It is finally time to pay homage to the first brewery I ever visited: Exile Brewing Company in downtown Des Moines. My other half took me there for our first Valentine’s Day a couple years ago. Clearly this was the way to my heart. And I have loved the place since!
On my most recent trip, I had just come off a long, hectic Friday. I had travelled from Cedar Falls, to Ankeny, to the Des Moines airprot, then West Des Moines, followed by Perry, Woodward, Perry again, Ames, and back to Des Moines. By 5 pm. I was MORE than ready to a beverage to decompress. I joined the rest of the Friday After Work Crowd who was pouring in the door. As usual, Exile didn’t disappoint. My first beer that night was the Praha Dark Czech lager. This beer is almost inky black in color but soooo insanely smooth. I absolutely loved it. With dinner I ordered a Night Fall Porter. The description promised vanilla and velvety chocolate, and “the perfect pairing for the final stretch of winter.” It was also good, but not as good as the Czech.
And speaking of dinner. OH MY GOD the food at Exile! Not only are they brewing these great beers, but their food selection is outstanding. I can truthfully say I have had almost everything on the menu and have never been disappointed. I cannot stop myself from whining that at some point in the last year they took their goat cheese veggie lasagna off the menu and I took it personally. I haven’t been brave enough to request it off the menu yet, but it’s only a matter of time.
I cannot write about Exile without writing about how much I love the building. Its huge, its all industrial, its got gorgeous lighting, beautiful high ceilings, polished concrete floors, the words. *(Yes, I’m starting to see a theme that many of the breweries are like this and I love all of them. Judge me.) They have an a normal seating lounge, a bar, a beer hall and an entire second floor (which is available for private rental). And of course my favorite part, a lovely patio! This past summer Exile combined forces with Power Life Yoga of Des Moines for Sunday Funday yoga sessions out on the patio. How awesome is that?!
I have enjoyed watching them grow over the past couple years. Last summer, Exile started bottling their flagship beers: the Ruthie, the Hannah, the Gigi, and the Betty. I was super stoked because not only did their growth indicate success (and therefore that Exile is not going anywhere–I have abandonment issues), but it always meant I could enjoy them from anywhere. That meant being able to share them with friends and family who don’t make regular stops in Des Moines.
I see only great things coming in the future for Exile. We proudly sported their bike jerseys last year on RAGBRAI, and can’t wait to do so again this year. Its amazing the conversations you can strike up with a total stranger who also has a love for great beer. And so many of the people we talked to were thoroughly excited about what Exile brought to the table. And don’t worry, if you’re not from Des Moines and making the trip, its super easy to get to! If you’re not a fan of all the hustle and bustle, you’re in luck because Exile is on the outskirts of downtown and you can avoid the chaos altogether if you choose. Check out their Facebook or site blog for more information and upcoming events. This is truly a destination brewery.