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HopCat

Not Rated.
HopCatHopCat
BEER AVG
3.81/5
Based on:
36 Beers
201 Ratings
Place Score: 100
Ratings: 333
Reviews: 197
rAvg: 4.57
pDev: n/a
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:
Place added by: hopcatgr on 01-06-2008

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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 333 | Reviews: 197 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of spartanlaker
5/5  rDev +9.4%

Photo of scerbin
4.75/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of ronin926
4.76/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of tmoneyba
4.5/5  rDev -1.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Directly on Ionia Street with parking lot on the side and street parking. Clean brick and wood older building with bar on right and tables in front and on the left. Forty plus taps with list on chalk board on wall. All were drinkable brews with many Michigan selections. Freindly bartender and staff with good knowledge. They have brewing equipment for future brewing operation. Interesting selection of distilled products. Reviewed good menu, but did not have food. Interesting location and well worth the visit if you are within an hours drive of Grand Rapids.

Photo of Gigantis
4.18/5  rDev -8.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

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

Photo of jkrich
4.08/5  rDev -10.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

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.

Photo of jampics2
3.23/5  rDev -29.3%
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.

Photo of lurpy1
4.84/5  rDev +5.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

I was there for 30 minutes after the Bolt Cutter release, and all I can say is "oh my fucking god". The place hits all the right notes for a relaxed pub. The barkeeps are friendly, prompt, and know their stuff. Then there is the beer list. Mind blowing in its expansiveness. They are getting ready for a Wood and Wild fest which has a list that will break your heart if you're not going. Being not hungry at all, I did not eat. However, the guy next to me ordered the vaunted crack fries, and based on smell, that name is by no means an exaggeration.

It is a shame I was not able to linger. Best bar I've ever been in.

Photo of seanpsu33
4.75/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of Titanic_Ant
4.25/5  rDev -7%

Photo of SourAddict
4.25/5  rDev -7%

Photo of larryarms847
5/5  rDev +9.4%

Photo of Samurai_Jesus4
4.54/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.25

Photo of MrIncognito
4.13/5  rDev -9.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

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.

Photo of otto251068
4.25/5  rDev -7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Atmosphere: Hopcats is right in the middle of downtown Grand Rapids, so its space is fairly limited. The tables are really packed in there, and most of the time, so are the patrons. Always super busy, and I always feel surrounded. If you are claustrophobic, you might have a rough time. In terms of atmosphere, Hopcats doesn't have anything special.

Quality: Huge tap selection, which is always being changed, so I don't worry about the quality too often. They also have a ton of bottles for sale which they keep in storage in refrigerated cabinets. Everything looks to be in order. Big fan of all the glassware, every drink is served in the appropriate glass.

Service: Been here a couple dozen times, and the service is always hit and miss. At the bar, the tenders always make sure you have a drink in front of you. At a table, the waiters and waitresses seem to occasionally make a lap, but they never seem to be around when I need them. On the plus side, they know every beer on the menu, and are very helpful.

Selection: Huge. So many different styles and flavors from all over the world. Tons of locals, tons from all over the US. The menu is sorted by location, big fan. There are just so many beers here, I really can't say enough about it. Lots of great beers from Belgium.

Food: I don't come here for the food, but I have had it, and it is pretty good. Of course, the crack fries are insane, and they have a lot of great munchies that are perfect for snacking on when drinking great beer.

Value: Expensive, but of course it depends on what you buy. The Michigan locals are on the lower end, and some others are way more expensive. I stick to the lower end of the spectrum, but always finish with some higher price stuff.

Photo of tat2matt
4.9/5  rDev +7.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

When my girl and I decided to visit her family in Michigan (my first time visiting the state), we knew we would find some local breweries/pubs to hit. We love beer and would try to find crazy guys home brewing in their compounds if we were lost in the desert. I did my research and discovered HopCat, but didn't think we'd make it to that side of the state. Then God smiled upon us and gave us a perfect reason (beyond beer) to go to Grand Rapids. I was silly happy like some kid knowing he's going to Disneyland.

Naturally, we started at Founders, but made our way to HopCat for dinner and drinks. The place was exactly what I hoped it would be, a dark-ish joint in an old building with a bunch of random crap on the walls and more tap handles than any beer lover could ever hope to view. The place was pretty much packed, but it didn't seem cramped, and never was conversation with our hosts difficult.

The beer selection was ridiculous. Prices were reasonable. I started with Arcadia's HopMouth Double IPA, then moved to HopCat's own Hoppopotamus. Both were delicious and perfectly complimented the very tasty fish and chips I ordered. The food was great, the beers were great, and the service (Adam) was outstanding. The entire experience was exactly what I had hoped it would be. Had we not planned to visit Brewery Vivant and another local brewery, I easily could have spent the entire evening at HopCat.

Any beer lover who finds themselves with an hour or two of Grand Rapids should make the effort to go to this bar and enjoy everything about it. It is absolutely deserving of every accolade it receives.

Photo of alexanf
5/5  rDev +9.4%

Photo of bunnyhustle
4.95/5  rDev +8.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

This is the best bar I have ever been to in my life hands down! And the crazy thing is I went for lunch on a Wednesday!

On a recent trip to MI I thought "what the hell" and emailed HopCat not really expecting a response. I got a reply from the owner with some recommedations and welcoming me and my friends to come by. I arrived with my girl about a half hour or so after they opened and it was already starting to fill. We took a seat at the bar and started looking over the huge beer list. I asked if the owner who I had emailed was there and the bartender pointed out he was sitting right next to me. I introduced myself and he even gave my girl (after she commented on how muhc she liked the ladies room) a personal tour of the mens room as he was particularly proud of it. Very classy guy I must say.

I ordered a Shorts Huma Lupa Licious and my girl got a Shorts Nicie Spicie. We split a buffalo chicken sandwhich which came with some of the "crackfries" and it was great. The fries were so good it wasnt till I was finished that I noticed I didnt even use ketchup and I always have ketchup with fries. My friend got their mac'n'cheese which was also great. The food was very good and reasonable. Then we had another employee introduce himself (I forgot his name though) as he heard we were from Vegas. He told us about this great place to eat out here that we didnt even know about. The staff we encountered were all terriffic. We kinda felt like VIP's.

Either way this place was amazing. They didnt have any of their house brews on tap yet but they didnt need any. The beer menu, both bottles and draft, was amazing. I loved my Shorts and even got a complimentary sample of Great Lakes Blackout Stout (on nitro!). I wish we could have stayed all day but only had time for lunch as we were passing through town. It was a great time and a beautiful place. Good ambience, beer, food, and staff. You CANNOT go wrong with this place!

Photo of jcompton
4.85/5  rDev +6.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

i went into the hopcat on on friday afternoon and had extremely high expectations due to this sight. this place definitely lives up to the hype.

I had Arcadia Sky High Rye, Shorts Huma Lupa Lucious IPA, and Founders Breakfast Stout. all were great. they had a post stating they were tapping a firkin of Founders Centennial IPA that evening.

the service was very knowledge of the brews and also willing to throw out a suggestion.
i had the Sloppy Joseph and "crack fries." i'd say it's above average pub fare.

the interior is almost all wood and kept very clean. in the back is an area where they brew a few beers. the crowd was mostly local professionals have lunch and a brew.
there is no doubt i will revisit this place everytime i go to GR. this place is a gem.

Photo of Baileyuk
4.95/5  rDev +8.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Well after finally getting to eat here off the regular menu I am able to fully put in a review.

I fell in love with this place as I watched a Soccer Match on the flat screen (a perfect amount in the place). The feel has a true pub feel to it for some reason, so many have tried but this is good.

Quality of the building, selection, staff knowledge, and everything else is awesome.

Selection is top notch, probably the best in Michigan. There are a few close to it but with seeking out rare finds this is just above. Lots of Shorts including some stuff they aged themselves so even I did not have any anymore. They have some shared storage space in the old mines. Little touches like that put this into the elite tier.

Food was excellent, I have been to a couple of beer dinners and was very satisfied but this was my first trip. Was no kids menu which was not the end of the world due to some appropriate choices on the menu anyways. Was not a great fan of my barbecue sauce but I put that down purely to personal preference as my wife liked them alot. Fries awesome, as was the coleslaw.

Photo of troywhittaker
3.43/5  rDev -24.9%
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.

Photo of eopacich
4.33/5  rDev -5.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Ah, The Hopcat. So I saw the #3 status and read the hype so I had to make a road trip. This was the centerpiece of my tour, but I also made stops at Sicilianos, International Beverages, GB Russo, and Founders. The Hopcat is a great brewpub. Nice handsome dark woods, hardwood floor on the ceiling, vintage beer artwork, nice old brick,great woodwork and heavy metals on the bar - exactly what a kick ass brewpub should look like. Awesome selection of beers. 48 on tap. Now I've been to places with 50+ taps but there is no crap on their drafts here - lots of great beers. Great selection plus a ton of bottled beers too. Lots of talk about the bathroom so I had to check out both (whoops, too many beers and I accidentally found my way into the women's room). Came here Friday night at 5 ish and amazingly there were open tables (Founder's was packed by 4). Came back for lunch the next day - had a great Pork sandwich (ask for some BBQ sauce) and the crack fries live up to their namesake. Not sure if this is #3 in the world but definitely one of the best in the midwest. I will be back.

Photo of EnJeiBee
3.95/5  rDev -13.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2 | selection: 5 | food: 4

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!).

Photo of dorianmarley
4.63/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

Photo of Thereformedtheo
5/5  rDev +9.4%

HopCat in Grand Rapids, MI
100 out of 100 based on 333 ratings.