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DETROIT – Craft beer officially arrived in Detroit this weekend with the grand opening of HopCat in Midtown.

The bar’s delayed, but carefully crafted opening time of 11 a.m. on 12/13/14 went off without a hitch Saturday. Patrons lined the building several hours before the doors opened.

“This was the result of more than a year’s worth of work from the team at HopCat and Short’s,” said Chris Knape, Marketing & Communications Director for BarFly Ventures. “We had an incredible crowd that gathered starting at 5:30 a.m. They were in incredible spirits.”

The first 200 people in line received official punch cards for a free years-worth of crack fries, limited to one order per week.

Although he didn’t plan on being the first in line, Grand Rapids native and Wayne State University student Reed Bramble didn’t want to take a chance of missing out on his favorite part of HopCat.

“I love crack fries,” he said. “I’m from Grand Rapids and that’s the thing to get when you go.”

HopCat and Short’s Brewing Company broke their own tap takeover world record with 120 Short’s specialties offered at the opening. The original record was set by both companies at the HopCat East Lansing opening in 2013.

Joe Short, CEO and Creative Engineer of Short’s Brewing Company, said everyone was excited to break the record with 120 beers.

“It’s really exciting anytime we can get this many beers in one place,” he said. “It’s unheard of.”

The tap list featured some of Short’s most exclusive brews including highlights like Whiskey Sour, Bourbon Carrot Cake, Double Barrel Bourbon Wizard, Richard in the Dirt and OMGWTFBBQ.

“Our entire portfolio is around 300, probably 400,” Short said. “As soon as we know something like this is going to happen, we start saving beers. We started a HopCat stash.”

At 11 a.m. on the dot, the doors opened and the cold crowd filed in until capacity was reached. The bar would stay at capacity for the duration of the day, sporting a line outside into the evening hours.

For Short, the day was special not only because of the beers, but more because of the people and the experiences shared.

“It has been a really unique opportunity for us to get to know the people who have been supporting us all of these years, up close and personal,” he said. “The most rewarding part about being a brewer is having that direct impact. You’ve affected somebody somehow, some way in a positive way.”

Revitalizing Midtown

HopCat, located on the corner of Woodward Avenue and West Canfield Street, is a two story building that is nearly a century old.

“It was empty for almost eight years,” Knape said. “We spent more than four million dollars on the renovation.”

Capacity tops 700 people when all is said and done. The main floor features a large bar with table tops all around it. Several leather half-booths (also dubbed “mafia booths”) face the windows lining Woodward and leading upstairs. The artwork throughout the bar features custom paintings of Detroit musical icons such as Bob Seger and Stevie Wonder.

The second floor known as The Huma Room, is named after owner Mark Sellers favorite Short’s flagship beer Huma Lupa Licious. The large and open room features another large bar with half a 1968 Fleetwood Brougham hanging above it. Several of the walls are covered with concert posters of Detroit and Michigan shows. The Huma Room also doubles as concert venue, which hosted Detroit’s own Howling Diablos on Saturday evening.

Moving forward after the opening, Knape hopes the bar will be one of the catalysts to a positive revitalization in Detroit.

“Detroit is the center of the action in Michigan. There’s a lot of positive going on in the city,” he said. “We hope it serves as a magnet to people. A hub of craft beer in the city.”

Scott Newman-Bale, Partner President of Business Development for Short’s Brewing Company, spoke about both Short’s and HopCat supporting Detroit and Michigan.

“We’re a Michigan-only company. One of our slogans is Michigan only, Michigan forever,” he said. “When you look at Detroit, it’s been an exciting year. I think when you’re in Detroit, there’s a new sense of optimism of where we’re going.”

Short, a Bellaire native, also echoed the important of a thriving Detroit.

“In a city like Detroit this is a huge win. This is the heartbeat of our state,” he said. “We had to run the defibrillators. And this is the start of that defibrillation. We’re happy to have this presence down here because forever, Detroit has not only been the heartbeat of Michigan, but the Midwest.”

Knape stressed the opening of HopCat would not have happened without a lot of support, including and especially the customers.

“Having the incredible positivity and the warm welcome was really the validation about being in Detroit,” he said. “There’s a bright future ahead for HopCat and the city.”

 

DETROIT – Craft beer officially arrived in Detroit this weekend with the grand opening of HopCat in Midtown.
The bar’s delayed, but carefully crafted opening time of 11 a.m. on 12/13/14 went off without a hitch Saturday. Patrons lined the building several hours before the doors opened.
“This was the result of more than a year’s worth of work from the team at HopCat and Short’s,” said Chris Knape, Marketing & Communications Director for BarFly Ventures. “We had an incredible crowd that gathered starting at 5:30 a.m. They were in incredible spirits.”
The first 200 people in line received official punch cards for a free years-worth of crack fries, limited to one order per week.
Although he didn’t plan on being the first in line, Grand Rapids native and Wayne State University student Reed Bramble didn’t want to take a chance of missing out on his favorite part of HopCat.
“I love crack fries,” he said. “I’m from Grand Rapids and that’s the thing to get when you go.”
HopCat and Short’s Brewing Company broke their own tap takeover world record with 120 Short’s specialties offered at the opening. The original record was set by both companies at the HopCat East Lansing opening in 2013.
Joe Short, CEO and Creative Engineer of Short’s Brewing Company, said everyone was excited to break the record with 120 beers.
“It’s really exciting anytime we can get this many beers in one place,” he said. “It’s unheard of.”
The tap list featured some of Short’s most exclusive brews including highlights like Whiskey Sour, Bourbon Carrot Cake, Double Barrel Bourbon Wizard, Richard in the Dirt and OMGWTFBBQ.
“Our entire portfolio is around 300, probably 400,” Short said. “As soon as we know something like this is going to happen, we start saving beers. We started a HopCat stash.”
At 11 a.m. on the dot, the doors opened and the cold crowd filed in until capacity was reached. The bar would stay at capacity for the duration of the day, sporting a line outside into the evening hours.
For Short, the day was special not only because of the beers, but more because of the people and the experiences shared.
“It has been a really unique opportunity for us to get to know the people who have been supporting us all of these years, up close and personal,” he said. “The most rewarding part about being a brewer is having that direct impact. You’ve affected somebody somehow, some way in a positive way.”

Revitalizing Midtown

HopCat, located on the corner of Woodward Avenue and West Canfield Street, is a two story building that is nearly a century old.
“It was empty for almost eight years,” Knape said. “We spent more than four million dollars on the renovation.”
Capacity tops 700 people when all is said and done. The main floor features a large bar with table tops all around it. Several leather half-booths (also dubbed “mafia booths”) face the windows lining Woodward and leading upstairs. The artwork throughout the bar features custom paintings of Detroit musical icons such as Bob Seger and Stevie Wonder.
The second floor known as The Huma Room, is named after owner Mark Sellers favorite Short’s flagship beer Huma Lupa Licious. The large and open room features another large bar with half a 1968 Fleetwood Brougham hanging above it. Several of the walls are covered with concert posters of Detroit and Michigan shows. The Huma Room also doubles as concert venue, which hosted Detroit’s own Howling Diablos on Saturday evening.
Moving forward after the opening, Knape hopes the bar will be one of the catalysts to a positive revitalization in Detroit.
“Detroit is the center of the action in Michigan. There’s a lot of positive going on in the city,” he said. “We hope it serves as a magnet to people. A hub of craft beer in the city.”
Scott Newman-Bale, Partner President of Business Development for Short’s Brewing Company, spoke about both Short’s and HopCat supporting Detroit and Michigan.
“We’re a Michigan-only company. One of our slogans is Michigan only, Michigan forever,” he said. “When you look at Detroit, it’s been an exciting year. I think when you’re in Detroit, there’s a new sense of optimism of where we’re going.”
Short, a Bellaire native, also echoed the important of a thriving Detroit.
“In a city like Detroit this is a huge win. This is the heartbeat of our state,” he said. “We had to run the defibrillators. And this is the start of that defibrillation. We’re happy to have this presence down here because forever, Detroit has not only been the heartbeat of Michigan, but the Midwest.”
Knape stressed the opening of HopCat would not have happened without a lot of support, including and especially the customers.
“Having the incredible positivity and the warm welcome was really the validation about being in Detroit,” he said. “There’s a bright future ahead for HopCat and the city.”
 

For the sixth year running, Eastern Market hosted the Detroit Fall Beer Festival this past weekend in Detroit.

In what has seemingly become tradition, Michigan craft beer enthusiasts donned Halloween costumes in spirit of the upcoming holiday. They waited patiently in line to sample rarities and regulars from the state’s finest breweries.

Over 75 breweries participated in this year’s festival. Patrons had the options to choose from nearly 700 beers on tap.

Aaron Rzeznik, Brewer at Witch’s Hat Brewing Company, said most people were seeking out the rare beers that aren’t on tap at the pub.

“We appreciate that the Michigan craft beer drinkers are thirsty for some good beer,” he said. “We want to serve them good beer that’s unique and quality. And hopefully we do that. That’s our goal.”

Witch’s Hat’s first Brewer’s Guild festival was back in 2012, therefore making the brewery veterans compared to many of the newer breweries.

River’s Edge Brewing, located in Milford, is merely four months old and found themselves participating in their first Michigan Brewers Guild festival.

“The weather’s amazing and it’s great to be downtown,” said Owner and General Manager Ryan Wiltse.

Temperatures found themselves in the 60s on Friday and pushing 70 on Saturday for the sold out crowd, providing the perfect backdrop for the fest and those in the sheds off of Russell St. in Detroit.

Wiltse said the reception at the festival and their taproom has been “phenomenal.”

“We’ve made about 30 batches of beer so far and only about six or seven have been repeat brews,” he said. “So far we’ve brewed about 210 barrels in the last four months. Quite a bit more than we anticipated.”

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For many festival-goers, this wasn’t their first stint at Eastern Market.

Jason and Kristy Smith, second timers at the Eastern Market festival, enjoyed making the festival an over-night event by staying downtown.

“I used to just come down to Detroit for sporting events,” Jason said. “This is the only time I’ve come down here for something else and it’s a good time.”

Some of the couple’s favorite brews included the caramel flavored Karm-Ale and the Pecan Turtle Triffel, both from 51 North out of Lake Orion.

“I love the fact that it’s all Michigan breweries,” Jason said. “It’s all Michigan stuff. It’s all local.”

 

Tell me about yourself and how you came to be involved with Atwater.

Jeff Levine: “I started, like a lot of people did, home brewing in the ‘90s. I was actually living in Ohio at the time and moved back to Michigan and stumbled upon Dragonmead. They weren’t even open yet but they were putting all of the equipment in. They didn’t have a lot of employees, so they counted on whoever they knew to get things done around there. So I helped out for a while. I started working there in 1999 and was there for four years. Then I was in and out of brewing for a while working in education. Then I spent two years at Great Baraboo out in Clinton Township. After that I started working here at Atwater in January of 2010. I started working in the cellar doing yeast harvest, managing fermentation, doing the filtering and essentially learning what was running back there. I still have my hands in everyday production in addition to the general operations stuff going on. I’ve watched this place grow to three times what it was when I started.”

What has it been like to see it grow?

JL: “Fast. There’s been a lot of growing pains. You grow fast and all of a sudden you have to catch up to yourself. It’s been a lot of fun, but it’s been a lot of hard work. We’re all in it because we love it. There’s that really thin line when it really isn’t work anymore, when it’s your passion and something you want to do. It’s work but at the same time you look forward to doing it.”

Was it overwhelming coming from Dragonmead and brewing smaller batches to larger batches at Atwater?

JL: “It was weird. The first time I ran the filter here on my own, the loss was almost three barrels on a 40 barrel batch. I almost spilled as much as I used to make! It kind of put it in perspective. It really makes it look like home brewing. It was different. When you think about the size of a place like AB or Miller, those tanks are probably as big as this building. It was intimidating at first.”

Do you have input on the recipes and what’s being brewed?

JL: “We’re really only rolling out one or two [new recipes] over a 12 or 16 month period. We’re not looking into developing a whole new list of new products because we have an extensive list of existing products. But we’re working on a few new seasonal products. We’re looking at a pumpkin spice and a Christmas ale. If we do those this year, they’ll probably be draft only releases.”

Do you have a favorite style to drink versus a favorite style to brew?

JL: “I don’t know if I can point to one specifically as a favorite but the ones I like the most to brew in addition to drink here are the seasonals. The seasonal lagers, the Bloktoberfest, the Winter Bock and the Maibock. Those are my three favorite beers we make. Everyone likes making them because we don’t do it very often so it’s one of those things we look forward to.”

I heard there are a lot of big plans coming up for Atwater, especially for expansion.

JL: “There’s a lot of big stuff on the horizon. Atwater is only going to get bigger. I’m glad I came on board when I did. Right now, I can’t see wanting to be anywhere else. It’s everything I think I always wanted before I knew I wanted it, if that makes sense. I have no desire to do anything except to grow with Atwater.”

What’s the best part of being at a place like Atwater?

JL: “The people here are great. We’ve really assembled a good team of people. Everybody who runs packaging, the guys in the cellar, the brewers who are here now. We’ve got a good group and everyone works together well. You can’t be in this business and not have fun with it. Everyone gets along.”

Did you have a person or brewery that you looked up to in terms of brewing?

JL: “I always go back to working at Dragonmead. Back then, they had a three barrel system and I thought that was big. I knew it wasn’t, but it seemed big to me. I always look at that as inspiration, I guess. I loved beer before and I had been to Belgium and to England and around the U.S. but going in and actually being able to make a variety like that on a regular basis, that’s where I really got the bug and got inspired. The difficult part was making the next one the same as the last one or even improving it.”

Has there ever been a beer that blew your mind?

JL: “It was probably when I traveled to Belgium. It wasn’t eye-opening because I hadn’t seen that many beers before, but actually going there and to the different bars and knowing at that time you could only get a handful of those beers in the states. So I’m drinking all of these beers thinking, ‘I have no idea when I’m going to have another one.’ The trip put me on the path of wanting to homebrew.”

What advice would you give to home brewers that want to take it to the next level?

JL: “There are a lot of opportunities to take it to that next level. Everybody starts small and a lot of people like to stay small. There are a lot of products available. There’s tons of equipment designed specifically for home brewing. I know people who have designed all kinds of their own, like welding racks together, burners. People get pretty hardcore. There are so many resources now whether it be equipment or clone recipes for any beer on the market. It’s time consuming but not difficult. It’s not rocket science.”

DETROIT — For the first time since 1985, beer will be canned in Detroit. Atwater Brewery, the city’s largest brewer, is leading the charge and canning Dirty Blonde Ale, Grand Circus Session IPA and Atwater Lager.

The brews will be immediately available in 12-ounce cans. The brewery will be canning in 16- and 19-ounce sizes in the future as well.

“We’ve said all along we want to bring the art of brewing back to the Motor City and help to revive Detroit’s role as a leading producer of great beers,” said Atwater Brewery owner Mark Rieth. “In the past few years, we’ve grown to be Detroit’s biggest brewer. Canning is an important next step in our mission to bring Detroit everywhere.”

Atwater brews ‘Distinctly Detroit’ styles of beer in the German tradition. According to Rieth, “It’s all about brewing clean, palatable beers with layers of flavors.  We’re thrilled that our beers, led by our Vanilla Java Porter and Dirty Blonde, have met such an enthusiastic response from the market.”

Bolstered by recent production expansion, Atwater is on pace for its tenth consecutive record sales year.