Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Brewing CompanyFounders Brewing Company
BEER AVG
3.94/5
Based on:
113 Beers
26,960 Reviews
Place Score: 97
Reviews: 280
Visits: 923
rAvg: 4.38
pDev: n/a
Taps: 18
Bottles: 7
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Brewery, Bar, Eatery ]

235 Grandville Ave SW
Grand Rapids, Michigan, 49503
United States
phone: (616) 776-1195

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @foundersbrewing

Notes:
Place added by: BeerAdvocate

Monday - Saturday: 11am - 2am
Sunday: 12pm - 12am
Non-smoking Indoors, huge front porch for smoking. (heated winter room coming!)
Much larger room, with huge 25-seat custom mahogany bar.
Expanded Deli Menu and Hours:
Monday - Saturday: 11am-11pm
Sunday: 12pm-11pm
Store: 12pm-8pm
Live Music Thursdays and Saturdays featuring Stage, House PA and Sound
Pool Table, Real Dart Board, and Shuffleboard.
Place: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 280 | Visits: 923
Photo of olacub
4.3/5  rDev -1.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

What a pleasant surprise. My future sister-in-law is from GR, and she's been talking up Founders for months now....so we all made the trek to scenic Grand Rapids a few weeks ago. Founders is located in an old warehouse of some sort just a little ways North of downtown (along the river).

Inside, it's a very casual atmosphere punctuated by the old hardwood floors and metal tables. They had about 10 or so beers on tap, and I tried four. First, the Breakfast Stout was as good as advertised - lots of chocolate, creamy, spicy, roasty, delicious. Next, Red's Rye was a nice change of pace - surprisingly hoppy but also with some toasted biscuit notes. Third, I tried the Scotch Ale - sufficiently malty. Last, I had a pint of their Imperial Brown - wow. Rich, malty, bordering on tasting the alcohol, a big delicious beer.

The server was sweet and attentive, but they don't serve food there beyond pretzels and cheese (they did have a menu for a local deli that delivers, however). The bottom line: Founders is a top-tier brewery that I think is starting to bust out of Bell's shadow in Western Michigan. (1,110 characters)

Photo of CortexBomb
4.03/5  rDev -8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

(New Founders)

Most of the old review still applied to new Founders, so I haven't removed it, just scroll down. The new building is located downtown a few blocks from the old one, and is a long, flat facility. The biggest difference now is scale: there are numerous bartenders, many more tables, the bar is gargantuan, &c. They also serve food on a more dedicated scale (i.e.: the pay window ala Bell's) and have outside seating, which will be nice during the warmer months.

There are things brought over from the old building, which I appreciated. The chalk boards showing the brews, the peanuts / pretzels sign, and the stained glass of the pints are all incorporated into the new bar. You can still throw peanut shucks on the ground.

Basically, it's new Founders. I still will stop by when I'm in the Grand Rapids area, but I feel that something was lost in the transition to the new facility. They still brew great beer, the staff is still friendly, but everything is on a larger, more impersonal scale. Old Founders felt like that neighbourhood place where you could stop in and see your friends, and the sheer scale of the new facility makes me feel like that is going to be hard to recapture.

I wish them well though, and I hope they can elbow into the MI market the same way Bell's has, they certainly deserve it.

(Old Founders...in the Brassworks)

Founders operates an ale house downtown GR where one can pick up whatever is currently available in bottles, or get a fresh pint or growler right out of the tap.

The ale house is located in the bottom of the large industrial warehouse style building that also houses the brewery, some of which is visible through large glass windows in the tap room.

Inside the tap room things are dimly lit. Several tables are scattered around and there is a small bar, a fridge with some bottles, and a pool table. It's bare bones, but it fits my idea of an ale house: no frills, just beer, conversation and billiards. The "throw your peanut shucks on the ground" convention is also excellent, and really adds to the throwback feel of the taproom. (Legacy note: Old Founders is my 5.0 atmosphere rating, I judge all other bars by the vibe this place had: small, intimate, great beer, not polished but not dirty either.)

There are always a handful of brews on tap, amongst them their seasonals as well as other stand-bys such as Breakfast Stout and so forth and special, tap room only offerings.

For sitting down and having a beer, the service is great. The servers were quick to help us, and more than happy to dole out samples and water as we needed them along the way. I previously bought a couple of growlers from them, and was mildly dissatisfied with their lack of bags to put them in, but I saw some growlers going out sealed up from daylight in boxes recently, so perhaps that is no longer an issue. Overall service was quite good though.

In terms of value, the place is decent, but a little higher than you might expect. Regular offerings, up to and including Dirty Bastard, are 3.50$ for an American pint. The more esoteric special offerings such as the old ales or the special Belgian Razz they have right now are more (more like 4-5$ per snifter). For a bar the prices are quite good, particularly on the heavier, more flavourful offerings, but they seem a little higher than the average micro tap room.

Basically, this is a great place to stop by if you want to go to an old style bar and have some high quality beer in the process. Absolutely not the kind of place where many mainstream sports bar types will feel at home though, and not nearly as over the top as Bell's Eccentric down in Kazoo....but also much more laid back and genuine feeling. (3,715 characters)

Photo of jimbotrost
4.8/5  rDev +9.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

This is a tasting room of a working brewery. Located in a large factory, this first floor brewery is a treat. A small bar with 10 or so stools and numerous metal top tables give you a place to sit. The beers on tap on last visit numbered 12 and Founders makes great beer. The food menu was mostly sandwiches and they looked good on a busy Monday, but I had just got done with Breakfast. Large doors/windows showed the bottling line, which was in use, and the fermentation tanks. This is not a prim and polished place but if you want great beer at the source, get here. (568 characters)

Photo of yock
4.24/5  rDev -3.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

Started out with a Devil Dancer triple IPA for breakfast. Hard to top that the rest of the day...The staff was much friendlier than the last time we went there. First time there I almost felt like we were imposing on the bartender for a beer- glad to see that's improving. We didn't eat - does a hop filled beer count as food? There was a very large (I think about 12) variety of beers to chose from. I like that. Excellent beer, staff much friendlier. We did hear first hand from the bartender that they are moving to a bigger place - she didn't say when. (556 characters)

Photo of Kane
4.3/5  rDev -1.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

My wife and I visited Founders on a lazy Saturday afternoon, well before the crowds. We were, in fact, one of the few people in the bar this afternoon. Selection was simliar to last posters: RIS, Breakfast Stout, Red's Rye, Trois, Oatmeal Stout, Pale Ale, IPA, the Raspberry (whose name I also forgot), and an Imperial Brown Ale. I partook in the Imperial Brown and Red's Rye, which were both superb. $3.50/pint. Staff was quick to wait on us when we came in, and friendly. Overall very good experience for the both of us. (522 characters)

Photo of ncbrewerbun
4.6/5  rDev +5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

An awesome place. We hit Founders before the crowds, which added to the experience. Mike (the co-owner) came out and talked to us about their beers, brewing and philosophy behind it all (summary: "We brew the beers we want to drink."). The place is a bit dark, but looking out over the Grand River out front and the brewery to the side. Selections (most well over 6% for those of us in NC who really appreciate what that means) are superb -- on tap while we were there: RIS, Breakfast Stout, Red's Rye, Trois (only for the faint hearted...if you're reading this, don't bother to taste it), Dirty Bastard, Oatmeal Stout, Pale Ale, IPA, and a Raspberry whose name I forget (but was made with a buttload of real raspberries).

I would bet the smoke could get a bit too much for me as the crowd came in, but the folks who were there were all friendly and fun to talk with. If I lived nearby, I'd be there very often! (914 characters)

Photo of francisweizen
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Super dank dirty open bar room, nothing more nothing less. All wood, killer (loud!) jukebox, and tons of peanut shells on the floor. Super cool clientele, and since this damn city (although beautiful in many ways) closes so freakin' early this place is definately one of the few true "hot spots" in this city. It's open until 2am as well, nice, and for this town rare! Quality of the beers is awesome and at around $3.50 a pint a steal! Service is fast, friendly and to the point. Perfect. Selection is great as well 10 killer draughts with breakfast stout, 2003 imperial stout, and a new double ipa on tap as well. I also got to talk to the brewers here, and they were full of info, to the point, and super down to earth guys....two BIG thumbs up all around for this place...Killer. (783 characters)

Photo of meathookjones
4.53/5  rDev +3.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Another great brewpub visited on the Dark Lord trip. It is in a nice location over looking a lake in an old brick building for Brass Works. The inside has great décor with old wood flooring, sheet metal covered tables and the outside wall is completely windows which is nice for the scenery. Generally a laid back relaxing atmosphere, great for enjoying a few pints. Some pool tables and dart boards were available as well. The tap list was good with about 8 taps featuring all of their standard offerings and a couple of seasonals and specials. I was a bit disappointed that Breakfast Stout was not available but the Imperial Stout made up for that. We met Tikkigodxxx there for a few pints and had an overall great time. This would be a place I would frequent often if I lived in the area. (792 characters)

Photo of SupaCelt
4.3/5  rDev -1.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

We passed this place without even noticing it. We were looking for it too. The old Brass Works building houses some of the best beer in the world? Yes, it does. This inconspicuous locale in the downtown of Grand Rapids is a portal into a taproom full of character and charm. Rustic wood flooring besets the path to any of the many antiquated metal topped tavern tables or to the bar itself. This reminds me of an old barn or mill, but with dreadlocked wookies delivering beers to patrons. There is a modest amount of seating capacity at the bar which was fine on this particular afternoon. Bunches of hop cones were hung above the bar trimming the edges. I didn't go so far as to count the other tables. I wouldn't call this place a large capacity bar room though. Our resident Beerfly guide said that the place gets quite full during evenings and weekends, which I can understand. This is a pretty smooth place. Extra points get awarded for the pool table adjacent to the bar. Darts present as well.

The quality was superb if we are talking product ( maybe not air quality ). These fellas make some great brew! The waitstaff all seemed to be decent ( groovy may be a better description ). We didn't have any trouble getting refilled or getting quarters for the billiards table.

The selection was a bit lighter than I had hoped ( six or seven offerings I think ), but there was still more than enough to satisfy me. We even got to sample a secret reserve thanks to the two brewmasters who came out to receive our praise. This secret tap will remain nameless, but be assured it was fabaliss!

The place was pretty reasonable on price. I sampled the tap fairly aggressively for an afternoon whistle wetter and got a souvenir shirt to boot all for twenty somethin bucks. The beers are fantastic. The staff is real laid back. The place is great. I'll be back. (1,865 characters)

Photo of jasonpeckins32
4.1/5  rDev -6.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

This is a nice little brewery located in downtown Grand Rapids. I've lived near the area for years, and I'm really not sure why it took me this long to stop by this place. I've been drueling over their outstanding beers the last few months.

The inside is small... maybe 15 tables, and a bar with possibly 10 stools. The atmosphere was quiet, and very laid-back. You could almost hear a whispered conversation from the other side of the room (probably because it was only about 2:00pm). The waitstaff and bartender were friendly. There is a jukebox, and one pool table that looked almost new compared to the old wooden floors and the purposely beaten-up metal tabletops and chairs.

I would have liked to go on a tour of the brewery itself, but was unable to. Hopefully next time. I would like to re-visit this place on a busy Friday or Saturday night, something tells me there will be a different atmosphere then. All in all, an average little place to sit and have an Amazing beer. These guys' brewing capabilities might be one of the best secrets in Michigan. (1,067 characters)

Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.66/5  rDev +6.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

I love this Brewery. All of the people there are very nice and are free to answer any and all questions about beer. I used to take my family there when they were in town from NC. It is a great place to go after a long day and have a nice cold pint of quality beer. My favorite beer on tap is the Imperial Stout. It is about 10% alcohol so after one, all of the days worries just disappear. They also have a cream ale that is great and a Dirty Bastard or Fat Bastard or some kind of Bastard Scottish Ale that is exceptional as well. All in all, a great place to relax with friends. Prices are reasonable as well. (611 characters)

Photo of deejaydan
4.3/5  rDev -1.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

Nice little brewery that I'll get to more often, now that I know an easy way to get there (thanks Mike). Very unpretentious, nothing special. Bar with room for about 10-12 tops, sheet metal covered tables with seating for probably 70-90 more. Not a fancy place, but a decent place. A few pool tables, and a dartboard for entertainment. There are also bands some nights. Bartenders are quick with the beer (as that is all you can get there), and are knowledgeable. If you are in the area, stop by, but be warned, they do not offer any food outside of popcorn and peanuts. They will let you order in pizza though, so that's cool. (627 characters)

Photo of Silphium
4.6/5  rDev +5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Just a great place to have a beer. There's usually between 8 and 15 beers on tap, with a handful of favorites typically represented as well as quickly rotating smaller batches, often variations on a nitro stout and their pale ale. Often, these small batches are real gems, with offerings like their Chocolate Rye Porter and Nutty Professor Nut Stout really standing out. Typically great service; sometimes when the place gets extremely busy it's tougher to refill the pint glass, though.

Situated in a classic brewpub setting- an old factory building with high ceilings and hardwood floors in the northern part of downtown. There is a pool table, but the place is mostly set up for conversation. Nice music selections in their jukebox. They bring in quite a few bands each month, as well.

If you want food, arrive between 11 AM and 2 PM when they serve lunch; the sandwiches come from a local cafe, and they are giant and quite good. Otherwise, popcorn is available, and peanuts are usually available for $1.50 a tray.

A must stop if you're in Grand Rapids. (1,068 characters)

Photo of trumick
4.28/5  rDev -2.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

I visited this brewery for the first time a month ago. I loved the atmosphere very laid back and freindly. The employees seemed more than eager to help with just about anything I needed. The partons seemed to be nice as well.

They had a nice selection of beer anywhere from the tamest fruit beer to the wild and insane triple IPA at 13% abv.

There was only popcorn for food but everyone seems to just throw it all over the floor, which I liked, added to the whole laid back atmosphere.

A nice place to go hang out and maybe catch some live Bluegrass music and the like. Easy going place, I liked it a lot. (615 characters)

Photo of Wildman
4/5  rDev -8.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Well I stopped in this place on my last trip to Southwestern Michigan. Not the easiest place to find due to the old crazy layout of the downtown area. It is in a brick building that has been refurbished for businesses. The place was small, but fairly open and well lit. The bar was fairly small and alas, the cask tap was just for decoration. A fairly decent amount of beers were available, including some not available in bottles. The bottles were also for sale to go in a cooler. It didn't appear that the place had growlers. The style of the place was a combination of modern steel and old wood. The service was very helpful and mindful of both the bar crowd and the tables. A great place to check out. (705 characters)

Photo of nortmand
4.94/5  rDev +12.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Stopped in here enroute to New Holland.
Very cozy tap room feel with free popcorn and a friendly barkeep. Cool decor with some old hop plants hanging. Beer was excellent and there were several varieties that I had never seen. Different size choices for beer with prices clearly marked and very reasonable. Several local regulars were there, talking about beers that they release at special times and other interesting things that have happened. Great, friendly place to stop on your way through Grand Rapids. (509 characters)

Photo of Mitchster
4.46/5  rDev +1.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Located downtown GR in an old building in an industrial part of town, with a small sign that can't be seen from a distance. Large ceilings with the requisite open metal ventilation and no fans. (This place does get packed with smoke when busy). Mostly brown decor with chalk boards of their taps. 15 taps when I was here, about 6 of them seasonal and the rest regulars. No food here other than peanuts and get-it-yourself popcorn. The beer is truly exceptional. Nate and Jeremy make some amazing stuff....I have been impressed with everything they bottle and was blown away by the brews on tap....the Chocolate Rye Porter, Centennial IPA, Devil Dancer IPA3, Oatmeal stout, and Cherry Java Stout were all amazing brews that I could drink all night long. They have a real cask engine that was not being used the day I was there. 2 nitro taps. Service is decent, and samples are free. No samplers persay, so I stuck to the 10 oz shorties.

Nate and Jeremy are exceptional hosts. They brought out some special brews for the Western Michigan BA gathering and it's evident that they have a deep-seated passion for beer. Highly, highly recommended!

I plan on spending more time here. Definitely a highlight of the Michigan Beer Scene. (1,232 characters)

Photo of granger10
4.44/5  rDev +1.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Founder's is a small brew pub located in the downtown area of Grand Rapids. There are pool tables on one side and other tables for sitting and not much else. Every once in awhile there will be bands that play in which case talking becomes very hard. The bartenders are cordial and provide a friendly atmosphere. Lots more choices than what they bottle but only Founder's beers. All beers are served in appropriate glassware which is nice. This is a nice place to go, relax, and drink some really good beers. (507 characters)

Photo of ChappyCubsFan
4.3/5  rDev -1.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

This turned out to be a late night visit following a West Michigan WhiteCaps game. Located right downtown in Grand Rapids. It's a rather small place with wooden tables and peanut shells on the floor. A lot of locals were hanging out and people going in and out to purchase beer from the refrigerator located in the bar area. They have a very friendly staff who wait on you and a good, lively atmosphere. I had tried a bottle of Centennial IPA and pale ale earlier in the week and was curious to know how the draft IPA tasted. The bottom line is it was excellent. I decided to purchase a six-pack there since I was not sure I would find anymore as I headed east toward Detroit. I was diligent enough to save a few bottles for the trip back to California and used one of the bottles for a Michigan IPA blind taste test with friends that included the following Michigan IPA's: Founders Centennial, Bell's Two-Hearted, New Holland's Mad Hatter, Arcadia's IPA, and Michigan Brewery's High Seas. New Holland's Mad Hatter came out on top, followed by Founders, then Bell's, followed by Arcadia and then Michigan. (1,105 characters)

Photo of CRJMellor
4/5  rDev -8.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

Nice place in a renovated old buidling right on the river in downtown Grand Rapids. Not quite a neighborhood pub feeling but close. Lots of 4-6 person tables spread out across the floor. Pool table and 1 or 2 dart boards greet you as you walk in. Bar is in the back right corner with a cooler full of 6-packs and singles to go. Bar is relatively small and always seems to be full. Selection constantly changes and usually they 10-12 beers on draught. Brewing facility is in back of the bar and you can see the conditioning tanks. Have never been there when anyone can provide a guided tour but I think it would be worth it. If business or pleasure brings you to Grand Rapids, well worth seeking out Founders for several beers. Only issue is that they don't serve food. They do provide free popcorn. (798 characters)

Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, MI
97 out of 100 based on 280 ratings.