HopCat Detroit Is Ready, Set, Go

December 12, 2014, 9:07 AM by  Alan Stamm

Normally, there's no need for a Dummies Guide to a Bar Opening. You go, you show ID, you quaff.

That'll work Saturday in Midtown at HopCat, though the basic drill has an above-average degree of difficulty.

By 9 a.m. Saturday, a line of patrons awaiting the 11 a.m. debut stretched from Woodward around the corner to Canfield. (Twitter photo by Shawn Ley) 

Doors unlock at 11 a.m. at Woodward and Canfield, site of the six-year-old Grand Rapids group's fourth craft beer pub. Interest is intense, to understate it more than slightly.

"Traveling 100 miles one way for this," Ohio resident T.J.  Olszewski posts on the bar's Facebook page.

Tip #1: Line up early -- real early

Consider these comments at a "HopCat opening" strategy thread on Reddit:  

  • A buddy and myself are planning on being there by 9 a.m. Too late? I expect it to be pretty crazy with Short's offering over 100 beers on tap. . . . As long as I get in I'll be happy.
  • I planned on 8-9 a.m. as well
  • People will get there a lot earlier than you'd think. East Lansing actually had a few crazies camp out overnight.
  • I got there around 7:30 p.m. on the day they opened in East Lansing and we still had to wait in line for two and a half hours.
  • Some friends of mine got hired there and they have been told to expect tons of people all day. They open the doors at 11 in the morning, but I'll probably stroll in sometime around midnight to check it out. So stoked!

Why it's a big deal: 

  • The first 200 people get a card for free Crack Fries every week until mid-December 2015.
  • Short's Brewing Co. will have 120 beers on tap, including new varieties. (Limited quantities)
  • Each opening day visitor gets a free order of Crack Fries.
  • Free music at night by the Pitch Blak Brass Band and Detroit's Howling Diablos.
  • UM and MSU students, plus pals who visited them, are HopCat fans from sites near campus. 

Crack Fries, a signature item described on menus as "really that addictive," cost $3.95 or $15 for a one-pound mound.  

Take-out beer?

Yes. Here how a social media manager replies to a question about growlers:

"We will fill fill growlers. We sell our own, but also allow customers to bring in clean growlers from other places.

"We will not have growler fills available at our grand opening on Saturday, however. Due to the special nature of many of the beers and the expected demand, we won't be filling growlers until Sunday." 

Day two

HopCat welcomes brunch guests and hard-core drinkers at 10 a.m. Sunday, though most or all Short's limited-edition brews will be gone. (Click here for the regular lineup in eight craft categories.)

And you'll have to buy Crack Fries at $3.95 and up.

Meet three bartenders

Every pourer likes customers who know his name, right? Left to right below: Phil, Ryan and Lorin -- among those who'll be at your service. 

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