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Founders Brewing Co. reveals expanded taproom

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Founders brews limited edition beer to help fund Art Prize

This year, Founders partnered with ArtPrize and for the next five years will be the sponsoring brewery for the annual art festival.

The brewery has released a limited edition beer especially for ArtPrize: the Inspired Artist Black IPA. The Inspired Artist Black IPA is available for a limited time on tap and bottled at various locations around Michigan. It will also be available at a variety of events during Art Prize.

Proceeds from the sale of Inspired Artist will benefit future ArtPrize programming.

 

THE FEED

Founders completes another phase of its $26 million expansion. This Monday, they unveil a larger taproom, kitchen, front porch, beer garden and company store.

Founders beer garden

Founders beer garden /Marie Orttenburger

Founders Mug Club Members raise their glasses to co-founders Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers

Founders Mug Club Members raise their glasses to co-founders Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers /Marie Orttenburger

Inspired Artist Black IPA to fund ArtPrize programming

Inspired Artist Black IPA to fund ArtPrize programming /Dan Miller

Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported

Today marks the public unveiling of Founders Brewing Company's new and expanded taproom, company store, kitchen and beer garden. The additional space will allow for more room as well as more variety in product.

The new taproom includes 40% more floor space and two bars, one of which comes from the brewery's original location at the 648 Monroe Brassworks Building into the new space. The kitchen is 30% larger, and the deli menu has expanded to include a few new dishes.

There is also more outdoor space, including an expanded front porch and a heated beer garden.

"In Michigan, we love taking advantage of the weather when we can," says Founders co-founder Dave Engbers. The brewery hopes to keep the beer garden open eight to nine months of the year. This is made possible by two large, built-in fire pits and overhead gas heaters.

The expansion also includes a much larger company store. The store includes a variety of tshirts displaying Founders label designs. You can also buy sports gear such as skis, snowboards and bike jerseys, all featuring Founders-themed designs.

There is more to come from the expansion within the year. The brewery is still working on completing their educational center on the second floor. "The Centennial Room" will be a rentable space where the brewery can host classes for wholesalers and training for employees. Eventually, the brewery also intends to make classes available to the public. If all goes well, The Centennial Room will open October this year.

The brewery will continue to expand their production facilities throughout the next few years. Additional tanks are added every couple of months, and by the time the construction is completed, the facility will have the capacity to brew 320,000 barrels annually. As the facility gains more capacity for brewing beer, Engbers says we can expect to see more variety in Founders brews.

"As we continue to grow our brand in our existing territories, you get to the point where your production is just simply filling orders," says Engbers. "So as we increase our capacity, that will allow us to be a little bit more flexible and create some more brands in the future."

"That's part of our responsibility as a brewery, to continue to push the envelope," Engbers says. "That's part of the creative process that I think got a lot of us into this business."

Last year, Founders was named the 30th largest craft brewery in the United States, and it is among the fastest-growing breweries in the country. Engbers says achieving this momentum was never in the original business plan, but the growth is welcomed.

"We're continuing to watch our brand pick up momentum, and being able to fill the orders within our existing wholesaler network is probably the most exciting part of this expansion," says Engbers.

Founders expansion isn't limited to size and scope. The renovations aim to improve consumer and employee experience as well.

"We're making improvements to our process. We're making improvements to our employees' ability to work in a great environment. In everything we do, we're trying to make our workplace safer and more efficient and to make better beer. We're constantly looking for anything we can to improve our process," Engbers says.

"We get to do what we love to do, but we couldn't do it without the support of our wholesalers, retailers and consumers," he says. "At the end of the day we want to keep making the best beer, and keep things moving forward for the craft beer industry."

 


Marie Orttenburger

I'm a student at Grand Valley State University studying English and Writing and minoring in French. I love beer and Grand Rapids, and that's why I'm covering Local Breweries for The Rapidian.

Reports on: Local Breweries

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