Monday, August 19, 2013

Hessen Haus: Iowa's Favorite Bier Hall | Des Moines, IA

Several weeks ago (I know, I know... I'm reeeally quite late with getting this post up) Greg and I moved our good buddy Dan from our former college town of Ames up to Ankeny. To celebrate the big move, Greg, Dan, Dan's parents, and I went to one of my all-time favorite places: Hessen Haus. Hessen Haus is a German-themed bar that serves up hearty meals and a huge selection of German beers. The beer hall style atmosphere and decor is unbeatable. Besides that, I love Hessen Haus for two major reasons: 1) They have my all-time favorite beer on tap and 2) They have das boot!

You walk off the streets of downtown Des Moines and into a German beer hall filled with rustic wood finishes, tavern tables and benches, and people having a great time. On our visit, there was a man outfitted in lederhosen, walking around playing the accordion and singing songs that varied from traditional German drinking songs to just plain hilarious songs (Greg's favorite was "She's too fat for me." It made his day. Haha.)  There's also a wall displaying steins and a big, beautiful elk head on one of the walls.

Before I start raving about the beer, I have to add a little bit about the food. The food here is so delicious and hearty and filling! We enjoyed a good dinner of Reubens, German potato salad (yum!), and other German-inspired cuisine. I highly recommend eating here as well as drinking!

Our main purpose for hitting up Hessen Haus was to partake in das boot. I'd enjoyed it here before, but Dan and Greg had never had the pleasure. We learned that Dan's dad had actually drank from a boot in Germany! While Greg and I would have loved a boot of a deep, dark, rich German beer, our buddy Dan and his pops prefer beer of the lighter, milder sort. We opted for a boot of Paulaner Original M√ľnchner, a Munich Helles Lager style beer. I'm not typically a lager fan, but I do enjoy a Paulaner. 

There are several rules to partaking in das boot. It must travel around the table clockwise. Easy enough. The toe must point away from you when you're taking a drink. Or drink again. You must flick the Boot with your finger before passing it. Or drink again. If you get splashed with bier while drinking from the boot, you must drink again. If you touch the Boot to the table, you must drink again. Whoever finishes the Boot, the person who passed it to them must buy the next boot. We tried to follow the rules and did quite well, but we only drank one so the last rule didn't really apply.

And while das boot is always a grand ol' time, now's the part where I get to my favorite part. You see, Hessen Haus is where I took the first sip of what turned out to be my all-time favorite beer. Last January, I came here with a bunch of friends. Overwhelmed by the vast beer menu and unsure of what to get, I told the bartender I liked rich, dark beers. He gave me a sample of Weihenstephaner Korbinian... and it was love at first sip. 

At Hessen Haus you drink your beer as half liters, liters, or boots. (Certain beers of a particular high percentage of alcohol cannot be drank from a boot.) I was hugely psyched that Hessen Haus still had Weihenstephaner Korbinian on tap so I loaded up on a liter of it. I buy bottles of this beloved beer from time to time, but nothing compares to it straight from the tap. Soooo very good. I love my doppelbocks. Greg enjoyed a Spaten Optimator. 

If you live in Des Moines or are ever in the area, I urge you to visit Hessen Haus! Fill your belly with a Reuben and German potato salad. Sample the German beers. And if you have a group of friends with you, I insist you pass around das boot!

Check out the Hessen Haus website for more information. Like Hessen Haus on Facebook and follow Hessen Haus on Twitter for updates, specials, and events. 

 Zum Wohl! (Bottoms up!)

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