Beer, Beer, & Better Beer | HopCat

Beer, Beer, & Better Beer

2017 mid-year report shows steady growth in U.S. craft beer industry
Troy, BarFly Webmaster | August 16, 2017

The Brewers Association, the trade organization for the American craft beer industry, recently published its mid-year report, sort of a State of the Union address for anyone who manufactures, sells or just enjoys the finest beers in the country. And, unlike pretty much everything happening in America currently, this report gives us plenty to feel optimistic about.

As of the end of June, there were 5,562 breweries operating in the United States. That's an all-time high, up about 900 from that point in 2016, or 16 percent. Just since December, 557 breweries have opened. The association also reports that another 2,739 breweries are planning to open in the near future. Also, the industry employs nearly 129,000 full- and part-time workers nationwide.

The rampant growth of the past few years, however, has abated slightly. Volume is up 5 percent over the end of the year, compared to 8 percent growth in 2016.  

"The growth pace for small and independent brewers has stabilized at a rate that still reflects progress but in a more mature market," said Bart Watson, chief economist for the association. "The beer world is highly competitive and there is certainly a mixed bag in terms of performance. Some breweries are continuing to grow, whereas others are having to evolve their position and nurture new opportunities to ensure they keep pace. Many brewers are benefiting from on-premises and taproom sales, and recent state-based reforms have the potential to help brewers in new regions capitalize on this growth."

For the purposes of its data, the association defines a craft brewery as "small" (annual production of 6 million barrels or less), "independent" (less than 25 percent of the operation is owned/controlled by an industry participant that is not itself a craft brewer) and "traditional" (does majority of its total volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation).

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Here's what the solar eclipse will look like from every HopCat location
Troy, BarFly Webmaster | August 15, 2017
Beer Science, BeerClipse

On Monday, Aug. 21, a total solar eclipse will make a once-in-a-generation trek across the continental United States during the course of the afternoon. It is estimated that 200 million people live within a day's drive of the eclipse's path, creating what will likely be one of the biggest tourism events ever.

If you're taking a road trip or already live in an area bracing for the total eclipse, you'll need to eat and drink something, and HopCat's got you covered. (We're looking into whether the term "Beerclipse" has been trademarked.)

We have two locations inside the Path of Totality -- the 70-mile-mile wide band stretching across the U.S. in which the sun will be totally obscured by the moon. Those are in Lincoln, Neb., which is on the northern edge of the path, and Kansas City. Mo., which is on the southern edge. (Our upcoming location in St. Louis, Mo., sits in the path, but won't be open until later this year.)

At its peak time of 1:03 p.m. (CDT), residents and visitors in Lincoln will see the sun 100 percent eclipsed. Or, according to a mapping tool on, something like this:

And here's what the view from HopCat Kansas City might look like at its peak time, four minutes later, via

Both locations, by the way, open at 11 a.m. -- plenty of time to get situated and order a basket of pre-eclipse Crack Fries -- and feature outdoor seating. (A swanky cabana in KC, actually.) HopCat Lincoln and HopCat Kansas City are hosting Hop Side of the Moon eclipse parties all day Monday. Click here for KC info, here for Lincoln.

There are also eclipse parties at our Kalamazoo, Louisville and Royal Oak locations. (Ironically, Royal Oak is the HopCat furthest outside the Path of Totality at 78.7 percent peak solar obstruction.) Here's a roundup of what the eclipse will look like from each of our locations, ranked in order of proximity and assuming that 1) The weather is ideal for viewing and 2) You have taken all necessary safety precautions when viewing the celestial event. HopCat is not responsible for burned retinas.

-HOPCAT LOUISVILLE (KY) -- Peak time 2:27 p.m. (EDT); 95.8 percent coverage:

Open during eclipse? YES. Outdoor seating? YES.

-HOPCAT LEXINGTON (KY) -- Peak time 2:30 p.m. (EDT); 94.7 percent coverage:

Open during eclipse? YES. Outdoor seating? LIMITED.

-HOPCAT BROAD RIPPLE (Indianapolis) -- Peak time 2:25 p.m. (EDT); 91.1 percent coverage:

Open during eclipse? YES. Outdoor seating? YES.

-HOPCAT CHICAGO -- Peak time 1:20 p.m. (CDT); 86.6 percent coverage:

Open during eclipse? NO - We open at 3 p.m. :(  Outdoor seating? NO.

-HOPCAT MADISON -- Peak time 1:15 p.m. (CDT); 85 percent coverage:

Open during eclipse? YES. Outdoor seating? NO.

-HOPCAT MINNEAPOLIS -- Peak time 1:07 p.m. CDT; 83.1 percent coverage:

Open during eclipse? YES. Outdoor seating? YES.

-HOPCAT KALAMAZOO -- Peak time 2:23 p.m. (EDT); 82.7 percent coverage:

Open during eclipse? YES. Outdoor seating? YES.

-HOPCAT GRAND RAPIDS -- Peak time 2:22 p.m. (EDT): 80.7 percent coverage:

Open during eclipse? YES. Outdoor seating? YES.

-HOPCAT ANN ARBOR -- Peak time 2:26 p.m. (EDT); 80.4 percent coverage:

Open during eclipse? YES. Outdoor seating? LIMITED.

-HOPCAT EAST LANSING -- Peak time 2:25 p.m. (EDT); 79.8 percent coverage:

Open during eclipse? YES. Outdoor seating? YES.

-HOPCAT DETROIT -- Peak time 2:28 p.m. (EDT); 79.2 percent coverage:

Open during eclipse? YES. Outdoor seating? NO.

-HOPCAT ROYAL OAK -- Peak time 2:27 p.m. (EDT); 78.7 percent coverage:

Open during eclipse? YES. Outdoor seating? YES.

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This is why HopCat uses compostable straws
| August 11, 2017

At HopCat, we're passionate about the environment and the world around us. A crucial component of HopCat's Sustainability Program is the effort to eliminate different types of unnecessary waste, some of which are so common in America that most people probably don't think about them. Consider, for instance, the plastic drink straw.

It is estimated that Americans dispose of a mind boggling half-billion straws everyday. Conservationists say plastic straws are among the kinds of plastic waste most commonly removed from beaches, along with bottle caps, cups and plastic bags. A widely circulated Washington Post story from earlier this summer highlights a growing movement to eliminate plastic straws altogether. The story also includes a heartbreaking viral video of a marine biologist removing a plastic straw from a sea turtle's nose. I’m not crying…YOU’RE crying.

The Plastic Pollution Coalition says about 1,800 restaurants and organizations around the world have stopped or significantly reduced their use of plastic straws. The Post story spotlights groups such as Straw Free and the Last Plastic Straw that are at the forefront of this movement, as well as entrepreneurs who are selling reusable straws made of materials like stainless steel or bamboo. Thanks to activist efforts, restaurants in Miami, New York, London and several other places have collectively agreed to eliminate plastic straws or withhold them until requested.

We also know some people don't want straws -- even compostable ones. We are always happy to bring you your soft drink or cocktail without a straw. Please do not hesitate to ask for it that way.

All of our HopCat locations use compostable straws, as well as to go boxes, cups, bowls, and ramekins that are made from renewable resources and plants, designed to break down quickly and turn back into soil within a matter of months in a commercial composting facility. We're happy to do our small part to rid the world of plastic straws. Meanwhile, you can read more about our company's sustainability efforts here.

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