Barn Town Brewing owner Pete Faber talks about his new brew pub that's opening in West Des Moines. Barn Town will boast Iowa beer and ciders across 20 taps as well as a menu focused on local food. Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register
Des Moines native Pete Faber believes you should share beer with a stranger.
He entrusts in the communal experience found at a neighborhood brewery so much that he coined a slogan encouraging it. Placed on the side of the growlers he’s going to sell at Barn Town Brewery, the West Des Moines brewpub he plans to open Monday, it reads: “Share contents with a friend. Or better yet, a stranger.”
A graduate of Dowling Catholic High School and the University of Iowa, Faber is a tenured veteran of the Chicago restaurant business. Selling the shares in his Windy City restaurants and sports bars, Faber returned to Iowa in June 2016 to marry his experience in restaurants and passion for brewing to launch Barn Town, located at 9500 University Ave.
“The last six months have been pretty crazy emotional,” Faber, 39, of Waukee, said. “You believe in yourself and believe you have the capabilities to do some cool things and once it starts happening you start losin’ sleep real quick.”
The 55,000-square-foot brewpub aesthetically feels like an ode to Iowa: A 1955 Ford F-100 towers above the bar, the walls are made of recycled wood and tin from Iowa barns, handmade wood carvings of the American and Iowa flags hang over the room and there’s a mural of Iowa (that Faber made himself) crafted from nostalgic beer cans on the south wall. It seats 150 people and, true to Faber’s belief of sharing beer with strangers, a community table is placed in the center of the dining hall.
The son of a long-time John Deere employee, Faber wanted to see his brewpub come to life in a place close to his family. He relishes having the opportunity to see his mom daily and wants to experience first-hand his nieces and nephews growing up.
“Over the course of being Chicago for the last 16 years, I missed a lot of birthdays and holidays,” Faber said. “I wanted to be back home and open something I thought (the) Des Moines area would be proud of. ... It’s touching on some of the things I’m proud of.”
A 'great' addition to Iowa beer
Barn Town will boast Iowa beer and ciders across the 20 taps found behind the bar. A wheat beer brewed in-house will be offered on opening day and Faber said he hopes to have six Barn Town beers on tap by the first week of March. Future plans include experimenting with sour beers, carrying a mead on tap and eventually — Faber said he wants Barn Town to “crawl before it walks” — distributing to local retailers.
He and head brewer Grant Brower don’t initially plan to commit to offering year-round flagship beers. Instead, they want to deliver a beer drinking experience they feel mirrors their own.
“I want our customers to come in and try something new every time,” Faber said. “We will always have an IPA, but it might not be the exact same IPA.”
Barn Town looks to be a “great” addition to the local beer scene, said J. Wilson, minister of Iowa beer with the Iowa Brewers Guild. The brewery is one of more than a dozen planned to open across the state in 2017.
“(Faber is) respected in Chicago for his knowledge of beer and the restaurant industry, and fortunately for us, he's brought his talent back to Iowa to elevate our food, our beer and our state,” Wilson said.
'Elevated bar food'
Self-described as “elevated bar food,” the Barn Town menu features plates such as a Brewer’s Burger (featuring cheddar sauce, braised bacon and an egg) and the mac and cheese with options that include adding fried chicken, braised bacon, an egg or roasted Brussels sprouts.
Wings, salad, soup, sandwiches and an array of appetizers round out the menu, which Faber said plans to change at least every season. The kitchen is led by Dave Blackburn, a 15-year veteran of the dining business.
“We’re trying to take approachable food and (bring) it to the next level,” Blackburn said.
One could ask: Why put a fried egg on mac and cheese?
“I think anytime you put an egg on anything it works,” Faber said. “It’s kinda sexy, you know.”
Similar to the Barn Town philosophy on beer, the food menu plans to change in hopes of keeping people interested for what might come next. Future additions could include homemade cinnamon rolls and jalapeño cornbread.
“There’s several restaurants in the area that have burgers,” Faber said. “But what are they doing with their burgers? It’s (about) taking the time to prep everything in-house and put a little bit more of a craftiness into it.”
Find more information on Barn Town Brewing on Facebook at facebook.com/barntownbrewing.