Food Service & Agriculture and Small Business & Startups

Largest U.S. city without a brewery about to be topped off

October 25, 2012
| By Pat Evans |
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Largest U.S. city without a brewery about to be topped off
HopCat in Grand Rapids has been named the No. 3 beer bar in the world by BeerAdvocate magazine and the No. 2 beer bar in America by CraftBeer.com. Photo via Facebook

Barfly Ventures announced Thursday it will open the Lansing Brewing Co., in Lansing, and HopCat (East Lansing) next summer. Barfly is the holding company for Grand Rapids’ HopCat, Stella’s Lounge, McFadden’s and Grand Rapids Brewing Co.

“People who live in Lansing might not know what they’re missing,” Barfly owner Mark Sellers said. “I just know there is a pent-up demand.”

The news comes less than 24 hours after he announced Grand Rapids Brewing Co.’s Dec. 5 opening date.

“The same thing happens every time I open a bar,” Sellers said. “Everyone thinks I’m doing it quick, but it takes a while. The news has been getting out a little bit so we thought we’d release it.”

Construction on both won’t start until March, with tentative opening dates set for August 2013. Leases have not been officially signed, but Sellers said letters of intent have been signed for both. The two projects will bring about 100 jobs to the Lansing area.

The Lansing Brewing Co. will be located in the Stadium District Apartments area, across from Cooley Law School Stadium, home of the Lansing Lugnuts minor league baseball team. The name was used in a brewery between 1898 and 1914.

The brewery will use a 10-barrel system in a space that has never been occupied in the six-year-old development. The location also is kitty corner from a proposed casino.

“There’s probably a 50-50 chance,” Sellers said of the casino’s opening. “But if it happens, that’d be a jackpot for me.”

Sellers also will open his second HopCat location in downtown East Lansing in The Residences development on the corner of Albert and Grove streets. The original HopCat in Grand Rapids has been named the No. 3 beer bar in the world by Beer Advocate magazine and the No. 2 beer bar in America by CraftBeer.com.

The location will house 100 taps, the largest selection in Michigan. The Shark Club in Howell and Ashley’s in Ann Arbor are close in tap counts at 68 and 70, respectively.

“We’re not doing 100 taps to be better than Grand Rapids,” Sellers said. “We’re doing it because it’s fun and cool and we have something to talk about. You can be a great beer bar and have 30 or 40 taps.”

Unlike Lansing, East Lansing does have a brewery, Harper’s Brewpub and Restaurant, which is just a stone’s throw from where HopCat will be located.

But Sellers said the projects are completely different ballgames, with the Lansing brewery slated to produce about 3,000 barrels annually, whereas Harper’s sells about 100 barrels of its own beer a year, focusing mainly on liquor sales for the college students.

Sellers is a graduate of Michigan State University’s Broad School of Business and spent 11 years in the area. Sam Short, Barfly’s project manager, will oversee the projects and lives in East Lansing.

 “(The area has) thousands of residents who are passionate about good food and good beer, but the market seems under-served,” Sellers said. “I’m excited to revive the historic Lansing Brewing Co. name and bring HopCat’s unmatched selection of craft beers and high quality food to downtown East Lansing.” 

Update: 

Greater Lansing does have a brewery in Eagle Monk Brewery in Delta Township. The Michigan Brewing Company restaurant in downtown Lansing has a beer on tap that it brewed on premises as it finishes out the supply from the last batch prior to the Webberville brewery's closing in the summer. The restaurant isn’t currently recognized by the Michigan Brewers Guild.

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