Saturday, September 29, 2012

2nd annual Hoptoberfest ups the ante for Hopcat’s Fall Beer Festival

Written by  Dan VanderKooi
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2nd annual Hoptoberfest ups the ante for Hopcat’s Fall Beer Festival

Hopcat is already the third best beer bar on planet Earth (per Beer Advocate magazine,) and they obviously have their sights set now on inter-planetary dominance based on this year’s Hoptoberfest festival. 40 Michigan breweries took over Ionia Street to celebrate. Standouts included Hudsonvile’s White Flame Brewing Co. which in addition to their astounding Bourbon Barrel aged Black Sheep IPA, also featured a beer drinking, cigarette smoking “G Man” super hero mascot making the rounds throughout the festival. Although there was no German beer tent this year, instead a booth of rotating taps featured such speciality pours as the Hopcat Rapture Wild Ale and Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout.
Michigan meaderies were also well represented. Montague’s Bardic Wells, B-Nektar, and the northern-based Acoustic Mead all provided their alcoholic honey concoctions which met with the approval of the masses. Brewery Vivant had their brand new New Belgium collaboration Escoffier on hand. Of several Oktoberfests available, Greenbush had one of the best. Perrin Brewing Co. made a strong showing after their recent grand opening and Rockford Brewing Co. was on hand with an information booth, and although no beer available yet, we were assured that it was definitely in the works and should be ready in time for an early November grand opening.

Food was not an emphasis at this year’s festival. Plenty of nearby restaurants were happy to provide fest-goers with ample food including McFaddens and of course Hopcat and Stella’s. If just wanting a quick bite, Stoner Taco had set up a booth and was happy to provide their psychedelic take on traditional Mexican fare. My friends and I opted for Hopcat, which we found to be busy but accommodating with only a short wait for a table.

Hoptoberfest really upped the ante with this year’s music lineup. Last year featured mostly local blues bands but this year’s lineup included Funktion, Sophistafunk, Fishbone, and Dumpstaphunk. Notice a common theme? Yes, they funked it up big time this year including local musicians as well as some major touring artists. Headliner Dumpstaphunk featured Ivan Neville, son of Aaron Neville and nephew to the Neville Brothers.

Last year with fewer breweries participating, Hopcat still found themselves with plenty of extra beer on their hands. (Planning a beer festival involves making sure that there is always more than enough beer. Running completely out of beer would certainly not look good to festival attendees!) This year, they decided to take advantage of that “problem” by hosting the world’s biggest beer brunch. The first 2000 ticket-holding attendees to show up the next morning were treated to more music, free breakfast, and a rotating tap lineup of 16 beers while supplies last.

Dan VanderKooi

Dan VanderKooi

Dan VK has been following the Michigan Craft Beer scene since before Oberon has been available in 6-packs. Besides making the rounds at all the local craft breweries and beer bars, Dan also supports the local music scene, reads crime fiction, and enjoys playing volleyball with his wife and friends.