Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Place: HopCat
Location: Grand Rapids, MI

Another location that I wanted to visit during my trip to Grand Rapids was HopCat. I've heard about HopCat through the beer websites that I am a member of, and I've also seen them ranked as one of the best beer bars in America. HopCat is right downtown and is only about a mile or so away from Founders.

The bar is right on the corner in an older looking building. As soon as we walked in I already liked it. You quickly take notice of the 48 taps on the front of the bar, and not a single one of them is swill. I really liked the feel of the bar itself. It was nicely laid out in dark wood with comfortable seating. The ceiling of the bar is covered in vintage beer and liquor posters.

We sat down and ordered some food and beer. They have these fries there called "crack fries" and they were about the tastiest fries I've ever had. I don't know what kind of spices they put of them, but they were spicy and delicious.

I was a bit overwhelmed when I was ordering since I wanted to try just about everything on the draft menu. Check out the tap list on the picture I posted.

I settled on trying Short's Huma Lupa Licious. Short's brewing bottles a small amount of their beer right now, and most of the beer is found on tap around Michigan. The beer pours a deep cloudy orange color with a nice white head on it, and it left great lacing on my pint glass. The scent is very fresh with scents of citrus and grassy hops and pale sweet malt coming in as well. The flavor profile is a combination of spicy citrus fruit and the bready malt. A better than average IPA that was fresh and well made. I do hope I can get more of this beer in the future.

My second beer was a DIPA from The Livery brewing company's Double Paw. This was also my first beer from The Livery. I don't know much about them, but after looking at their website I need to stop in and see them. They are really not far into Michigan from NW Indiana. Their website says this beer is brewed using a single malt and single hop variety. I get grapefruit and pine in the nose and that comes through just the same in the flavor profile with enough malt to back up the hops. This was a good beer, but wasn't what I was expecting in a DIPA. The aroma was a bit subdued as was the flavor profile, but the other side of the coin is that this is a very easy drinking DIPA without any type of harsh bitterness or alcohol on the mouthfeel.

I also tried Jolly Pumkin's Madrugada Obscura on cask. The HopCat has a new beer on handpull every single Friday! Jolly Pumpkin is another Michigan brewer that has a great reputation for their beer, but are unavailable in Indiana (but are found in most states touching Indiana). Their beers are oak aged and bottle conditioned. They put some amazing dedication into their beer. I personally though did not enjoy this beer. It had loads of roasted malt in there, but also sour fruit in the flavor profile. The two together just didn't meld well for me.

CORRECTION: Chris from Dig-B corrected me that Jolly Pumpkin is available at Kahn's. I've never seen it up there. Thank you for the heads up Chris.

HopCat is a must stop place if you are in Grand Rapids. This was really a great value as well. We ordered food for two, three beers, and left for 28 bucks. All of the beers are around the four dollar mark. The only other bar I would rather be in would be the Heorot in Muncie. The Heorot helped me love craft beer, and I still have sentimental values towards it, but the HopCat is right behind them in my book. If, and when, I make it back to Grand Rapids this will be a place I go to again.



CorrND said...

This bar sounds awesome. Someday I'll make the trip up to Michigan to check out all the breweries and beer stops up there.

I don't know if this is a recent addition, but Jolly Pumpkin is available at Kahn's. Their webpage says they carry Calabaza Blanca and Oro de Calabaza. I was just there earlier this week and I think there are two other Jolly Pumpkin beers on the shelves that aren't in their online system.

Matt said...

Awesome Chris, thank you very much for pointing that out. I need to get up there and get some.

CorrND said...

If you want more motivation to go to Kahn's, Rod and Jess let me know that they've got a big sale on Avery stuff going on right now: 22s of Salvation, 14, 13, Kaiser all for $4.99. They've even got Mephistopheles Stout in right now ($6 for a 12oz. bottle). I'm not sure how rare that is, but I've never seen it before. There are a couple more that I can't remember (maybe Samael's Ale).

Generik420 said...

Wow that place sounds absolutely fantastic! Looks like you got to try some really good beers that I had never even heard of before. Going to have to check that out whenever I finally make my Michigan brewery trip.

BTW, Jolly Pumpkin is also available at Party Pak and I am thinking I have seen at least 1 variety at The Hop Shop as well. Would love to be able to try it on cask.

Matt said...

I've never seen Jolly Pumpkin at party pak. I need to open up my eyes a little more and look for it I guess.

And this place was awesome, and they do Growler fills of anything there.