Cats and beer are a naturally great combination — to be enjoyed together by humans, that is. So it’s no surprise to learn that the world of craft beer has steadily been infiltrated by feline-themed brews. But there’s also another level to the intermingling of hops and four-legged furballs.
Namely, the esteemed brewery cat.
One of the foremost leaders of this profession is Hoodie, a portly specimen who prowls around the tap room at Newburgh Brewing Co. in upstate New York while also photobombing the earnest brewmasters’ Instagram account.
Here’s how Hoodie does it.
Hoodie earned her name after Newburgh’s brewmaster, Christopher, discovered her loitering under the hood of his car back in 2011. At the time, Christopher was working as a brewer at the Brooklyn Brewery and thought he heard a meowing sound as he set off for work. After checking his car, he found no trace of feline, so drove to work anyway.
Eight hours later, the same meowing occurred as he prepared to head home — and this time he looked under the hood and discovered a cat.
After Christopher discovered Hoodie, he gave her the opportunity to study under Monster, the Brooklyn Brewery’s legendary (but sadly deceased) brewery cat.
In 2012, Hoodie graduated to waddling her own beat at Newburgh Brewing.
“I often joke that Hoodie doesn’t think she’s a cat, she thinks she’s a person,” says Paul from the brewery when asked to sum up her personality. “She’s incredibly friendly, and also incredibly curious — and since she thinks she’s a person, she also feels it is necessary to always be involved in everything that is going on.”
Sometimes this is dead center of human activity.
“So if we are having a meeting in the office, Hoodie will make sure she’s in the middle of the table,” Paul says. “When we lock her in our office area during taproom hours, she’s itching to get out to hang out with all the people.
“Also, absolutely nothing fazes her and she regards everything with a general sense of calm and whatever attitude.”
When it comes to her duties as a brewery cat, Hoodie’s peak hours are during the night shift. Roaming all four floors of the building, Paul says “night time is her hunting time, and she is a good mouser.”
Keeping tabs on Hoodie’s productivity, he adds, “Despite her current sizable stature, she’s very spry and a good hunter. I keep a tally of all her kills on a whiteboard in my office — it’s called The Hoodie Butcher Bill — it currently stands at 68.”
(If you were wondering, mice are attracted to breweries because of the bags of malted barley often stored on the premises. You can get back to your beer now.)
After all her hard work as night watch-cat, Hoodie likes to spend her daytime hours sleeping on Paul’s desk. Or one of the three couches in his office.
“She’s an equal opportunity napper,” he explains. “Hoodie likes to give equal time to my desk and each of the three couches we have in our office. She doesn’t discriminate when it comes to napping.”
Being surrounded by so much beer and grub (the brewery’s taproom also serves food), it’s no surprise that Hoodie enjoys trying to sneak sips and snacks.
“She has an interest in anything she sees a person eating or drinking,” says Paul. “There’s no food item that Hoodie’s watched a person eat that she doesn’t think she should also be eating. I’ve even watched Hoodie eat broccoli.”
When it comes to the brews, Hoodie is said to “get her nose into it to smell it, but she’s never actually tasted any.” Paul adds that this is “probably for the best,” before quipping: “Based on her current general size, she probably could slam back a few beers before she’d be drunk.”
(Naturally, a limited edition Hoodie beer was also released.)
Finally, Hoodie was recently caught on camera with some keg collars stuck to her back. It made her resemble a stegosaurus. Her facial expression suggests she was not amused by the transformation.
How did this shenanigan come about? And how did our heroine react to the drama?
“Like all things, Hoodie regarded the keg collars that were stuck to her with a general sense of indifference,” says Paul. “I think she was probably a little annoyed by it, but once she realized it would be a lot of work to get them off herself, she just stared at me until I did it for her.
“Hoodie doesn’t learn life lessons — life learns Hoodie lessons.”