John Wurth and I had the opportunity on Wednesday to visit the new HopCat location on Bardstown Road. There were busy employees and contractors scurrying everywhere. Folks were assembling tables, stocking the bars, reviewing menus and poring over laptops. They were working hard in preparation for the grand opening on Saturday.
The newest location will offer over 130 taps, with 20 or more earmarked for local beers. As with their other locations, they will not offer macro lagers – no Bud, Miller, Coors, etc.
In addition to their vast beer offerings they will have a full bar and food menu (including many vegetarian options!). If you have ever visited one of the other locations you know about the “crack fries”. These are delicious seasoned french fries that are very difficult to stop eating. These fries are a big reason people will be lined up Friday night/Saturday morning for the Grand Opening. The first 200 people will receive free crack fries, weekly – for a year!
The HopCat team has demonstrated in other cities that they care about good beer and fresh food. I am happy they have brought a location here. No, this concept is not new or ground breaking but HopCat does what they do very well.
The staff is “beer trained”. Not all are Cicerone trained but the Cellar manager – Chase – gives specific, proprietary beer training to the staff. They want their employees to know about what they are selling to the customers. This seems pretty obvious but we all have had the unfortunate experience of servers who know nothing about what they are selling.
All tap lines will be cleaned every two weeks, even if the keg is not changed out. They understand that protecting the beer from developing off flavors is very important. Beers will be served in the appropriate glassware, based on style.
In addition to providing a huge selection of beers they will work with local brewers on collaboration beers, on site, using their small brew system. HopCat will offer these limited collaborations as well as “one offs” and other hard to come by beers.
They also hope to support local beer events and to invite local homebrewers to use their rooms for meetings. A beer dinner is already planned, and will be held regularly.
The HopCat ethos supports sustainability. They are active in composting and recycling, attempting to divert as much as possible away from the landfill. Many of the materials of the HopCat have been repurposed. The beautiful barn wood that adorns the interior is from a disassembled barn from the owners’ family’s farm. The artwork is original, except the Ali photographs that fill the stairwell. I especially enjoy the photo of Ali and a very young Michael Jackson – his afro is nearly as big as him!
There are four distinct large rooms and a spacious second story outdoor area with a beautiful wooden parquet deck. The awning is louvered and can be adjusted to weather conditions. Several of the rooms can be rented for private events.
Everyone talks about potential parking problems. The Highlands is busy, crowded and there is not a lot of parking. That is not news. This isn’t the suburbs! Does every restaurant with more than 10 tables need a parking lot the same size as an Applebee’s!? If they did the Highlands would no longer be walkable (one of the major reasons I love the Highlands!) I think a large part of the customer base of HopCat will be walking – from their car that may be parked three blocks away, from their home, or riding a bicycle there. There are several bike racks – which were already being used by employee bicycles. I have faith that patrons will find a way to get there. I know I will.
1064 Bardstown Road
Louisville, KY 40204
Photos by John Wurth
Note from the Editor: You might remember hearing about HopCat coming to Louisville back on ol’ Episode 105 of the now defunct Podcast. We sure used to keep everyone in the loop, didn’t we? We’re inching our way back, don’t you worry your hoppy little heads.