Founders Brewing Company

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Founders Brewing Company
Founders logo.png
LocationGrand Rapids, Michigan
Opened1997 (1997)
Key peopleDave Engbers
Mike Stevens
Annual production volume193,356 Barrels (as of 2014)[1]
Active beers
Name Type
All Day IPA India Pale Ale
Centennial IPA India pale ale
Dirty Bastard Scotch ale
Nitro Oatmeal Stout Oatmeal stout
Nitro Pale Ale American pale ale
Pale Ale American pale ale
Rubaeus Fruit beer
Porter Porter
Red's Rye IPA Rye beer
Solid Gold Lager
Seasonal beers
Name Type
Black Rye Rye beer
Breakfast Stout Imperial stout
Other beers
Name Type
Dark Penance Black IPA
Imperial Stout Russian imperial stout
Curmudgeon Old Ale Old ale
Double Trouble Imperial IPA
Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) Imperial stout
Devil Dancer Imperial IPA
Harvest Ale American pale ale
Backwoods Bastard Scotch ale

Canal Street Brewing Co., L.L.C.,[2] doing business as Founders Brewing Company,[3] is a brewery in Grand Rapids, Michigan, known for producing several highly rated craft-style ales. Since its founding in the mid 1990s, it has grown to become the 15th largest brewery in the United States,[4] and a prominent member of the West Michigan brewing industry.


Canal Street Brewing Company was organized in 1996 as John Pannell Brewing Company by Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers,[5] who began operation and changed the company's name to Canal Street Brewing Co. in 1997.[6][7] Stevens and Engbers were homebrewing enthusiasts who had recently graduated from college.[8] The brewery got its name from a part of Grand Rapids where, in the 19th century, several breweries were located on Canal Street (Monroe Avenue). The beer bottle's label originally included an old black and white photo of the original Canal Street breweries with the word "Founders" above it. Thus, the company became known as Founders Brewing Company.[7]

Since the mid-2000s, Founders has become one of the most prominent breweries in Michigan, expanding its market to 37 states and its production capacity to 340,000 barrels per year.[9][10] Founders was the 30th largest U.S. craft brewery by sales volume in 2012, and 41st largest U.S. brewery by sales volume in 2012.[11] By 2014, Founders had climbed to the 17th largest craft brewery based on sales volume and the 23rd largest overall.[12] In 2014, Founders announced another expansion, this one $35 million, to double the production capacity at its Grand Rapids facility. When the expansion is complete, Founder's says it will be able to produce 900,000 barrels per year.[13]

As of 2013, two of its beers, Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) and Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS), were ranked among BeerAdvocate's top 10 beers, with CBS ranked as the 4th best beer in the world by user review.[14] In a 2013 poll, listed Founders as the 3rd best brewery in the world overall;[15] Founders was 2nd place in 2011 and 2012.[16] In April 2010, Founders won four medals at the World Beer Cup in Chicago, Illinois,[17] and the brewery went on to win two more medals at Denver's Great American Beer Festival in September of that year.[18] The brewery also won an award at the 2012 World Beer Cup in San Diego, California.[19]

In December 2014, Founders Brewing Company re-released Blushing Monk, an experimental Belgian-style raspberry ale, which had not been brewed since 2011.[20] That same month, Founders announced that Mahou San Miguel had purchased a 30% minority stake in the business.[21] This makes Founders no longer a craft brewery, by the Brewers Association definition, as it requires that craft breweries not be more than 25% owned by a macro-brewery.


Founders produces eight year-round beers and several seasonal and limited production beers.[22] Throughout the course of the year, Founder's produces a large number of other beers that can be had at their Taproom and beer festivals.[23]

Founder's Beers
Name Style ABV % IBU Notes
All Day IPA India Pale Ale 4.7 42 Year-round
Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale 8.5 50 Year-round
Centennial IPA India Pale Ale 7.2 65 Year-round
Solid Gold Lager 4.5 20 Year-round
Pale Ale American Pale Ale 5.4 35 Year-round
Rubaeus Fruit beer 5.7 15 Year-round
Porter American Porter 6.5 45 Year-round
Red's Rye IPA Rye 6.6 70 Year-round draft only
Nitro Oatmeal Stout Oatmeal Stout 4.5 38 Year-round draft only
Nitro Pale Ale American Pale Ale 5.4 35 Year-round draft only
Black Rye Rye 7.5 78 Seasonal
Breakfast Stout American Imperial Stout 8.3 60 Seasonal
Dark Penance American Black Ale 8.9 100 Specialty
Imperial Stout Russian Imperial Stout 10.5 75 Specialty
Curmudgeon Old Ale Old ale 9.8 50 Specialty
Double Trouble American Imperial IPA 9.4 86 Specialty
Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) American Imperial Stout 11.2 70 Limited
Devil Dancer American Imperial IPA 12.0 112 Limited
Harvest Ale American IPA 7.6 70 Limited
Backwoods Bastard Scotch Ale 11.2 50 Year-round

The Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) is the most sought-after beer brewed by Founders. KBS is an American Imperial Stout with a high ABV (11.2%). Brewed with coffee and chocolate, the beer is left to age in bourbon barrels under the city in old gypsum mines. Each year Founders celebrates the release during what has become known as KBS Week.[24][25][26] The "regular" Breakfast Stout is a seasonal American Imperial Stout with wider availability. They are also releasing the Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS) in December 1, 2017, the first time since 2011.[27]


Overlooking the brewing facilities, the Founders taproom allows customers a look into where beer production occurs and offers many beers on draft that are only available at the tap room. The offering of specialty beers and live music four times a week has helped make the taproom a staple in the Grand Rapids community and a destination for travelers. The deli menu consists mainly of handcrafted sandwiches, which are made using bread from a local bakery.[28][29]

On December 4, 2017 Founders opened a 14,000 -square-foot brewery, restaurant, and taproom in Detroit. The taproom largely serves beers made in Grand Rapids, with some brews available exclusively at the Detroit location, which has a four-barrel brewing facility that can produce about eight kegs a week.[30]

Founders Fest[edit]

Each June, the company organizes a festival known as Founders Fest. The street in front of the brewery is closed down and blocked off for the event. National, regional, and local acts take the stage, local food vendors and artists have booths. Each year more than 5,000 people attend the festival. Past acts have included Nahko and Medicine for the People, Soulive, Toubab Krewe, That 1 Guy, Galactic, Chicago Afrobeat Project, and The Crane Wives[31][32]


  1. ^ "Founders leads craft brewers in Michigan into second stage of industry's development". Crain's Detroit Business. Retrieved 2016-11-20.
  2. ^ "Limited Liability Company Details-Canal Street Brewing Co., L.L.C." Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
  3. ^ "Assumed Names-Canal Street Brewing Co., L.L.C." Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
  4. ^ Stoller, Gary. "Craft Breweries Dominate The Top 50, But Guess Which Giants Rule The Beer Market". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-02-10.
  5. ^ "Articles of Organization-Canal St. Brewing Co., L.L.C." Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
  6. ^ "Certificate of Amendment to the Articles of Organization". Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  7. ^ a b Anders, Melissa (April 28, 2013). "What's in a name? Here are the stories behind Biggby, Zingerman's, Founders, Faygo, Domino's". The Flint Journal. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  8. ^ Garret Ellison (2012-10-05). "How flirting with bankruptcy forged Founders Brewing Co. into a craft beer industry titan".
  9. ^ Garret Ellison (2014-09-30). "With $35 million expansion, Founders Brewing targets national brand status".
  10. ^ John Serba (2015-09-16). "Founders Brewing adds California, Nevada to distribution map".
  11. ^ Brewers Association (2013-04-10). "Brewers Association Releases Top 50 Breweries of 2012". Retrieved 2013-05-15.
  12. ^ Brewers Association (2015-03-31). "Brewers Association Lists Top 50 Breweries of 2014".
  13. ^ (2014-09-30). "With $35 million expansion, Founders Brewing targets national brand status".
  14. ^ "Top 250 Beers". BeerAdvocate. Retrieved 2013-05-13.
  15. ^ "ratebeer best 2010". Retrieved 2013-03-08.
  16. ^ "ratebeer best 2011". Retrieved 2013-03-08.
  17. ^ Grand Rapids Press File Photo. "Founders Brewing Company wins four awards at the 2010 World Beer Cup in Chicago". Retrieved 2013-03-08.
  18. ^ "GABF Winners « Great American Beer Festival". Retrieved 2013-03-08.
  19. ^ Garret Ellison (2012-05-02). "Founders, Detroit-area breweries take top honors at biennial World Beer Cup". Retrieved 2013-05-15.
  20. ^ Evans, Pat Brewery re-releases experimental beer. "Grand Rapids Business Journal". December 12, 2014
  21. ^ "Mahou trae Founders a España" [Mahou brings Founders to Spain] (in Spanish). 2015-11-16. Retrieved 2016-04-25.
  22. ^ "Founder's Brewing, Our Beer"
  23. ^ "Founder's Brewing", RateBeer.
  24. ^ "KBS Week". Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  25. ^ Garret Ellison (January 15th, 2015). "Founders Brewing sets KBS Week 2015 dates: Where to find a keg tapping", Retrieved October 23rd, 2015.
  26. ^ Garret Ellison (March 18th, 2014). "The KBS story: How a barrel-aged stout became a craft beer phenomenon", Retrieved October 23rd, 2015.
  27. ^
  28. ^ "Deli Menu | Founders Brewing Co". Retrieved 2013-03-08.
  29. ^ [1] Archived October 16, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ "Founders Detroit Taproom". Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  31. ^ John Serba (2015-04-15). "Founders Fest 2015: Music lineup, ticket details available".
  32. ^ John Gonzales (2012-06-18). "Gonzo's Top 5: Founders Fest 2012, The Jacksons Unity Tour, Kalamazoo's Irish Festival and more!".

External links[edit]