EAST LANSING — Wouldn’t it be cool if…?
This is a phrase commonly used at Short’s Brewing Company for creating different beers, according to Public Relations Coordinator Matt Gacioch. It starts with an idea, goes through a process, and if it works, it works. Something new is born.
This seems to be a familiar method, as Mark and Michele Sellers, owners of Barfly Ventures LLC, asked a similar question before purchasing their own bar.
Wouldn’t it be cool if we owned a bar?
Wouldn’t it be cool if we featured great craft beers from all over the world?
Wouldn’t it be cool if we did the same thing in East Lansing as we are doing in Grand Rapids?
Of course we’re talking about HopCat. On Thursday, HopCat’s East Lansing location opened its doors for the first time with a truly grand opening.
Short’s and HopCat teamed up with its ideas that turned into a world-record breaking 100-tap takeover.
“Creativity and innovation are in the lifeblood of Short’s,” Gacioch said. “Our brewers are constantly exploring how to push the boundaries of craft beer in exciting new ways. Since our founding as a company in 2004, we’ve put out over 300 different beers.”
With that being said, about one-third of the entirety of Short’s beers were showcased Thursday, allowing room for variety.
“The beauty of 100 beers in one place is that everyone in your party may have a different favorite, but that’ll leave everyone happy and more excited about craft beer,” Gacioch added regarding the event.
Due to the limited amount of Short’s beer combined with the high-volume of customers, HopCat offered 8 ounce pours and 4 ounce half-pours throughout the day. Although the pours were small, customers took advantage by trying multiple different beers.
The wait is over
East Lansing is not a stranger to high demand, though. Just like on game day outside of Spartan Stadium, the crowd was in line and eagerly awaiting kickoff, and as the doors opened, the cheers sang like a wave down the long and winding line.
The first people closest to the doors arrived on Wednesday at 9:30 p.m., while others further down arrived at various times throughout the early morning.
Not only did the early birds ensure their pick of the limited Short’s beers, but the first 200 people to the doors also received free crack fries for a year.
Among the first people through the HopCat doors was Sean Rannow, a third year law student at Michigan State University College of Law, who got in line at 2 a.m.
“I’m from Arizona, and we don’t get a lot of craft beers out there,” Rannow said while sipping on Short’s Sweet Taters. “Since I’ve moved here, I’ve gotten into trying different beers. East Lansing needed some new development, and I have been really excited about this.”
Rannow was not only impressed with his beer, but also the hospitality that HopCat showed to those waiting in line.
“They brought us pizza, cookies and energy drinks,” Rannow said.
A firm foundation
While any grand opening has a fresh and new feel to it, HopCat hopes to have that feeling linger.
Opposed to the many normal bars in East Lansing, HopCat wants to be known for something different.
“We are bringing in a place that doesn’t cater to the typical bar crowd,” Garry Boyd, the “Ringleader” said, noting HopCat’s expectation to bring good beer, food and service. The new menu includes items from both HopCat and Stella’s Lounge in Grand Rapids.
While the 100 taps were filled with all Short’s beer during the grand opening event, the 100 taps will continue to be full all of the time from craft breweries around the world. Keeping the taps filled seems like a difficult feat, but not for HopCat. The Grand Rapids location has mastered its 48 tap system, and at the East Lansing location, they are confident in the plan.
“It’s going to move like a river,” Boyd said. “We’ll have a standard 20 beers that are like the little ponds in a river that don’t really move much. We’ll have a few that are like the outside of the river, the slower parts that will be on tap for a couple days to a week. We’ll have some that move a little faster, like a day or two, and some even faster, like the one-offs and experimental beers.”
The East Lansing location will also continue to run specials throughout each week. There will be a “Kill the Keg” Monday special and Sunday specials from Stella’s Lounge, including brunch, a Bloody Mary bar and stuffed burgers.