Founders Brewing Company
Ratings: 624 | Reviews: 267 | Display Reviews Only:
4.36/5 rDev -4.4%
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.
09-11-2005 21:59:29 | More by slander
4.14/5 rDev -9.2%
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.
08-03-2008 20:21:51 | More by emerge077
4.24/5 rDev -7%
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.
09-07-2006 01:46:16 | More by woodychandler
4.18/5 rDev -8.3%
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
08-25-2008 23:41:32 | More by Billolick
4.01/5 rDev -12.1%
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.
06-07-2014 05:37:17 | More by DoubleSimcoe
4.36/5 rDev -4.4%
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.
08-07-2009 00:00:18 | More by Sammy
4.66/5 rDev +2.2%
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.
03-02-2005 23:52:08 | More by SaCkErZ9
4.28/5 rDev -6.1%
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
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.
06-03-2009 15:55:43 | More by TurdFurgison
3.6/5 rDev -21.1%
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. Im 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.
02-08-2007 02:44:56 | More by Yetiman420
3.98/5 rDev -12.7%
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.
07-20-2009 04:02:15 | More by akorsak
Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, MI
100 out of 100 based on 624 ratings.