Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery

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Rock Bottom Restaurant & BreweryRock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
3,282 Ratings
Rock Bottom Restaurant & BreweryRock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery, Beer-to-go

4508 University Ave
West Des Moines, Iowa, 50266-1025
United States

(515) 267-8900 | map

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Ratings: 23 |  Reviews: 12
Photo of craigbelly
4.26/5  rDev +8.7%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4 | food: 4.25

Photo of Angerhaus
4.03/5  rDev +2.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.25

Photo of YodersBeerEmporium
4.45/5  rDev +13.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.75

Photo of tapperm
4/5  rDev +2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Photo of Scott17Taylor
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.25

Photo of eawolff99
3.88/5  rDev -1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Photo of qcbrewer
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of timlyon
4.28/5  rDev +9.2%

Photo of afinepilsner
4/5  rDev +2%

Photo of KAF
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of styleisking
3.5/5  rDev -10.7%

Photo of ALC82
3.79/5  rDev -3.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.25 | food: 3.75

I would definitely recommend a visit here, the atmosphere was excellent for a brewery/ eatery. Very open space setting w/ above average food selection. The beer selection was very good and we were able to try a good few as samples before selecting our choice to drink. Overall I enjoyed the visit and will go again when in the area.

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Photo of KateK
4.06/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.5

Love this place. I've never had a beer I didn't like at Rock Bottom. The food is great too, but the beer is what keeps me coming back. Friendly, casual atmosphere. The mug club is great, I occasionally get offers for $5 off my ticket. Show up during a tapping and they'll give you a free pint!

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Photo of ndolover
3.2/5  rDev -18.4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5

Set in an shopping area not too far off the Interstate. This place would be great for a happy hour with co-wokers. Easy parking, good specials (most apps were $7 or less). and plenty of beers to choose from are the reasons why you should hit this place!

I do appreicate that they give their brewers a creative license to try different things. However, I found their Belgian IPA a bit soapy and their bourban barrell dopelsticke too oaky.

The food was good hour hour fare and I thought the service and vibe appropriate for a Rock Bottom. Good beers, food and value...but nothing too go out of the way for if you're coming from out of town.

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Photo of Yetiman420
3.86/5  rDev -1.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5

My 200th brewpub/brewery and it's a Rock Bottom. Oh well.

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.

I put together a four beer premium sampler of...

Simcoe cask pale ale. Best beer of the three brewpubs. Great aroma and clean finish.

Old Scratch. Ale aged in barrels. The server (see below) told me it was a bourbon barrel. The great server at Court Ave told me they used wine barrels which I believe. Even had a sour/funky edge to it which was nice. RB server could not tell me what kind of ale it was.

Double IPA was too mellow with no aroma. Could pass as a barleywine.

Imperial Stout. Too chalky and cold so I ordered a pint of the Simcoe Cask.

The bartender was pretty much useless. When I asked him what kind of ale was in the scratch he went on about how they brew ales in the summer and if I wanted something "thicker" he could get it for me. Sitting in front of a double IPA (ale) and imperial stout (ale) I'm not sure it could get much thicker. In any event, he neglected to charge me for the sampler so it was no big deal. Just wish they would attempt to educate their servers.

Lots of aggessive and ambitious beers which I appreciate from a chain. Rock Bottom does a great job allowing their local brewers to have creative license.

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Photo of brewmandan
5/5  rDev +27.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

i've been to rock bottom several times and enjoyed each visit. great food. may be slightly higher priced than other restaurant, but you get your money's worth. they always have an excellent selection of craft brew on tap, and have a good selection of seasonal brews. they have a pumpkin ale during the monthes of oct./nov. that has to be my all time favorite seasonal. as a home brewer, i wanted the recipe to this beer and was able to talk the on-site brewer and ask him for the recipe. the brewer was nice and knowledgeable and gave helpful tips to brewing the pumpkin ale.

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Photo of jt31914
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Went there for lunch earlier today; ordered a sampler for drinks, some taquitos for an appetizer and fish and chips for the meal. The beer was solid, but surprisingly the food was the best thing about the trip. Everything was very good; service was fine - after ordering a beer that my dad and I found to be terrible (the barleywine on tap) we were given a new beer free of charge. Overall, I enjoyed the brewery and will probably return when in the area. Not the best, but the brewery is still good and fun.

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Photo of SurgeonGeneral
3.63/5  rDev -7.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Atmosphere- Been to 3 Rock Bottoms, and all have the same basic lay out. nice & clean, nothing extraordinary, but it works for a laid back brew pub.

Quality- Impressed in general with the food & beer, service was below average.

Service- Our server was short & a bit rude. Unattentive, as well. Nothing horrible, but less than average, certainly.

Selection- I had their light lager, Winter Wheat, Pale Ale, Brown Ale, Amber Ale, Stout, Simcoe Pale & Centennial Brown. Stand outs were the Brown & Simcoe Pale. These two were very well balanced & probably 35-40 point beers. The rest were in the 25-35 range. Good, not great. Total in house brews offered numbered 12, I think. Nice.

Food- The titan toothpicks my wife had were very good, as were my steak tips in a brown ale sauce & cheddar mashed potatoes. I would probably recommend this place to someone based on their food alone.

Value- Two entrees, dessert, 2 drinks & a sampler came to $40 + tip Not bad.

Overall, I enjoyed the food & beer here. No beer was an absolute mind blowing experience, but they have enough quality brews to keep you interested for a night, and no below average brews. I'd go here again.

 1,173 characters

Photo of DesMoinesMike
4/5  rDev +2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I live four blocks from Rock Bottom so I head there probably twice a month, usually around payday. The beer most of the time impresses me, the food occasionally fails to impress me, and I find several of the additional services to be total rip-offs.

Beers - I enjoy the Red and several of the seasonal brews catch my attention. At over $4 a pint It's not something I do frequently. I appreciate that some of the Fire Chief proceeds go to support local firefighters. Maybe they can do that in the winter with the Marines and Toys-For-Tots?

Food - The steaks are good, but the featured entrees I'm a bit puzzled on. About half are designed to be spicy to ultra-spicy. One time with the jambalaya it burnt my lips even before it could reach my tongue. And their seafood selection could use improvement. The triple-chocolate cheesecake is total heaven!

Ambiance - West Des Moines is the rich suburb of Des Moines, yet they built a warehouse-style building to give it an older, more characteristic style. The prices negate that. And it feels a bit empty with all the overhead space.

Bar - Holy crap, 6 bucks for a damn shot! What a rip! And their mixed drinks aren't cheap either. At least I can order dinner at the bar and not wait for my "card" to be called to get a booth. And it's nice to have a barkeep that knows your face after a few visits, although they're not too big on small-talk.

Others - I can't believe they feel me using the pool table for 2.5 hours is worth $13! And the cigars they offer are marked up about 100% from the store value.

All in all, the place is nice, but since I'm not rich going there on occasion is best.

Edit ~ 11/29/2009 Now with the state smoking ban in place, it's nice to go out to dinner and not come home smelling like an ashtray. The seasonal beer menu has expanded with many options, some better than others. The growler is the best invention ever, craft beer to go!

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Photo of warmstorage
2.53/5  rDev -35.5%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 2 | service: 3.5 | selection: 2 | food: 3

I've been to probably ten or twelve Rock Bottoms, usually for one of two reasons: (1) because there is nothing else reasonably close to wherever my hotel/friend's house is, or (2) to complete a tour of every single brewpub in a given city. Here it was the latter reason.

In a strip mall in the westrn subsurbs of Des Moines, with plenty of parking since you could go into the huge bookstore lot adjacent (B&N, I think.)

As usual, Rock Bottom was fine, got me a couple of cheap happy hour pints, and served a role, but did little else. The atmosphere of this large place is as sterile and boring as most Rock Bottoms, lots of tall booths that separate you from other people. Nice if you're a teenager on a date, maybe, but pretty isolating for a potentially social situation.

I was greeted fairly promptly by a friendly server, and greeted again quickly after being seated. I was only in for happy hour beers, having had lunch at Raccoon River, and just killing time due to delayed flights.

Beer and People: I first had a totally forgettable APA. Then, interestingly, I think I had the same seasonal "hoppy" red ale as another reviewer, and it was definitely not particularly hoppy, or good. Other diners were primarily families drinking iced tea and soda, or as the happy hour began to pick up, business-casual-dressed yuppies almost uniformly drinking bright yellow beer and talking about nothing of interest, at very loud levels.

Food: I can't really comment, as I didn't have much, except to say the fries were basically identical to those I've had at the Rock Bottom in San Diego, and the one in Denver.

Usually friendly, occasionally convenient, and minimally adequate beer, but little else: yep, that's Rock Bottom!

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Photo of bditty187
3.63/5  rDev -7.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

I don’t think I have been to a Rock Bottom before I stopped at this West Des Moines location.

The standalone building is fairly large, rock-faced, with an outdoor patio overlooking a manicured lawn and manmade lake. RB shares a common parking lot with other restaurants and shops. Upon entering I was instantly transported to Boulder, CO. I had just walked into the Walnut Brewery. WOW! I understand that Old Chicago, Rock Bottom, and Walnut are all owned under the same umbrella but the setup of this brewpub is EXACTLY the same as Walnut.

Bar to the left, brewing equipment above the bar, raised seating to the right. The right-hand wall had large paintings of the house beers (as did Walnut). Upfront is tons of RB merchandise to buy. Classy. TVs were scattered about, I noticed a backroom with a big screen TV and some large sofas. There were pool tables too. It is smaller inside then it looks from the outside.

I visited here on a Sunday morning at 11am; it was after a weekend of drinking and I wasn’t much in the mood for a beer. Plus I was starving. Luckily there weren’t many people here and we got a seat right away. Our waitress was a tad slow and she seemed to gravitate towards her coworkers near the front door.

The menu looked familiar; some of the same dishes were also at Walnut. I ordered the beef and pork meatloaf, which was tasty. Tara ordered the chicken fajitas and she wasn’t thrilled with them at first but she said they were great – later that day as leftovers. It seems the flavors came together much better. Overall, the food was decent but I had heard “great” things about RB. It seemed typical of a chain restaurant to me.

I only tried one beer. Our waitress called it a “hoppy” seasonal red ale. I thought it was solid and tasty but not all that “hoppy” to me. It seems this RB location has cask beers but I wasn’t offered but nor did I ask. I wasn’t in the mood to drink much anyway.

My overall impression is mixed. It seems both the food and beer are good enough to warrant a return trip… it just might not be a high priority. When I am out-of-town I rather not visit chain restaurants/brewpubs. As such that is why it has taken me so long to visit RB. I will say that RB seems to be a better brewpub then Raccoon River (but not Court Avenue). I will be back. All the same, I say, if you haven’t, pay this place a visit.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4/5  rDev +2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

This brewpub is located in a shopping area off one of the main commercial roads in Des Moines. It shares the area with a Macaroni Grill (a decent chain restaurant), a Golf Galaxy, a Barnes & Noble bookstore, etc. Plenty of parking available. It's within 5 minutes of my house, and within 5 minutes of I-80, so it's convenient.

I ate lunch here and the inside was bright, airy and tastefully appointed. The menu displayed a nice, varied selection and I saw at least 6-8 entrees that looked very good. I settled on the Aegean (Greek-style) pizza and was not disappointed. I've eaten here before with my wife and enjoyed my dinner that time as well (the fish & chips that the other reviewer mentioned). The bartender/waitress was pleasant and patiently answered all of my questions about the beer selections. She gave me a sample of the Mardi Gras Bock, but I decided to have the pale ale with my meal and a cask-conditioned red ale for dessert. The beer was OK, a nice complement to the food, but not something that I'll think about until I get a chance to return. I do plan to return though, to sample all six of the tap offerings and the other cask-conditioned beer (a brown ale). There are also quite a few menu items that I want to try too. A good brewpub; recommended.

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Photo of PCaravan
4.3/5  rDev +9.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

I visited this establishment for the first time tonight. I understand it is a franchise but I haven't been to any of their other ones either. The first thing the waitress asked me if I had been there before, when I said no, she said she could bring me a sampler of all beer (including seasonal specials) for FREE. I like that... especially since I didn't ask. Plus 1 for service. I found the round of samplers as a whole good but not exceptional but there was a lot to sample so I won't go into details on each one. I was told the total sample package equated to 2 pints (free). I can say I didn't like the abby ale at all but I've never had abby ale and I may just not like that style. The surprise was the red ale. I usually find what brewpubs and micros call red ale to be like an American megaswill with a little extra caramel malt for color but little taste. I find this just about as boring as the American megaswill. This red ale was more like an english pale ale with extra caramel malt. Very interesting indeed. When I was done with the sampler I ordered another one of these without disapointment. The food really was exceptional. When I go to a brewpub I usually order my usual burger (it's hard to go wrong there) or a steak. Here I went with the fish and chips for more reasons than I have room to explain but was a little apprehensive about it's description. Instead of the usual cod that comes in fish and chips, it was smoked salmon... breaded and deap fried as you have had the cod. Never had anything quite like it. Just exceptional.

I can't wait till I'm back in Des Moines.

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Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery in West Des Moines, IA
Brewery rating: 3.7 out of 5 with 3,282 ratings
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