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Why does Founders never have any Class 3 on tap?

Discussion in 'US - Great Lakes' started by geneseohawk, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. geneseohawk

    geneseohawk Savant (315) Illinois Nov 4, 2008

    Just curious- always seem like they never have any class 3 on tap anymore. Getting ready for our annual beer trip this weekend of Michigan and this would be the second year in a row with nothing on tap there-class 3. I check their website consistently- and they hardly have anything in class 3 it seems like? Just wondering as to why? Is it all reserved for release parties? Can't keep up with production? etc....
  2. jampics2

    jampics2 Advocate (685) Ohio Dec 19, 2008

    That's a GREAT question.

    My guess is that we're going to hear a lot about how "they're focused on production right now" and how "those beers take a lot of time to make" but, in my ever so humble opinion, this is another example of how Founders, in the pursuit of some sort of distribution manifest destiny, or, at the very least, the almighty dollar, has stopped being the innovative and exciting GRAND RAPIDS brewery they once were and has become just another good REGIONAL brewery.

    I remember how KBS used to last for months on tap after the release. CBS would be on tap for a month when it went up. Black Biscuit was on for weeks. But now Founders won't even put KBS on tap for all the days they're allowing for KBS pickups in the gift shop for the lucky ticket winners/buyers. I bet it won't last a week in the pub this time, maybe only a few days.

    I believe distributing these beers at the expense of having a solid & consistent on premise presence for Class 3 is a huge mistake. I'll go one step further - I personally wish KBS didn't come to Ohio. I wish they didn't bottle the stuff at all. It's a great beer but leads to so many issues for distributors, retailers and consumers that it's poison in the marketplace.

    Instead of going through all the trouble, Founders could be the Mecca it once was...they could follow Russian River's example w/ PTY, and make these beers DONGs and have a full taproom every morning, afternoon and evening for a month. They could have cool draft KBS breakfasts in all their markets too, but I'd even say they should keep it all on tap at the homebase and that's it - you want KBS, CBS, etc, come to Grand Rapids - it'll be on every day for a month out of the year. That would bring people to Grand Rapids in droves and they'd sell more on premise, more sandwiches, merch, etc.

    Ultimately it's their call, but I wish more breweries realized that, aside from good intentions, beers like KBS cause many, many more problems than they're worth in the distribution chain.
    MichiBrew, Vav, JohnB87 and 9 others like this.
  3. mjshearer1

    mjshearer1 Savant (445) Michigan Dec 16, 2011

    Oh look, another thread damning Founders for how popular they are.

    I'm not sure about Russian River's methods of releasing PtY, but if you think a brewery can pump out barrel aged beers (which most of Founders' Class 3 brews are, like Backwoods, Bolt Cutter, KBS, CBS, etc.) at the same rate as a DIPA, then you have no concept for how beer is made, much less how long the barrel aging process takes. Not to mention, there'd be no way in hell they could make enough KBS or CBS to last on tap for a month even if they didn't distribute any of it, not with the reputation the beers and the brewery has now. All the Class 3's are already DONG, so that wouldn't help either.

    No one wishes that they could brew KBS and Class 3's out their noses more than me, but it's just not possible. It's not Founders being lazy or trying to spin it in some way, it's just literally not possible.
  4. Benny3000

    Benny3000 Savant (375) Michigan Apr 4, 2012

    ^ What that dude just said
    craigo19 likes this.
  5. Steimie

    Steimie Initiate (0) Michigan Jan 7, 2012

    The distributors could just not carry KBS, right? Is there some rule that they have to take all that Founders wants to give them? Somehow I find it hard to believe that distributors have so many issues with it. If distributors haven't figured out how to go about dealing with limited release beers, that the distributors' fault, not the companies that make the beer.

    As far as putting limited stuff on tap more in order to drive up traffic at the brewpub--I bet when you go to Founders this weekend it'll be full. I've driven up on random Tuesdays before and every table has been full at 11am. They get plenty of traffic in the pub now.
    craigo19 and BeerBuckeye like this.
  6. MarcatGSB

    MarcatGSB Initiate (0) Michigan Jan 8, 2011

    Exactly, they don't have any trouble filling the place.
  7. BeerBuckeye

    BeerBuckeye Savant (420) Ohio Oct 2, 2009

    I was there on a random Wednesday evening in September and the place was absolutely packed. I don't think Founders will have many issues with getting people to come to their place.
  8. Spartan213

    Spartan213 Savant (315) Michigan May 28, 2008

    They did just have Backwoods on draft for a month or so. It also doesn't hurt that in my opinion their class 1 and 2 beers have been stepped up recently with more pub only stuff than I remember in the past.
    woodchopper likes this.
  9. CWBlues

    CWBlues Savant (310) Indiana May 4, 2011

    I pour as a volunteer at a local brewery. What really surprised when I started me was the number of pints and growlers fills I poured of the every day beers (that is, not whatever special ones we happen to have on tap). I think as beer geeks, especially floating around in our own little circles, we don't always realize that the majority of people who visit a brewery on any given day aren't necessarily interested in whatever barrel aged, rare-ish, whale-ish beers that happen to be on. They just like good beer. In fact, in my personal experience, I've watched a significant number of people leave samples of (delicious) rye barrel and bourbon barrel aged beers unfinished in the tasting room.

    It might be a bummer that they don't have anything crazy and barrel aged on, but overall I don't think it's going to make a difference to the majority of people who visit a brewery, IMO.
    MacJenkins, radio2525 and woodchopper like this.
  10. brycevolk

    brycevolk Savant (335) Ohio Sep 28, 2009

    OP - I think this question should be filed under the “Sense of Entitlement” folder. The way I see it, if you are pissed that Founders (or any other brewery for that matter) doesn't have its flagship/BA brews on draft when you just so happen to be ready to visit the brewpub, then you sir, are drinking craft beer for all the wrong reasons. AB-InBev is brewing some awesome beers for you as we speak!

    Look at it this way: if you had tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in your own brewery, and night-after-night the place is packed with not only locals, but visitors from all over the world, what incentive do you have to cut the production and distribution of the beers that are selling in your brewpub and distribution chain simply to make more expensive flagship/BA beers? None. Zero. Natta. Sure, it would be amazing if Founders could keep a “Class 3” BA beer on draft all year, but it’s not logistically possible, and quite frankly, it’s financially irresponsible.

    So, to you my friend, I say raise that thick-walled pint glass of Bud Light Platinum, and accept the hardy cheers from all of your fellow BAer’s!

    <dismounts high horse>
    craigo19, elephantrider and Steimie like this.
  11. JulianC

    JulianC Savant (335) Illinois Mar 9, 2012

    I think they should put some good stuff on tap for all the KBS days, not just Saturday. Given the cluster that the ticket sale was, you couldn't really choose which day you wanted, just had to grab whatever you saw. Would've liked Sat, got Thursday, got it and was happy to have anything.

    I'll be disappointed a bit to get up there and have nothing special on tap, but whatever, I guess I'm lucky to have a KBS ticket at all.
    MichiBrew and steebo777 like this.
  12. Spartan213

    Spartan213 Savant (315) Michigan May 28, 2008

    I am also hoping they have something on during the week but not really expecting it.
  13. kdmcguire10

    kdmcguire10 Savant (355) Michigan Jul 15, 2011

    I'm not just speaking about the non-existent Class 3 beers, but in general, I've noticed more and more that they seem to be drifting away from the core Michigan market. There are fewer and fewer good options for Mug Club members and the KBS ticket sale was an utter disaster.

    Tap takeovers here in the Michigan market rarely have anything that can't be purchased off the shelf any day of the week.

    Russian River and Hill Farmstead have it right. Focus on your core market's needs first. Michigan should get priority on releases. It's a turnoff to me when I can't get a ticket to buy KBS and I have to read and hear about expansion into Texas, Canada, North Carolina, etc.
  14. sarcastro

    sarcastro Savant (405) Michigan Sep 20, 2006

    Exactly. They don't need to put these beers on tap to bring in people. As I have heard, the pub is always packed lately regardless. Since this is the case, it seems to me that it is smarter to distribute and you can spread the wealth that way. You cant please everybody, but distribution pleases more than just having it in a always packed brewpub.
    steebo777 likes this.
  15. mychalg9

    mychalg9 Advocate (650) Illinois Apr 8, 2010


    Great points. Out of curiosity, do you pour at Flat 12?
  16. sidetracked

    sidetracked Initiate (0) Illinois Nov 9, 2009

    Class 3 beers at Founders haven't been limited to barrel-aged beers. I too think Founders is stretching themselves thin, but their tap room still has some interesting offerings right now. They have more than a couple non-distributed beers available.
  17. While your point is a sound one, this was kind of a dick answer. I agree with the OP, but perhaps his arguement wasn't stated clearly enough to not defend his position.

    How do most BAs - non-Michiganders - have Founders on their radar? Sure Centennial is a great, sessionable IPA, and Red's Rye was on the market way before rye became the "it" grain, but were these beers blowing up the ISO threads? Prior to the Breakfast Stout variations, which lead to their experimenting with more and more Class 3 beers, you could walk into a half-empty tap room on any night of the week. KBS, as well as many of the other Class 3s, put Founders on the North American beer map. Sure, demand has boomed for these brews in recent years, but when was the last time you saw a posting or news bit about Founders decreasing production? Why would they not continue to focus, even partly so, on the beers that made them one of the most recognized names in Michigan beer?
  18. CWBlues

    CWBlues Savant (310) Indiana May 4, 2011

    What gave it away? ;)
    mychalg9 likes this.
  19. jampics2

    jampics2 Advocate (685) Ohio Dec 19, 2008

    Thanks for the beer making lesson, I appreciate it. I wasn't criticizing the output volume from Founders, but I think, in your way, you actually proved my point - there's only so much that can be made and you can't boost production overnight to keep up with demand in the marketplace. So why send the beer to Georgia, South Carolina, now Texas (yes, I know technically Texas won't be getting KBS until next year, but you get the point) when you could sell it all on premise to your locals and those willing to travel.

    As for PTY - Russian River makes PTY once a year. They do distribute it as a DONG to key accounts/bars around CA, OR and PA but the majority is on tap for 2-3 weeks in their brewpub. They tap a few kegs a day and when they run out they run out. It brings lines of people into their town. I'm sure nearby hotels and restaurants see a lift in business. It's being a beacon for your city, and RR does that with the release. Plus, anyone who wants PtY gets it - sure you may wait in line for 3-4 hours to get in the pub, but people get to try the beer! It just requires a bit more focus and legwork than calling your local store and getting on the list.

    I'm not 100% sure, but I think Founders makes more KBS than RR makes PTY. Anyone have insight here?

    They probably make enough KBS to tap 5x 1/6bbls a day for a month, no? -- 150x 1/6bbl is like 8,000 bottles (665oz in a 1/6 bbl) - I'm not saying it has to be on 24/7, tap a certain number of kegs a day. I bet they make much more than 8,000 bottles. (edit - fixed my math!)

    Plus, again, you made my point for me - they could easily sell it all onsite - so DO IT!

    They have figured out the fairest way to tell 85% of their accounts "no". Likewise, the stores have found a way to tell 95% of their customers "no" but that's still not ideal. It creates more trouble/hurt than any single beer is worth IMO.

    My point is more retailers & customers DO NOT get KBS than do. This increases the myth of the beer. But this culture, the "gotta have it, rare rare rare" culture is hurting the legitimacy of craft beer IMO and beer releases like this HURT craft beer culture more than they help - they move our focus to the shimmer instead of the gold.

    This is exactly my point. Distribute the solid, *distributable* beers that you can make all day. Expand to Europe if you'd like. But keep the goodies for the locals & to drive business to your city. Be a beacon for Grand Rapids.
    Vav, TheBeerDad and kdmcguire10 like this.
  20. Steimie

    Steimie Initiate (0) Michigan Jan 7, 2012

    There are lots of things you said that I disagree with, but none more than this. To argue that Founders hasn't embraced their local area is completely wrong. 100% wrong. A portion of the proceeds from the ticketed bottle releases are given to local charities. Founders hosts a shitload of events at local establishments in the GR area. They have done so much for that area. Contending otherwise is just wrong.

    I live in MI and I'd love to see larger quantities of Founders beer distributed here. But your contention that Michigan should get more Founders beers because they're located here and that is how some other places do it just makes you sound whiny and entitled.
    craigo19, ObiWanKushnobi and davey101 like this.
  21. geneseohawk

    geneseohawk Savant (315) Illinois Nov 4, 2008

    Was just asking an honest question- no entitlement and not pissed..Lol easy poster. Have just seen a huge change in the last 5 years of going there and wondered why? Other BA's have noticed too....
  22. MarcatGSB

    MarcatGSB Initiate (0) Michigan Jan 8, 2011

    I have noticed a change over the last few years as well...My last visit to Grand Rapids for Winter Beer Fest was without a trip to Founder's. There are just alot of other new options I wanted to check out, and I wasn't excited about anything they had on tap. I don't think it affects my view of Founder's one way or another, as I was happy to spend some time at Perrin, Harmony, Mitten, etc...
  23. sarcastro

    sarcastro Savant (405) Michigan Sep 20, 2006

    People are replying more to jampics2 first post then yours.
  24. I would agree with the OP. Obviously the brewery has to do what they have to do, but I think it creates much more goodwill with the local base who helped the brewer become what they are today if you treat them better than out of state markets. Why shouldn't the state that a brewery's located in get more of that breweries limited product than other markets? Hell, why shouldn't they get all of it assuming it there's that much demand?
    BoneyardBrewer likes this.
  25. If this isn't the most entitled post on this site today I'll be very surprised. Assuming you live in Ohio (because thats what the "totally awesome and everyone will love it!" Big Brother location info says), I take it that you want to have to travel over to Grand Rapids to get this beer? I find that very hard to believe. Well, probably not all that hard to believe as you qualified your statement by saying "those willing to travel". Moreover, I assume you'd want all other breweries to follow suit? Sure would make getting all those beers you rated 5 star very hard to get.

    Not trying to come down on you, but the "me first; I'm a local or I drove all this way!" attitude is one of the many things wrong with this hobby; somebody wanting what someone else has, and once they get it they pull the ladder up behind them so others can't climb up.
    TMoney2591 and dachshunddude86 like this.
  26. jampics2

    jampics2 Advocate (685) Ohio Dec 19, 2008

    I don't live there. I don't want the beer. How am I being entitled by saying I don't want it if Michigan/GR people don't get the right of first refusal?????

    Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. I'll stick to the hundreds of well-distributed beers I can get in Ohio and I won't get KBS. Life will go on. Or, if I want some, I'd travel for it if it's really something I feel is worth it.

    Exactly.
    Vav likes this.
  27. BlackDragon

    BlackDragon Initiate (0) Michigan Feb 16, 2013

    you might be right but then I look at a statement from Goose Island supposedly BCBS is going to be made available year round so obviously if a brewery is willing to commit enough resources to a specific brew they could make it happen.
  28. sarcastro

    sarcastro Savant (405) Michigan Sep 20, 2006

    Do you know it was local distribution that allowed founders to get to this point? Maybe Founders got to where they are today by being able to distribute out of state. Maybe the money that allowed them to do all their crazy brewpub only barrel aged beers that make them a beer advocate darling/enemy came from being able to sell their beer in so many places. Should they suddenly disregard those locations that got them to where they are.

    Maybe Founders should do what is best for Founders, and not BAers and Grand Rapids. It has worked well so far for Founders, BAers, and Grand Rapids. You cant please everyone, but the people that have problems like this are a tiny fraction of their business.
    craigo19 likes this.
  29. BlackDragon

    BlackDragon Initiate (0) Michigan Feb 16, 2013

    I agree with you however if you really want to change this you need to stop buying Founders beers (voting with your dollar) as well as create a website or facebook page where people pledge not to buy Founders beer until they start making more of the limited/stuff people actually want. If Founders starts losing money and you have a huge following (which I don't think would be that hard since most of their everyday stuff isn't that good) they will have no choice but to change.
  30. MarcatGSB

    MarcatGSB Initiate (0) Michigan Jan 8, 2011

    Whooooaaa there buddy. "Stuff people actually want" what the hell? I think people buy plenty of their beers, limited or not. This thread has turned into nothing productive.
  31. Steimie

    Steimie Initiate (0) Michigan Jan 7, 2012

    You're absolutely right. My bad...it isn't entitlement at all for me to demand that a brewery have as much of a particular beer as I want to buy if I'm actually going to trouble myself to travel to get it. Fuck, if I want to drive to Russian River, they should let me have all the PtY that I want to drink at the pub or take home with me. That's not unreasonable at all.
    Vav likes this.
  32. BlackDragon

    BlackDragon Initiate (0) Michigan Feb 16, 2013

    If giving up buying any Founders beer for 6 months after the KBS release meant that they would make 10x as much CBS and KBS or whatever limited you like would you do it?
  33. jampics2

    jampics2 Advocate (685) Ohio Dec 19, 2008

    How did "as much as I want to buy" and "all the PtY I want to drink or take home with me" come into this conversation? Please stick to what I wrote or I don't want to discuss this more, thanks.

    I'm really not getting you. Either I am having a stroke or your logic just isn't jiving here.

    Please tell me how wishing a brewery in a state I don't live in would keep their special beers at their taproom for their locals (not me!) or those willing to make the trip (again, not me!) is being entitled.
  34. MarcatGSB

    MarcatGSB Initiate (0) Michigan Jan 8, 2011

    That's not the point. The point is, Founder's is gonna sell their beer, even if you boycott it, hence the increase in distro...people WANT their beer, and not just the limited releases.
  35. mjshearer1

    mjshearer1 Savant (445) Michigan Dec 16, 2011

    I'm not sure which "locals" you're talking to (are they the same ones that pitch a fit that they can't buy five cases like they could years ago?), but as one myself, I have zero trouble getting the amount of KBS that I want or could need. If any local or anyone willing to travel wants some KBS, it will be on tap at Founders on March 30th. It will also most certainly be on tap April 20th for the Black Party. I suggest you show up.

    Well, with a bit more focus and extra legwork, anyone can get some on the dates I mentioned above.

    They absolutely make more than 8,000 bottles. But if you think keeping it on tap will increase it's longevity of availability by any significant number, you've severely underestimated the hype that KBS has and the number of rabid fans out there.

    So your solution to solve the "ZOMGRAREBEERZ" mentality by way of reducing the myth of the beer is by hoarding it all in one central location (like you said, keep it all on premises for locals and those willing to travel) so it's even harder to get? That makes perfect sense.

    This.

    They also got a big fat check from AB, so I wouldn't be surprised if they now have the resources to pull off BCBS year round.
    TheBeerDad likes this.
  36. An interesting point. However, even if out of state distro allowed this to happen, why then continue to expand your distribution of limited availability beers to new markets that didn't help you get where you are today?

    And Founders can do anything they want, I don't care. I have no emotional investment in this, I don't really even enjoy most of their beer (including KBS). I simply don't understanding pushing a product out to more and more markets when you already can't satisfy the demand for the markets you're currently in. Plus, I tend to respect breweries (and other businesses) that take good care of their local fans/consumers.
  37. In response to the OP's original question, yes I've noticed the change and yes it's a bummer. Does that make me entitled or whiny? I don't think so, it's just a rememberance of the good old days, like when you could walk into a store and buy BCBS and KBS no problem. I went into Founders while visiting the west side of the state on an average summer Sunday about 4 years ago and there were FIVE barrel aged Class 3 beers on tap. I had to get a flight of them because there was no way I could drink a full pour of each. I was back this summer and there was nothing exciting on tap, IMO. I too often check the tap list online and am underwhelmed. I'm sure their answer would be the same as their justification for bringing 4 regular beers to the Fall Beer Fest...it's not a big priority for them. It is what it is.
    sarcastro likes this.
  38. atoulouk

    atoulouk Savant (400) Indiana Apr 25, 2011

    I could be wrong, but didn't Founders used to classify their specialty beers like Curmudgeon, FIS, Backwoods, etc as Class 3 and now they are being sold as class 2? I swore when I visited the brewpub last year that FIS was class 3.

    If that's the case it's actually a good thing on Founders part to sell these beers a little cheaper to us. There is plenty of variety on the list right now, even though none of it is technically the top class. Watermelon and Mango are beers you won't get anywhere else.
  39. Zaphog

    Zaphog Champion (995) Michigan Sep 23, 2011

    I will admit that I am more often than not a tad disappointed with Founders' tap list as well. I love Founders and I make the trip to their tap room prob 4 or 5 times a year. I would never start a thread about this, nor do I feel entitled to have Class 3 beers all of the time, but most of the other breweries/tap rooms that I frequent tend to have a better selection of beers on tap IMO. Founders' sandwiches, on the other hand, rarely disappoint. I enjoy the atmosphere as well. With that said, I will still continue to hit up Founders at least a few times a year.

    EDIT: Founders' Black IPA is amazing! Bottle that shit!
    hopfenunmaltz likes this.
  40. Wisconsin

    Wisconsin Savant (355) Wisconsin Jul 24, 2008

    It's the arguments like this that make me grateful for the New Glarus business model. Having an endless supply of Thumbprints and specialty fruit beers is something I have grown accustomed to. I give a lot of you credit for constantly searching, checking Twitter, Facebook, ect. just in hopes that a liquor store has received a small shipment of said prized beer. I couldn't do it. I just don't care about a certain beer enough to go through the hassle.

    I like the idea of having a brewery only release; with some being in bottles, but the majority being on tap for customers to drink over an extended period of time. That's how I would run the KBS release if I owned Founders. And before I get the entitlement BS, I have never had KBS nor have I ever tried to get it.
    jampics2 likes this.

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