The Founders Story Begins with a Dream
We have been lucky to evolve into one of the highest-recognized breweries in the United States. We’ve been ranked among the top breweries in the world by Ratebeer.com since 2006, and we have several beers listed in the top 100 beers of the world on Beeradvocate.com. We’re now among the top ten largest craft breweries in the country.
We give credit to our staff for continuously working to reinvent what beer can be and thanks to our many customers for whom we work to provide world-class beers.
Born & Brewed In Michigan
For over 25 years Founders Brewing Company’s dedication to the state of Michigan has shown through in everything we do. Surrounded by the Great Lakes, we’re devoted to using our freshwater resources in a sustainable fashion to provide you with the highest quality beer possible – from All Day IPA to craft beer stalwarts like KBS, which celebrates 20 years of barrel-aged excellence this year. The mitten state has given us so much– and we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to give back, supporting local causes and businesses from our hometown of Grand Rapids, MI all the way across the Mackinaw Bridge to the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula.
For these and other reasons too numerous to count, we’re proud to say that Founders Brewing Company is Born & Brewed in Michigan since 1997.
The Early Days
Co-Founders Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers open the doors to the 9,800 square foot brewery in downtown Grand Rapids, MI. with initial hours on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The first batches of beer are brewed. Mike and Dave bartend exclusively. Taproom sales are slow and the brand struggles to find its identity. Mike and Dave’s income comes only from bartending tips.
The brewery is on the verge of bankruptcy. Dave purchases a pair of bolt cutters when the landlord threatens to lock them out if they don’t pay their rent.
Craft Brewing Catches Fire
Mike and Dave begin brewing beers they want to drink, marking a turning point for the brewery in philosophy. Complex, flavorful ales are the result. Founders leads the extreme beer movement with DirtyBastard. Jeremy Kosmicki joins the brewing team and KBS makes its draft debut shortly thereafter. Founders pioneers the bourbon barrel-aging movement and begins bottling KBS. The popularity of the brewery starts to grow. Formulation of the All Day IPA recipe begins and Jeremy Kosmicki brews the first batch.
Founders Finds its Home
Founders moved to their current location at 235 Cesar E. Chavez SW which was a former run-down trucking depot. The grand opening takes place on November 20, 2007 after years of renovations. Shortly after Founders underwent an $8 million expansion to include a new brewhouse, fermenters and kegging/bottling line in 2011. Two years later a $26 million expansion includes a new cellar, expanded brewhouse, office space, retail space and the beer garden.
Founders growth continues to skyrocket – almost doubling every year since 2007. Founders announces partnership with Spanish Brewer Mahou San Miguel. Founders completes phase one of two of its largest expansions to date. The brewery has over 340 employees dedicated to putting out the best beer possible. Founders completes phase 2 of its expansion, which includes the completion of the Barrel House, a 190,000-square-foot facility that focuses on brewing, warehousing and distributing. It also houses the bulk of the brewery’s industry-leading barrel-aging program. Founders celebrates 20 years of brewing beer.
By 2019, Founders was home to more than 500 employees and reached full national distribution in all 50 US states. The brewery continued to innovate and add to its unique and ever-evolving portfolio – launching hard seltzers, along with other new flavorful beers and variants of its popular All Day and KBS brands that quickly became fan-favorites nationwide. The partnership with Mahou San Miguel continued and in 2023, Founders announced its formal integration with Boulder, Colorado-based Avery Brewing Company and Mahou Imports in Miami, Florida – creating Mahou USA.