Founders Brewing Co. was started by Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers serving basic beer styles in their taproom in Michigan. From 1997 to 2001 they struggled to survive but a change of direction proved to be pivotal. They gave up brewing ‘beer for the masses’ in favour of styles they wanted to drink – a “Brewed For Us” motto that still stands today.
Embracing the ‘extreme beer movement’ their breakthrough beers were Dirty Bastard – an 8.5% Scotch Ale – and the Bourbon barrel-aged KSB. The latter was rated 2nd best beer in the world by Beer Advocate in 2004.
Popularity and growth necessitated a move to their current location in Grand Rapids in 2007 with production increasing to over 6000 barrels.
2009 saw the creation of All Day IPA by head brewer Jeremy Kosmicki, followed by RateBeer ranking Founders as second of the world’s top breweries for two consecutive years – 2011 and 2012.
The following decade of continual growth has seen phases of great investment and expansion, most significantly a specialist brewing site and barrel house making Founders the largest brewer of barrel-aged beers.
Founders have scored the most 100 point beers on RateBeer and were listed by them as 7th Best Brewery in the World 2020.