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HopCat

Not Rated.
HopCatHopCat
BA SCORE
100
world-class

307 Ratings
Ratings: 307
Reviews: 194
rAvg: 4.6
pDev: 9.35%
Active Beers: 50
Beer Ratings: 286
Beer Avg: 3.8
Taps: 48
Bottles: 150
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Brewery, Bar, Eatery ]

25 Ionia SW
Grand Rapids, Michigan, 49503
United States
phone: (616) 451-4677

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @hopcatgr

Notes:
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)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 307 | Reviews: 194 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of akorsak
4.18/5  rDev -9.1%

Visited following dinner at Founders. The end of Day 1 of the Michigan tour.

Atmosphere: The bar is great, long and wooden with multiple tap line-ups. There appeared to be outdoor seating, although we settled down inside.

Quality: Two of the first three beers ordered were either freshly kicked or on yet on tap, a bad start to the night. I didn't leave the table, so I can't comment on anything else.

Service: We had a good time with our waitress. She was especially understanding when both JP beers that we ordered were kicked or still on deck. She recommended replacements and chatted us up.

Selection: Wow. A focus on Michigan but still too much good stuff. I wish that I had been here earlier, as I was just too waterlogged to dig into the taplist.

Food: Didn't eat.

akorsak, Jul 20, 2009
Photo of Gigantis
4.18/5  rDev -9.1%

As a beer enthusiast and Grand Rapids bargoer, it is still surprising to me that I had only been to this bar once (and that was just a quick stop in). Apparently, Hopcat is the #3 beer bar. Well, I had my doubts because, let's face it, we're talking about downtown Grand Rapids; home to such establishments as McFaddens, the Taphouse formerly known as Taps and Gardella's. For those of you who do not know, these places are meatmarkets on a good day.

Well, I'm pleased to say that the Hopcat is head-and-shoulders above those other travesties. It was busy, as is often the case I gather, but my wife and I were able to get a seat at the bar and the other patrons were nice enough to move down so that our friend could sit as well. The service at the bar was a little slow and it took about five minutes for anyone to give us the beer menu. By that point I had already gotten a pretty good idea of the selection by looking at the taps.

The menu is really one big page that divides the beers by "North American", "Michigan", and "International". The first two sections were pretty extensive with about fifteen to twenty offerings each. The latter section wasn't impressive.
The price and serving glass type are listed as well as a brief description of what you're getting (American Strong Ale, IPA, etc.)

I ordered a Hopslam and my wife got a Hairy Eyeball. She did not like the Hairy Eyeball so I traded with her. Both beers tasted great. The place started to get really busy (so much so that there was a line that a friend of mine had to wait in for twenty minutes just to get in!) later on. We found comfy seats in a booth and our waitress was fantastic. I had two more beers (Scotty Karate and and Cereberus 10).

The place is really roomy and beautiful. There is a loft where people can smoke or you could go outside to their patio which offers a lovely view of the side of Van Andel Arena and a parking lot.

While the beer was great throughout my visit, once it got busier, the same cannot be said of the clientele. What's the word I'm searching for here? Oh yeah: deutschy! A lot of drunk meatheads and their bimbettes abounded around the witching hour and they clearly weren't there for the beer because they ordered bottles of Miller Lite. One drunkard sat down at our booth and I had to be rather firm with him in order to make him leave.

I didn't eat the food, but those who did said that it was "OK". Most of the beers ranged from 4 to 6 bucks. Others were more expensive. Most of the rarer beers come in a snifter, so you aren't gonna be getting a pint every time you order. This was fine though, since by the time I finished my third beer I was certainly feeling it. The aforementioned waitress only encouraged my drinking by getting me a fourth beer and bringing me a water with it. Thanks, tootz.

In summary,

Pros:
-Solid selection of tap beers
-nice, fun, knowledgible staff
-beautiful ambiance with high ceilings and lots of woodwork
-non-smoking

Cons:
-Lots of deutschbags came later on
-it gets busy... very busy
-could be too expensive for some
-non-smoking

Gigantis, Feb 09, 2009
Photo of hophunter
4.15/5  rDev -9.8%

I usually try to make a point of coming here at least once a year. Stopped by a week ago and figured I should probably review it!

The atmosphere is warm and I am in love with the nouveau decor and style with the brass/heavy wood combo that make it a great place to appreciate a fantastic beer. The selection of beer is extensive and impressive; with beers from all over the world i'm really glad they highlight the local beers made in Michigan. The Local First advocacy is something that is finally starting to gain some headlight in restaurants. I find it commendable.

Because of the widespread beers and styles, the menu was chaos. Some beers were in...some not. It was anyone's guess. However, it's organized now in a way that can be easily updated and most people can understand it.

Service is average. sometimes you can get built a good rapport with the friendly waitstaff where they are happy to help you/ serve you/ talk to you. Other times the service is just...meh.

Food is great depending on what you get. It's a bar, so order bar food like burgers and fries which are divine. The mac and cheese is tasty. But don't order a burrito from a place that doesn't specialize in mexican food...I guess that's a given anywhere you go.

Quality of beer is great! never had a dirty glass or a dirty beer! No flatness, no funk, they know how to serve beer and that i respect most of all.

Value? Paying a pretty penny for good beer is something any beer enthusiast has no problem with. However, I feel a few of the beers run a bit steeper than they should. All in all, it's a remarkable place to hang out and have a variety of beers at your fingertips.

#3 beer bar in Michigan? yes!
#3 beer bar in the world...questionable?

I wish I could rate value because it does effect how I feel about a place. It's truly disheartening when I know I can get a beer for half the price somewhere else. so, the rating is higher than what I would actually place it.

hophunter, Sep 18, 2010
Photo of slowbie
4.15/5  rDev -9.8%

I used to go to this place quite a bit when I lived in the area, but after a trip back I decided to finally write a review.

It's a dimly lit place with a good amount of seating, even better during the summer. I like the atmosphere quite a bit on their less busy days but it gets really loud and really packed on weekends and some weeknights.

They carry some of the best quality beer of any bar I've been to. One BMC-ish option and a bunch of craft. They are probably the only place in west Michigan that you will find Kuhnhenn, and they are likely to carry beers from other great Michigan stops such as Dark Horse and Shorts (and of course Founders and Bells).

They also brew their own beers, many of which are, for lack of a better word, weird (e.g. sage pale ale, orange IPA). Whenever I've ordered one that sounds good it's been excellent though and the prices are relatively cheap for the quality of beer. However, about every other time I go all of the Hopcat brewed beers look a little too out there for me. (Though I'm admittedly not a fan of too much spicing in my beer).

I'm ranking the service above average because every server in there is more knowledgeable about beer than at most places. However, from a non-beer knowledge standpoint, the service is average at best. I've never had a great waiter/waitress, and I've had a couple that were not so great.

As far as selection goes, I've been to places with twice the taps and half the selection of Hopcat. This is helped by the fact that they have one rotating BMC tap. The other taps tend to change with the seasons (i.e. I couldn't find a barleywine on tap last summer but when I went recently the menu was mostly barleywines, stouts, and strong ales).

The food is good, the fries are better, although I haven't been overly impressed by their other appetizers. But nobody goes to hopcat for the food anyways.

Hopcat has the best selection in the area, but it doesn't have the best prices or service. Their prices get especially dicey on the more expensive beers. Still a great place that I plan on returning to though.

slowbie, Jan 06, 2011
Photo of waldoiverson
4.15/5  rDev -9.8%

The venue is conveniently placed downtown and the size is substantial compared to most beer bars. The tap selection was well curated but I wish there would have been some more cask pulls on sample. I particularly liked the local selection. Food was pretty standard pub fare but well done. Service was good but not overly attentive or proactive. I would love to try it again on a busy night to see how the vibe stacked up. All in all, highly recommended for the tap selection and thoughtful bottle options.

waldoiverson, Oct 27, 2010
Photo of MrIncognito
4.13/5  rDev -10.2%

I went hear to relax and blow off some steam during a work trip. It was recommended by a local working at the Amway Grand, thanks buddy.

Really great beer selection from beers all over the world and also craft brews. I think they need to update their menu more frequently. I wanted to try a number of beers that "weren't available" anymore. The bar tender was very knowledgable and was able to make some recommendations. This is where I had my first Flanders Red (Rodenbach) thanks to the recommendation from the bar tender. Went perfectly with my greek salad. The sour and bitter of both mixed perfectly.

The atmosphere is cool. Like half bar and half beer hall. They even had the long tables with benches like at the Hofbrauhaus Munchen. Big HD tv's to watch the local sporting event, in this case the Tigers.

MrIncognito, Nov 07, 2008
Photo of jkrich
4.08/5  rDev -11.3%

On a recent trip to visit my niece in Grand Rapids, I put this at the very top of my destinations. Located in downtown Grand Rapids, the festive bar/brewpub was large enough to handle a very large crowd on a late Saturday afternoon. The extensive beer list comes on a laminated sheet arranged by styles. All Michigan breweries are prominently displayed. The waitress seemed to have a good knowledge of the beers. Despite the crowd we received our drinks and food in a respectable time. The food offerings were largely sandwiches, i.e. reuben, french dip, chicago style, and addictive, seasoned "crack fries". I also purchased a hopcat tee shirt. My beer drinking and eating experience was marred a bit by the extremely hot peppers on my sandwich. The menu only referred to these peppers as spicy.
By the way, the music played was very diverse and eclectic. I even heard an obscure Grateful Dead song. Because this location is downtown, parking is a premium. There were parking lots charging 7-9 dollars; street parking was difficult to find. However, it was well worth the visit.

jkrich, Apr 25, 2011
Photo of Sammy
4.08/5  rDev -11.3%

This place rocks. It is very buzy, and the many small bar tables are conducive to relaxing and trying many beers. Glasses are hand washed, so the aroma is appreciated of the beers. Six new beers out of seventy something taps were changing on the fly! To talk to the brewer (there are 4 or more taps for their own) and get continued service, best to come well after the lunch crowd. Speedy service, despite not having many staff. Was here with one of the owners of Founders, otherwise I found it only average friendliness from other patrons. Founders was better in that regard. With this bar, and Founders down the street, its a wicked double play for Grand Rapids.

Sammy, Aug 07, 2009
Photo of craft_shannie
4.08/5  rDev -11.3%

We visited for drinks & lunch. It's a quick walk from the Ford & public museums. Popular & crowded, it took us 30 minutes or so to grab a table in the early afternoon. Cool space - tall tin ceiling, beautiful long bar, good variety of tables - bar height, bench tables, half circle seating. The space - even though crowded & loud - has a nice intimacy to it. For being voted the #3 Beer Bar on Planet Earth by Beer Advocate magazine, I expected more of a selection. Draught beer choices were featured on a menu - one pager - maybe 25-30. I had two stout choices w. what was already sold out. Service was OK. Food section was standard, but good. Don't get me wrong, I would love to have HopCat down the block from me, but not sure it's deserving of #3 on Planet Earth distinction.

craft_shannie, Apr 06, 2013
Photo of mrkrispy
4.05/5  rDev -12%

Stopped by Grand Rapids overnight and the BA Forum seemed to have a resounding "HopCat is a Must!". I whole heartedly agree with them.

I stopped in right around 6:00pm on a Tuesday. Busy, but not standing room only. Being solo, I grabbed a seat at the bar, and was given a menu right away. The bar is a graceful old school curvy wood bar, elegant and classy. This place isn't a dive bar by any means. Tigers game on the tube. Tables were all full, so you might have to wait a while.

Excellent selection of beers on tap, all styles except the Wild/Sour ales represented. There were a few Jolly Pumpkins, but not the sour stuff. Oh well. Bartender offered a few tasters, and they were friendly. However, they got to be chatty with certain people so several people seated near me (and including me) went with empty glasses several times. They also forgot what I ordered for beer, and for food. Same with the guy next to me.

Perused the bottle list, good set of Michigan and East Coast beers. Still no love for the sours.

Got a cheese sandwich with came with the Crack Fries. No descriptor of the crack fries, so I figured they would be doused in gravy and covered with bacon and chili haha. Not so much, just an interesting seasoning on them. Food arrived fairly quick.

If you are in Grand Rapids, this is only a short walk from Founders, so be sure to stop by both.

mrkrispy, Aug 19, 2009
Photo of sullenbee
4.01/5  rDev -12.8%

I honestly don't understand the hype. Don't get me wrong, HopCat is an exceptional bar. Great beer selection, great decor, and a great alternative to other downtown Grand Rapids bars.

My experiences have been fairly mediocre when it comes to atmosphere. Service however, has been attentive on slow nights, but somewhat non-existent on busy nights. (Which is understandable, sometimes places just get busy) Perhaps I'm choosing the wrong nights to check HopCat out. In reality, I'm probably just an odd duck.

Things I do enjoy: No smoking, other than the smoking lounge.

Beer selection is phenomenal, and doesn't disappoint. I really need to make it out to some of their special beer events/dinners.

In all, I'm going to keep trying to talk friends into accompanying me there. I really think I just need to find the right crowd to make me comfortable, and it could easily become a regular stop for me to try out new beers.

sullenbee, Feb 15, 2010
Photo of Jackofallbrews
4.01/5  rDev -12.8%

We made a quick walk through the darkening evening of Grand Rapids, seeing the bright yellow sign loom before us like a grinning beacon to beery goodness. I love the black cat holding a beer logo for this place! We were arriving late and the kitchen was only doing a limited bar menu, but we were so hungry that we didn't want to go looking for something else. Besides, they had a huge beer menu! They don't really do samples, but our waitress was great and brought me a taste of each of the house beers. Those were mostly mediocre. The Jerk beer had an interesting array of tropical and spicy flavors, but I wouldn't drink much of it. The Blueberry Sour was quite disgusting (coming from a sour beer lover) with hot burning acid and enteric flavor. I appreciate the effort, but ended up ordering a cask Oak Aged Hatter from New Holland. It was only later that I noticed the huge bottle beer list on the back of the menu! They had pricey but very rare Belgian beers on there for up to $40! The bar food was decent, but not light! I had the tasty but deadly (to my heart) Crack Fries with cheese. I really liked the vibe in this place and the staff was great, but more as a beer bar than a brewpub.

We actually ended up here again a few days later and bought one of those expensive bottles. Had another good experience at that visit as well.

Jackofallbrews, Jun 30, 2014
Photo of mattyrubes
4/5  rDev -13%

mattyrubes, Jul 21, 2014
Photo of Sparky44
4/5  rDev -13%

Sparky44, Dec 15, 2013
Photo of todd-roy
4/5  rDev -13%

todd-roy, Oct 26, 2013
Photo of ms333
4/5  rDev -13%

ms333, Aug 19, 2014
Photo of Faunland
4/5  rDev -13%

Faunland, Aug 11, 2014
Photo of spark3148857
4/5  rDev -13%

spark3148857, Jun 07, 2014
Photo of Frosty80
4/5  rDev -13%

For living only a couple of blocks away from this place i should have a chair with my name on it. this is a beer lovers oasis. steve has some terrific beers come through there that you wont find anywhere else. dont bother showing up and expect a cosmo. this is for the beer geek. dont worry though - they still have some monday-night football favorites too. the food is great. for a very reasonable price you can enjoy your sipping with an order of the best fries on the planet - the infamous "crack fries." they have a separate second-level loft dedicated to those who need to compliment their starchy courses with some tobacco gravy. even this area is worth lounging in. its like pulling a couch out on the porch and drinking under the clearest of starry nights. the mens bathroom is nothing like youve ever seen. the ultimate "mens room." this place will be around for a long time. ill make sure of it.

now that ive given the praise, let me give the downside. whats with the staff? they need to get over themselves and focus on service. at times (most of the time) the service, particularly the bartenders, sucks. try acting like its an honor to work there and MOVE YOUR ASS!

Frosty80, Jan 09, 2009
Photo of twelvsies
3.95/5  rDev -14.1%

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.

twelvsies, Mar 20, 2009
Photo of EnJeiBee
3.95/5  rDev -14.1%

This is one of my favorite places to go in Grand Rapids. Their selection is smaller than only one bar in GR (Logan's Alley) and the atmosphere is amazing. That being said, they have some of the worst service of any beer bar I have ever been to! It's one of those places that has so many people who want to be there that they don't care if you leave or not. Unless you seek out your server you're probably going to be sitting with an empty beer for some time. I really wish more staffers there were like Katie (she doesn't work there anymore, but she was amazing!).

EnJeiBee, Jun 01, 2011
Photo of chinchill
3.89/5  rDev -15.4%

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.

chinchill, Aug 13, 2013
Photo of jbrown1
3.88/5  rDev -15.7%

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.

jbrown1, Nov 15, 2009
Photo of Gotti311
3.68/5  rDev -20%

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.

Gotti311, Jan 04, 2013
HopCat in Grand Rapids, MI
100 out of 100 based on 307 ratings.