Thursday, March 17, 2016

HopCat Lincoln Grand Opening Saturday, March 19th - An Inside Look

(photo courtesy of HopCat-Lincoln Facebook page)
HopCat's grand opening is this Saturday, March 19th starting at 11am in Lincoln's Haymarket-Railyard district.  The beer-centric restaurant is the 8th HopCat location to open in a five state footprint across the Midwest.  They are a perennial name on all the lists of top craft beer establishments in the country, including being named the Best Brewpub in the USA multiple times by RateBeer, and are ready to hit the ground running in Nebraska.

We got a behind the scenes tour from Chris Knape, Vice President of Marketing & Communications, to learn more on what they are all about.

(photo courtesy of HopCat-Lincoln Facebook page)
The Space:  They are housed in the huge ground floor level of the new Olsson Associates building located on Canopy Street.  The entire restaurant is lined by black barn wood that was entirely reclaimed from an old barn in Michigan owned by HopCat's founder Mark Sellers fiancés family.  The high walls of the main bar and dining area feature a massive black and white doodle art mural that was hand painted over the course of 24 days by San Francisco artist Lauren Asta and rumor has it she painted 99 bottles of beer in her work.  Several images and paintings of musical pioneers that inspired Sellers are hung throughout, including impressive original paintings of John Lennon and Freddie Mercury.  The décor is original, hip and classy.
(photo courtesy of HopCat-Lincoln Facebook page)
 The Food:  HopCat looks at their menu options as “food your mom would make if she loved craft beer”, and is focused on making flavorful pub cuisine from scratch.  Neither meat eaters nor vegetarians will go hungry from their large menu that includes their famous “Crack Fries”, which Food Network Magazine rated among the Top 10 French Fries in America in 2015.  If the fries turn you into an addict, their kitchen will be there for you late taking food orders until midnight Sunday through Wednesday, and until 2am Thursday, Friday and Saturdays.  They also have plans for whatever you don't eat with the goal of diverting 90% of their waste through composting and recycling.
The Beer:  We asked Chris how they decided on Lincoln as a good location for a HopCat, and he simply put, “Lincoln has a fast growing beer scene with great local breweries”.  They are putting their taps where their mouth is with 42 of the whopping 132 draft options hailing from the Cornhusker state.  The draft menu will also include a section called “Local 20” meaning 20 Nebraska made non-rotating “stay put” options that you can count on being served whenever you visit.  Among the out-of-towner selection they intend to present a wide variety of fine Belgian and other worldly ales, the best American craft options available, and plenty of small batch rarities.  It was recently announced that they have made a special deal with Bellaire, Michigan's Short's Brewing Company (brewers of Sellers all-time favorite beer, Huma Lupa Licious) to serve Short's wildly creative lineup of beers at every HopCat location.  Lastly, while aficionados are often rightfully leery of beer bars boasting a massive number of taps in fear of stale beer, HopCat employs a stringent in-house cleaning regimen fortnightly to keep everything in those taplines tasting as their brewers intended.

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