Active Beers: 40
Beer Ratings: 229
Beer Avg: 3.83
Taps: 48 / Bottles: 150
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: Y
Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 214 | Reviews: 184 | Show All Ratings:
4.46/5 rDev -2.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
I had no idea Grand Rapids was so big: The CSA has about a million and a half people, making it just a tick small than Indianapolis. Shouldn't they have a sports team or something? I'm sure Western Michigan is a fine institution, but there football team isn't FBS and therefore their school doesn't count as being real.
The downtown area is weird. It is large, it is filled with people and things, but because of arbitrary cultural prejudices, it also feels illegitimate. There's no Wrigley Field moment, where the first time you see a Grand Rapids landmark you go "whoa, there's X!" So even though I'd heard of Hopcat, I nearly walked right past it when I saw it.
Likewise, I was not immediately impressed with the place, even though I should have been. The bar stretched on forever, and there were literally a billion taps (my math might be off here).
We sat down and were handed laminated beer menus. My companion is new to the beer travelin' scene so I explained to her how these menus ain't always the best thing, since they get so quickly out of date. Then she goes "that's probably why they have that," and pointed toward a kickass chalkboard that had two columns on it. One column said "RUNNING OUT." The other "WILL BE REPLACED BY." That's awesome, and it made me start paying attention.
The menu was organized by style, not by brand or in alphabetical order. A pithy description of each beer was given, including style, ABV, IBU, and a line or two listing off its more salient characteristics. A list like that takes time to make.
The taps included a wide range of locals, midwestern/great lakes staples, interesting Belgian and Scandinavian imports, and a hearty selection of rares and one-offs from all around the globe. There was a beer for every mood and all of its was good.
The vibe was friendly, but a little Grand Rapidsy. I don't know how to describe it: we were certainly welcomed, but I couldn't figure out the pulse of the place well enough to really ingratiate myself into it. Still, the crowd was older and polite--there were no undergrads, no people in business suits, and no screaming drunkards. That's pretty good.
A definite must-stop.
06-21-2012 16:28:43 | More by mynie
4.94/5 rDev +7.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $$
I recently stopped here while in Grand Rapids on a brewery tour. Our last stop was Founders, and although the food was great, the selection that was on tap was just so-so and the crowd and horrible band just killed it for us. Coming off of that negative experience, we decided to walk the three blocks to HopCat as I had been pointed to by other BA members. Man am I glad we did!
Our wait time was only about 15 minutes, and on a Saturday night! The bar is spacious enough and very comfortable. We were seated at the corner booth back by the jukebox. I cant remember the name of the waitress but she was the best! I really wish I could remember her name so I could give her props! Never had an empty glass and always helped us pick out our next bottle to open up!
We ended up spending probably over two hours there. The music was really good. It was as if they tapped into my ipod. We made our way through some Aww Jeah, Black Cherry Porter, Freedom of '78, other various stouts and a bottle of B. Nektar Cherry Chipotle. We also had a few house brews. We didnt have any food as we had filled ourselves up earlier, but we were thinking hard about some of those crack fries!
I honestly cant wait to go back up to Grand Rapids so that we can stop by HopCat. Out of all the breweries we visited and all the places we went, this was our favorite and for me personally, held the most memorable part of the trip. I will return.
05-26-2012 06:14:24 | More by HopsMatt
4.83/5 rDev +5.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5 | $
I went here a couple of times during a weekend stay in Grand Rapids.
Atmosphere is nice and tasteful. I was here during the lunch hour and had ample seats available. I was also here at night where I couldn't find a seat to save my life. I read previous posts about this. I would agree it can be annoying, it is only if I can't get a beer. This wasn't the case. I got one right away by going up to the bar and immediately a bar tender took notice and served me. Issue resolved.
The beer selection is very good. While I respect a bottle selection and tap selection, I respect bars that showcase the local. This does that.
I had several of the house beers, all range from so so to excellent. The food here is the hidden gem. Maybe one of the better food and beer places here. Crack fries and mac and cheese are great as well as the burgers.
We didn't drive but there is ample parking in GR. Staff was polite and accommodating to my 1year old.
One suggestion, with such an extensive list of foods and beers, suggest some pairings. Only my opinion.
05-07-2012 18:23:35 | More by jneiswender
3.23/5 rDev -29.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3 | $$
Wow. What an overrated place! Not to say that HopCat doesn't have potential, but this place is anything but one of the top beer spots in the world.
We visited on 3-31-12 around 5:00 PM with a group of 10. Upon entering, we saw that this place looked pretty cool - the space is big and open, and it has charm. Cool vintage posters on the ceiling and a cool bar. Not a bad atmosphere at all, aside from the lack of any standing room and the constant seat-hawkers two people deep behind the bar stools.
The beers they make at HopCat are really average at best. We tried a BBL Strong ale that was pretty good, but the IPA (Hoppopotomus?) was a diacetyl bomb and the Irish stout was also very jagged around the edges. They were in the middle of 'cider fest' apparently and had 15 taps of cider. No worries, still had a broad selection, but I found it to be rather boring. Sure 15 more beer taps could have made a difference, but I hope they still had their best stuff on. I really enjoyed a few Paw Paw beers, but the house stuff and the Shorts beers were mediocre at best. Not to mention that the IPA really should not have been poured in a world class bar, let alone at a pub where the butter bombs are made on site. This place can't hang with Belmont in PDX, Brouwers in Seattle, Torornado or a few others I've been fortunate enough to drink in.
The service was also average. The waiter was more of a "runner" than a server. He never asked us what we liked, he just took orders. Not a personable experience at all, and it was pretty crappy turnaround. We started ordering the next beer half-way into the current and that made it work better. BY FAR my biggest complaint about HopCat is the outdated lists. Their website was horribly out of date and the bottle list would take 3-4 tries to actually get something. For a world class beer bar, the tap list on the website should be accurate as of that morning. Not a single beer on the site was there, and there was no mention of cider fest on the site. Now, on to the bottle list. If you're going to offer bottles, have them in stock. Two people in our group had to order 3 times to get a "hit". It's OK if some things are not available in the interest of not printing too many replacement lists, but the server should know what's in stock and what's not. Not only did this server NOT know, he would take 15 minutes to come back empty handed. He never made a suggestion and, I'm sorry, but if I came back empty handed I would go straight back for your next request, I wouldn't put you to the back of the line. Not to mention several misprints, including a $30 bottle that was 1/3 of the size advertised. To me, a world class beer bar has knowledgeable servers and creates a great experience. This was more frustrating than anything.
Selection was pretty good. Like 40 or 50 taps and 100+ bottles *although many of the bottles were not in stock* and the server did not know what was and what wasn't.
The food here is average at best. We started with "crack fries". For $4 a plate, we got maybe 20 seasoned french fries. They were tasty but very skimpy in portion. I ordered a Reuben wrap that was minuscule, my buddy ordered a medium rare burger that was well done. My friend who ordered the bacon red pepper mac and cheese probably choose the most wisely. My food was tasty but this place is very much glorified bar food, not a gastropub by any means.
The price was reasonable, probably $5 a pint - had a nice amount of beer and dinner for around $30 pre-tip. But here's the thing - I'm happy to pay $10 a pint for the experience of being in a world-class place. TO me that means smart, friendly, educated servers. NO BAD BEER at all. And updated lists. After all, we can't enjoy what you don't tell us.
I'm going back this year and will hit HopCat again with my wife, but we ended up leaving and heading back to Founders this particular night. This place was really average at best, and easily the most overrated/dissapointing beer bar I've been to EVER. Hope it redeems itself. I'll update this if it does.
04-01-2012 21:07:22 | More by jampics2
4.63/5 rDev +0.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
There is a reason Beer Advocate rates this place the #3 beer bar in the world: it is a blast. Hopcat makes being a beer nerd a cool and exciting experience. They have pages of available beers to choose from, including tons from Michigan and their own stuff, which is typically experimental. The place is always packed on weekends, letting the nerds depart from their basements and sample alongside real people. The food is good and American. And the people are as happy to show you new stuff as you are to try it.
02-22-2012 02:55:41 | More by dorianmarley
5/5 rDev +8.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $
Some times it pays to start your beer drinking in the afternoon. I came here with a friend on a visit to Grand Rapids and this was our first stop. They had so many beers on tap—I was overwhelmed at first by the number of handles at the different stations spanning the length of the bar—until I learned they will provide you with a ‘menu’ of available beers. It just so happened our visit was following a Short’s take over so there were a lot of Joe Short’s tasty beverages on tap.
That many offerings alone would make me a regular. I mean, just when you’ve worked your way through the board there’s always going to be something else you just have to try coming up, right? It’s a tough life, I know.
Even better was our server who endured/enjoyed our beer geek questions, shared recommendations and tasting notes of his own, and—in what has become the stuff of legend—poured us a flight of their house beers that was somewhere more on the side of half-pours than tasters. Truly epic! We left a hearty tip on a tab that should have been tripled anywhere else. Between this and Founders Grand Rapids beer drinkers have it made.
01-09-2012 22:16:32 | More by elNopalero
4.6/5 rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
Being from the U.P. of Michigan, HopCat has been nothing but a mystical beast for me. 460 miles away, there is no way I could travel there to enjoy all it's splendor, and make it home safely, right? Well, I just happened to be passing by, so enjoy I did!
HopCat has a really great corner location right in downtown GR (which is booming with youth, Michigan's light right now). Parking can be a bit tricky, just bite the bullet and park in the nearby parking garage. It's only a short two block walk to your every wish and joy.
The beer menu is vast. I hardly even looked at the bottle list, but most of the premium bottles were in front of my in their large "beer to go" cooler, so I checked it out. Impressive. A good mix of great beers from around the U.S., some really nice Belgian treats, and the who's who of Michigan barley pops.
The tap list is incredible though. I missed the remnants of the Wood and Wild Ale festival a few weeks early, but the tap list was still very impressive. Since this was my first time visiting, I had to try a house brew, the Frontiersmen. It was an interesting American Wild Ale aged in Cedar (which always blows my mind, being a whisky guy, cedar is a huge NO NO). Beer was pretty tasty. Nice funky notes, not too sour, but good depth of flavor, and the cedar really supported what was going on.
Food was good, atmosphere was upbeat with young business people from the local community. Great stop. I will be stopping again next time I pass through. It surely lived up to all the hype I had heard.
12-20-2011 15:38:38 | More by MarcatGSB
4.85/5 rDev +5.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5 | $$
Stop #331 on my world brewery tour.
7:00 PM on a Monday in mid December. 75% full and a couple of empty stools at the beautiful bar closest to the door. Wonderful view looking down the bar with the taps and the small brewery-behind-glass at the far end.
I've been to many of the finest beer bars on both costs, Philly, Chicago, and even passed on the Kulminator on a train connection in Belgium. Blah, blah, blah I'm real cool.
Hopcat is among the best. Two or three other places come somewhat close in terms of ambiance but fall a bit short. Beautiful woodwork and modest, historic signage throughout.
Reminded me of Ginger Man in Manhattan and the painful cost per pint.
Bartender greeted me immediately with a menu. I spent some time researching my first pick (Citra Pale from Odd Sides in Grand Haven) and he was patient and knew when I was ready.
I had to ask twice and was finally told they do $1 2 oz pours. Other great beer bars advertise this policy and I think Hopcat should consider being more forward with it because I went on with the following...
House beer sampler with one word review...
Honey herb'd pale (nice)
American IPA (creamy)
Cedar Aged American Wild (muddy)
MI Maple Dopplebock (spectacular)
Chili Porter (balanced)
Other samples I had...
North Coast Grand Cru
4 Elf Winter Ale from Darkhorse
BB Shamans Barrel Aged Porter
Bells Java Stout
I had the Greek salad and veggie chili and my bill came to $24.
Some reviewer(s) complained of the price for a sample. I think it's a wonderful idea to allow a person to explore as many beers as possible.
If I had to be critical, the food was ok. The Greek salad was passable but the veggie chili tasted like a bowl of refried beans. I'm comparing this with food from the coasts and I'm not factoring this into my review because I travel enough to know it's hard to get exceptional food in the central US outside of a major metro area.
No diet beers available. The bartender recommended other bars owned by the same company down the strip for that kind of stuff. This tainted the experience a bit that a group this good at craft beer would stoop to the masses. It's technically a local chain which I can live with but was slightly disappointed. It makes sense that it MIGHT be difficult to start up/finance/operate a place like this as a stand-alone operation. Off soapbox.
This was my third visit to Grand Rapids and I'm bummed that I didn't stop her my first time (went with BOB instead...booo).
The owner of Hopcat, Mark, read this review and informed me that all the other bars he/they own (Stella, Viceroy, Pyramid Scheme) serve the kind of alcohol he would like to drink and no BMC. I was misinformed by the bartender and apologize for a review with incorrect information.
12-13-2011 02:47:02 | More by Yetiman420
4.5/5 rDev -2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$
3rd stop on my great midwest brewery tour.
A beer bar and very small brewery located in downtown Grand Rapids. I came in here on a Sunday evening about 7PM. It was about 3/4 full. The atmosphere is that of a darkened pub. 48 taps plus one cask. They were having a Jazz jam which I believe they have every Sunday evening.
The menu highlights the beers from Michigan which is really cool. The beer selection is outstanding. All top notch stuff with an emphasis on American craft. They have a very small brewery in the back where they make a few different beers themselves. The prices are great as well. There is a chalkboard behind the bar that shows what kegs have kicked since the menu was printed as well as what kegs are on deck.
Food was very good, I had a burger and it was outstanding.
This place is highly recommended. Grand Rapids is very lucky to have this place and Founders within walking distance of each other.
12-08-2011 00:26:58 | More by willjschmidt
4.9/5 rDev +6.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
Stopped here for dinner and drinks one night on a road trip through western Michigan. This was undoubtedly the highlight of a trip filled with awesome breweries and brew pubs! Service is just flat out awesome. The people who work at this place go out of their way to make sure you get the most out of the beer they serve. Food was really good too. Atmosphere is very unique and the whole place seems centered around the bar which is perfect for a place that is known for their great beer. Some of the beer is a bit pricey, but considering that you can't find most of these beers on tap anywhere else, its understandable.
Overall, this was where we spent the most time at one place on our trip, and it was because this place is a fantastic place to drink beer and relax. Thanks HopCat! Can't wait to return
12-06-2011 23:58:56 | More by mobius387
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HopCat in Grand Rapids, MI
100 out of 100 based on 214 user ratings.