Founders Brewing Company
Active Beers: 79
Beer Ratings: 64,754
Beer Avg: 3.97
Taps: 18 / Bottles: 7
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: Y
Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 314 | Reviews: 250 | Show All Ratings:
4.3/5 rDev -2.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$$$
What a pleasant surprise. My future sister-in-law is from GR, and she's been talking up Founders for months now....so we all made the trek to scenic Grand Rapids a few weeks ago. Founders is located in an old warehouse of some sort just a little ways North of downtown (along the river).
Inside, it's a very casual atmosphere punctuated by the old hardwood floors and metal tables. They had about 10 or so beers on tap, and I tried four. First, the Breakfast Stout was as good as advertised - lots of chocolate, creamy, spicy, roasty, delicious. Next, Red's Rye was a nice change of pace - surprisingly hoppy but also with some toasted biscuit notes. Third, I tried the Scotch Ale - sufficiently malty. Last, I had a pint of their Imperial Brown - wow. Rich, malty, bordering on tasting the alcohol, a big delicious beer.
The server was sweet and attentive, but they don't serve food there beyond pretzels and cheese (they did have a menu for a local deli that delivers, however). The bottom line: Founders is a top-tier brewery that I think is starting to bust out of Bell's shadow in Western Michigan.
08-14-2005 00:32:16 | More by olacub
4.03/5 rDev -8.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4 | $$$
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.
08-02-2005 22:19:28 | More by CortexBomb
4.8/5 rDev +8.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
This is a tasting room of a working brewery. Located in a large factory, this first floor brewery is a treat. A small bar with 10 or so stools and numerous metal top tables give you a place to sit. The beers on tap on last visit numbered 12 and Founders makes great beer. The food menu was mostly sandwiches and they looked good on a busy Monday, but I had just got done with Breakfast. Large doors/windows showed the bottling line, which was in use, and the fermentation tanks. This is not a prim and polished place but if you want great beer at the source, get here.
07-19-2005 23:37:24 | More by jimbotrost
4.24/5 rDev -3.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$
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.
07-12-2005 18:35:33 | More by yock
4.3/5 rDev -2.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$
My wife and I visited Founders on a lazy Saturday afternoon, well before the crowds. We were, in fact, one of the few people in the bar this afternoon. Selection was simliar to last posters: RIS, Breakfast Stout, Red's Rye, Trois, Oatmeal Stout, Pale Ale, IPA, the Raspberry (whose name I also forgot), and an Imperial Brown Ale. I partook in the Imperial Brown and Red's Rye, which were both superb. $3.50/pint. Staff was quick to wait on us when we came in, and friendly. Overall very good experience for the both of us.
07-10-2005 01:48:02 | More by Kane
4.6/5 rDev +4.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
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!
06-27-2005 00:46:09 | More by ncbrewerbun
4.5/5 rDev +2%
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.
05-31-2005 21:29:12 | More by francisweizen
4.53/5 rDev +2.7%
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.
05-06-2005 15:40:59 | More by meathookjones
4.3/5 rDev -2.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$
We passed this place without even noticing it. We were looking for it too. The old Brass Works building houses some of the best beer in the world? Yes, it does. This inconspicuous locale in the downtown of Grand Rapids is a portal into a taproom full of character and charm. Rustic wood flooring besets the path to any of the many antiquated metal topped tavern tables or to the bar itself. This reminds me of an old barn or mill, but with dreadlocked wookies delivering beers to patrons. There is a modest amount of seating capacity at the bar which was fine on this particular afternoon. Bunches of hop cones were hung above the bar trimming the edges. I didn't go so far as to count the other tables. I wouldn't call this place a large capacity bar room though. Our resident Beerfly guide said that the place gets quite full during evenings and weekends, which I can understand. This is a pretty smooth place. Extra points get awarded for the pool table adjacent to the bar. Darts present as well.
The quality was superb if we are talking product ( maybe not air quality ). These fellas make some great brew! The waitstaff all seemed to be decent ( groovy may be a better description ). We didn't have any trouble getting refilled or getting quarters for the billiards table.
The selection was a bit lighter than I had hoped ( six or seven offerings I think ), but there was still more than enough to satisfy me. We even got to sample a secret reserve thanks to the two brewmasters who came out to receive our praise. This secret tap will remain nameless, but be assured it was fabaliss!
The place was pretty reasonable on price. I sampled the tap fairly aggressively for an afternoon whistle wetter and got a souvenir shirt to boot all for twenty somethin bucks. The beers are fantastic. The staff is real laid back. The place is great. I'll be back.
04-25-2005 17:54:35 | More by SupaCelt
4.1/5 rDev -7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$
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.
04-22-2005 18:24:56 | More by jasonpeckins32
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Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, MI
98 out of 100 based on 314 user ratings.