GRAND RAPIDS — BarFly Ventures LLC, the parent company that operates the HopCat craft beer bar chain, has decided to discontinue brewing operations at the downtown HopCat location, MiBiz has learned.
The Ionia Avenue location was the only brewpub in the HopCat chain that made its own proprietary beers. About 25 percent of the taplines were dedicated to in-house beers at the downtown Grand Rapids location, according to Joe Sonheim, director of marketing at BarFly.
By getting rid of HopCat’s own beers, the company aims to support more local breweries with more taplines available to them, he said.
“That’s kind of the idea of switching those beers out and instead of focusing on ourselves, focusing on bringing in some of those local breweries we haven’t had the opportunity to work with before,” Sonheim told MiBiz.
BarFly will focus its brewing efforts at nearby Grand Rapids Brewing Co., which it also owns, Sonheim said.
The company is working with asset disposition firm New Mill Capital, which has an office in Grand Rapids, to auction off the three-vessel, 3.5-barrel brewhouse. The firm is taking bids for the equipment starting Aug. 20.
Discontinuing brewing at the site marks the next phase of a renovation for the downtown HopCat, which includes adding more seating for guests and redoing some of the current seating.
The 200-square-foot brewing area will be used as extra seating, and a small private event space, Sonheim said, citing wedding rehearsal dinners or business meetings as possible users. BarFly also has expanded HopCat’s mezzanine area, where it has started hosting private dining above the bar.
“(The brewing area) is going to be able to accommodate more guests, and guests that are maybe interested in booking a more private space they can enjoy,” he said.
Changes to the brewing area will be finished by the end of September, Sonheim said.
The downtown HopCat, the chain’s flagship location that’s licensed as a brewpub, sold 214.5 barrels of its own beer in 2018, up from 117.1 barrels the prior year, according to data from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission.
The company in the past also worked with Brew Detroit LLC to manufacture and package HopCat-branded beers for distribution, as MiBiz previously reported.