Beer, Beer, & Better Beer

Interview: The lowdown on the WYCE-HopCat Blue Bridge Music Festival at ArtPrize Nine
Troy, Webmaster of the Universe | September 26, 2017
ArtPrize, Music

ArtPrize Nine is in full swing throughout downtown Grand Rapids, and HopCat is part of the action this year. We're sponsoring the second-annual Blue Bridge Music Festival, happening this Friday and Saturday, Sept. 29-30, on the blue pedestrian bridge over the Grand River.

For a full lineup of acts performing at the free event, check out the music page on ArtPrize's website. HopCat will be selling Crack Fries and Founders beer while observing the same sustainability practices - composting and recycling - that we use in our restaurants to divert 90 percent of the waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill.  

Listen below as Troy performs some GOTCHA JOURNALISM on WYCE station manager Quinn Matthews and gets the REAL story. You know, the one "they" don't want you to know. (Actually, we want everyone to know.)

See you on the bridge!

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How U.S. beer culture saved the traditional German Oktoberfest style
Kyle Montgomery, HopCat Madison Beer Manager | September 22, 2017
Oktoberfest, Marzen

7.2 million annual visitors, 7.7 million liters of beer, and roughly 111,000 foiled attempts of theft of glass mugs. Finally, Munich’s 16-to-18-day celebration of drunken revelry and boundless bratwursts, better known as Oktoberfest, is upon us. 

Oddly enough, the beer brewed and named to honor this centuries-old tradition, marketed by both American and German breweries in the US as “Oktoberfestbier,” isn’t what’s served in Munich at the Oktoberfest at all. Luckily for us, it’s better.

The vast majority of what we refer to as Oktoberfestbier is an amber to copper-colored, malt forward lager known as märzen. Before the widespread availability of refrigeration, märzen was brewed in March (März), toward the end of the brewing season, to be stored in cool lagering caves through the summer, and served at the Oktoberfest in mid-September. It’s malty, it’s rich, it’s elegant. In short, it’s damn tasty.

Märzen was the beer of choice at the Oktoberfest from 1872 until 1990, when it was replaced by the lighter bodied, less flavorful, golden, “festbier,” that is served at Oktoberfest today. While the six Munich-based breweries that are permitted to serve beer at the Oktoberfest do still produce the traditional amber colored märzen, they do so chiefly for export to the United States. And for that, we’re grateful. 

A couple of my favorite examples of märzen -- now on tap at HopCat Madison -- include the German staple Ayinger Oktober Fest-märzen, as well as a great representation of the style from Chicago’s most authentic German lager producer, Metropolitan Brewing. Metropolitan’s Afterburner Oktoberfest is a tremendously refined, clean and toasty malt-driven lager. While erupting with malt richness, the beer finishes dry enough on the palate to necessitate subsequent sips, or gulps, as is appropriate for a celebration of overindulgence such as Oktoberfest. 

While traditional märzen may have fallen into obsolescence in Munich, I’m proud to see that, in an ironic twist, it is the American beer drinkers’ palate and US craft brewing industry that are keeping the German brewing tradition alive. Prost!

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Great new names for craft beers, suggested by HopCat fans
Troy, Webmaster of the Universe | September 18, 2017

Y'all are pretty funny. Over the weekend, we posted a story from Food & Wine magazine about a Twitter-based system for naming the next great craft beer. An Australian comedian, Mel Buttle, proposed a formula of "the job your granddad did plus a word you don't fully understand. Mine is The Boxer's Contingency."

Solid. A bunch of HopCat Facebook fans had equally good suggestions, which I'll share in a second. First, I'll give you mine - the Inflammable Grocer. Not very exciting, perhaps. But one of my grandfathers was indeed a grocer, and the word "inflammable" has always driven me nuts. While the "in-" prefix suggest that it would signify the opposite of "flammable," the two words actually MEAN THE SAME DAMN THINGI always think of this from "The Simpsons":

Anyhow, many of HopCat's fans had better suggestions. Here are some highlights...

  • Jacqueline: Trucker's Relativity

  • Theresia: Assembly LIne Workers Sobriety (Ha, I get it!)

  • Ted: A Supervisor's Billingsgate

  • Mary: Effluent Operator

  • Andrew: The Woodworkers Bemuse

  • Rob: Refinery Detente

  • Dave: Mechanic Bailiwick

  • Sydney: Principal Deep Web

  • Alex: General's Schadenfreude

  • Dan: Barber's Magnets (We've found a Juggalo!)

  • Molly: Turgid Handyman

  • Jackie: Mailman's Obsequity

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