Upping the Ante

Because you can never have too many choices of draft beer…

In the beginning was Ye Olde Tap Room.

Not to get all biblical, but for some, the quest for more beer choices is a near religious experience, like hoping to fill the Holy Grail with perhaps a Pliny the Younger.

According to legend (and their website), Ye Olde Tap Room started an “Around The World in 80 Beers” theme in 1972. They now claim near 300. Maybe it did start there.

They don’t come close to the latest measure of bragging rights — how many beers you have on draft.

Back in the day (three or four years ago?) places like Grand Trunk Pub or Jacoby’s were plenty good, right? About 20 beers on tap, supplemented by a host of bottled beers from here and far. That didn’t satisfy our thirst. The Berkley Front upped the ante, now with 40-plus taps.

A few others followed. But late last year, the opening of Detroit’s HopCat certainly raised the bar, so to speak. After a few delayed openings, people waited in line for hours in the December cold for a chance to worship at the altar of HopCat’s 130 taps.

Dorothy Hernandez, Hour Detroit’s intrepid copy editor, considered joining the fray. Then she got real. “The wait was about three hours,” she says, noting that one could drive to HopCat’s location in East Lansing, drink a pint, and probably get back to Detroit in time to see the same people still waiting to enter the Holy Land.

So yes, HopCat threw down the gauntlet. But they’re not the only fish in our draft-daft sea. A whole case of players have entered the multiple-tap pool:

  • Ashley’s in Ann Arbor has been doing it since 1983. Now they’re at 70-plus selections (not quite so many at their Westland location).
  • The always-busy One-Eyed Betty’s has nearly 50 rotating taps. (It’s especially popular with Hour Detroit’s beer blogger, Gerald Blakeslee, who just may have bought his Ferndale home, in part, because it’s near Betty’s.)
  • Slows clocked in at 50-plus taps.
  • Clubhouse BFD in Rochester Hills opened in early 2012 and now serves up 50-plus tap beers.
  • Now comes Rochester Tap Room (which opened in March) and their 60 taps. Because, after all, the Rochester area needs more than one multiple-tap outlet.
  • And last but certainly not least, at press time, Jolly Pumpkin Detroit was set to open its doors with 32 taps.

We could list more; perhaps like professional golf, we could draw the “cut” line at 20-plus selections. But then we’d still have to mention places like TAP in the MGM Grand, B Spot, Ale Mary’s, the Park Bar, the Box Bar … and that’s just off the tip of our IPA-sensitive tongues.

Will anyone step into the ring to knock HopCat off its 130-tap perch? Wait and see.