Beer, Beer, & Better Beer | HopCat

Beer, Beer, & Better Beer

Unicorns, continued -- Check out these amazing beers at HopCat Lexington's Wood & Wild fest
Ciaran Fitzpatrick, HopCat Lexington Beer Program Manager | October 16, 2017
Wood & Wild, Barrel-Aged

As we continue the countdown to our Wood & Wild Festival -- taking place Oct. 22 at every HopCat location -- we're checking in with our expert beer managers for suggestions about beers to try at each of our restaurants. Here, HopCat Lexington's Ciaran Fitzpatrick suggests a few "unicorns" (beers so epic and legendary they defy comprehension) that will be featured at Lexington's W&W event:

Two beers that jump out to me from our lineup are Brasserie Saint Germain’s Armagnac Barrel Aged Barleywine and Cognac Barrel Aged Imperial Stout. Armagnac and Cognac barrels for these big beers will be fantastic! Plus, central Kentucky doesn’t get much beer from northern France.

I love Sour Red Ales so I’m super excited for Country Boy’s Living Proof Series: Balaton Cherry Wild and The Bruery’s Oude Tart. Both breweries run such awesome sour programs, they never disappoint!

One more can't-miss beer: Saugatuck Brewing Company's Café Brown, a bourbon barrel aged American brown ale with coffee and vanilla. Are you kidding me? Sounds like Saugatuck came up with a killer!

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Unicorns Pt. 2 - Epic beers not to miss at the HopCat Indianapolis Wood & Wild Fest
Eric Duvall, Beer Program Manager for HopCat Broad Ripple | October 13, 2017
Wood & Wild, Barrels

We're counting down the days, hours and minutes until the Wood & Wild Festival, taking place Oct. 22 at every HopCat location. In anticipation, we're checking in with our expert beer managers for suggestions about beers to try at each of our restaurants. Here, HopCat Broad Ripple's Eric Duvall recommends a few "unicorns" (beers so legendary they defy comprehension) that will be featured at the Broad Ripple (Indianapolis) event:

Round Town - BBA Round Town Lager

Why I'm excited about it: First barrel aged beer available from Round Town and it's their flagship. Widely consumed style so I think this is the perfect entry level beer for someone looking to explore barrel aging. I specifically came to them and asked if they'd be doing a barrel aged variant of their lager because I thought it was such a great fit.

Avery - Nuttiest Professor

Why I'm excited about it: I love stouts and I love peanut butter. Besides the obvious bourbon from barrel aging, I'm sure the chocolate and coffee malt flavor will pair amazingly with peanut butter.

Central State - A Well Forged Sword

Why I'm excited about it: Farmhouse stout with orange. Central State are the premier funky brewery in Indiana. Focusing on brett, and using it in styles you don't expect. Lots of heat due to high ABV, little bit of brett funk, and orange flavor grows on the back end to finish this beer.

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20 things to love about Founders
Troy Reimink, BarFly/HopCat webmaster | October 11, 2017

In honor of Founders’ 20th anniversary, and our upcoming Founders tap takeover, our webmaster offers an appreciation of the brewery based on his extensive experience drinking, eating and performing there as a musician:

Founders is almost old enough to buy itself a drink!

The brewery has spent 2017 commemorating its 20th anniversary – and there’s plenty to celebrate. HopCat Grand Rapids joins in the festivities on Thursday, Oct. 12, when it will host the Founders XX Anniversary Party, the biggest tap takeover in Founders history with 35 favorites and rarities.

With HopCat’s own 10th anniversary fast approaching, it fees like a good time to toast a neighbor on a job well done. In honor of Founders' landmark birthday, here are 20 things we/I (your humble webmaster), love about Grand Rapids’ biggest brewery:

1. Founders Fest - It’s not summer in Michigan until you spend an afternoon stand outdoors, on pavement, in blazingly hot weather, drinking heavy beer, in line for a portable bathroom. The music more than justifies it -- Founders Fest has become a fixture on downtown Grand Rapids’ summer calendar, offering big-name headliners like Umprhrey’s McGee, Charles Bradley, Lettuce and Galactic.

2. The FBC All Stars - The brewery and taproom employ a ton of musicians, many of whom perform semi-regularly in a supergroup, which, unlike a lot of supergroups, is good!

3. The original Pale Ale - Never as beloved as the marquee beers, the original Pale will always hold a special place in my heart and liver: the first Founders beer to cross my lips at my first brewery visit in Grand Rapids. (Not to date myself, but there wasn’t much around back then.) And it still holds up to my memory – bold but not overpowering, refreshing but not too light.

4. All Day IPA - I know I’ve lived through summers before Founders began producing All Day IPA, but I can’t remember what they were like.

5. Oatmeal Stout + Rubaeus = magic - Not sure there’s a nickname for this combination, but my god, it’s magnificent.

6. They treat musicians like real people - Any performer booked at Founders gets a generous food discount, beer tab and ample compensation. These things might not seem like a big deal until you’ve been a musician long enough to understand how rarely it happens. Take it easy on the heavy beers, though, especially if you’re playing last. They sneak up on you.

7. Welcome to Detroit - Founders is preparing to open its Detroit taproom sometime this winter. Located in the Cass Corridor/Midtown area near Little Caesars Arena, the new facility won’t be far from HopCat Detroit. You can't escape us!

8. Great touring bands - Founders’ regular Thursday and Saturday shows contain a solid mix of local and national acts in most genres. But once in a while, the booking team pulls off something really special, like Built to Spill in 2015, the Joy Formidable in 2016 and the Meat Puppets earlier this year. Next up: Dinosaur Jr!

9. There's something familiar about that stage - A bit of lore for longtime Grand Rapidians: The sound-dampening curtain behind the stage is from Theater One at the old Studio 28.

10. The KBS phenomenon - Kentucky Breakfast Stout has a ravenous fan base, obviously, and an entire week on the calendar set aside in its honor. The brewery’s canny control of its supply provides a useful lesson in the economics of scarcity and effective management of demand.

11. Canadian Breakfast Stout - KBS deserves all the praise it gets, but its northern cousin – aged in bourbon barrels also used for maple syrup – is even more mythic. Word on the street is that CBS will be available in bottles for the first time since 2011 as part of the 20th anniversary celebration.

12. PC PIls - The worthy All Day IPA follow-up is just as crushable while performing shirtless yardwork on a summer afternoon.

13. The Big Easy - Back in my red-meat-eating days, this sandwich – salami and capicola topped with olive tapenade(!) and red onion – was the guiltiest of all pleasures. Just reading its name causes the mouth the water and the heart to seize.

14. The Tree Hugger - For the health-conscious (or just those of us who lack the intestinal fortitude of our youths), the top sandwich on Founders’ vegetarian menu doesn’t mess around.

15. The beer menu is vegan friendly.

16. Sumatra Mountain Brown A brown ale is rarely the show-stopper on a brewery’s tap list, but a great brown can be a good indicator of a brewery’s all-around quality. Of course, there was no reason to suspect Founders’ long-sought brown ale would be anything less than excellent.

17. Founders led Grand Rapids to upgrade its water-treatment capacity.

18. The catacombs - Founders barrel-ages beer in the old gypsum mines under Grand Rapids.

19. Founders got the state of Alabama to loosen its profanity standards - In 2012, Alabama officials objected to the names Backwoods Bastard and Dirty Bastard and temporarily kept two of Founders' most popular brands off shelves because of an arcane state law. But Founders fans stepped in and got the decision reversed.

20. In Zack Morris we trust - Mark-Paul Gosselaar, otherwise known as Zack from “Saved By the Bell,” is a huge Founders fan. The actor drank Founders in an episode of his show “Raising the Bar,” and even jammed with the FBC All-Stars onstage at a Founders Fest.

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