I’m not going to lie, before my first trip to Firetrucker, I was a little skeptic. I have this inherent fear of theme restaurants, as most of them spend so much time investing in their “theme” and not nearly enough time investing in their menus and service. So while I can always appreciate something that pays homage to our brave firefighters, I was a little leery that this would be all firetrucks and dalmatians and no good beer. I could not have been more wrong.
Turns out there is no firetuck theme inside. The only firehouse references at all are in the names of Firetrucker’s beers. And I can live with that. I mean Pumper Truck Porter? Say that five times fast. After you’ve had three of them. In the name of adventure, I chose to take the flight route so I could get a good feel for what I wanted more of. I chose (from left to right): Steam Engine, Grizzly Stout, Uptown IPA, and Under Lager.
First up: Uptown IPA. I’m not normally an IPA girl, but the bartender promised me it wouldn’t be a smack in the face of hops, so I tried it under her direction. I was pleasantly surprised-definitely a drinkability that I don’t always find in IPAs. My favorite in my flight was definitely the Grizzly. Although I’m pretty sure too many of them would have had me underneath my barstool. Meh. Sidenote: they do offer cheese trays by The Cheese Shop of Des Moines if you need something to counteract the alcohol consumption. Nom nom nom.
My favorite Firetrucker offering is still, and probably always will be, Cat in a Tree Ginger. There are no words to describe how great it is. There has been a recent development in the drinking world that I have dubbed “The Mule Craze.” Moscow Mules are EVERYWHERE. If you don’t know what these are, you are seriously behind on the times and can catch up here. I am a bit of a tequila snob, so I have crafted my own version I like to call a Monterrey Mule, but you get the gist. And Cat in a Tree Ginger is the smoothest beer I have ever drank in my entire life. It has an IBU (aka bitterness level) of zero. ZERO. So unless you didn’t know you were drinking a beer, you wouldn’t. It is the perfect summer treat. Which led me to take a growler home the first time I tried this. Generally ginger beer, such as the kind you would use in an Mule, is nonalcoholic. Now imagine you have this crazy good ginger beer from Firetrucker with a 4% ABV and start mixing that in with your tequila… Despite the fact that Iowa has once again reverted to winter and its currently -3 with windchill, I can still picture myself day drinking on a patio with this beer in hand.
Good thing Firetrucker has a huge outdoor lounge area! It’s actually pretty cool-they have events out there all the time. Actually, they just have crazy awesome events year-round, inside, outside, and upside down. I took a screen shot of their event page–seriously all this is going on at a such a small brewery? Love it!
As you will quickly realize, I am also a giant foodie and definitely need to check some of these things out! I’m cursing that March 11 is in the middle of the week and getting from CF to Ankeny for the night isn’t super ideal. Does anyone know where to buy a good teleport? Seriously though. I also love that many of the small breweries I have been to are so cool about letting you bring in outside food. “Hey we don’t have it, but call the neighbors!” I love the possibility this creates as a partnerships between small, local places to generate business for both [insert #shopsmall plug here].
One more great thing about Firetrucker and I promise I’ll shut up–THE ART! Oh my God the art! The walls are always filled by a local artist. So much Iowa greatness in one place! The featured artist is constantly changing, exposing a vast array of patrons to the work of fellow Midwesterners. Its seriously great. As previously mentioned, I am a biker, and one of my favorite places to ride is the High Trestle Trail. ***If you are a biker and have not rode this yet, you seriously need to! It stretches 25 miles from Ankeny to Woodward, but the jewel of the trail is an old railroad bridge-turned-bike trail spanning the Des Moines River Valley. It is nothing short of breathtaking.*** And on my first visit, this amazing print of the bridge done by John Sepanic was hanging on the wall:
I desperately wanted it, but no surprise, it was already sold. Probably because the High Trestle route starts right there. And Firetrucker is the perfect reward to yourself if you make the 50 mile round-trip. Sepanic’s art is amazing though, and as soon as I have a big girl job and a big girl place to live, his work will be decorating my walls. Seeing this place I love on Firetrucker’s wall caused me to instantly love Firetrucker too. So if you love great beer, or beer events, or supporting local artists, or need somewhere to stop along a bike trail, or just have an afternoon to sit and relax and enjoy good company, make the trip to Ankeny and check this place out!
*For more of John Sepanic’s work, visit http://visualdirtybombs.zenfolio.com/