Matt Sims of Ankeny is brewing up his dream – moving from making beer at home to opening his own micro-brewery.
Just a couple months ago, he and wife, Jessie, opened Number 7 Brewing Company, Restaurant and Brewery in Ankeny in the building which once housed the long-standing Bears Restaurant. Bears had been there for more than 40 years and had been empty for a year before Sims opened his restaurant. That history in the community played into the concept of the restaurant and the local flavor, Sims said.
The bar in Number 7 is the same original Bears bar, and the tables are made from the wood procured from lanes of an Ankeny bowling alley that closed. The name Number 7 Brewing Company simply rose from an effort to figure out what type of establishment they wanted to open.
“We kept coming back to number seven on our list of possibilities – the combination micro-brewery and restaurant, so that became the name,” Sims said.
On-Site Brews Ready in Two Weeks
As he talked about his restaurant and pub, Sims was just gearing up to start the brewing equipment, situated in a room customers can view through a large window. Currently, Sims is brewing at another company’s brewing facilities and bringing it to the restaurant in kegs. The first on-site batch should be ready in about two weeks.
The seed that grew to the opening of No. 7 Brewing Company began when Sims started to do home brewing about eight years ago.
“It got to the point with my home brewing where I liked to make the same beer over and over again, the same every time,” Matt said.
He liked the challenge so well he decided he wanted to make beer on a commercial level.
Sims Learns to Brew at Court Avenue Brewing Company
He knew, however, that he would need to take his brewing skills from home-style to a professional level if he ever wanted to have his own micro-brewery. Sims went to Court Avenue Brewing Company in downtown Des Moines and asked if he could apprentice with the brewer. He even explained why he wanted to apprentice and offered to work for free. The Court Avenue owners hired him instead and he stayed a year, until he felt ready to go out on his own.
“I told them from the start I wanted to open my own brew pub, and they were happy to help me out,” he said.
Scott Carlson, with Court Avenue Brewing Company in Des Moines, said he had no qualms about helping Sims with his new business.
“His beer is good and clean. Matt is not only a great brewer, but he is good in the smoker as well. I think he wants to be known especially for his barbecue and his brewing,” Carlson said. “The restaurant has very good food.”
Number 7 will serve as many as seven different kinds of beer made on site, from India pale ale and an amber beer to seasonal brews. The four beers to be brewed year-round are kolsch, a light German-style pilsner; amber, which is darker with sweeter, caramel notes; an India pale ale called Drunken Sailor IPA; and Coco Bessie, a milk stout which is a smooth, creamy stout with notes of coffee and dark chocolate.
“My concept for beer is unique drinkability, to brew it clean and simple, and brew beer customers can’t get anywhere else. I don’t want to get fancy with it, but just brew beer people like to drink,” Sims said. Along with the micro-brew varieties, there will be 100 varieties of other beer brands available.
But Number 7 isn’t just about beer. It’s about fresh, customer-centered food as well. The signature dishes are from Sim’s smokehouse, including a large rack of ribs. They also serve burgers, soups for the fall, fish and much more.
“We’ve had a few hiccups, but we’re getting those ironed out,” Sims said. “We’ve really listened to our customers and in a couple of weeks we are coming out with a new menu that reflects those changes.”
He said people expected the restaurant to be like a large chain restaurant. But that wasn’t he and his wife’s vision. “We wanted people to have a place to come and have a meal, play a game, maybe watch some football and feel like they are sitting in our living room.”
When Sims first opened Number 7, there was no difference in menu or pricing between lunch and dinner. Customers said they felt the lunch menu had too large of servings and was too high priced. The new menu differentiates with smaller servings and lower prices for lunch, ranging from $7-$12. The dinner menu is from $9-$15, with a few dishes as high as $20.
Also added to the lunch and evening menu is a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. “I had a woman who kept coming in and asking if we were going to offer a BLT, so we will have a BLT on the new menu,” he said.
Sims believes with some of the changes coming up, customers will embrace the concept. “We already have women who come in for their ladies’ night out, reading clubs, families, lots of different kinds of people,” he said.
Number 7 Brewing Company, Restaurant and Brewery
Address: 302 S.W. Maple St., Ankeny
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Specialties: Micro-brewed beer, smokehouse barbecued rack of ribs
Menu: Includes racks of ribs and other barbecue meats, burgers, side dishes, fish, a smoked macaroni and cheese dish and much more.