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Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Brewing CompanyFounders Brewing Company
BEER AVG
3.97/5
Based on:
113 Beers
99,162 Ratings
Place Score: 100
Ratings: 804
Reviews: 275
rAvg: 4.57
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:
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 added by: BeerAdvocate)
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Ratings: 804 | Reviews: 275 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of slander
4.36/5  rDev -4.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

A few hours later, we arrived in Grand Rapids, somewhat beaten from an early rising, a flight, an hour and change on the road, a lengthy brewery tour, beer, beer, lunch, beer, and another hour on the road. "Somewhat beaten" is not the kind of beaten where you go hit the hotel for a power nap, but rather where it seems that a good coffee (stout) would lightly breeze in a much needed, building, gale second wind...
Our caravan arrived at the Wolverine Brass Building (1922) sometime in the late afternoon. Founders occupies a good portion of the first floor of this old brick building, at least to one side as far as I could see. Large glass panelled front windows, dark slat wood floors showing wear, brick and yellow ochre walls and posts, a brown ceiling with exposed duct work, glass walls to the side and rear, one looking in one a bottling line, the other looking in on fermenters and the brewery itself. Low lighting and candles in Bali mason jars half filled wth malt on the tables. An 8 seat "L" shaped bar sits to the rear corner, with mug club mugs, taps in a single row and an unused beer engine, and blackboards above listing tap selections, specials, and light snacks. (pretzels, peanuts, otherwise, they don't do food there but you can order out or bring in. We had a few pizzas delivered).
A dozen and a half copper topped tables riddle the room. We pulled a pair of them together near the front door. Peanut shells litter the floor, TV's above here and there, a cooler with six packs and cold singles, and an internet terminal in the corner, which I booted up to find that the previous user, someone named (Evil) Davo, had not logged off. I was in his beermail. I mulled over the many possibilites... apologizing to certain BA's for past misdeeds, professing true love (maybe to you), making new friends, alienating existing friends, reviewing, panning great stuff, praising crapy stuff, giving Todd & Jason a piece of his mind, all that, but I behaved, just checking my beermail and logging off. A small pool table to the rear, darts near the front entranceway, and an absolutely kickin' jukebox (Zappa, Dylan, Floyd, Beatles, Stones, Who, Zep, Jimi, Doors, Grateful Dead, Jethro Tull, Velvet Underground, Talking Heads, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Beck, Radiohead, Flaming Lips, Bjork, Phish, Franz Ferdinand, Coldplay, B52's, Wilco, Smiths, Smashing Pumpkins, Modest Mouse).
We were there for a good few hours. Our first waitstaff person was real good but then she passed the tray off to some kid who (I swear) was wearing a glass pot pipe around his neck on a cord. I called him on it, but he was in denial. He was not so much fun, no, not so much fun at all.
11 taps. The Imperial Brown Ale was greatly malty & hoppy, the Breakfast Stout was thick and all coffee (just the cup of Joe to bring me back to life); the Imperial Stout was thick & roasty; the Belgian Wheat was not so good (and in my opinion, did not get better as it warmed); the Red's Rye was a good hoppy red with just a little Rye flavor; the Dirty Bastard, a brilliant Scotch Ale, was maly & sweet, kind of hoppy, but most serious; the Trois, a 3% 2nd runnings beer was a good mild; the Rubaeus, a Raspberry concoction was sickly sweet (Randy said, "It tastes like jelly", although he claims it got better once it warmed); and the Old Curmudgeon, an Old Ale, was pretty damn good (Phil was looking to bludgen someone with a cudgel regarding the Curmudgeon. Ask Randy if you don't believe me).
Good beer, great company, and an unusually comfortable place. I could do time here.

Photo of emerge077
4.14/5  rDev -9.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

Open and airy warehouse feel, with the huge fermenters visible through the back windows behind the music stage. Long 'S'-curved bar, baskets of peanuts and pretzels here and there for a couple bucks. There was a long line at the sandwich window, so we passed. It was loud like a cafeteria here, and there was one muted tv above the back bar.

Bartenders all looked about college-age, ours (Emily?) was quick and friendly. Didn't really have any questions or conversation. One guy was flipping glasses around and generally being the class clown.

It was happy hour, so the beers were super affordable. A pint of Breakfast stout and a souvenir KBS glass was $8. There was a total of 8 tap selections, 3 or so specialty barrel-aged offerings. Growler fills were reasonable, no fills on specialty stuff.

If something special was on I would go again, otherwise i'd probably not make a special trip.

Photo of woodychandler
4.24/5  rDev -7.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

This place was located in the southeast corner of the Brass Works Building, and it represented low-frills beer drinking at its finest. I was told that they will be relocating by 2007, so this review will have to be updated at some point. The room was accessed through a glass door either off of a wooden ramp or up a short set of steps. Once inside, the washrooms were dead ahead on the extreme left, facing aft, away from the entrance. The space was partially broken up by a couple of concrete pillars and I took a seat at a table near one of them. The bulk of the room was filled with rough-hewn wooden tables, topped with rusty hammered metal plate. Headed aft were a pool table and the short bar to the extreme right. Wrapping around, there was a “Founders Brewing Company Cold Beer to Go” cooler against the far right wall and next to it was a CD jukebox. Of course, the bottling line, brew house, and fermenters were all visible behind glass, in the back of the space. Finally, there were numerous blackboards in the overhead, detailing current offerings, weekly specials and local places with accounts. What about their beer? Well, that was the whole reason for stopping in. They have some of the best beers that I have ever tasted, from Black and Red Rye to Breakfast Stout and Kentucky Breakfast to Rubaeus to Black Sunshine, which was made with black pepper. Sopor and his girlfriend met me there, plus I managed to get a tour from their cellarman, Samuel Adams Sherwood, following his pool game with one of the regulars, Jonathan Frick. This was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the early part of the tour.

Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.01/5  rDev -12.3%
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.

Photo of Billolick
4.18/5  rDev -8.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Yet another fine beer stop in the South western portion of Michigan. Modern , large, with outdoor space, cool and friendly crowd and staff, tasty, reasonably priced grub ( I had a "tree hugger" veggie style sandwich) they had a band playing, people dancing, high quality Founders brews flowing, whats not to like?... this place was rocking and I had a blast on this first but hopefully not last visit. Well worth trying to get to this place. 5 mins from Hop cat, 10 mins from Siciliano market

Photo of Sammy
4.36/5  rDev -4.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

With Founders and Hopcat in walking distance, Grand Rapids is solidly on the map as a go-to place. Beautiful place, with light everywhere, a good temperature, a friendly gang to serve, and of course outstanding beer. I had, and had to have, four aged barrelled beers on tap. Need another reason to visit? Also, had a chance to try a fifth barrelled beer not on tap. Not overwhelming in the bottle department, I found harder to get bottles in some of the stores. Another tiny critiscism is that the peanuts were very salty.

Photo of TurdFurgison
4.28/5  rDev -6.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I was sketchy about posting a review because this place already has >100, meaning there's good info about it on BA already. But I thought I'd add my thoughts anyways, after my first visit.

The current (new) location is really big, seating for well over 100. Long bar with plenty of tap, all Founders beers. There were a lot of special batches while I was there:
Canadian Breakfast Stout
Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout
Barrel Aged Red's Rye
Maple Mountain Brown
Peppercorn Ale
Sweet Darkness
And of course regular Founders beers on tap as well.

1 dartboard and a cool spot with a pool table, $1 per game. Everything was great, the food, the beer, the crowd. My only real complaint is that the food must be purchased from a window, not placed together on one bill with the beer. You can have drinks brought to your table but the server won't order or get your food. I thought it a strange set-up, maybe it's due to some license issues? I can only guess.

Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.66/5  rDev +2%
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.

Photo of Yetiman420
3.6/5  rDev -21.2%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4

During a terrible snow and cold freeze of early February 2007, I did a white-knuckler western Michigan loop consisting of the top-rated brewpubs in Western Michigan. The trip began in the southwest corner at the Livery in Benton Harbor, up to New Holland in Holland, over to The Hideout, Founders, and BOB in Grand Rapids. Individual reviews are below and my rankings from a total experience are New Holland, The Hideout, The Livery, Founders, and BOB.

My perspective is based on visits to almost 200 brewpubs across North America. I’m an avid homebrewer and craft-beer drinker but no means an expert on the contest judging of beers. I know good beer when I taste it.

Founders is a place I've been itchin to get to ever since I wasn't able to make it here during a visit to Kalamazoo. I'm a big fan of their Centennial IPA and have had the pleasure of speaking with the owner/head brewer at a Founder's tasting in Cincinnati.

I had very high expectations leading up to the visit. Everything went well until I opened the door and steped into their pub. On the outside, it's in an attractive, historic area of Grand Rapids that appears to be growing. When I stepped inside, I was dissapointed to see it was decorated to the minimum. This is very subjective and I do like the run-down beaten feel (loved it at The Hideout), but I was expecting something a little more from their space. Especially when the outside gave so much promise for something equally impressive inside. There were nice viewing areas for the brewing equipment. Other than that, it was pretty dumpy. As an advocate of clean air, I was dissapointed that 90% of the people were smoking. Everything from cigars to hand-rolled tobacco. It's hard to enjoy the aroma and flavor of good beer when you can barely breathe. Other brewpubs in Michigan have special areas for smoking which would have been nice here.

They had all their bottled beers on tap. I had the Black Rye, Red Rye, and two stouts. One stout had hazlenut which was pretty good, the other was middle of the road. I had a 13% tripple IPA which was good if not a bit sweet.

The only food they have are peanuts or pretzil rods with hard cheese to dip them in.

I'd love to have another shot at Founders and I'm sure I'd think better of it. Prior to the trip, I put them in a category of micro regionals with New Holland and Arcadia. My perception has certainly changed since the visit.

Photo of MilwaukeeCrusher
5/5  rDev +9.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

When I mention the term "experience" when talking about breweries, this place is the pinnacle of what comes to mind. This place has amongst the best beer in the country, live music (the first time I went there was a pretty good jazz band), bar games, well staffed bar, and extensive beer list. Some of the beers you find here are some of the very ones people want to see bottled far away. You will want to try these beers, so get a room. Feels like a sophisticated night club (not shallow, but tastefully done) in the evening, a family outing during the day. Front center of building opens up allows outdoor libations, and fresh air within. Lots of thought has gone into this place which leads to the final question, What are you waiting for?

Perfect Score

Photo of akorsak
3.98/5  rDev -12.9%
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.

Photo of aoampm
4.75/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of francisweizen
4.5/5  rDev -1.5%
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.

Photo of SmashPants
4/5  rDev -12.5%

Photo of TX-Badger
4.5/5  rDev -1.5%

Photo of spycow
4.5/5  rDev -1.5%

Photo of david18
4/5  rDev -12.5%

Photo of spointon
4.75/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of BillRoth
4.39/5  rDev -3.9%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75

Was on Beer Safari in Northern IN and Michigan few years ago, and had the good fortune of hitting FFF, Bell's, Dark Horse and Jolly Pumpkin. Each had much to rave about. Best surprise was dark Horse...gteat biker bar with world class beer and super people.
But I find myself looking back and wishing I could get back to Founders, which really took top spot on that trip.
Went in alone and was almost immediately invited to sit with a fun crowd, We sampled beers pretty much across the Founders offerings. Great IPAs and a sublime Imperial Stout on tap. Pretty much thought I had enough, and ready to go when the word got out they had just tapped a keg of CBS. Needless to say the night took a turn that kept me at Founders for a few more hours and in Grand Rapids not my intended destination @ MSU in East Lansing. Oh well.
I've loved the Founders brews for years, but I learned you really need to get there and get them fresh on tap with a table full of pilgrims..be they locals or out of towners. It's just a great brew pub...and maybe they'll tap another special keg when you show up.

Photo of beerwolf77
3.59/5  rDev -21.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5

Stopped in here during my whirlwind tour of GR. The place was packed to the gills while I was there. I will give as fair a shake as possible.

Rather large dark open space with plenty of seating and standing room. Nice large stage to the left of the bar. No bands were playing on this occasion. Pretty much typical of any brew pub.

The tap list was decent but nothing special. They only had one beer on tap I had never had or seen outside the brewery. Of course I ordered that. Took a hefty 5 minutes to waive down a server to order.

Basically I'm getting to the point now where every brew pub feels the same. Nothing really stands out anymore. I would love to come back here when it's warm outside and enjoy the patio. Maybe on a week night so it's not as crowded too.

Photo of Deuane
4.33/5  rDev -5.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Founders, Founders, Founders! Having been to the old place a couple of times I was so looking forward to my first visit to the new and improved facility. We visited twice...once on a VERY busy Black Friday night and then the following day at opening...like night and day visits. Good thing for the Saturday visit saving the ass of Friday's cluster!

New bar which is very long. Big, open room much like before with the "trademark" chalk boards above the bar displaying the offerings. Big garage doors to open things up in season or keep out the cold Michigan winter. Nice touch with the enclosed and heated smoking chamber...nice for the smokers and nice for the non-smokers!

Service was hectic on Friday with three different people kinda taking care of us...we really didn't wait for long between drinks but our check took FOREVER! Saturday was much better with personalized service and lots of chatting with the staff.

14 beers on tap and the Friday night firkin. A few pub exclusive brews on tap to include the divine Espresso Nitro Porter!

A well thought out and fresh selection of deli sandwiches with quality to go withs. We had two very nice sandwiches with a chips and guacamole side to die for. The guac was plentiful, homemade and garlicy!

All in all the new Founders is better than the old and easily one of the premier beer places not only in Michigan but in the US. A must see and do place when in GR.

Photo of Bung
4.46/5  rDev -2.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Large building in an old warehouse. Much better than their old facility, which was in kind of a pretentious apartment/condo building. Open atmosphere, but the wood throughout the building makes it warm enough. Inviting for the hippie freaks, which most good brewpubs are. Nearly all their regular beers are on tap, plus a couple extras. Wish they had some more bottles for purchase. It appears people traveling from afar are dissappointed their is no reward for their travel. Personally I like the fact I do not have to live near them to get their brews, unlike ALL the other breweries that compete with Founders top offerings.(Three Floydds, etc.) Bells is about the only other good brewery you can also widely get their offerings without having to wait in a line wrapped around their dumpy little building and parking lot. So in the end, if you are looking for some place that you are special to have found, this is not it. If you want a place to get some fine craft beers, listen to some music, this place is what you're looking for.
Visit 5/5/09. Founders is probably the best dark(porter, stout) brewer around. There may be others that have 1 or 2 better than any given Founders, but Founders stable of stouts and porters might be able to be matched, but not beaten.

Photo of jmdrpi
4.08/5  rDev -10.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Ate lunch here and had a sampler of beers.

Nice atmosphere, I like the industrial feel to the building and tables. Service was fine, it seems like they do a waiter-by-committee arraignment as we had several different people serve use drinks, food, check on us, etc.

Beer selection was good - I think they had 13 beers on tap - the regulars and then the seasonal or limited beer - which was Devil Dancer. Beer was great as always from them.

Food is limited to deli sandwiches, but they do a great job. Very tasty and huge.

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.36/5  rDev -4.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Visited a couple of times over the weekend during the 2011 KBS release party.

The atmosphere in this place is great. It is very big with lots of tables and a huge bar. The service was generally knowledgeable and friendly and the prices were very good for the quality of beer being served.

Had some KBS on tap as well as the Oatmeal Stout and Imperial Stout. Overall tap selection was very good - a good mix of the regular lineup, seasonals and some special brews.

I will definitely return some day soon...

Photo of GRG1313
4.9/5  rDev +7.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

This is without question one of the best craft breweries in the country. Every beer is just top notch and not only worth tasting but worth drinking.

KBS is a stout by which others are judged, and that's just the beginning. Other barrel aged stouts are exceptional, with the "draft only" Black Biscuit being one of the best beers in the country...period!

The staff is beyond knowledgable and could not be more friendly or accomodating. The selection of beers available is extensive and includes the rare and hard to get and the more extreme.

This is a brewery that really cares about its partrons and does all in its power to generate good will, good beer, future customers and provide the best product possible. This place is so good it's almost "an event" to go and drink and eat.

Great place!

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Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, MI
100 out of 100 based on 804 ratings.