Posts

ernie richards

“What good is sanity?!”

That was the first thing out of Ernie Richards’ mouth when I showed up to interview him, after having commented about how impressive Grand Rapids Brewing Co.’s draft list looked. He laughed from his belly partially in self-reflection and part exhaustion, which made his salt and (heavier on the) pepper beard move, just a little. His eyes, although caught under the shade of his flat-brimmed baseball hat, gleamed with kindness behind the glare from his black-rimmed glasses. He offered me a beer, poured one for himself, and then pulled back the curtain to expose the methods behind his playful madness.

ernie richards

Ernie Richards

Before taking over the head brewer position at GRBC in early 2017, Ernie brewed on the opposite corner of the same block at the original HopCat location, a sister property in the BarFly Ventures family. Before brewing at HopCat, which he admits was “pure luck,” Ernie didn’t have a single batch of brewed beer to his name.

He earned a degree in genomics and molecular genetics from Michigan State University, but wearing a stark white lab coat for the next 30 years wasn’t going to cut it. His exit internship amounted to him “hanging out with boring people, culturing algae colonies, and screening them for fat production,” while still paying down his student loans. He laughs, “I wish I would’ve found out what lab life was like before I spent all those years and poured all that money into it.”

Fortunately, his comprehension of organic chemistry and microbiology would ultimately lend itself well to a proficiency in brewing. He’s able to reflect on what he’s been able to apply from his education, “Whereas most people learn how to homebrew first, and are able to grasp the functionality of it, and then progress to the more technical aspect, I learned the process backwards.” There’s still part of a sweet, innocent nerd in him that justifies his journey, “Brewing is a beautiful way to manifest the science component of what I paid for without having to be restrained in a lab.”

Ernie seems much more comfortable in his current role wearing broken-in jeans and a T-shirt embellished with a cuddly raccoon, holding a stemless wine glass filled with a barrel-aged sour. Speaking about his years in the hospitality/service industry, surrounded by his type of colleagues, “It’s so rad because you work with the weirdest, most eclectic, colorful people.” While enduring at an upscale fine dining restaurant, hating that he had to “wear a fucking tie,” a buddy of his tipped him off about a new craft beer bar in downtown Grand Rapids that was holding open interviews.

He walked into HopCat hoping to get an interview, but showed up at the wrong time. Instead, he bumped into two guys checking out the place, and struck up a casual conversation with them about Belgian beer and jazz clubs in Chicago. He had no idea who they were, but says, “They were super cool.” After he told them why he was there, they introduced themselves. Mark Sellers and Garry Boyd, the owner and ringleader of HopCat, respectively, were instant fans of Ernie—so much that they offered him a bartending gig on the spot.

Since opening in 2008, HopCat has seemed to have birthed a litter of sought-after brewers who have all since been adopted by new homes. Before Jake Brenner, who also had a tenure on HopCat’s modest 3-barrel system, went on to open GRBC in 2012 as their inaugural head brewer, he was pulling double-duty bartending on the weekends alongside Ernie and Bobby Edgcomb. While these three were counting their tips and drinking beer after their shift one night at close, Jake told them that he was moving next door to GRBC. Confident in what he saw in Ernie, Jake casually nudged him to take over brewing in his place at HopCat. Perhaps lubricated with slightly impaired judgment, Ernie accepted and told Jake, “Yeah, sure!” When Ernie woke up the next morning to a text from Jake that said, “You’re still coming in on Monday to learn how to brew, right?”, confirming Ernie’s verbal commitment, Ernie thought, “Fuck. What did I sign up for?”

ernie richards

Bobby Edgcomb & Ernie Richards

In hindsight, Ernie is happy with his decision to take the leap into brewing because he had gotten his fill with bartending, “It starts to wear on your soul a little bit.” Bobby soon started brewing with him at HopCat—until Jake recruited Bobby as his assistant brewer at GRBC. Ernie, now unsupervised, was left to his own devices, responsible for brewing solo at what was becoming one of the most recognized and respected brewpubs in America. No pressure, right? There’s something to be said for picking the person with the perfect amount of intrinsic motivation to do the job right—to do the job well, coupled with being a little bit weird. Just enough to keep things from getting too safe. Ernie was that guy.

His uninhibited knack for harnessing weirdness now had an outlet. Ernie got to “venture down deeper into the rabbit hole” of fantastic creativity. He says the freedom HopCat trusted him with was “probably one of the most ideal scenarios I could have ever asked for. It was truly the best learning experience for me.” He wasn’t entirely an island. “I pretty much had an entire bartending and service staff who were well-trained critics, who were available to me all the time. They were really open and honest with me about the beer. If they didn’t like something [I brewed], they were awesome about being objective and constructive. They know what good beer is supposed to taste like, and categorically where it’s supposed to be stylistically. If I was off, they let me know.”

The OG Grand Rapids HopCat is currently the only location out of the anti-chain chain’s nearly 20 locations that brews its own beer on top of having a well curated draft list. With almost 50 national and international taps always rotating right next to his own, Ernie had serious benchmarks by which to judge whether he was going in the right direction. “When you’re putting up a tap directly next to similar beers that are wildly popular—known by everybody, you have to be on your A game.” It was 48, give or take, constant reminders for him to strive to be better. “If you’re only surrounded by your own [beer], you don’t have anything to shock you out of your own bubble of what’s comfortable.”

Fast-forward to late 2016/early 2017. Ernie had been the sole brewer at HopCat for over five years when Jake tells him and Bobby that he’s been offered a professor position in the brewing program at Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College. All three guys had become beer brothers, bonded over brewing, so “neither of us could’ve been upset with Jake in the least for taking advantage of an amazing opportunity—for himself, and his family,” Ernie supports. Garry, one-half of the executive team who originally hired Ernie, invited Ernie to inherit Jake’s position as head brewer at GRBC, reuniting him with Bobby, for critical support.

ernie richards

As most things do, the timing happened for a reason. Ernie felt as though his head may have been scratching the metaphorical ceiling of what he was able to accomplish at HopCat, with its system’s very specific limitations. Of what he was able to achieve at HopCat, Ernie says was “the equivalent of competing in a full-grown adult’s BMX race while riding a little kid’s Strawberry Shortcake Huffy. So, the fact that I was able to brew beers that were in comparable range with some of the country’s biggest breweries, with relative consistency, and find ways to fine-tune that system to compete with them was pretty humbling.” In Ernie’s place now at HopCat is Ben Bagby, a homebrewer and former Kalamazoo HopKitten, who earned the job after an internal company wide brew-off challenge, of sorts.

Now, nearly a year into brewing at GRBC, Ernie seems right at home to be reunited alongside his better half. However, Ernie’s now brewing on a system that’s about five times larger than HopCat’s, so both he and Bobby have had to, in a sense, relearn their jobs and how to work with each other. Ernie’s an obsessive tinkerer, and Bobby is a “master of consistency.” Ernie acknowledges, “I’m very aware that I can’t just leave anything alone, and since Bobby’s a wizard with so many aspects of that system, I’ve had to let him teach me the intricacies of it. He’s got the patience of a saint. He’s like a brother to me, and in some cases nicer than a brother probably would be. Mentally, strategically—Bobby’s the voice of reason. My bread and butter is taking risks, but he calls me out when it’s probably going to end poorly. I know ‘assistant brewers’ are way too often not given the credit they deserve, but shit seriously would not get done at the level we’re doing it if it wasn’t for him.” Honestly, they’re so damn adorable together.

grand rapids brewing company

Camp Rapids

Coming off of GRBC’s second annual ArtPrize submission, this year’s Camp Rapids, Ernie and Bobby probably won’t have the luxury of slowing down anytime soon. Teases in the local press, recent public feedback, and internal staff support of the current beer program seem to be unanimous: the beer is good. Flattered, Ernie says, “It’s been really cool to watch the staff come together around the beer Bobby and I are making.” Still, they can’t get complacent. They try to approach their production schedule with a little more intentionality than what Ernie was used to at HopCat (especially in its earlier days), because at GRBC they have 18 taps to fill with consistent integrity.  

The clientele, generally speaking, is noticeably different at GRBC than it is at HopCat, but Ernie and Bobby can use that to their advantage. Unlike HopCat, “GRBC can’t be so willy nilly with our beer because we don’t have a national lineup to pick up the slack if we screw up. What we brew and put on tap is entirely who we are. There’s a lot more weight put on the decisions about what we brew.” When asked if that adds any additional pressure, Ernie takes it in stride, “Yeah, definitely, but it translates to a healthy pressure—to ensure that every beer we put on is worth it.” That hasn’t swayed Ernie’s inherent urge to still pull off “wild and crazy shit.”

Their current draft list represents a dichotomy, yet is complementary. It’s a well-balanced lineup, grounded in safe, gateway styles like their mainstay IPA, brown, stout, and Hefeweizen. Its other half is a trip, appropriately offset by plenty of “weird shit” for the curious. For those who crave the peculiar, chase after hybrids like their bourbon barrel-aged dark strong ale blended with a Flanders red, a bourbon barrel-aged barleywine with cocoa nibs and vanilla, and one of Ernie’s ever-rotating signature funky saisons or fruit-forward sours. GRBC’s barrel-aged portfolio is evolving, “almost to an impressively annoying level,” Ernie says, noticeable by the volume of barrels starting to squeeze the relatively modest space of their brewhouse.

ernie richards

Bobby Edgcomb & Ernie Richards

There should always be room allowed to be playful and test people’s comfort zones. If nothing else, Ernie has been known to keep himself entertained by naming his beers, which can often be a little left of center. Earlier this summer, GRBC proudly released a flamboyant 5.7% sour with lactobacillus fermented with a tropical brett blend, “peached to the far depths of fantasy land,” known as… wait for it… Princess Peach Unicorn Fairy Glitter Sparkle Queen. For Ernie, “It’s a weird social experiment. Names will often change how you approach and perceive that [beer]. Sometimes, these names are designed to be challenge. If you can get over that, and enjoy it—actually appreciate the beer aside from it’s dumb name, then you know what—it’s gotten you out of your comfort zone, and creates a dialogue. I don’t want to get to the point where we’re taking things so seriously, where all we’re thinking is, ‘What can we name this beer to just make it sell the most?’. It’s much cooler when a grown-ass, white, heterosexual male, who can admit he sincerely loves the beer, has to verbally order a Princess Peach Unicorn Fairy Glitter Sparkle Queen.”

Being obnoxiously macho about beer isn’t the only thing that Ernie takes a swing at. “Too much of the cool craft beer world pretends to be aloof to our culture of extreme consumption patterns—that they’re too good to make, or drink, quality lagers and pilsners. When are people going to get worn out by everything having to be so over the top all the time, and just learn to be comfortable with simple and delicate?” He wants to help move the needle. He’d love to see Silver Foam, GRBC’s flagship 4.5% American lager (first brewed in 1893) available year round in cans (it’s currently only available on draft and in 22oz bottles) at a price point that helps contribute to taking a bite out of AB InBev’s market share. “There’s so much more to be said for brewing clean, subtle, laid-back beers that don’t feel obligated to be so intense. To me, it takes more skill to brew a beer like that than it is to just throw as much as you can at it.”

Part of chipping away at the absurdities of what’s considered acceptable is Ernie’s commentary on social media. Social Bot War Pawn, GRBC’s spin on an English Mild, was a subliminal message to everyone overly consumed by social media. “If you look at how people are influenced by it, you start to realize that, before they know it, they’ve become victims of being social media pawns. People will proliferate a story that suits their own internal narrative—essentially planting the seeds to influence others’ perceptions, which will then circle back to affect their own perspective on how they’ll approach a thing. It’s the same with beer. You can name a beer whatever you want to lure people expecting one thing, and then give them another.” For Ernie, he’d like that other thing to be an elevated experience with his beer around a deeper conversation about life.

And then the conversation got ethereal. Probably because I asked him about his thoughts on life after death. “I’m not that narcissistic to say that I think I’ll come back as a human. How are we any better than all the other possibilities? When you’re dead, you’re just dead. If anything, we go back into this vast pool of lifeforce, and we all become the same energy. People have a lot of comfort in believing in reincarnation or life after death, but I think that’s just masking our own fears and inadequacies because death sucks. Maybe we’re caterpillars, and death (or life) is really just our cocoon phase.” When Ernie dies, my money’s on—or, at least my hope is, that he comes back as a Princess Peach Unicorn Fairy Glitter Sparkle Queen, and we’ll all be lining up, very comfortable in our own skin, to order another stemless wine glass of him.

 

Photography: Steph Harding

 

Comstock Park, Mich. —  Michigan’s food banks are encouraging supporters to raise a glass for hunger relief this September.

hops against hunger The campaign is called Hops Against Hunger, and it unites the state’s breweries and beer geeks with food banks serving those in need. All month, Michigan breweries will be hosting fundraisers to support the work of the state’s seven Feeding America-member food banks. Forty breweries, beer bars and restaurants from metro Detroit to Marquette are taking part.

“September is Hunger Action Month,” said Sean Little, development associate for Feeding America West Michigan, a food bank based in the Grand Rapids area. “Food banks like ours are asking people to volunteer, donate, contact their elected officials and take a whole host of actions to support our cause. We loved the idea of throwing brewery fundraisers into the mix and hopefully reaching a lot of people who might be totally new to food banking and hunger relief.”

“As we’ve begun building relationships with breweries, we’ve found that it’s an easy sell. They really care about this issue,” Little said.

According to the latest data from Feeding America, 1.49 million people are food insecure in Michigan, meaning they struggle to get enough food to lead a healthy life. That’s 15.1 percent of the population.

Since the Hops Against Hunger initiative kicked off in 2016, it’s raised more than $20,000 to support the food banks serving those people. A dozen establishments took part last year, and that number has risen to 40, showing a growing commitment to hunger relief in the state’s brewing community.

hops against hunger

Carrie Veldman, sustainability coordinator for BarFly Ventures, the company behind Grand Rapids Brewing Company and HopCat, says the motivation is simple. “By partnering with local nonprofits such as Feeding America, breweries and bars have the opportunity to invest in the community that has spent time and money investing in them.”

Grand Rapids Brewing Company and all six HopCat locations in Michigan are participating in Hops Against Hunger, each in support of the food bank serving their community.

Veldman says the partnership makes sense, because the food bank model of rescuing good surplus food and putting it to use is closely aligned with BarFly’s own waste-reduction practices. “Food recovery is one of our central values,” she said.

“Here in the U.S., our food waste is estimated at about 40 percent and we’re working to change this within our walls,” Veldman continued. “We’ve started a program at all of our locations where we donate any extra food we’ve acquired from beer dinners or monthly features to our local Feeding America food banks. All food that cannot be donated, like fruit and vegetable scraps and leftovers, is composted, so instead of rotting in a landfill, our food scraps can become nutrient-rich soil!”

Like many Hops Against Hunger participants, each BarFly location will be donating proceeds from one beer throughout the month. HopCat’s brand-new Royal Oak location, for example, will donate $1 from every pint of All Day IPA from Founders Brewing Company to Gleaners Community Food Bank.

hops against hungerOthers, like Greenbush Brewing Company in Sawyer, are organizing one-day events. On Friday, Sept. 22, Greenbush will host their second-annual Harvest Party, featuring live music, a bratwurst-grilling competition and the release of a beer brewed in collaboration with food bank staff.

“We wanted to give breweries the freedom to put their own stamp on it. We’ve seen some breweries come to us with really cool ideas and we love that their events are highlighting the diversity of the craft beer scene in Michigan,” Little said.

The Food Bank of South Central Michigan, for example, is working with the Kalamazoo Brew Bus to organize a pub crawl with several area breweries and beer bars on Sept. 28.

Ore Dock Brewing Company of Marquette, the campaign’s northernmost participant, has been raising money for hunger relief in the Upper Peninsula for years. They will be hosting a Pack the Pub Night on Sept. 21, when $1 from every pint of True North will be donated.

“We pride ourselves on being a community-minded business and that means lending a hand wherever we can,” said Adam Robarge, production and branding manager for Ore Dock. “Quite simply, having access to healthy food is a basic necessity that absolutely no one should have to go without.”

Information about participating breweries, events and Michigan’s food banks can be found at HopsAgainstHungerMI.org.

hops against hunger

Hops Against Hunger Participants

Feeding America West Michigan Beards Brewery Burnt Marshmallow Brewing Creston Brewery Grand Armory Brewing Grand Rapids Brewing Company Greenbush Brewing Company Harmony Hall HopCat Grand Rapids New Holland Brewing Company North Pier Brewing Company Ore Dock Brewing Company Pigeon Hill Brewing Company Silver Harbor Brewing Company Terra GR Restaurant The Livery Microbrewery The Mitten Brewing Company The Sovengard Tripelroot Watermark Brewing Company

Food Gatherers HopCat Ann Arbor

Food Bank of South Central Michigan Arcadia Ales Kalamazoo Brite Eyes Brewing Company The Distant Whistle Grand River Brewery HopCat Kalamazoo Kalamazoo Brew Bus Territorial Brewing Company

Food Bank of Eastern Michigan Loggers Brewing Company Michigan on Main Bar and Grill Table and Tap Tenacity Brewing Tri-City Brewing Company

Forgotten Harvest HopCat Detroit

Gleaners Community Food Bank Farmington Brewing Company HopCat Royal Oak

Greater Lansing Food Bank EagleMonk Pub and Brewery Ellison Brewery and Spirits HopCat East Lansing Lansing Brewing Company Ozone’s Brewhouse

 

About Feeding America West Michigan. The Hops Against Hunger campaign was created by Feeding America West Michigan in 2016. Serving local families in need since 1981, Feeding America West Michigan reclaims safe surplus food from farmers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers. That food is distributed through a network of more than 900 food pantries, youth programs, and other hunger-relief agencies in 40 counties from the Indiana border through the Upper Peninsula. Each year, an estimated 492,100 people receive food from Feeding America West Michigan. For more information, visit FeedWM.org.

About Hops Against Hunger. Hops Against Hunger is a campaign uniting Michigan’s craft beer community with food banks serving those in need. Forty breweries, beer bars and restaurants are raising money for Michigan’s seven Feeding America-affiliated food banks during Hunger Action Month this September. Together, these food banks provide food to a network of thousands of local food pantries, soup kitchens, senior centers, and schools in every one of Michigan’s 83 counties. To learn more about Hops Against Hunger and to find a participating brewery near you, visit HopsAgainstHungerMI.org.

Detroit, Mich — In the days leading up to Kalamazoo Beer Week, the Feelgood Tap, along with fundraising partner HopCat, are hosting the first ever Feelgood Tap Takeover. Ten breweries from throughout the state will each be featuring two different beers during the event, set to take place January 11th at the newest HopCat location in Kalamazoo.

“We’re both thrilled and grateful that HopCat was willing to host the event. They’ve been great partners since joining our efforts early in 2016,” said Stephen Roginson, founder of the Feelgood Tap, as well as Detroit brewery Batch Brewing Company. “This is a fun way to not only highlight the great beer being made by our partners, but to generate more awareness about the Feelgood Tap and its mission.”

feelgood tap

This month, the Feelgood Tap is raising money for THAW, The Heat and Warmth Fund. Every establishment’s Feelgood Tap contribution will go towards helping THAW provide utility assistance for Michigan residents in need.

feelgood tapThe Feelgood Tap is a 501c3 started in 2016. Shortly after Batch Brewing Company won Hatch Detroit and opened its doors in 2015, it started an in-house initiative called the Feelgood Tap, where they partnered with a different nonprofit every month, contributing a portion of sales from one specific beer for the month. Less than a year after beginning the initiative, they made the Feelgood Tap a 501c3, allowing other breweries, bars, and restaurants to participate, helping to grow the fundraising efforts.

The complete list of Feelgood Tap establishments:

Ascension, Batch Brewing Company, Brewery Ferment, Bridge Street Tap Room, Clubhouse BFD, Drafting Table Brewing Company, Falling Down Beer Company, Green Dot Stables, Grand Rapids Brewing Company, HopCat Ann Arbor, HopCat Detroit, HopCat East Lansing, HopCat Grand Rapids, HopCat Kalamazoo, Jolly Pumpkin Ann Arbor, Jolly Pumpkin Detroit, Jolly Pumpkin Dexter, Jolly Pumpkin Traverse City, Kickstand Brewing Company, Kuhnhenn Brewery Warren, Kuhnhenn Brewery Clinton Twp, Lansing Brewing Company, La Rondinella, Motor City Brewing Works, One Eyed Betty’s, Pete’s Place, River Rouge Brewery, River’s Edge Brewing Company, Slow’s BBQ Detroit, Tap 30, TriCity Brewing Company.

Psychedelic cat grass

Elk Rapids, Mich. – Short’s Brewing Company of Bellaire and Elk Rapids, MI announces distribution of Psychedelic Cat Grass, a triple dry hopped American India Pale Ale. Billed as a “Without Delay IPA,” Short’s plans to package and distribute the beer within 24 hours; allowing customers to enjoy this beer on the same day it was packaged, resulting in out-of-this world freshness.

The brewery describes Psychedelic Cat Grass as a triple dry hopped American India Pale Ale first brewed for HopCat. Aromas of pineapple, mango, and grapefruit accompany the brew’s slightly hazy, pale orange color and lasting white head. A dry finish is preceded by balanced flavors of tropical fruit and bitter hops.
The idea to package and distribute a beer in one day came from Short’s Partner, Scott Newman-Bale. “We originally talked about executing this at our pub only, but in true Short’s fashion we decided to push ourselves further and extend this to the state of Michigan and beyond. Why not go all in and see just how psychedelic we can get?!”
According to Newman-Bale, the company plans to send Psychedelic Cat Grass to any of their current distributors willing to take on the challenge of same day distribution. So far this includes Short’s longtime Michigan distributor, Imperial Beverage. Full distribution information will be posted on Short’s website at a later date. Psychedelic Cat Grass will also be served on tap at Short’s Bellaire pub and for sale in bottles at the pub and Short’s Mart, Short’s Bellaire “brewtique.”
Psychedelic Cat Grass will be distributed in six-packs of 12 oz bottles and a limited number of kegs on August 17th, 2016. The label artwork for this IPA is three dimensional and each six-pack includes its own pair of 3D glasses. An earlier batch of Psychedelic Cat Grass will be served on tap at the Michigan Brewers Guild 2016 Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti, MI on July 22nd and 23rd, at Tribes Beer Fest held at Tribes Alehouse in Chicago, IL on July 23rd, and at HopCat locations.

Psychedelic cat grass

Elk Rapids, Mich. – Short’s Brewing Company of Bellaire and Elk Rapids, MI announces distribution of Psychedelic Cat Grass, a triple dry hopped American India Pale Ale. Billed as a “Without Delay IPA,” Short’s plans to package and distribute the beer within 24 hours; allowing customers to enjoy this beer on the same day it was packaged, resulting in out-of-this world freshness.

The brewery describes Psychedelic Cat Grass as a triple dry hopped American India Pale Ale first brewed for HopCat. Aromas of pineapple, mango, and grapefruit accompany the brew’s slightly hazy, pale orange color and lasting white head. A dry finish is preceded by balanced flavors of tropical fruit and bitter hops.

The idea to package and distribute a beer in one day came from Short’s Partner, Scott Newman-Bale. “We originally talked about executing this at our pub only, but in true Short’s fashion we decided to push ourselves further and extend this to the state of Michigan and beyond. Why not go all in and see just how psychedelic we can get?!”

According to Newman-Bale, the company plans to send Psychedelic Cat Grass to any of their current distributors willing to take on the challenge of same day distribution. So far this includes Short’s longtime Michigan distributor, Imperial Beverage. Full distribution information will be posted on Short’s website at a later date. Psychedelic Cat Grass will also be served on tap at Short’s Bellaire pub and for sale in bottles at the pub and Short’s Mart, Short’s Bellaire “brewtique.”

Psychedelic Cat Grass will be distributed in six-packs of 12 oz bottles and a limited number of kegs on August 17th, 2016. The label artwork for this IPA is three dimensional and each six-pack includes its own pair of 3D glasses. An earlier batch of Psychedelic Cat Grass will be served on tap at the Michigan Brewers Guild 2016 Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti, MI on July 22nd and 23rd, at Tribes Beer Fest held at Tribes Alehouse in Chicago, IL on July 23rd, and at HopCat locations.

hopcatGrand Rapids–HopCat Grand Rapids is celebrating their anniversary January 23, but the party lasts all month long.

The celebration got an early start this Saturday with a release of special collaboration beers.

On January 23rd the official anniversary party will feature HopCat exclusive beers including bottles of Red Nymph and Oil Spiller.

hopcatFans of Hopcat’s famous fries can come hungry and enter the Crack Fries eating contest. The contest is $5 to join and all proceeds will be matched by HopCat and donated to the Humane Society of West Michigan.

The celebration continues on January 24th, as HopCat hosts a special anniversary beer dinner focused on house-brewed and collaboration beers paired with a four ­course, off­ menu meal. Tickets are $30 and the full menu of beer and scratch-made food is available here.

 

Look for these special releases at the anniversary party on January 23:

Atwater Bourbon Barrel Aged Teufelbock

Arcadia ­Bourbon Barrel Aged London Porter

Dark Horse ’14 Plead The Fifth

Arbor ’14 Demetrius

Rochester Mills ­Bourbon Barrel Aged Snow Dazed

Saugatuck ­Big Bitch Barleywine

Arcadia ­Shipwrecked Porter

Tapistry ­Batch 200

Vivant ­Belgian Weiss

Epic ­Big Bad Baptist

Founders ­ Project PAM

Mikkeller ’10 From: To: Via:

Perrin ’13 Bourbon Barrel Aged Rye Wine

Shorts ’14 Bourbon Wizard

New Belgium ’14 La Folie

HopCat ­Unicorn on Acid

HopCat ­I’m Not Sorry

HopCat/New Belgium Collaboration ­ Imperial Chocolate Cherry

HopCat ­Smore’s Sassiness Porter

HopCat ­ ATTN: Brett

HopCat Oil Spiller

HopCat ­Red Nymph

Dark Horse Brewing

DETROIT – HopCat Detroit and Dark Horse Brewing Co., of Marshall joined forces this weekend to produce a World Record Tap Takeover featuring 130 unique Dark Horse brews.

The event, dubbed Dark Saturday, broke a record set at HopCat Detroit’s grand opening on Dec. 13, 2014, which featured 120 Short’s Brewing Company beers.

By 11 a.m., a line wrapped around the front of the building as fans waited to try the huge variety of Dark Horse brews.

For HopCat and Dark Horse staff, the day began much earlier.

“It was all hands on deck to get this event together,” Trevor Mapes, captain of beer research at Hopcat, said. “A lot of the logistical elements were planned early on, and barbacks and food runners provided muscle late into the night and early in the morning before opening.”.

The bar filled up quickly as attendees anticipated rare and hard-to-find Dark Horse Brews.

“It’s great to see Dark Horse and HopCat tackling this event in Detroit,” said Damon Ward, Detroit resident and craft beer enthusiast. “It signifies how supportive they are of the local beer community.” Of the 130 beers on tap, Ward was most excited to try the 2014 and 2015 Bourbon Barrel Plead the 5th stout.

The all-day event included a special one-day renaming of HopCat Detroit’s Huma Room into the Crooked Tree Room. TV screens showed college football throughout the afternoon, and live music began at 7 p.m. to close out the evening.

“We love Detroit and want to be part of its ongoing renaissance,” said Bryan Wiggs, head of brewery operations and token hippie at Dark Horse. Yes, his business card really says that.

“It is a privilege and it is exciting to be breaking the world record here in Detroit,” Wiggs added.

“We came up with the idea for the tap takeover with HopCat at the Winter Beer Fest in February of 2014, and have been brewing beers specifically for this event since them,” said Aaron Morse, founder and owner of Dark Horse.

On the 12-acre Dark Horse compound in Marshall, Morse makes honey and maple syrup, he grows hops and fruit, and he uses all these elements in his beer.

“We have fun pushing the envelope and doing things people say you can’t,” Morse added.

For a must-try beer, Morse suggested the Rubescent Zhaftig Ghastly, which has all the roasty, creamy characteristics one would expect in a stout, but pours a vibrant red color.

“It is a brain teaser,” he said.

United she mashed and divided she brewed this past Sunday for the Pink Boots Society’s International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day.

In over 70 breweries nationwide, women gathered to brew this year’s Unite Red Ale recipe, created by Sophie du Ronde of Muntons Malt in England.

Locally, brewing took place at HopCat Grand Rapids and Griffin Claw Brewing Company to create a version of the Unite Red Ale. Sheryl Rose, Momma Cat of the PussyCat Beer Guild, met at the group’s stomping grounds — HopCat Grand Rapids — to brew its version.

“We used equinox hops for their floral, herbal, apple, papaya characters, as well as adding some black patent malt to make it darker red,” said Rose.

After adding their twist to the recipe, the women spent the morning being a part of each step in brewing their recipe.

Since the brewing process can only handle so many hands, and the space (at both locations) can be limited, a gathering was held after the brewing process for more women to attend to celebrate the fruits of their labor as well as one another.

This type of event is about “bringing positive attention to women in general, and helping to forge bonds between them, not just those in the industry,” says Rose.

Manda Geiger, Brewster at Pike 51 Brewing in Hudsonville, attended the event at Griffin Claw, which featured brewers from Fermenta.

“I think anytime you can get people together to share knowledge about brewing is very exciting. I love passing on the things I have learned along the way and it also teaches me things too,” she said.

All in all, the event was a huge success — so huge that the Pink Boots Society believes the day may have qualified for the Guinness Book of World Records.

Once on tap at HopCat Grand Rapids, the profits from the sale of the Unite Red Ale will be split 50/50 between Pink Boots Society and Women’s Resource Center of Grand Rapids. Be on the lookout for both beers to appear at HopCat Grand Rapids and Griffin Claw, respectively, in the near future.


Home     About     News     Services     Contact Us



Sign Up To Get The Latest Brews