Category Archives: Michigan

HopCat To Expand With 6 New Locations

Since opening their first location in 2008, HopCat has run its business around the simple mission of delivering great food, great beer, and great music to the people. With plans to double their locations from six to twelve in 2016, they are working on bringing craft beer to an even larger market.

Seeking to fill a void of craft beer options in Grand Rapids, beer lover Mark Sellers founded as a place where friends could hang out and enjoy new local brews, as well as options from around the country and around the world. Now part of the BarFly Ventures family, alongside Stella’s Lounge, McFadden’s, and Grand Rapids Brewing Company, HopCat is now one of the staples in the burgeoning craft beer scene of Grand Rapids.

HopCat’s success in Grand Rapids caused for quick expansion throughout the rest of Michigan and even beyond the state boundaries. In 2013, HopCat decided to expand their brand and open a second location in East Lansing. The bar, adjacent to Michigan State University campus, offered a staggering 100 craft beers on draft as well as free “crack fries”. New locations soon followed in Detroit, Indianapolis, Madison, Ann Arbor, and Lexington. Now, a $25 million deal with a Texas-based lender will help HopCat finance 30 new locations over the next several years, starting with the recently announced upcoming location in Lincoln, NE.

Chris Knape, VP of Marketing and Communications, also known around the company as Mr. Propaganda, is extremely excited about the opportunity to expand HopCat further. “We wanted to see if the concept had legs [and] it was successful so we decided to expand.” While expansion on this sort of level can provide some challenges for a brand of any kind, Knape is sure that all of the HopCat locations, new and old, will stay true to their craft beer core.

Founders Brewing Co. Forced To Relabel Breakfast Stout In Michigan

(Grand Rapids, MI) As of August 26th, 2015, Founders Brewing Company has officially moved to relabel their Breakfast Stout…at least in Michigan, that is. The label of this ever popular beer has recently come under fire as it was discovered to not have been registered with the state for many years. This, combined with Michigan’s new law prohibiting the depiction of minors on alcoholic beverages, has led the Grand Rapids based brewery to relabeling their Breakfast Stout and removing the iconic imagery.

While craft beer advocates have been whipped into a frenzy, Founders has taken the high road with a simple post on their website reading, “The baby of Breakfast Stout is taking some time away from his crib after being booted from the label in our home state of Michigan.“ The post, along with a new baby-less label, offers a tongue in cheek response to the local law change.

The new label, by original artist Grey Christian, features a note reading, “left the crib for a bit, call me if you need me 616-522-2720.” When dialed, callers receive the message:

“Hey, thanks for calling and checking up on me. I’m currently not allowed in my home state of Michigan, so I’m hanging in the rest of the Founders distribution footprint this fall. Leave me a message to let me know how much you love double-chocolate coffee oatmeal stouts, where you’re drinking your beer, or, how badly you want me to come home. My Founders family may even use your voicemail for something fun. Maybe I’ll see you again next year. Then again, maybe not.”

While it may be some time before we see the iconic baby return to shelves in Michigan, the original label will still be shipped to all other states within the Founders distribution footprint, and it will continue to be available from September through December.

Ann Arbor Welcomes The Trolley Pub

(Ann Arbor, MI) If you love bar crawls, but hate the downtime between stops, Trolley Pub is the right thing for you. Founded in Raleigh, the Trolley Pub offers a unique experience with pedal-powered tours that allow riders to enjoy beverages between stops on a fixed route of local breweries, pubs and restaurants.

Trolley Pub launched in Ann Arbor in September 2015 after Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation to allow pedal trolley passengers to consume alcohol they bring on board earlier in the summer. The only requirement is that the operator is not under the influence and has proof of liability insurance. Local ordinances still have the power to prohibit onboard alcohol consumption, but, as of now, Ann Arbor city officials are still reviewing the matter.

Amanda Swan, Managing Partner of the new branch, is very excited to grow the business in Ann Arbor, as a new form of sustainable tourism should be highly appealing to the local community. “It will be a great fit in terms of personality,” Swan asserts. Her team is even looking into opportunities to winterize their trolleys and hopes they can have a solution ready for next winter.

The trolleys are capable of transporting up to 14 passengers and are powered by foot pedals under each of the riders, with steering left in the hands of the designated driver. Customers are allowed to bring whatever beer and wine they would like along for the ride, but liquor is not permitted. There are two types of tours available: private ones for 6-14 people at a flat rate of $375, and mixers for 1-14 people at a price of $30 per ticket. Both types of tours last two hours, and the mixers provide an opportunity for smaller parties to meet new people along their journey.


Michigan State’s Best College Bars

A defining trait of any college town is their local bars, and Michigan State University is no exception. With over a dozen bars and clubs, MSU has a wide variety of places to check out no matter what day you visit. Here are some of the best bars in East Lansing and their weekly specials.

PT O’Malley’s – “It’s Like Cheers, but in Michigan. Everyone knows your name” – Kelly W. PT’s is the kind of place where anyone can become a regular. The waitstaff is friendly, the atmosphere is inviting, and the big game is on every TV.

Monday Specials: $3-4 pitchers, unofficial NBA Jam tournaments.

Rick’s – The twin brother to Ann Arbor’s Rick’s American Cafe, Rick’s East Lansing can best be summed up by the phrase, “I just want to dance.” With the largest and most subterranean of all East Lansing dance floors, Rick’s offers great times and live DJ’s every weekend, and with weekday drink specials, you’ll be able to blow off steam while saving money.

Tuesday Specials: No cover, ½ off everything.

Harper’s Brew Pub – Come for the live music and DJ’s and leave with a growler of Harper’s signature craft beers: Spartan Wheat and Harper’s Ale. Featuring weekly events and daily drink specials, Harper’s Brew Pub is a great place to live it up at night or cheer on the Spartans on football Saturdays.

Wednesday Specials: ½ off food and drinks, all sandwiches $3.75.

The Riv – Ask any Michigan State student to sum up The Riv in one word, and that word will be, “rama”. With cheap burgers, fries, and pitchers, The Riv’s Burgerama Thursday special is no tradition that packs the bar from morning til night, but it’s definitely worth the wait.

Thursday Specials: Burgerama ($2.40 burger and fries. $3.50 pitchers).

Whiskey Barrel Saloon – East Lansing’s only country bar, the Whiskey Barrel Saloon brings the fun with live country artists, line dancing and of course a mechanical bull. Learn to dance from one of their many instructors or just kick back at the bar for some good ol’ fashion Southern fun.

Friday Specials: You Call It’s ($3 on any single liquor or beer).

Crunchy’s – Trivia, comedy, live music, karaoke and craft beer. One of these is the reason you’ll go to Crunchy’s and the rest are the reasons you’ll come back. Great choice for some weekday variety entertainment or some jammin’ karaoke sessions on the weekend..

Saturday Specials: Karaoke and 3 Buckets for $35 (1 bucket of Miller Lite or Labatt Blue, 2 buckets of fries, tots, onion rings, pretzels, or pizza nugs).

Dublin Square – What bar scene would be complete without an Irish pub, and with daily drink specials Dublin Square is a must stop for East Lansing bar goers looking to take in some live music, enjoy a bite to eat from their traditional Irish menu, or step up to the bar for a cold pint of Guinness.

Sunday Specials: $3 Bloody Mary’s, $3 Mimosas & $3 Draft Beers.