Confluence Brewing Company just opened its craft brewery and taproom earlier today, October 20, 2012. From the packed parking lot and happy guests, it appears to have been a success. Unlike Exile, which opened not too long ago, Confluence just brews and sells beer. That ought to give it an ability to focus on making great beer. I did notice that the beer that Confluence serves is what I’d call hard core craft brew. There is no “transitional” beer on tap to help wean the Bud, Coors, and Miller boys away from their weak rice beer.
Confluence had three of its own beers on tap for opening day, with three more on the way. Farmer John’s is billed as a multigrain ale, (ABV 5.6%, IBU 21). It reminded me a lot of a New Belgium Wheat. It is golden in color with an unfiltered look. Although it has a low IBU rating, it had some perceptible hops to go along with the malt. The beer had a lot of aroma and flavor but I thought it was a mixed bag when it came to whether I completely liked all of those aromas and flavors. I would put down money that they are using the same yeast as New Belgium for that particular brew. It is popular with a lot of people because it creates a lot of flavors but it is not one I love. On the other hand, I really, really liked the Gray’s Lake Nessie Scottish Ale. It was very malty and had a sweet overtone that IPA drinkers would likely despise. Unfortunately, this is a limited release. I did not try the Des Moines IPA (ABV 6.8% IBU 75) but I’ll give it a go the next time I visit.
In addition to their own beer, Confluence had the fantastic Peace Tree Red Rambler and three guest beers from Keg Creek in Glenwood, Iowa. I’ve never even heard of Keg Creek, but if Confluence is willing to offer it on their inaugural tap room opening then that is enough of a vote of confidence to encourage me to give it a try next time I’m in that area.
The brewery setup is quite impressive. In fact, it is what I’d call a beer boy’s playpen of fun. All that shiny stuff. And so much room! I don’t know of any facilities in Iowa (I’ve not seen them all) that have such a great facility, with a custom-poured concrete floor with waste water-handling built right in, super tall ceilings, and plenty of space. The facility is large and top notch all around. Another feature is that the Confluence guys are not ashamed to put everything on display. A lot of the breweries poke small windows into their process as if it is an afterthought. Not Confluence. It is floor to ceiling glass. I lost count of how many mash, barley hoppers, fermenters and storage tanks they have in the brewing room, but there are at least five 40 barrel fermenter tanks. I spied a mash-tun as well and red hot and cold water tanks. That is a lot of capacity. Good luck to the two former home craft brewers John Martin and Ken Broadhead who own and started Confluence Brewing.
1235 Thomas Beck Road, Suite A
Des Moines, Iowa
Opening – Thursday, October 18, 2012
Grand Opening – Saturday, October 20, 2012
Wednesday & Thursday
4:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Friday & Saturday
Noon – 10:00 p.m.