Des Moines restaurateur Bobby Tursi + his family desired to create a new local brewery that would distribute beer regionally + rival other Midwestern competitors. The brewery would not only serve craft beer but also feature a new Tursi family restaurant. They purchased a historic turn-of-the-20th-century warehouse to repurpose + rehabilitate using federal + state historic tax credits. The space needed to engage + excite patrons, while putting the brewing process on display.

The Tursis decided the name + theme of the brewery would be “Exile,” to honor their family’s immigration story, as well as those of other immigrants who came to the United States in search of new opportunities. The design team delved deeply not only into the rehabilitation of the historic building, but also the integration of the brewery + the interior design. To differentiate the uses and spaces, materials range from sleek industrial metal and concrete to warm woods reminiscent of an old-world tavern.

The craftsmen brought to the team for interior millwork were critical to the success of crafted spaces that provide varying types of social experience. The entry ceiling and walls are clad with salvaged wyoming snow fence and form a “tube” that link the dining and beer hall spaces. These boards showed up to the job site severely warped and twisted, so installers worked diligently to piece together and manipulate the planks to create a smooth, weathered surface. The bar in the dining room and beer hall are constructed using salvaged red and white oak. The random width are carefully assembled with a simple alternating corner detail to wrap the front of bar surfaces where people stand while opening up to glowing back lit solid surface where people sit. The age and character of the woodwork connect the craftsman of this project with the vision of hard work + dedication that Exile seeks to embody.

The Tursi family + the design team infused a triumphant, personal immigration story into the interior spaces + adjoining beer garden to align with the Exile theme. You feel it whether you are touring the brewery, enjoying a meal or quenching your thirst with one of the house beers. The brewery also creates a social space in Des Moines’ downtown Western Gateway, which bridges industrial buildings with pedestrian corridors linking to the large sculpture park. In keeping with its industrial past and artistic present, Exile beckons with a gleaming rooftop artwork—a life-size replica of the State of Liberty’s copper crown.