Hop Testing

Reason #4398 being a brewer is a sweet gig: hop testing. To ensure that we’re always using the highest quality ingredients in our recipes, we test different ingredients from time to time. Recently, a few of our brewers tested some potential new hops and we happened to have a camera on hand. Check it out:

Hops, ready for testing!

Brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki checking out the aroma on one of the hop samples.

Brewer Adam Schmitt checking out another hop sample.

 

Mug Club Expansion

We’re expanding our mug club and will be accepting new members beginning when our taproom doors open, at 11am, on Saturday, March 24.

Thanks to careful planning, ingenuity, and a little elbow grease, we were able to create more shelf space behind the bar in the taproom. More space = more mugs = more mug club members!

Here’s a few of the perks of being a Mug Club Member at Founders:

  • You get your own personalized mug, etched with a name (or whatever text you choose) and mug number.
  • The mug has a handle.
  • You get to take the mug home at the end of the year.
  • You get $1 off beers all the time, and $2 off on Wednesdays, Mug Club Day.
  • You get $2 off growler fills.
  • You get in at a discounted price to select Founders events (Founders Fest, Harvest Party, Black Party, etc).
  • You get to be part of the coolest club in the world! (According to us. We’re biased. But this is our blog.)

 

Wanna be a member? Here’s what you do and how it works:

  • On Saturday, March 24, at 11am, new memberships will officially go on sale.
  • You must be 21 to purchase a Mug Club membership.
  • You must be present (no phone or internet orders) and be in possession of a valid ID.
  • Cost is $60.
  • Memberships last for the duration of the calendar year. (It is solely a membership for the rest of 2012.)
  • You cannot buy a membership as a gift.
  • Your benefits begin as soon as the transaction is processed.
  • Upon purchase, you will be issued a temporary mug ID card with your mug number on it. Your personalized mug will arrive shortly thereafter.
  • Mugs are non-transferrable.
  • You will have to opportunity to renew your membership in the fall for the 2013 Mug Club.

 

KBS Release Party Update: Looking Ahead

Folks,

We wanted to reach back out to everyone about this past weekend’s KBS release event. We first want to thank those of you who took the time to give us valuable constructive criticism; we’ve spent the better part of the week sorting through each and every one of your emailed suggestions. The passion, both positive and negative, in your well-thought-out communications is a testament to how lucky we are to be in the beer community.

We are making a dramatic improvement on organization, efficiency, and communication plans for our future releases so that everyone involved can enjoy the true spirit of the experience. It would be misleading to say that everyone will get an allocation of KBS next year, but we can assure you that we are producing approximately three times the volume for the 2013 release. However, with the demand for this beer, reduced allocations will still be in place at next year’s event.

One overwhelming piece of advice that we received was to go to a pre-sale ticketed lottery system. We have a plan to implement such a system in a way that will benefit both event attendees and a charity that the brewery believes in. The entire day will be reworked to ensure that access to KBS, in bottles and on tap, will be clearly communicated, in order to better accommodate more beer enthusiasts. We’re excited to share these details when we announce our next release.

In looking back at last weekend, we find success in the lessons we’ve learned. We’re confident that our future release events will be a blast to those that come out to visit the brewery. Our ultimate goal is to make some of the country’s best beers, and much of the fun lies in sharing it with the extended Founders Family, which is made up of beer enthusiasts like you.

Thanks for all of your support; we are humbled and grateful for all of the advice received over the past week.

Cheers,

Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers
Co-Founders
Founders Brewing Co.

 

KBS Release Party

Early this morning we made the decision, right or wrong, to limit the purchase of Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) bottles to 1/2 case per person rather than the full case that we have done in the past and that we had communicated to our consumers.

First of all, we want to thank everyone for their support, their loyalty, and their appreciation for good craft beer–if nobody cared about KBS, we wouldn’t be sending out this communication because there would be no issue. The turnout for our release today was a testament to the dedication of the beer enthusiasts and to how far our industry has come over the years.

When we saw how many people had come from across the country to buy KBS, we were taken by surprise. We knew we couldn’t make everyone happy: with over 1000 people in line and only 315 cases to go around, the decision was made to try to get KBS to as many dedicated beer enthusiasts as possible so that the majority of those in line didn’t leave empty handed (though some still did). We cut our individual allocation in half; 634 people bought KBS and we ran out before the last 362 people got to the front of the line.

There is no way for us to predict what the response will be to releases like this. Last year, we were able to take care of the majority of those that waited in line, and we increased the number of cases for the release this year as much as we could. Unfortunately, because this beer is aged for about a year in bourbon barrels in the caves beneath Grand Rapids, we brewed it about a year ago–when we were still limited to the production capacity of a 30 bbl brewhouse. Next year’s release will be about three times the size, because we were able to brew it on our new 85 bbl brewhouse just recently. We understand that this will still, most likely, not get supply up enough to match demand for this product, but we see it as an improvement.

Our vision for our release parties has been to get the core beer enthusiasts to our brewery for a fun time, to foster new friendships and new stories to tell. We’ve always wanted it to be more about the experience than the beer that folks leave with, and we’re sorry if that experience today was tarnished for anyone because of the decision that we made early this morning.

We ask any of you that want to express your feelings about how our KBS bottle release was run to email us. The only way for a growing company like us to learn from events like this is for us to hear directly from the people that attended. We appreciate any constructive criticism that you’re able to send our way. Please send your email to info [at] foundersbrewing [dot] com with ATTN: KBS RELEASE PARTY in the subject line. We will collect these emails and will use them to re-evaluate the process through which we distribute KBS in the future.

Thanks again for all of your support and understanding.

 

–Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers, co-founders

 

Iowa, Here We Come!

As you may have heard if you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, our beer will be released in Iowa beginning on Monday, March 19. We’re excited about entering the Hawkeye State! We have a network of nine distributors that we’ll be using to cover the entire state, from Des Moines to Sioux City to Decorah to Keokuk.

 

a map of Iowa with the Founders beer bottle lineup overlaid

Ready or Not…

 

Also, we’ve received many questions so far about KBS from Iowans: KBS will not be available in Iowa this year, because we had already shipped all of the KBS that had been packaged before we began shipments to Iowa. The one exception to this is the release party that we are having at Reds Alehouse in North Liberty on March 20, beginning at 4pm, where a 1/6 bbl (a small keg, also known as a torpedo keg or a log) of KBS will be tapped.

 

 

Porter Chocolate Cupcakes

Thanks to Lauren Janicki for sharing this story and recipe (and these photos) with us!


These started as a Guinness Chocolate Cupcake recipe my friend passed along. It was a great idea but the cake itself still needed something.

I tossed around the idea of trying it with better beer, and the recipe got shelved until the urge to bake hit—at the same time as the desire to avoid going out in the Michigan winter for ingredients. While searching the pantry, the coveted last bottle of Founders Porter appeared before my eyes, and inspiration hit. The complex, chocolatey flavor of the Porter was exactly what the cake wanted.

Reviewed by my father as “the best chocolate cake in the world” (he may be biased), it was demolished in no time. [see photos below, from before it was demolished]

Porter Layer Cake pre-frosting

 

Porter Layer Cake with frosting

It recently appeared again in cupcake form for more great reviews at Valentine’s Day parties:

 

Porter cupcake next to pink tulips

Here’s the recipe, slightly adapted from the original:

Ingredients

1 (12-ounce) bottle Founders Porter

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs

3/4 cup sour cream

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (I used Hershey’s)

2 cups sugar

2 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter 24 muffin tins.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the Porter, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the sour cream.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour, and baking soda. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet Porter mixture.

Divide the batter among the muffin tins (I got about 30 out of one recipe).

Bake 20-25 minutes, until risen, and set in the middle (check with a toothpick, it should come out dry) but still soft and tender. Cool before removing from the tins.

**This also works as a 9″ layer cake. Just bake it a bit longer and use the toothpick test to gauge baking time.

The original recipe includes an espresso frosting which is perhaps a bit on the sugary side for the rich, slightly less sweet cupcakes. I highly recommend pairing them with your favorite semi-sweet chocolate frosting or ganache for the best dark, rich, sexy beer cupcake.

 

Our Story

Check out this quick video with some behind-the-scenes peeks at our production facility, beautiful shots of beer being poured in our taproom, and a bit of brewery history from our co-founders. Our beer is what it is because of the people that work here: hear it straight from their lips.

 

Founders Brewing: The Story from Founders Brewing Co. on Vimeo.

 

RateBeer Best of 2012 Results

 

RateBeer

We are honored and humbled to have been ranked the second best brewery in the world, two years in a row, and to have our KBS rated the fourth best beer in the world, both by RateBeer.com.

Thanks to all of you for supporting us in doing what we love every day and for allowing us to share it with you.

 

Bottling Better Half!

We had an extra-large crew lending a helping hand on the bottling line today because we were running something special: 750mL bottles of Curmudgeon’s Better Half, the next beer in our Backstage Series, to be released on Monday, February 13! (See this blog post from last month for more information.)

Here are some pictures of the newest addition to our Backstage lineup (and the happy Founders Family working hard)!

 

 

All Day IPA Release Begins February 6 in Limited Markets

Check out the first addition to our lineup in six years:


Grand Rapids, Michigan, January 6, 2012—Founders Brewing Co.’s Co-Founder and Vice President of Marketing, Dave Engbers, announced today that All Day IPA would be the next addition to the brewery’s year-round lineup, with availability limited to Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, and the greater Chicago area beginning on February 6, 2012.

All Day IPA is a session ale that has the traditional qualities of an India Pale Ale with significantly lower alcohol. At 4.7% ABV, the beer is highly drinkable, but maintains the intense tropical aromatics and complex flavors consistent with Founders’ portfolio.

This beer was in development for nearly three years before the brewery perfected it. Then, the All Day IPA recipe won the silver medal at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival. Due to capacity constraints and multiple expansions, Founders Brewing Company now feels they are prepared to launch their first year-round product since 2006. Limited distribution is due to the soft hop harvest. “We will never compromise a recipe in order to increase sales,” explains Engbers.

“It’s the beer that almost wasn’t,” says Co-Founder, President & CEO Mike Stevens. “It’s tough to brew and gave us more than one problem throughout its development. But then we realized that this is the beer we’d all been waiting for.”

Engbers adds, “We pride ourselves on only putting beers in bottles that we would pick out on the shelves ourselves—and we’re picky beer drinkers…it would be just wrong not to be bottle All Day IPA.”

The last beer that Founders added to its year-round six-pack and draft lineup was Red’s Rye PA in 2006.

Founders Brewing Company opened their doors in 1997 with the vision of creating some of the most unique craft beer in the world. Today, Founders has a loyal following, with several beers lauded nationally and internationally as award winners in their respective categories. They are currently rated the second highest brewery in the world by ratebeer.com.

Founders Brewing Company, 235 Grandville Avenue SW in downtown Grand Rapids, is a proud member of the Michigan Brewers Guild and the Brewers Association.

 

Mocha Coffee Cake Recipe

Thanks to Jason (Twitter handle = @headyhopzhead) and his wife for submitting this recipe for mocha coffee cake that, as Elysia said, “was sinfully delicious…Fabulous cake that pairs well with some of my husband’s favorite beers!”

 

Ingredients

1 package (18-1/4 ounces) chocolate cake mix
1-3/4 cups sour cream
2 eggs
1/2 cup coffee beer [1/2 cup = 4 fl. oz, so 1/3 of a bottle of Breakfast Stout or KBS...you'll want to measure the CBS out as it will be hard to estimate with a 750mL bottle] OR coffee liquor
1/4 cup canola oil
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1 package (10 to 12 ounces) white baking chips
1/3 cup butter, cubed
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
1 teaspoon rum extract
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided

WHIPPED CREAM:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

  

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, sour cream, eggs, coffee beer (or liquor), and oil; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips. Transfer to three greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans.

Bake at 350° for 24-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
In a microwave, melt the white baking chips, butter and remaining chocolate chips; stir until smooth. Stir in coffee granules and extract. Cool to room temperature.

In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup cream; let stand for 1 minute. Heat over low heat, stirring until gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir into chocolate mixture. In a large bowl, beat the remaining 1-1/4 cups cream until soft peaks form. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture; beat until stiff peaks form.

For whipped cream, in a small bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until stiff peaks form.

Place bottom cake layer on a serving plate; top with half of the chocolate mixture.

Repeat layers. Top with the remaining cake layer. Frost top and sides of cake with whipped cream. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Yield = 16 servings

We’re just loving getting recipes in from those of you that have been submitting! Please feel free to email me any recipes of dishes that you made using our beer, and it just may appear on our blog (attaching pictures will help your cause): sarah [at] foundersbrewing [dot] com. Cheers!

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