Friday, November 23, 2012

Hopcat goes Wild for Barrel-Aged and Sour Beer Festival

Written by  Dan VanderKooi
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2012 Wood and Wild Ale Festival at Hopcat

Hopcat gathered up quite the collection of over 40 unique and unusual beers for the 2012 Wood and Wild Ale Festival. Many of the offerings included were aged at Hopcat’s own personal cellar for years prior to being made available for this event. Drafts were available in 5 oz or 10 oz pours, or sample-sized pours if you asked nicely, which I did so as to try the greatest variety of different beers. Kegs were being tapped and untapped regularly throughout the evening so I primarily relied on the staff’s expertise to bring me out the best available and they did a great job. In fact, towards the end of my visit my initial menu was replaced fresh with a new menu with old offerings removed and all of the latest including “on deck” offerings listed.
Some of the standouts of the barrel-aged or “wood” variety included Bell’s Black Note, a Double Cream /Expedition stout blend and Founders KBS 2009 which was aged an additional 3 years by Hopcat following the initial 18 months. I also recommend Odd Side’s Barrel Aged Citra and also their vanilla and coffee flavored Morning Wood Stout, as well as the new Perrin Brewing Company’s Bourbon Barrel Nut Brown with Kona coffee and White Flame’s Bourbon Barrel Black Sheep, a very hoppy Black IPA. Traverse City’s Right Brain, which also featured a sour beer, offered a delicious “Steve the Imperial” Brown aged in Grand Traverse whiskey barrels.

Hopcat’s own offerings included the Panthro, an 11% Bourbon-Barreled Baltic Porter as well as a few sour (or “wild”) beers of note such as their Kiwi’s Playhouse. Brewery Vivant’s tasty New Belgium collaboration Escoffier was available along with their aged raspberry rye porter and Pandora’s Barrel, a soured version of the Kludde. Many other Michigan breweries of note were represented including Arbor, Dark Horse, Greenbush, Mt. Pleasant and the Livery. Non-Michigan brewery offerings were highlighted by the 15% ABV Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout. I think there is a good reason that Hopcat’s Wood & Wild Ale is a 3-day Festival as there are just way too many beer to sample in a single visit!

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.