Prost, fellow beer drinkers! I’m Bryan Kristensen, and this year I’ll be your What’s On Tap columnist. Like many of you I drank shitty vodka and Red Dog as a naïve freshman, but I like to think that I’ve moved past those days and now consider myself a craft beer lover. I enjoy a good IPA, but love any and all kinds of beer. This year we’ll be bringing you all things beer happening around the local and state scene, while giving you new reviews of craft brewskis from around the country.

For a lot of students returning to campus, the downtown area may look a little different. New apartments are dominating the skyline, and new bars and restaurants have moved in on State Street.

This past July, the latest brewpub opened in the area — HopCat.

The small chain brewpub originated in Grand Rapids, Mich. and is a beer connoisseur’s dream. With 130 offerings on tap, there’s a beer for even the most modest of beer drinkers.

Chris Knape, a spokesperson for HopCat’s parent company, BarFly Ventures, said they pride themselves on their vast beer selection.

“We’re all about beer and pride ourselves on giving our customers the best beer in the world,” Knape said. “We’re not your cookie cutter bar and grill. We’re a locally centered and locally managed pub that wants to become a part of this community.”

HopCat is not your typical hole-in-the-wall dive bar on campus (shout-out to Madhatters, thanks for the underage memories). All sorts of people can be seen there: students, young professionals, entire families and everyone in between. On the surface it looks like a classic American chain restaurant, but how many Applebee’s could you walk into and hear Moby, Smashing Pumpkins and Black Keys blasting over the speakers?

With their vast number of tap beers, you’d probably expect classics like Miller or Coors. But, those corporate giants won’t be found in HopCat’s glasses. 

“We’re proud to not serve Bud, Miller or Coors,” Knape said. “One of our big goals is to support craft breweries, and bring their beers to the masses. We welcome people who only drink [more mainstream] beers and we will work to find them a craft beer that they’ll enjoy.”

This place is different, but in a good way. If anything, I’ll stop back in just to try their Bilbo Baggins, because that’s the best name for a beer. Ever.

Despite its unique branding, for my first review I decided on the popular American IPA from 3 Sheeps Brewing Company out in Sheboygan…

Really Cool Waterslide

Style

American IPA, ABV 6.2 percent.

Aroma

A strong citrus and slight pine smell from the hops mixes with some sweet malt smell as well.

Appearance

Pours a dark amber color, settling golden brown with an off-white head.

Taste

With a medium high bitterness, the hops are definitely in control with this beer as the strong citrus flavor rolls down your throat.

Room Temperature Taste

Even stronger citrus flavor with a much longer aftertaste that resonates well after consumption. 

Consensus

Anyone who loves an American IPA will take great joy in this brew. I enjoyed this beer with each  sip, and it paired well with a burger and fries. This is definitely a beer that’s meant to be enjoyed casually, not slammed through a beer bong.