Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Weekend/Day Adventures: Hop Cat Hoptoberfest

I had known about this festival for several weeks prior to the event date, but was unsure whether or not New Holland was attending. Late in the week preceding the event, Eamon let me know that we were indeed entered in the fest. Here goes round 4 of festival season:

Friday 9/14/12:
The Scoby/mother
Rewind a bit just to include some cool stuff: I spent part of the day tasting through some barrels in the warehouse to decide what will making it to the Festival of Barrel Aged Beers (FOBAB). The latter half of the day was spent kegging my first creation at the pub, and New Hollands first ever, Kombucha! After work I hit the roads for an 8 mile warm-up and then the track for 3 x mile, avg 5:03 for all of them. With 13 miles in for the day, I was ready for some beer. 

Deciding which bottle was Charkoota/Dragons Milk
The plan was to meet Eamon at 8th St. for the Short's tap take-over, but with the bar being overly crowded, we ultimately decided to skip that and head immediately to Grand Rapids. There, we and picked up Dave, made a few more stops and then headed to the Hideout for their multi-tap release. The event entailed beers ranging from: Sour-cayenne stouts, to harvest hop and Michigan based Octoberfests. Still, I found myself enjoying their mainstays over all else. Spending several hours there eventually got the best of us and we decided to make our way back. Again, thanks to Teresa for hooking us up!

Saturday 9/15/12:
Where to begin...
Woke up. Ran 5 miles. Fed the miles.
THEN, the drinking begins.
Poet is a Smoked beer???
I had yet to experience the famous Logan's Ally, that I hear so much about. Apparently they cater to a lot of 3rd shift workers, and conveniently make their "Happy Hour" from 7AM-11AM! We took full advantage of this and made a quick pit-stop to peruse the menu. We eventually split (ironically) New Belgiums Hoptoberfest. Delicious.
Our Crew
We made it to the Festival around 11:05 for set-up. Our beer was already fully hooked up and ready to
 pour. The line-up consisted of Hatter, Poet and Ichabod, with a Firkin of Poet under the table. We set up the banner, decorated the table and distributed what swag we had been provided by the events crew. Interestingly, the kegs were not on ice, but were perhaps chilled enough to hold some temperature throughout the day. The tap boxes were coils and stocked with ice, so fortunately that was enough, it seemed, to ensure an adequate serving temperature. I did manage to get one of our kegs into the Founder's ice bins for some extra chill. Thanks guys.
We met our volunteers/pourers, and I walked them through a quick tasting to get acquainted with our beers. 
The festival started at 12.
It seemed that the first two hours consisted of a trickle of people, but gradually picked up after that. By the start, Jack had joined us and we perused the booths discusssing and tasting a wide variety of Michigan breweries (The festival was exclusively Michigan, FYI). I've found that attending these festivals are great opportunities to meet local brewers, sales reps, and brewery owners, as well as a chance to learn a great deal of all facets of the industry. 
Hop Cat Bean Wrap
For the 12 hours we were there, time did in fact go pretty quickly. 
Midday, around 3:30 we decided it was probably best to eat something. Taking a break from our festivities, I got an opportunity to taste some of the food at Hop Cat. I ordered their bean burrito spinach rap. Not bad, and it was also the first time I actually ate fries in as long as I can remember. After lunch, we went right back to it. Much of the rest was pretty consistent with what we normally do at most fests. Meet people, talk beer and New Holland, and have a good time. And, because we've been attending so many festivals lately, we're getting to see some pretty familiar faces. Shout out to Chaz, brewer at Schmohz.  And Zara, whom we met at the Mitten Bar at the Ludington beer fest. Also, thanks Kaitlin for the beer.
The man on stilts
The end of the night resulted in a dropped growler of some high end beer. Nice work, Eamon.
And we finally wound up getting dinner at Brewery Vivant. This was the first time I had a chance to try their food, and it was pretty damn good. I ordered the Vivant Burger, which Jack claims to be the best in Grand Rapids. I know, you're saying - "Tim, YOU ate a burger?" Yeah, I figured if I was going to have one, what better place to do it than somewhere that really puts work into their food. Still, I think prior to that night, I hadn't had a burger since....Junior/Senior year of college? Anyway, it was great. Eamon got the Duck Confeit  Nachos and a beer he probably didn't need. I had limited my drink consumption for a couple hours, so I DD'd it home for the night.. 
What a day.

Sunday 9/16/12:
I had been thinking about jumping in to bandit the Credit Union Bridge run 10 miler this morning, but that wasn't going to happen.
Over the night I realized I hadn't had much water, so I ended up consuming several pints of water. Woke up feeling pretty good, except for the normal creakiness that comes from running so much. Anyway, the Hop Cat was hosting a brunch for the attendees of the festival, which guaranteed breakfast and coffee/OJ with the presentation of your ticket or badge. We decided to get our running in and ran to the event. With 5 miles under the belt, I was pretty hungry when I arrived. To be honest, though, the food was to be expected when you're catering for 2,000 some people, and not very conducive to someone who, up until Saturday night is rather health conscious and vegetarian. but props to them for going the extra mile!
The plan with brunch was they were to open at 10 and start pouring the left over beer at 12. We were too early to wait around so...hit the roads for more miles and more beer. The next destination was Logan's Ally again. We ordered the Short's Stout and Finch's Threadless IPA.
Logan's Ally
The final stop on our brewery/bar run led us to Harmony Brewery, and a worth while stop indeed. They had just opened their doors and were in the process of doing a photo shoot for the November Grand Rapids Magazine issue. We sat at the end of the bar and ordered some beer as the Adam (the photographer) did shots of Heather (the bartender) pouring pints/samplers and mix drinks. To our luck, the drinks headed our way! I have very little experience drinking mixed drinks, in fact my first one was only a couple weeks ago at the pub. Man, they tasted good! If I knew the names of them I'd tell you, but I'm at a loss. One was chocolate and patron infused and coagulated a bit if it went untouched for several minutes. Another was, from what I can best describe, a Grapefruit Mojito? and a few others.
And, better yet, we got some good photos too, with the chance of being in that issue too!
We also had the chance to talk beer and barrels with Heather (co-owner) and perhaps the chance of getting Harmony a New Holland barrel for some collaboration?
After that, and with 12 miles under my belt, we headed back to Eamon's house, and I got a ride back to Holland.
What a weekend. Until next time,

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