GRAND RAPIDS — An estimated 4,500 people filled a downtown street Saturday, braving wind and cold temperatures to enjoy local beers in the first Hoptoberfest.
A collaboration between HopCat and seven other local breweries, Hoptoberfest featured local beer, art, music and a celebration of the German Octoberfest tradition. The event closed Ionia Street between Weston and Oakes streets from 2-11 p.m. as eight local breweries served up brews.
“It’s great to see the support that HopCat gets for this,” said event organizer Shane Philipsen of BarFly Events. “For a first year, I’ve been really happy with the outcome.”
HopCat, Founders Brewing Company, Brewery Vivant, The Hideout Brewing Company, White Flame Brewing Company, Michigan Beer Cellar, Jaden James and Schmohz Brewing Company were all present. In addition, HoptoberFest had a German beer garden, a HopCat food tent, local artists displaying artwork and a full-day’s lineup of blues music.
HopCat brought out some of its best, pouring its Zugspitze Weizen, Roggen Bitch, Fornicator and Black Mamba beers. It also highlighted a festbier, called Hopfenkatze (6.3% ABV). The beer featured minor hints of nutmeg and spice, and had a good burnt orange color to it. Its moderate hop presence was apparent throughout each drink and left a clear and strong aftertaste. The beer could’ve been more falvorful, though it made for a good beer to start with.
The Hideout Brewing Company also brought a fall brew of its own — Oktoberfest (7.5% ABV). Its smooth finish and moderate amount of spices made for a good seasonal beer. With minimal hops and a hint of sweetness at the tail end, it was a perfect way to celebrate the fall season.
But the surprise for me came from the Sparta-based Michigan Beer Cellar. Its Dunkelweizen (6% ABV) brew was my favorite of the night. Its brown body held a rich, nutty flavor with minimal head, as well as a nice aroma with a hint of spice.
Philipsen already has high hopes for the future of the event, hoping to bring in more unique brews and additional breweries.
“We’ll be back, with a bigger and better blueprint next year,” he said.