how to properly pronounce everything. Best place in Des Moines for sure.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Kramerbarthomer
4.09/5  rDev -2.2%
vibe: 3.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Photo of YodersBeerEmporium
4.35/5  rDev +4.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.25

Photo of 22Blue
4.28/5  rDev +2.4%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.5

Photo of ALC82
4.48/5  rDev +7.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.25

Photo of Boomer4ES
4.18/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Photo of UrbanCaveman
4.64/5  rDev +11%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 5 | food: 5

An unassuming, yet outstanding, little German bier hall tucked right into the downtown Des Moines area, this place gets it right. The menu is a delightful mix of American and German cuisine, and downright tasty to boot. The serving staff seem to know their bier, and their German pronunciations, though service can be a little on the slow side during busy times (such as lunchtime on a Saturday). Any place that can make a good kassler rippchen and schweinshaxe is good by me, and even better when they offer muenster cheese in multiple dishes!

As far as bier selection goes, I have not seen a wider nor better curated selection of tap and bottled German imports anywhere else in the US (or what few parts of Canada I've seen). Various standbys from Weihenstephaner, Ayinger, and Schneider have permanent taps, with a decent rotating mix of other German imports, local German-style brews, and the occasional Belgian thrown in. Beer sizes available for order include the expected half-liter, liter, and, of course, boot. This may not be a hop addict's dream bar, but as far as my dream bar is concerned, it's a reasonable facsimile thereof!

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Photo of cyclonece09
5/5  rDev +19.6%

Photo of afinepilsner
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

Photo of bufante
3/5  rDev -28.2%

Photo of Liverocks
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

Photo of 319Hawksfan
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

Photo of boogs
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

Photo of BuzzG
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%

Photo of wshell1
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%

Photo of Herky21
3.44/5  rDev -17.7%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.25 | food: 1.75

Atmosphere - it looks nice, big long German bar with Paulaner Mugs all over. A nice railing lines the back tables. The patio is huge with long benches. The bar is too narrow though and difficult to navigate at times.

Quality - German everything. You can get everything from half-liters to Boots. It's great. The atmosphere could probably use a little updating, even by German standards.

Service - sometimes oyu will stand for 5-10 minutes, other times its fast. I guess that's average.

Selection - great selection of German and European beers. Nothing with hop presence here, but a lot of malty beasts.

Food - It's edible. However, I would not recommend it.

Value- you can get some sizable German beers for great prices. During the week, or maybe Sunday, there's even a $10 boot deal.

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Photo of Goode
5/5  rDev +19.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Hands down one of the best places to drink and eat in Des Moines. Perfect combination of great atmosphere chill and laid back with great food at reasonable prices and a beer selection that will educate you as a beer drinker as well as broaden you horizons to great beer. The waiting staff is more knowledgeable than any other place I've been. No matter what your taste you can find a beer to your liking. Not enough could be said about the awesomeness of this bar!!

Additionally the location is great to easily visit neighboring places just an easy walk away.

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Photo of birchstick
4.4/5  rDev +5.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

A - Having never been to Germany, I am guessing this is what a German restaurant would be like. A nice bar that is backed by a lot of long picnic tables.

Q - I couldn't believe the tap selection. Tons quality German brews on tap: Celebrator, Aventinus, Korbinian, plus a ton of others. I wish this place existed in St. Louis - I would be here at least once a month.

S - being that it was 2 degrees with a windchill of -9, there were not many people venturing out that night so the place was pretty quiet. Therefore it is hard the gauge the quality of the service, however the bartender was very helpful and knew his beer.

S - This is a 5 only in terms of German brews. I couldn't believer the amount of quality German brews that they had on tap and in the cooler behind the bar.

F - I had sauerkraut balls and a Wild Boar sausage - both of which were delicious. There were a couple of other menu items that I want to try.

This is a really good beer stop in Des Moines. I am not too familiar with the city, however I was really impressed. I would definitely recommend this as a place to stop and grab a meal and some pints.

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Photo of Mud
4.43/5  rDev +6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

The Hessen Haus has had many names over the years each est. was great in their own right. I frequented the many incarnations of the Old Depot Station. Today the Old Depot as reach a zenith in the Hessen Haus.

The atmosphere is what you would expect a American Bier Haus. The selection is the best you are going to find in Iowa. I found on my visits there a leaning towards Wiese beers. Occasionally you will find German seasonals because it is Iowa the selections is goin' to be like that in Bavaria. When compare to where you would find German Beers on tap with well over 14+ beer/styles to choose from in Iowa you are gonna have to do some major traveling!!! The lines are well maintained and the beer is always good.

The food is awesome. I have since moved from DSM but the times I visit always requires a stop for food at the Hessen Haus. Only 5 mins from the Interstate why wouldn't ya? The Wild Boar Sausage/wild schwienewurst is the Bomb. At $17 USD it may seem pricey for a couple of links of sausage but it is worth every penny!!!. I didn't really appreciate that my server asked if I really wanted kraut? She wasn't impressed by it but I don't thinks she likes it in the first place. The kraut was fresh and very good as well.

The staff was somewhat knowledgeable about the beeir and food. So if you know your way around German beer and food you are not going to be impressed. If you don't well.... ignorance is bliss. None the less discover things for yourself anyway.

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Photo of BretSikkink
4.2/5  rDev +0.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

Most of the time, Hessen Haus is a large, quiet room with interesting and unusual decor. Plenty to look at while you're downing liter mugs (also available in half liters and boots). At times it is irredeemably busy and loud, but for the most part it's an awesome, relaxed atmosphere.

The quality and breadth of the beer selection is good, not great. About 20 taps that are decent if somewhat predictable beers, mostly German (Paulaner, Hacker Pschorr, Beck's, Spaten products), while the bottles are somewhat more numerous but also varying in quality (Bud Light to Ayinger, e.g.). A good number of seasonals; the rest favor the lighter side, including hefeweizens, pilsners, and wits.

The service is impeccable at the bar when it's quiet; obviously you take your chances on a busy night. I've never found it impossible to get a beer, although pouring those giant mugs and boots does take a while.

The food looks and smells authentic, but very vegetarian-unfriendly. Since I don't love pretzels, I've never hit up the kitchen at the Haus.

I like it a lot. It's a more pleasant experience than the Royal Mile building and the Bait Shop building for me. If you want more of a partying atmosphere I'd try those instead - or wait for Oktoberfest!

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Photo of DesMoinesMike
4.03/5  rDev -3.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

If you're looking afr a diffreent kind of restaruant in the Des Moines area this is the place to check out. Located in an antiquated railroad depot the interior definately spells old world. It ahs a lodge-type decor bustling with stuffed animals, German enscriptions, and pictures from a regional polka tournament.

The food has flavors I'm not use to, mostly stuff that hasn't been Americanized. They like to throw in a lot of vegitables that throw off my carnovorous taste buds.

The beer selection is good. About a dozen or so German beers on tap. I tried Spaten Oktoberfest for the first time and loved it. Were it not the height of cold/flu season we would have done a boot of it, but shots of schnops were welcome. No Goldschlager, to my slight dissapointment.

AVOID on drinking holidays because it gets so crowded they almost run out of standing room.

Check for coupons in the phone book. Seriously.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.47/5  rDev +6.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 5

As I entered through a short vestibule, I experienced a twinge of nostalgia for A Little Taste of Germany, formerly on PA Route 72 North, just above the Lancaster/Lebanon turnpike entrance, now defunct. R.I.P. This was a bier hall, absolutement!

It began with a “U”-shaped, blonde wood bar to the immediate right and continued aft to the washrooms on the left and the kitchen beyond the lavatories. They featured four (4) ceramic beer towers, each with four (4) different beers, plus a fifth tower as part of the back bar. I drank both Hacker-Pschorr Alt and Ayinger Jahrhudert-Helles, both of which were delicious. I was told that boots were available, but I was not up to the task.

The roof was arched, raw pine with triangular supports and upright beams at irregular intervals. The back bar was a huge, wooden affair with a small cooler on either side. Above the back bar were three boars heads, a stuffed pheasant, several half barrelheads, and a jackalope. There were also a lot of ceramic steins, for the Breweriana fan. Along the left wall were picnic-style benches, an entryway onto their outdoor patio, and more half barrelheads and steins with these last two behind Plexiglas.

Now, as to lunch: I had the Bismarck – chopped roast pork, mushrooms, and onions, sautéed with sour cream and au jus served over swiss cheese on a hoagie bun with sauerkraut. Oh my! It put me in mind of something that my Pops said in a more politically incorrect time: “You amaze me, you young punk. You look like a Jew, you have Scottish/Irish red hair, an English nose, bright Nordic blue eyes, and a German appetite. I have never met someone as true to his roots as you. Bon appetit, kid!” That sammich was fabuloso!

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Photo of hero27
3.84/5  rDev -8.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5

Located right in downtown Des Moines..easily within walking distance of both The Red Monk & El Bait Shop. Sort of hard to find if you're not looking for it..as it's located right next to what appears to be an abandoned railway station.

Service was great. Bartenders seemed to have a great sense of humor and didn't mind shooting the shit with my friends and I at the bar. Had a Spaten Optimator pint and I was in heaven. Good German tap selection..around 20 I counted, and many more in bottles.

Didn't try the food on this visit, but I plan to on my next trip to Des Moines. An authentic German bierhall that's certainly worth a stop.

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Photo of WeisGuy
3.98/5  rDev -4.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

Really good source for German beers in Des Moines. Went there tonight and got a liter of Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen. They have most of the big Germans on tap. My beer was good, if not a little flat. Prices were reasonable to a little pricey, with my liter costing over $9. I gave it the benefit of the doubt on the ratings. Good atmosphere with lots of wood tables. Waitresses were very nice and seemed to be knowledgable of the beer. Food looked like quality German fare, but I didn't try anything. For my money, I might hit the Hessen for a good Hefe, but then go over to El Bait shop a block or two away to finish off the night. Good place, especially for Des Moines. Highly recommended.

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Photo of bditty187
3.73/5  rDev -10.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

It took me four trips to the Hessen Haus before I actually penned a review.

Located in the heart of downtown Des Moines; the standalone building is long and narrow but smaller inside then it seems. The bar, stage, and stairs to the outdoor patio eats a lot of room. The high ceilings help give the appearance of an open German bier garden/hall, which is cool. Like I said, there is outside patio seating but I’ve never been here during the summer. While there is smoking here the ceilings do move the smoke around a bit.

The décor is well-done, German bier signs, steins, stuffed animal heads, etc, lots of wood. Wood tables, “bier hall tables,” and the like. The bar if fairly large, it is located on the right hand wall. I counted 18 taps. There were some duds but everything was basically German. The beer menu had a little over 30 bottles; I didn’t see much great beer listed. I was surprised they carried things like Red Stripe, Bud Light, Heineken, Newcastle, and Beck’s (not “real” German bier, IMO). The “gem” German beers on-tap/bottle included offerings from Spaten-Franziskaner, Ayinger, Weihenstephan, HB, Paulaner, and the like. Overall, there were plenty of good German biers to drink. IMO, the selection leaned towards quantity over quality.

I’ve never eat here but the food sure smells good!

The service has always been solid, every visit they have been busy and the waitress handled it well.

Overall impression… if I was to rank the beer bars in downtown Des Moines they would fall like such: Red Monk, Royal Mile, High Life Lounge, and Hessen Haus. Maybe I am spoiled but the Huber-Haus in Omaha is a much better German bar. It just is. Sure, this place is bigger and they serve food but the beer selection was lacking. Still, the vibe is pleasant too. I guess I really don’t have any complaints I just think other bars in Des Moines merit a visit first but by no means should a visitor not checkout the Hessen.

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Hessen Haus in Des Moines, IA
92 out of 100 based on 15 ratings.