Beer, Beer, & Better Beer | HopCat

Beer, Beer, & Better Beer

HopCat to sponsor ArtPrize 2017's Blue Bridge Music Festival
Troy, BarFly Webmaster | August 21, 2017
Music, ArtPrize

HopCat is excited to announce our sponsorship of this year’s second-annual Blue Bridge Music Festival, the official music component of ArtPrize Nine. The event, a collaboration with community radio station WYCE-FM (88.1) is set to unfold Friday and Saturday Sept. 29-30 on the blue pedestrian bridge over the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids.

The free festival will feature performances by eight regional artists, all of whom are eligible for the ArtPrize Song of the Year award, which carries a $1,000 cash prize. In keeping with ArtPrize’s public-vote model, the prize will go to the artist who attracts the most support from visitors. The award format is pared down from last year’s inaugural Blue Bridge event, in which songs were divided by genre and also competed for judges’ awards.

The 2017 contestants, however, still are eligible in ArtPrize’s main field in the time-based category, which carries $12,500 prizes in both public voting and juried awards. The Song of the Year winner will be invited to perform at the ArtPrize Awards Ceremony, Oct. 6 at 20 Monroe Live.

HopCat is presenting the Song of the Year prize and will be on hand at the festival, selling Crack Fries and a few local beers from Founders Brewing Co. The same sustainability initiatives we practice in our restaurants also will be in effect -- all food products will be compostable and there will be readily accessible compost and recycling bins, with the goal of diverting at least 90 percent of waste that would otherwise go to a landfill.

Also, we’ll go ahead and guarantee* that the weather at this year’s event will be better than the conditions at the first Blue Bridge Festival. (*not legally binding) 

Quinn Matthews, station manager at WYCE, curated the festival’s performers. ”I’m beyond excited as WYCE 88.1FM, HopCat and ArtPrize team up for the Blue Bridge Music Festival for 2017,” Matthews said in a statement. “West Michigan is filled with amazing art during this competition, and I feel it’s extremely important to show the visitors to our city what an amazing music scene we have here. Get ready for “A World of Music” on the Blue Bridge, all for FREE, celebrating Jazz, Soul, Rock, Country, Hip Hop and more for two straight days over the Grand River.”

WYCE, the long-running Grand Rapids Community Media Center station whose motto is “A World of Music,” will broadcast from the Blue Bridge Music Festival each day. The schedule of the event is as follows: 

Friday, Sept. 29

4 p.m. - Live WYCE broadcast

5. p.m. - Yolonda Lavender

7 p.m. - The Bootstrap Boys

9 p.m. - Michigander

Saturday, Sept. 30

Noon - Live WYCE broadcast

2 p.m. - Brad Fritcher’s Moods

4 p.m. - Asamu Johnson & the Associates of the Blues

5:30 p.m. - Jesse Ray and the Carolina Catfish

7 p.m. - Watching for Foxes

8:45 p.m. - The Great Ones (Lady Ace Boogie/JRob)

For more information on this year’s Blue Bridge Music Festival, check out the ArtPrize website and a longer feature in Local Spins


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2017 mid-year report shows steady growth in U.S. craft beer industry
Troy, BarFly Webmaster | August 16, 2017

The Brewers Association, the trade organization for the American craft beer industry, recently published its mid-year report, sort of a State of the Union address for anyone who manufactures, sells or just enjoys the finest beers in the country. And, unlike pretty much everything happening in America currently, this report gives us plenty to feel optimistic about.

As of the end of June, there were 5,562 breweries operating in the United States. That's an all-time high, up about 900 from that point in 2016, or 16 percent. Just since December, 557 breweries have opened. The association also reports that another 2,739 breweries are planning to open in the near future. Also, the industry employs nearly 129,000 full- and part-time workers nationwide.

The rampant growth of the past few years, however, has abated slightly. Volume is up 5 percent over the end of the year, compared to 8 percent growth in 2016.  

"The growth pace for small and independent brewers has stabilized at a rate that still reflects progress but in a more mature market," said Bart Watson, chief economist for the association. "The beer world is highly competitive and there is certainly a mixed bag in terms of performance. Some breweries are continuing to grow, whereas others are having to evolve their position and nurture new opportunities to ensure they keep pace. Many brewers are benefiting from on-premises and taproom sales, and recent state-based reforms have the potential to help brewers in new regions capitalize on this growth."

For the purposes of its data, the association defines a craft brewery as "small" (annual production of 6 million barrels or less), "independent" (less than 25 percent of the operation is owned/controlled by an industry participant that is not itself a craft brewer) and "traditional" (does majority of its total volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation).

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Here's what the solar eclipse will look like from every HopCat location
Troy, BarFly Webmaster | August 15, 2017
Beer Science, BeerClipse

On Monday, Aug. 21, a total solar eclipse will make a once-in-a-generation trek across the continental United States during the course of the afternoon. It is estimated that 200 million people live within a day's drive of the eclipse's path, creating what will likely be one of the biggest tourism events ever.

If you're taking a road trip or already live in an area bracing for the total eclipse, you'll need to eat and drink something, and HopCat's got you covered. (We're looking into whether the term "Beerclipse" has been trademarked.)

We have two locations inside the Path of Totality -- the 70-mile-mile wide band stretching across the U.S. in which the sun will be totally obscured by the moon. Those are in Lincoln, Neb., which is on the northern edge of the path, and Kansas City. Mo., which is on the southern edge. (Our upcoming location in St. Louis, Mo., sits in the path, but won't be open until later this year.)

At its peak time of 1:03 p.m. (CDT), residents and visitors in Lincoln will see the sun 100 percent eclipsed. Or, according to a mapping tool on, something like this:

And here's what the view from HopCat Kansas City might look like at its peak time, four minutes later, via

Both locations, by the way, open at 11 a.m. -- plenty of time to get situated and order a basket of pre-eclipse Crack Fries -- and feature outdoor seating. (A swanky cabana in KC, actually.) HopCat Lincoln and HopCat Kansas City are hosting Hop Side of the Moon eclipse parties all day Monday. Click here for KC info, here for Lincoln.

There are also eclipse parties at our Kalamazoo, Louisville and Royal Oak locations. (Ironically, Royal Oak is the HopCat furthest outside the Path of Totality at 78.7 percent peak solar obstruction.) Here's a roundup of what the eclipse will look like from each of our locations, ranked in order of proximity and assuming that 1) The weather is ideal for viewing and 2) You have taken all necessary safety precautions when viewing the celestial event. HopCat is not responsible for burned retinas.

-HOPCAT LOUISVILLE (KY) -- Peak time 2:27 p.m. (EDT); 95.8 percent coverage:

Open during eclipse? YES. Outdoor seating? YES.

-HOPCAT LEXINGTON (KY) -- Peak time 2:30 p.m. (EDT); 94.7 percent coverage:

Open during eclipse? YES. Outdoor seating? LIMITED.

-HOPCAT BROAD RIPPLE (Indianapolis) -- Peak time 2:25 p.m. (EDT); 91.1 percent coverage:

Open during eclipse? YES. Outdoor seating? YES.

-HOPCAT CHICAGO -- Peak time 1:20 p.m. (CDT); 86.6 percent coverage:

Open during eclipse? NO - We open at 3 p.m. :(  Outdoor seating? NO.

-HOPCAT MADISON -- Peak time 1:15 p.m. (CDT); 85 percent coverage:

Open during eclipse? YES. Outdoor seating? NO.

-HOPCAT MINNEAPOLIS -- Peak time 1:07 p.m. CDT; 83.1 percent coverage:

Open during eclipse? YES. Outdoor seating? YES.

-HOPCAT KALAMAZOO -- Peak time 2:23 p.m. (EDT); 82.7 percent coverage:

Open during eclipse? YES. Outdoor seating? YES.

-HOPCAT GRAND RAPIDS -- Peak time 2:22 p.m. (EDT): 80.7 percent coverage:

Open during eclipse? YES. Outdoor seating? YES.

-HOPCAT ANN ARBOR -- Peak time 2:26 p.m. (EDT); 80.4 percent coverage:

Open during eclipse? YES. Outdoor seating? LIMITED.

-HOPCAT EAST LANSING -- Peak time 2:25 p.m. (EDT); 79.8 percent coverage:

Open during eclipse? YES. Outdoor seating? YES.

-HOPCAT DETROIT -- Peak time 2:28 p.m. (EDT); 79.2 percent coverage:

Open during eclipse? YES. Outdoor seating? NO.

-HOPCAT ROYAL OAK -- Peak time 2:27 p.m. (EDT); 78.7 percent coverage:

Open during eclipse? YES. Outdoor seating? YES.

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