Hop Cat – Grand Rapids

Hop CatOn Sunday (two weeks ago, now – that’s how long it’s taking me to get caught up) we drove to Grand Rapids.  We had planned on hitting a bunch of different brew pubs, but our first stop was Hop Cat.  While they do have a few beers that they brew there, the real draw is the amazing selection of other craft and import brews.  We chatted with the bartender, Kim, while drinking our beers.  The staff section on their website says that “Kim is everybody’s favorite person. I mean EVERYONE!” I believe it.  She was very friendly and fun to talk to.

I can sum up Hop Cat like this: Great beer selection, good food, friendly service, and great music playing in the background (which was loud enough to hear, but not loud enough where you had to shout over it to have a conversation).

After a couple of beers, we headed out to Founders, taking a side trip down Division street to some of the shops (what was open on Sunday).  We stopped into a “vintage” clothing store (just off of division), which had mostly non-vintage, trendy stuff mixed with some hippy-ish clothes and some antiques.  There was also a back area with beads.  Lots and lots of beads.

We also stopped by a local record store.  I don’t remember the name of the place.  I picked up a copy of My Morning Jacket’s Celebracion de la Ciudad Natal (on vinyl), and I almost got a copy of Leo Kottke’s Mudlark, but when I took it out of the sleeve to check it out, side two was badly damaged.

We headed on to Founders, which was a bit of a walk (had we gone straight there from Hop Cat, without the side trip, it wouldn’t have been bad).  I hate to say it, but we were highly disappointed.  The beer was good (we each only had one), but the service was slow and inattentive.  And food service is non-existent; you have to go up to a little window connected to the kitchen to order.  Really?  Is it too much trouble to have the wait staff bring out menus and let people order from their table?  And, when Carrie paid with a $20 bill, she was given change for a $10.  Luckily, the waitress didn’t make a big deal of this when we brought it to her attention.

Anyway, we only stayed for one beer, then headed back to Hop Cat.  (We had fully intended on having lunch at Founders, but decided to wait until we got back to Hop Cat to eat.) We spent the rest of the afternoon there, tasting different beers and having friendly conversation with Kim.

The take-away from all of this?  If you’re visiting Grand Rapids, skip Founder’s and go directly to Hop Cat.