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Extreme Beer Fest
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Active Beers: 40
Beer Ratings: 229
Beer Avg: 3.83
Taps: 48 / Bottles: 150
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: Y
$$ - reasonable
[ Brewery, Bar, Eatery ]
25 Ionia SW
phone: (616) 451-4677
Rated #3 Beer Bar on Planet Earth by Beer Advocate magazine.
Hours 11:30 AM - 2 AM seven days a week.
In-house brewing system up and running as of January 2009.
Large outdoor patio open year-round.
(Place added by: hopcatgr on 01-06-2008)
Ratings & Reviews
« first ‹ prev
| Reviews: 182 | Show All Ratings:
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.25 | service: 1 | selection: 4 | food: 3 | $$
Residing in GR I am fortunate to be able to frequent HopCat quite often. Being a regular, I've come to realize there is much needed for the bar to live up to it's reputation.
Atmosphere is decent but is always overcrowded. You're giving a multitude of different seating arrangements which can be either booths, couches (upstairs), picnic tables, or traditional seating. The bar looks quite dusty but my recommendation is to always sit at the bar...no matter what...as the bartenders are the only experienced staff in the establishment.
The service is obviously the Achille's Heel as the waitstaff are undertrained and unbelievably slow. I've walked in at 12:30AM with almost nobody in the bar and it has taken more than 15 minutes for a waitstaff member to come over. Additionally, I've had waitstaff confuse nitro beers with firkins...not something to expect with being named the 3rd best beer bar in the world.
HopCat has an outstanding collection if you're from out of town but often seems to cycle through beers if you're familiar enough with the establishment. Their bottle selection is quite a gem as they don't distribute menus unless you request. I was able to find some Mikeller even though it has sense stopped being distributed in the GR area.
People may rave about the Crack Fries, which are amazing, but the burgers seem to be quite generic (Sysco). Stella's across the street has hand formed burgers that come stuffed at the same price point...which is embarrassing concerning both restaurants share the same ownership.
I will say that HopCat throws some awesome parties. Their Wood and Wild Ale Fest last year brought some true whales to tap. Additionally, they throw parties when breweries enter the distro market and offer a chance to find some rarer beers.
Value is reasonable. Their specials often carry unreasonable stipulations like the $6 burger and beer combo being limited (last time) to a New Holland Kolsch despite the fact it carried the same price point as some of their own pub beers.
All in all I compare HopCat to DisneyWorld...Fun to take people when they're from out of town but you can see right through all of it's shortcomings. If they can't fix the service, at least fix the website as the taplist is sometimes months out of date...something in this day in age should be always synced.
10-15-2013 23:17:41 |
More by kylelenk
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
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5 | $$
I was really looking forward to this based on the Ba reviews. I did get to enjoy a couple regional beers, but the first three things I asked for were either out or not tapped (yet listed on menu and/or chalkboard).
The clientele was your typical Friday night crew and a bit younger (and rowdier) than I'd prefer.
Had some fries with my IPA's, but didn't taste anything else.
Overall very nice and polished, but not someplace I'd go frequently.
Wait staff was either overworked or indifferent, didn't see server much after the first order.
Update: I was contacted by the HopCat GM via BeerMail and after a series of email conversations, can advise that HopCat mgmt is sincerely interested in taking care of their guests. I was not asked to change anything in my review, but feel it's fair to give some credit for their candor and interest in correcting issues that affected my experience. I've bumped the service from 2 to 3.5.
07-24-2009 16:50:23 |
More by troywhittaker
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 4 | $$$
Went in with some friends from Grand Rapids while I was home on vacation. I was very interested in going to the number 3 rated beer bar as I'm a regular customer at the number 1 rated. The selection of beer was very good, but nothing really unusual. A lot of local and regional micros on tap. After fairly good service from our bartender for the first round, we all ordered a 2nd round. My friend Rick and I both got a Weissbier. Mine smelled like a swimming pool, Ricks smelled like a Weissbier. After waiting for our bartender to quit chatting it up with his friends, I finally gave up. By that time, we decided to go over to Founders which we should have done in the first place. My numbers are going to indicate a better score than I would give this pub, but I feel my responses are accurate.
01-05-2009 03:00:44 |
More by rixport
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 1.25 | selection: 4.75 | food: 3.25 | $$
The bar is BEAUTIFUL. The decor is off the charts. The beer selection is great. The staff and patrons ruin it.
Lots of douchebags. On both sides of the bar. On one particular visit (with a group of people that has a lot of industry experience) we asked for a taste of 2 beers. The girl behind the bar told us ’they are basically the same’. We still asked for the tastes anyway, and they were very, very different. This was after waiting more than 10 minutes for one of the 5 bartenders behind the bar to even acknowledge our presence. It was a moderately busy Friday evening ( I have been here in several times, so I’m not just basing this one visit). The bartenders had their backs to the customers, and they were gathered around a phone. When we finished our first round, we waited another 10 minutes with empty glasses before the bartenders turned around. The guy looked super annoyed that we asked for a beer. Same experience when ordering the second round.
I have 2 words for this place. Over it.
If I were the owner, I would ruffle some serious feathers. This staff sucks. If the bartenders could do their jobs, I could have given this place a near perfect rating.
08-05-2013 01:55:57 |
More by Fluffheady
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4 | $$$
Rated #3 Beer Bar on Planet Earth? Boo, I disagree! The beer selection is pretty good (you can check the website which is a plus) and the layout is good too.
But how did this place become 3rd best in the world? It isn't even in my top 20 in North America. Actually it's not even my top choice in Grand Rapids. My real beef is that you have to pay $1.50 for a small sample to see if you like a beer. On top of that, the server wasn't able to describe the beers (other than "it's an OK IPA"). So I ended up getting a crappy pint. Compared with the best practices of many other establishments regarding samples and information, I find this bar to be lacking in consumer sympathy.
Having said the above, you have a wide selection of beers to choose from, loads of TV's, good pbeer-related posters on the walls and ceiling, very good in most non-service respects. I'd highly recommend Founders over Hopcat (about 4 blocks away), but if you must try something non-Founders this place is close.
06-03-2009 20:17:03 |
More by TurdFurgison
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5 | $$$
We made this place a "must stop" when we were passing through Grand Rapids since it was so highly rated and everyone seemed to endorse the place. We made the mistake of going on a hockey night so the place was jam packed. We only have a very short wait before getting a table which was very nice.
I was excited before getting to this place about hearing so much about the beer selection. When I ended up getting there, I really had a hard time choosing a beer that I had not had before and one that actually sounded good to me.
I do give credit because they carry a bunch of local stuff. Had a Greenbush sour before trying the Hopcat Wild Shitake Sour, I encourage you to skip past this one.
Solid place definitely not a must stop.
01-04-2013 14:55:45 |
More by Gotti311
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
We lucked into HopCat with a recommendation of a local, and then after getting lost we found our way right in front of the door and I'm delighted that we did!
This place really has a charming atmosphere. While vintage French posters, HD TV's, brewery equipment, and elegant wood paneling don't naturally go hand-in-hand, HopCat makes it work. As a resident of Chicago, where beautiful old wood carved bars are the norm, HopCat has done the same, but with a newer and lighter grain.
Their beer selection is phenomenal. They showcase Michigan brewed beers, as well as their own HopCat brews. And if you thought Michigan only included Bells and New Holand, then you're in for a treat. The staff are self proclaimed beer geeks, and they are very knowledgeable. In addition, all pours are placed into appropriate glass where. And if you're not a beer nut, they offer a comprehensive selection of liquor.
However... we were a little surprised on a Monday night. With a football game going on, and a Metallica show across the street, that the kitchen closed promptly at the regular scheduled time. The bar staff does a great job with pours, but fell short working for tips. They didn't have any chips, pretzels or nuts out, so when I pointed to the 'pretzel' on the menu they said no can do. A bit later on, Mr Bartender bragged about their 'beer cellar', and when I asked if I may tour it with the manager, another no can do.
Good atmosphere, nice value, Michigan should be darn proud that someone showcases their goods, but don't expect red carpet treatment.
11-15-2009 00:09:24 |
More by jbrown1
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4 | food: 3.75 | $$
A large number of taps plus an outstanding bottle collection. Knowledgeable and efficient servers. Week day specials. More or less proper glassware is used. Very attractive interior is rather noisy despite the high ceilings. Beautiful wood bar houses 6 sets of taps. All of the food that I ordered or saw was nicely presented and appetizing, but didn't venture from standard pub fare. Tap list emphasizes Michigan brews. Beer menu is nicely organized by style.
08-12-2013 23:20:35 |
More by chinchill
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5 | $$$
Apparently this place is a relatively new beer bar, but I'd never been to Grand Rapids before so it was brand new to me. Been doing some beer travels the past few months and now finally getting around to recording them. This place is big - giant room, very brassy and polished looking, almost like a big old dining room or something. Lots of giant paintings of musicians on the walls and great music playing as well. I think the owners must be into jazz or something. Service was fine and the bartenders seem to know what they're doing, even got a nice recommendation for something new. The points for the selection at HopCat come from their wide array of local stuff. Lots of Michigan breweries featured here with a nice big menu with plenty of explanations and reading material about the beers. Local cask beer too, always a bonus. They had some nice Belgians but I wasn't wowed by that part of the menu. Still, HopCat is a pretty great place where you'll find something unusual and get into the local beer scene.
03-20-2009 18:51:00 |
More by twelvsies
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HopCat in Grand Rapids, MI
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