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