Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers both had steady jobs when they decided to chase their dreams and open a brewery. That meant writing a business plan, quitting their jobs and taking out giant loans. They figured if you’re going to live life, you ought to live it hard, without regrets. After some initial challenges due to making well-balanced but unremarkable beers, we were on the verge of bankruptcy.

It was at this point that we decided to brew the kind of beer that got us excited about brewing in the first place: complex, in-your-face ales, with huge aromatics, big body and tons of flavor.

Episode 1: Hopes and Drinks

Our Co-Founders Mike and Dave head back to where their friendship and mutual dream began – Holland, MI. Even though the thought of opening a brewery wouldn’t come until a few years later, both Mike and Dave developed their love of beer and bringing people together while attending Hope College. They head back to campus, visit their old student housing and go back to the bar where countless evenings were spent dreaming about what was next.

Episode 2: First Batch

Getting a brewery off the ground was no small feat and Mike and Dave learned that the hard way when brewing and packaging their first batch. Not being familiar with the equipment they were using or the space where they were using it (they worked with a contract brewer the first time around), they were in over their heads. Sleeping on the floor and showering with brewery hoses were not out of question.

Episode 3: Unfiltered

A few years into opening a brewery and things weren’t looking good for Mike and Dave. The business was nowhere near profitable, checks were bouncing and they were forced to start selling non-crucial brewing equipment to make ends meet, including the filter.

Episode 4: Brewed For Us

A couple years in and Mike and Dave were brewing beers they thought people wanted – amber ales, pale ales, wheat beer – but things were not going well. The brewery was quickly losing money and they had to make some drastic changes or they would have to close the doors.

Episode 5: Moving On Over

Our Co-Founders, Mike and Dave, have always referred to the taproom as the heart of the brewery; the place where our culture was born and still, to this day, thrives. When we found ourselves growing out of the small space we rented in the Brassworks Building in 2006, the challenge of finding a location that could accommodate our (growing) brewery size while maintaining the culture was a big one. But not impossible.

Over two decades ago, we dropped everything to chase our dreams. Some supported us. Some doubted us. Most didn’t even take notice. But by sticking to our instincts, rather than chasing trends, we were able to turn our dream into a reality. That mentality has been at the heart of Founders ever since.

We believe in living life without regret. It’s how we’ve built our brewery. It’s our mission to encourage others to live the same way.

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