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Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Brewing CompanyFounders Brewing Company
BEER AVG
3.93/5
Based on:
116 Beers
27,159 Reviews
Place Score: 97
Reviews: 284
Visits: 938
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 284 | Visits: 938
Photo of morimech
3.88/5  rDev -11.4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

I had no idea what to expect when I went into Founders. Certainly not the huge warehouse with a bar in it. The weather was nice so they had the doors to the outside open as well creating even more space. There could of been a hundred people in there and it still looked empty. There is one TV right in the center of the bar. Beer selections are written on the chalk boards. Disappointingly there was only one brewery only selection. I know the rest of the beer is very good, but I wanted something more special besides a 4% ABV pale ale. Menu consists of sandwiches and pizzas. The sandwich I did get was good if not a little uninspired. Service was prompt and also a little cold. You can tell these people see a lot of customers in a day.

Overall this was not a comfortable place to enjoy beer. Too big and commercial. Even have a giftshop on one end of the building. I hope Surly does not follow this model when they build their destination brewpub. (952 characters)

Photo of 98green
3.9/5  rDev -11%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 2

Loud and busy at 6:30 on a Friday. Was able to get a seat at the downstairs bar easily. Nice variety of taps, unfortunately it was out of season for KBS or CBS. (160 characters)

Photo of drseamus
3.91/5  rDev -10.7%
vibe: 2 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

I was at the old place back in August and this is from notes:

I love Founders' beers. Their bar however, was a bit crazy. We inadvertently went on a night with a band and the room was ear-shatteringly loud and filled with more smoke than a chain smoker's car. The beers however, are awesome. I got a lot of great beers on tap and actually discovered a deeper appreciation for the Kentucky Breakfast Stout after having it on tap. All the bar staff were helpful and fast which was impressive because it was wicked busy. I'm definitely going to have to check out the new place. (575 characters)

Photo of leftmindedrighty
3.95/5  rDev -9.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 4.5

Stopped here for lunch on a brewery road trip ending with Dark Lord Day

First off, I got a parking spot right in front of the place, so I was happy about that. Across the street was "Pay to Park" type places so I was a bit weary at first.

The place is not overly fancy, which I love. It looks like a quality place to sit, hang out, and enjoy some great beer. I sat at the bar and ordered an Oatmeal Stout, which was great.

I had the Dirty Bastard Sandwich, and it was freakin awesome. One of the best sandwiches I've had in a while. While I'm not sure if all of their sandwiches are the same, mine was huge, I couldn't even finish it.

The service was Ok, since I was in no rush, I really didn't care about the quality of service. If I needed anything, I received it in a respectable amount of time. I ended up having the Backwards Bastard before I left, but nothing else. Which leads me to my only gripe about the place. There were only three session beers on tap, all the rest were high gravity brews. While thats awesome if I wasn't driving, I was very limited to what I could drink.

I also picked up a four pack of the Kentucky Breakfast Stout and a four pack of the Devil Dancer which really made my day. (1,227 characters)

Photo of PabstBlue
3.95/5  rDev -9.8%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

As a big fan of their beers and their former location, I am a bit sad to say that I am not impressed by their new location. They still have the peanut shells on the ground, personal steins on the wall and great beer but the the new location is huge, loud and lacking the character that drew me to their old location. The noise is probably my largest problem with the place. The noise echoing off the walls makes is near impossible to have a conversation with your friend who is bellied up to the bar with you. The service is really great and it is not difficult to get one of their many delicious beer. While the beer and service is great, I think I'll go elsewhere until they find a way to dampen the noise. (708 characters)

Photo of jjshutty
3.95/5  rDev -9.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3

The old place was crowded, smoky, and loud when a band was playing. I have yet to be to the new place, and hopefully it is better than the old. I have heard great things about the new facility, so here goes.

The sandwiches are great for being what they are, sandwiches. However, I wish they served them later in the day and not just during lunch.

As for the beer I have no problems what so ever with any of them. Devil Dancer is by far my favorite, followed very closely with the Black Rye and Kentucky Breakfast. (515 characters)

Photo of buschbeer
3.95/5  rDev -9.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

I stopped in for lunch on the way home from visiting my grandfather. This was my second foray on Founders. I got there about 11:30am on Friday. It was not real busy just the way I like it. I parked in the tiny lot out front. There is metered parking on the street. Founders is a large open bar. There is a stage to the left and the store is to the right.

I bellied up to the bar and had a Empire Strikes Bitter and a Devil Dancer. The menu consists of deli sandwiches and french bread pizzas. A lot of the sandwiches are named after their beers. I'm assuming that is to suggest a beer that pairs well. For Example I ordered a Curmudgeon sandwich, which probably pairs well with Curmudgeon.

The service was a LOT better on this visit. My first visit I had to scream and wave to get service. This time the wait staff was very attentive. The sandwich was adequate. It is a large sandwich so I took half of it home for another meal. I ordered kettle chips thinking that they were homemade. I got a single serving size bag of potato chips.

As far as the beer goes, there was not a whole lot that you can't get in bottles. I had the ESB. There was an oatmeal stout, and that was about it. The food is not exceptional, and most of the beers can be easily obtained in bottles. (1,274 characters)

Photo of cagocubs
3.98/5  rDev -9.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

A: A nice size complex with plenty of parking. Great full size patio outside adjoined to brewpub. When you get inside it has the feel of a large German drinking house, a lot of open area, noisy, and plenty of drinking going on. The only pitfall of this place is that it can get really crowded and hard to find even a place to comfortably sit and drink. You may have to wait for others to leave before you can find a good place to sit.

S: The place was packed, but the service never faltered. There are several servers walking around at all times to get you another beer. A friendly and knowledgeable staff that are excited about their job.

SE: A good, but not great selection. They have the keystone styles, but not enough of the special stuff. I asked if they had any unique brews and was told, "yes, but only for mug members" or something like that. Yeah, f me I only went out of my way to come here....Regardless, you will find something you like and have a chance to try a variety of styles.

F: I had the pulled pork sandwich named the Backwoods Bastard. A gigantic sandwich with good quality. A little too buttered up for my liking, but it is what it is. Still a good quality meal and value. (1,201 characters)

Photo of akorsak
3.98/5  rDev -9.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Visited on 17-Jul-09 as part of the Michigan tour.

Atmosphere: The tasting room is wide open with a slew of tables, both inside and outside. A long bar greets you on entrance, with the kithcen at right.

Quality: The waitstaff ignored my repeated cajoles for a KBS growler. Other than that, the whole order your own food thing is strange and costs them service points on principle. Glassware did come to us with lipstick marks from a previous drinker.

Service: Drinks were from a server but not food. WTF? This sits in the precarious middle ground.

Selection: 8 or so regular beers on tap with Maple Mountain Brown, KBS, BA Red's Rye and BA Imperial Stout were special additions. A very nice line-up.

Food: My Godfather was delicious and the other finger food that we got were passable. I'd visit again just for the stout beers. (832 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 plaztikjezuz
4/5  rDev -8.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

located in the brassworks building in downtown grand rapids, would have been great in the person on the phone would have told me that when i called for driections because i passed it twice and that sign sticks out.

inside the pub is kinda rustic with hardwood floors and copper topped tables. a simple bar with several taps. there is a pool table and an imac over in the corner.
several copper covered table through the large hall. atmosphere is very chill and inviting.

service was very prompt both time i was there this past weekend.

the selection was very good maybe 10 beers on tap. all standards and several special brews and a fewhigh gravity brews.

did not eat. prices looked reasonable.

the pricing is very reasonable (741 characters)

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

Went there at the end of lunch - 1:30pm. Kinda quiet which was nice. Lots os space on the inside. An open warehouse feel. Could see the brewing equipment through large glass windows. It was a beautiful day so the 'garage doors' to the patio were open.

The beer and the food I had were both great.

The people behind the bar were very attentive. It was a slow time of the day so I'm sure things are different when it's busy.

A good variety of beers on tap. I forget what all was there. Two nitro taps running and some carry out bottles. They have growlers to go too.

I had the rebuen - regular, not turkey. To drink I had the bourbon barrel aged porter on nitro. Both were delicious and the sandwich was rather large.

Overall I thought it was a cool place. (763 characters)

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

Founders Brewing and Brewpub is located in the historical Brassworks building. The historical status of the building prevents Founders from having a sign displayed on the exterior of the building.
The south door along the west side of the building has a modest Founders decal displayed. This is the main entrance.
The interior has high ceilings with painted concrete beams and columns. Large antique wooden window frames look out into the street as well as allow you to see some of the brewery equipment and bottling line.
The floors are wooden and heavy wood tables are scattered across the pub. Peanut shells crunch underfoot.
The bar is made of heavy wood and is the heart of the brewpub. Large chalkboards announce the beers currently on tap and pricing.
The clientele was diverse with co-eds and retirees all enjoying world-class beers side by side. The Oatmeal Stout on nitro was a real treat for me, Dirty Bastard and several others were nice and fresh.
I enjoyed my visit and would like to come back when I have the time. It was well worth the trip and very reasonably priced.
On this trip I saw more growlers being filled than I have ever seen at any brewpub. This could have been a testament to the popularity of their beer or simply people getting ready for Halloween parties, I'm sure which it was... (1,328 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)

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

I came out to Grand Rapids for the KBS release party and was pretty impressed with the pub. Lots of natural light and windows, which is what I like. It was also very crowded and noisy, which is to be expected of a KBS party, but it was also the satruday before St Patrick's Day so I considered that.

The bartenders were very generous with samples. After sampling, I enjoyed the Frangelic, the Porter, and of course, the KBS on tap. I had to stop and cool off because of the drive back to Chicago.

I didn't get to try their food because I was full from eating at Hopcat (another must-visit), but everything on the board looked good and I'd definitely try it on my next beer trip out to Michigan. (697 characters)

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

Stopped in on a friday afternoon around 3. Had a couple of tables still open. Place was packed by 4. The place has a very vast feel to it - high ceilings and a spacious interior. Not bad I just prefer a more intimate type of brewpub atmosphere. Pretty good selection of Founder's drafts - would have liked to have a few more but overall very good. Had a nemesis, wife had the mint tea stout, and then we topped it off with a Black Biscuit. For a late lunch we had the beer cheese dip and Devil Dancer sandwich. Cheese was good and the sandwich was very good - spicy and delicious. Not much parking in the lot but found a spot on the street. Overall a nice brewpub and worth a stop when in Grand Rapids. (702 characters)

Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.01/5  rDev -8.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4

Founders is epic and fun! I was very much looking forward to visiting one of my favorite breweries. The place is rather gigantic and sprawling, with a large patio, two bars, tons and tons of tables and high-tops all over and a little kitchen with a window where you order food (basic stuff, sandwiches and things).

They have all the classics on taps plus some cool things like Frangelico Brown, Barrel-aged Red Rye and Barrel-aged Spite Hungarian Wax. I like the variety of prices and servings... $3.75 for 5 ounces of the barrel-aged stuff? Sure why not.

We were there on a Friday at around 5pm and the joint was busy but manageable. We started at a table inside and later moved to the bustling patio, where we struck a conversation with some locals.

Founders is fun. I like the industrial-chic atmosphere and of course. Perhaps a little too big (I like smaller brewpubs) but damn fun anyways. Located right across from the Amtrak station, there are taxis available to drive you back to your hotel. Smart move. (1,016 characters)

Photo of teledeluxe
4.01/5  rDev -8.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.25 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.75

Beer hall atmosphere - you either love it or hate it. It was clean, wasn't too loud and no one seems obnoxious despite there being a game on. Would be better if it was more like a traditional german beer hall and a little less like a sports bar. Staff seemed pretty good overall but our waitress was slow at best - perhaps a little overworked. Good news is I liked everything I had. Food was pretty decent. Beer was great. (422 characters)

Photo of ritzkiss
4.03/5  rDev -8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5

Arrived around 5pm on a Sunday only to find standing room only - seriously?! Happened to be the CD release party for the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra and the place was busy.

Impossible to get service at the tables or standing, a few people getting frustrated, most just getting up to get their own drinks from the bar - you had to get up to get your food anyways - odd set-up.

Finally got a place at the bar. Selection of all the Founder's goodies and some specials. Had CBS and KBS (damn) and then went for Double Trouble - not a dud in there. Was tempted to stay another day in Grand Rapids when I saw Mondays was there $2 pint night for the regular offerings.

Service was fine at the bar, had the pretzels which came with sharp cheese dip/spread. The orchestra kicked it and the place had a rockin' vibe - but that was more the orchestra's doing. Was cool to stop in here, the beer was awesome but the service, as some people were saying was hurting. Being an ex-server, they were certainly understaffed. (1,010 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 DaveFL1976
4.04/5  rDev -7.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

I'd like to come back here on a quieter afternoon.My wife and I showed up at 9pm on a Thursday night to find what was apparantly a smoker's night. I can handle a bit of smoke, but out of about 20 tables, 18 of them were filled with smokers. Not only that, but reps from Reynolds Tobacco were there handing out free packs of Camels! The ventillation system could not keep up with all the cigarettes, and it made for a less than pleasant beer-drinking experience.
Staff was pretty friendly and helpful. They even have menus from local pizza joints and will help you order-in a pizza while you're there.
But the beer's what we're there for. All the Founders flavours are on tap, as well as some limited offerings only available here. Some really big beers, too. So watch your intake. Be aware that there is no shortage of police patrolling the streets of downtown Grand Rapids, so be smart when you leave the place.
All in all, it wasn't my favorite location of my beer tour through Michigan, but I'd like to visit earlier on in the day to give it another shot. (1,061 characters)

Photo of tjthresh
4.05/5  rDev -7.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

Made the 2 hour trek from Northern Indiana. I was not disappointed. Every brewery should set something up like this. Just a taproom, but I had loads of fun. They had something like 12 beers on tap inclundin Breakfast Stout and Red’s Rye. Service was shakey. I guess that was acceptable because I only saw one person working. Food did the job. Pretzel rods with cheese, and peanuts in the shell. Personally, I don't know what else you could want. Perfect. Its a 2 hour trip for me when I’m in the area, but I can see making it again. (534 characters)

Photo of Seahorse
4.05/5  rDev -7.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3

Big improvement over the old joint. Beer's as usual are decent microbrews. Food is your average pub fare, sandwiches etc. Overall, not the best microbrewery I have been to, nor the worst. Definitely better than the GR Brewing Company in terms of service and hospitality. Great location, near the Van Andel Arena and other establishments. A decent watering hole. Beers are good and reasonably priced. Wait staff is friendly, however, usually not able to answer the "novices" questions. A good place to hang out, drink and have nice conversation. Didn't care too much for the seating arrangements, as I felt like we were sitting on top of each other. (648 characters)

Photo of Gunslinger711
4.05/5  rDev -7.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 2 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Founders, I can't count how many times I've been here. This place and it's beers are legendary and that status is not without merit.

The atmosphere is that of a spacious, rough, brewpub that has a lot of character. Most of the space is devoted to large tables to get as many people packed in as they can. Believe me, all of that space is needed. One a weekend night, if you don't get their early you'll be hard pressed to get more than one or two chairs together without waiting a bit.

Anywhere you sit, live music sounds great.

Honestly, I haven't eaten too many times there, usually just bar munchies: spin art dip, fries, etc. But, what I have had has been excellent.

The selection of Founder's brews (as it is their brewpub) is amazing. Shorts, talls, mugs if you're a mug club member, growlers of most brews.

The only real complaint, which really is to be expected until they hire more wait staff, is that service is not too good. The wait staff always seems like their several customers behind. This is fine for me because it's incentive to order two beers at a time, which I'll happily oblige them. (1,110 characters)

Photo of mcallister
4.06/5  rDev -7.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

Went on a trip this past weekend to the Kalamazoo/Grand Rapids area too visit many of the great breweries in the area. This one was tops on my list of my reason to visit this area. And I tried to get here while KBS was on draught but unfortunately missed it by a week.

Went the first time on Friday night and the place was packed and loud as hell. Good times were being had by all. A good selection of beers although I was somewhat dissapointed in the lack of KBS or BS, however the IS, Oatmeal Stout, Blushing Mond, Devil Dancer, etc were all spectacular.

I did think the bartenders could have been a little more friendly. Both the Friday night and Saturday ones didn't seem overly excited to be working. Which I hate working myself but I'd love to bartend for such a great brewery.

They have large glass windows so you can view the bottling line and brewing area. No brewing was being done while I was there.

They don't have food accept for peanuts and pretzels but I wasn't going here to eat. And the prices for all of the breweries I visited were outstanding. Can't wait to return when they release KBS next year. (1,131 characters)

Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, MI
97 out of 100 based on 284 ratings.