HopCat

BEER AVG
3.86/5
HopCatHopCat
PLACE INFO

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery

25 Ionia SW
Grand Rapids, Michigan, 49503
United States

(616) 451-4677 | map
hopcatgr.com

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.

Added by hopcatgr on 01-06-2008

BEER STATS
Beers:
45
Ratings:
252
Reviews:
72
PLACE STATS
Score:
99
Ratings:
400
Reviews:
199
Avg:
4.51
pDev:
6.21%
 
 
Taps:
48
Bottles/Cans:
150
Cask:
Y
Beer-to-Go:
Y
View: Beers | Place Reviews | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 400 |  Reviews: 199
Photo of DoubleSimcoe
3.68/5  rDev -18.4%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.75

The famous HopCat! This was our first beer stop in Grand Rapids. Located on a nice little street filled with bars and restaurants, two doors down from Grand Rapids Brewing.

We were there on a Friday afternoon at around 4pm and the place was busy but not crazy. HopCat is pretty big, with a long bar, booths right next to it and a lot of tables by the windows looking at Ionia Street, but it fills up quickly.

They had three house beers when the wife and I visited, including a nice Oil Rigger Imperial Stout, and a large draft menu divided in styles from lager to fruit-spice-smoke. Lots of local/Michigan beers, including Night Tripper, The Livery, Arbor, Short's, Vivant... and mainstays like Ommegang, Green Flash, Brooklyn. Some cool Belgians as well, such as Troubadour and Rodenbach.

I wasn't terribly impressed by the draft menu, though, considering how epic HopCat is supposed to be. Nothing super rare, barrel-aged or unique. And same with the bottle menu, which is pretty long but carries no surprises despite a vintage Old Guardian and Festina Peche here and there.

Service is alright but not great and the atmosphere is nice. A cool bar, for sure, but... one of the best in the nation? I beg to differ.

 1,222 characters

Photo of emerge077
4.33/5  rDev -4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

This was easily the highlight of a recent Michigan trip.

The place exuded an effortless cool, a combination of the turn of the century exterior, Art Deco & Folies Bergère posters framed on the ceiling, with the imagery incorporated elsewhere in the decor. Some nice paintings of 20th century jazz greats hung on brick walls in between art deco lanterns, hanging above intimate circular booths. Many tables, with a patio containing comfy sofas and furniture too. Brewing equipment was visible in the rear of the space. Multiple tap islands at the bar, maybe 6-8 per. I noticed the brand new Ommegang Rouge barrel-shaped handle, and ordered it first thing.

Once seated we ordered a round and had a couple appetizers. The food was good, "crack fries" were just ok in my opinion. It was busy, so it took a minute for initial service, but we were taken care of afterward.

Selection was really amazing for MI brews, there were 5 taps from Short's (it was a special of the month) and 5 from Kuhnhenn. Several from Arbor, Founders, and a few more obscure brewers too. Prices, style, and ABV were listed on the menu, also a plus. This place was worth the detour off 94.

 1,167 characters

Photo of Billolick
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Great looking room, large, high ceilings, huge windows looking out onto the active GR night life scene. Large bar area, all the beers on a large chalk board. 40 or so taps, great selection of multiple Michigan selections and all star choices from around the world. They are starting up their own brewery in the rear of the place and the fermenters were on display. Outside seating area. Beers served in appropriate glassware. Beer obviously being respected here. Pleasurable place for a visit, I'd be here often if I was local. (About 10 minutes drive to Sicicliano market and 3-5 mins from Founders)

 600 characters

Photo of Sammy
4.08/5  rDev -9.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

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.

 664 characters

Photo of TurdFurgison
3.59/5  rDev -20.4%
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.

 990 characters

Photo of Yetiman420
4.85/5  rDev +7.5%
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).

***UPDATE***
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.

 2,779 characters

Photo of MilwaukeeCrusher
4.86/5  rDev +7.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

What more can be said about the number 3 beer bar in the United States. Place had a totally cool retro feel to it and a long line of tappers. Considering the volume of micros to try it would already be more than enough, but... oh they also make their own beers.

Looked for probably forever through their menu of beers. Found a few I had to try and also tried a few of their house beers and really liked their barleywine. I considered getting a growler for the $33 they asked, and although steep would have normally done it if I hadn't spent an astronomical sum at other breweries.

Service was good, but considering I was there on a weekday during afternoon is to be expected. Did not however rise above the masses much though.

A place I would definitely come to again.... Founder's and this place a few blocks apart.... wow!

 828 characters

Photo of GRG1313
4.25/5  rDev -5.8%

Photo of seanchai
4.19/5  rDev -7.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4

Photo of tommy5
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of Canada_Dan
4.29/5  rDev -4.9%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Photo of akorsak
4.18/5  rDev -7.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

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.

 776 characters

Photo of orangesol
4.48/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.25

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.3/5  rDev -4.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Visited a couple of times on a recent beer trip to Grand Rapids.

Really great atmosphere, 50 beers on tap, a large bottle selection and friendly service.

I was a little bit puzzled by their lack of Michigan beer on tap - they seemed to have one from each of the big breweries but a complete lack of Bell's (and Hopslam is in season), only 1 Dark Horse & 1 Shorts beer were on tap. The overall mix was pretty good, keeping in mind that about 10 of the taps were Hop Cat house brews.

Over my two visits I tried about 6 or 7 different beers.

The food here is great! They have a number of appetizers that are amazing, including some of the best chicken wings that I have ever had.

I will return here some time soon for sure.

 730 characters

Photo of mynie
4.46/5  rDev -1.1%
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 their 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.

 2,175 characters

Photo of Bung
4.74/5  rDev +5.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

I remember this place being the Sierra Room, a wine joint. What an improvement this place has become. Too bad this wasn't around when I actually lived near GR.
Nice woody interior, like many downtown GR bars. Place for a band near the entrance windows. Porch outside is nice, for 4 months of the year. Upstairs smoking lounge is a real nice touch and does seem to keep the smoke out of the rest of the establishment.
Definetely have not seen a better beer selection, a few maybe equal, but none better. Good selection and variety and plenty of local brews. Shorts being the treat for me. The Hopcat brand stout was not bad either, just not quite as good as the Chocolate Wheat from Shorts. Vintage stuff seemed a bit pricey, but I've never understood the "cost" of keeping something in a cellar. For a restaurant I suppose there could be some, but the basement is there whether they use it or not, it's not like it is an extra cost. Anyways, this is far and away the best place to stop in GR. If you don't want to come downtown, try Logans Alley or Graydons, but you might as well come the rest of the way.

Another kudos, Hopcat was kind enough to politely explain the cost for a business to keep a cellar, which makes absolute sense in that it ties up money. I was more caught up in some BA's thinking their $15 dollar beer is now worth 2 of my $10 beers because you kept it in your basement, but I digress.

 1,409 characters

Photo of spointon
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of mattmarka1
5/5  rDev +10.9%

Photo of dmorgan310
4.29/5  rDev -4.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5

Photo of spycow
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of ZEB89
4.27/5  rDev -5.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5

Photo of mklisz
4.01/5  rDev -11.1%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4

Photo of italianstallion
4.24/5  rDev -6%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4

Photo of Kegatron
4.19/5  rDev -7.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4

Photo of beerwolf77
4.3/5  rDev -4.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Another must stop during the GR tour.

Nice old school bar feel and look to this place. Killer art on the walls and specialty bottles lined up behind the bar. Long bar and plenty of booths and tables for eating. The place was packed from the moment we got there but it never felt too busy.

The selection is where this place shines. Took us a solid 10 minutes to decide. They have something for every beer geek on the menu. The server was quick and helpful with picking out beers.

The beer cheese soup was recommended highly so I ordered that for dinner. It was as delicious as advertised.

Overall a superb place for dinner and a beer. I will be stopping back every time I'm in town.

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HopCat in Grand Rapids, MI
3.86 out of 5 based on 252 ratings.
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