Talking Hops With Hopcat

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Since 2008 when Hopcat’s first location opened in Grand Rapids, this cat has clawed its way to a big name in the beer world with accolades such as, ranked the #3 Beer Bar in the world as ranked by Beer Advocate Magazine, ranks Hopcat the #2 beer bar in the U.S. in 2012 and 2013. On Monday, May 22, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emmeline Jurek, Beer Program Director for the 2 ½ year old Hopcat-Ann Arbor about the variety of different factors that attribute to the success of the growing franchise.


Photo credit, Ron Askew

“This is a pretty IPA heavy city, we do a ton of Bell’s Two Hearted, Short’s Huma Lupa Licious, I would say they say the best as a steady sale, but, as the seasons change, people’s pallets change.” Emmeline said when asked what would be the most popular beers Hopcat-Ann Arbor offers on tap. “Right now we’re seeing a huge influx of flavored light ales like Strawberry Blonde from Arbor Brewing Company and the flavored wheat business around this time to such as Oberon (Bells) she continued.

Besides their beer selection, Hopcat offers a variety of delicious food options, one of which are the appropriately named, crack fries. Crack fries have become a fan favorite among the patrons of Hopcat and has even earned a spot on Food Network’s top ten fries in the United States. “From what I can remember from our training, is pretty much the exact way one might think about when they were playing around with menu ideas, someone piped up and said, ‘Wow, these are like crack they’re so good!’ so that’s essentially how they came to be.” She said when asked how crack fries got their name.

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“Honestly too many to count, it’s something new every day. We don’t deal with just the large beer companies distributed through the many distribution companies in the state of Michigan, at this store and the one in Detroit does do deal with a lot of smaller self-distributed breweries as well. At least once a month there’s a new small brewery that will bring in samples.” Emmeline responded when asked about how many different beer companies Hopcat works with. “For example, Eternity Brewing (Howell) they make fantastic beer, Drafting Table (Wixom) is another one, we work with Acoustic Mead (Traverse City) who does fantastic draft mead, and Farmington Brewing Company (Farmington) is another favorite we do a lot of work with, so, pretty much if the liquid is good, we buy it.

DSC_0879.jpgPhoto credit, Ron Askew

Honestly, Hopcat has always been one of my favorite bars to go to whenever I’m in Downtown Ann Arbor or Detroit, even before I decided to start this blog. With six different locations in the state (Ann Arbor, Detroit, East Lansing, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and newly added, Royal Oak) and seven more located around the country, this is definitely a franchise that does beer, food and customer service right.


Photo credit, Ron Askew

Generation Young Presents: Drinko De Mayo

On May 6, 2017, Dozens of young adults filled the popular downtown Detroit venue, Club Bleu as Generation Young Entertainment hosted, “Drinko De Mayo” a showcase of some of the best Hip Hop and EDM in the state of Michigan. drinko.jpgPerforming acts included, Apropos, Jade Lathan Music, Jahi, Anwar Sadot, Cyrus King & Mocha Jones, D $cholar, @IAMKRAAY, (yours truly) E-Man Bates and headlined by Generation Young Co-Founder, Kevin “Historik” Schechter. The event also featured several EDM DJ’s as well such as, Lord Monk, Chris Tha Cat and Chris Hesano.  Through past events around the city I was familiar with a few of the acts on the bill but there were a few I haven’t seen before that were a pleasant surprise, one of which was Cyrus King & Mocha Jones whose stage presence brought an energy to electric the crowd.

“Ever since I was a child, music has been natural for me from inception.” Said by Cyrus King when asked what got him into music, “Beat boxing-or what they call beat boxing, singing, writing melodies, just being musical came natural to me and is powerful enough to evoke the musician inside of you should there be said musician in you” he continued. Cyrus King based out of Novi, MI took a break from performing for a bit, but at 31-years old is determined to make a name for himself in the hip hop world alongside producer and performing artist, Mocha Jones.

Mocha Jones, based out Remus, MI(in the Central Michigan area) is a dual threat as a rapper/producer combination. “I’ve always been into music, I got my first rap CD when I was 7 or 8 years old, I stole an LL Cool J CD from my dad and that was the first rap I’ve really heard and just ran with it.” When asked what inspires him musically. “I stared off as a rapper but really didn’t start making beats till about five years ago.” He continues. Mocha Jones currently attends Schoolcraft College in Livonia, MI for sound engineering. “He pushes me musically, there’s shit that I didn’t even know I could do, and five years ago, I would’ve never said I had bars. But, because the craft and the genius of this person, he gives me the green light to be myself and just spit good shit.” Said by Cyrus Jones regarding Mocha Jones. cy and moc.jpg

The EDM sets were amazing and there seemed to be a style of music for everyone to enjoy, from the hip hop heads there for the lyrics to the bachelorette party that were there for drinks and dancing. All performing acts had their logos projected on the big screen above them as well for an added touch.  The was a mix of Trap and Dubstep EDM among the DJ’s which added for a nice mix in variety. One of the standout DJ’s who had the crowd asking for more was Lord Monk.

“When I was young, I kept wondering what that noise was, then I started to listening to it more and more and staring going to shows, saw those guys up top and decided I want to be that guys making everyone have a good time so I got into playing dubstep about 2 ½ years ago.” Said by Lord Monk when asked how he got into the dubstep scene. Lord Monk, based out of Waterford, MI has played two prior events with Generation Young. His next plan is to enter competitions to play festivals. “I go for that really heavy whatever helps me get rid of aggression, like hard core metal but with dubstep electronic sounds, throw it on the dance floor and get your aggression out.”lord monk.jpg

Histork headlined the event performing songs off his new project, “Curved Appetite” which gave energy to a crowd that was there until the venue closed for the night. historik  I didn’t have the chance to interview Historik or Korey Sweet of Generation Young, but if their next event is anything like this past event, then word of Generation Young will spread around the state very soon.

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All photo credits courtesy of Ronald M. Askew.

Pairing with Perrin

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This past week I have been reluctant to get a hold of Lindsay VanDenBoom, public relations of Perrin Brewery for questions about some of the aspects of beers from Perrin. Perrin, based in Comstock Park, MI  is a big name in the craft beer world and it was a pleasure to be granted this interview. Unfortunately, we could not do an in person interview due to scheduling conflicts but she was happy to answer questions via email about Perrin.

Emmanuel: I am a fan of the creativity that goes into the naming of a lot of the beers brewed by Perrin , such as, “Damsel In Distress, Poop your Pants, Caesar’s Gimp” and others. I read the blog Written by Sheldon King entitled, “The Difficult Stage of Naming a Beer” and was curious on how getting into more detail on the stages of naming certain beers such as the three mentioned above. Was it the style of beer, is it trying to pick something edgy to make it stand out or is it completely random?

Lindsay: A lot of the beer naming is crafted by the Brewers. For example, “No Rules” came above when a Brewer was having a tough day at the brewery and shouted “There are no rules around here!” and from that, the theme “no rules” stuck and that eventually became a beer name. The imagination of each brewer is what makes the naming process fun. Depending on the style of the beer and the ingredients that go into each batch becomes an inspiration in the naming process.

Emmanuel: Craft beer is a big thing in the state of Michigan, how does Perrin stand out from the other breweries in the state?

Lindsay: At Perrin Brewing, we utilize a unique water filtering system that is very rare in the brewing industry. It’s the Reverse Osmosis System, a system that removes all impurities from brewing water and allows the most consistent, true to style beers possible. After the water is stripped of all its impurities, brewing salts and acids are added to build the water back up. This allows us to make each water profile specific and unique to each style that we brew.

Serving over 20 beers on tap, we intend on finding a beer fit for anyone!

Emmanuel: What would you say is your favorite style of beer? (IPA? Pilsner? Porter? Or other)

Lindsay: My personal favorite style of beer is either a light n’ crisp pilsner in the summertime and a rich, flavorful stout in the fall/winter.

Emmanuel: What would you say are the three most popular beers created by Perrin?

Lindsay: The Perrin flagship beer is Perrin Black Ale, a light-bodied dark ale with hints of semi-sweet chocolate and soft nuances of fresh coffee.
No Rules, Vietnamese Imperial Porter was ranked one of the top beers in the world by RateBeer in 2016. And sells out within hours of releasing!
The Grapefruit IPA and Michigan Cherry IPA are the top seasonal brews released during spring and summer.

Emmanuel: It’s very interesting concept to create a beer without hops because it has been such a core element in beer for so long, so, how did the idea for a “Gruits” style of beer come about?

Perrin has never particular brewed a Gruits beer, only research on the style.

Emmanuel: How did the idea for the No Problem Session IPA come about?

The thought process in this beer was crafting a light, crisp, session-able beer that you can enjoy several of during warm days. This crush-able beer has a complex hop profile by layering hops in the brewing process, yet the beer still remains light with intense hop flavor. With a cold beer in hand, there is “no problems”! Plus it played a role in our Pack of Problems, IPA Variety Pack featuring 4 cans of No Problems Session IPA, 4 cans of 98 Problems IPA, and 4 cans of Lotsa Problems IPA.

Emmanuel: How long have you been with Perrin Brewing?

Lindsay: I have been working at Perrin Brewing for one year.

Emmanuel: What tips would you offer to anyone looking to get into brewing their own beer?

Lindsay: Start with a pre-packaged brewing kit and work up from there. The first homebrew will most likely not turn out the best. It can be a trial and error at first but with a quick guide at the beginning and experimenting after that, you’ll be amazed how tasty a successful homebrew can be!

In short, Perrin has and always will be a standout name in the beer world and their style of brewing along with creativeness is what separates them from the pack. I appreciate Lindsay for taking the time out to get back to me on the details of Perrin Brewery and I appreciate everyone for reading along.

Stay tuned for more updates for Beats and Brews, 2017 will be a busy year!