Jan 27, 2012

Beer Heaven Right Here On Earth

~Beer Czar Note~ A few weeks ago, I posted a link from Draft Magazines list of top 100 Beer bars in America. If you recall, I mentioned I was sending my intrepid Beer Czar contributing writer, Uncle Gary out to write up one of the bars mentioned, Hopcat, in Grand Rapids Mich. Well, here it is folks!!!

Beer Heaven Right Here On Earth
By Gary Morrison

Beautiful view of the bar at Hopcat!

A person who has trouble making up his mind will have a tough time deciding on which beer to drink on his or her first visit to HopCat.

Taps at Hopcat
Voted the third best beer bar in the world by Beer Advocate, HopCat in Grand Rapids, Michigan has 48 handpull taps behind the bar and another 200 to 300 beers in bottles. Those beers comprise an array of Michigan and regional craft brews, global beers, and a large selection of Belgians. Also included is a range of HopCat’s own beer brewed on premises. Looking at the beer menu then becomes a matter of choosing what you will drink at the moment while in the back of you mind planning what you will drink on your next visit. And that is part of the grand plan of HopCat manager and chief beer geek Steve Smith.

Just a few of the many...
“I’m on the lookout for beer,” Smith says. “My job is researching beer and planning events featuring beer. When it comes to beer, we want to stay ahead of the curve.”

HopCat has a heavy rotation of beer, Smith says. You can walk into the bar with friends at the beginning of the week and have a particular selection and then come back later in the week with a different group and have a different selection.

They rotate at least twelve taps a week, Smith says. That means he has to update his beer menu twice a week.

“With a heavy rotation, I can keep the beer fresh,” he says. “But I also do some aging. I have some stronger styles in barrels such as barley wines, sour ales, and imperials that I’ll pull out for festivals.”

For those times your not in the mood for a beer, HopCat has a full bar offering cocktails and wines. All of that, plus the beer, pairs well with HopCat’s dynamite food menu. For times you’re not interested in a craft or global beer, Smith also offer American and Euro lagers beers as well.

“That style will never go away,” he says referring to the Euros. “A lot of people will come in for those as well as use a lighter beer to cleanse out their pallet before venturing to another bolder tasting beer.”

With all of the possible beers to stock, Smith relies on social media such as Facebook and Twitter and beer websites like Beer Advocate to see what is trending. Once he decides what to carry, he relies on a network of eight different distributors for delivery.

Becky Hall
That suits customers like Becky Hall just fine. She drops into HopCat once or twice a week because she likes the selection of porters and stouts.

“I love the variety of porters and stouts,” she said. “At other places, the beer is all the same. I can come here and have a large selection to choose from.”

Dick Terpstra
Long time customer Dick Terpstra likes the ambiance and friendly service just as much as beer. He doesn’t have any favorite beer because he likes them all.

“It’s hard to have a favorite,” said Terpstra, a regular customer since HopCat opened four years ago. “I love the selection; there are a lot of choices.”

Shelby Williams
Bartender Shelby Williams has worked at HopCat since it opened. She cannot count how many beers she has served in that time, but can tell of the trends she has seen from behind the bar.

“Besides our beers from around the country, people want to drink local beers,” she says. “There are so many beers. I serve a lot of IPAs, but in the winter, people like their stouts.”
My thanks to Uncle Gary! Gary is the older brother of my father, Don. He resides in Grand Rapids Michigan with his wife Linda. Gary is a writer (working on finishing a book) and Power lifter. If you are interested in WWII History, and/or Theater, please check out my Uncle's Website Morrison-TG and check out his info on his one man show "Hi, I'm Ernie Pyle", or even check out a show that may be near you!!!

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