While in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on June 29, 2012, I had the pleasure of touring a couple of local breweries. Founders was the first one I tried and was quite a place. While not located in the heart of downtown, it is a very easy walk (10 minutes if you're strolling along at a snail's pace). The brewery came as a high recommendation from several of the locals, with good reason.
There is a large outdoor patio area, partially enclosed by a flourishing hop hops garden, that invites patrons to enjoy their beer in the open air. Especially a nice touch since the patio faces east, allowing for maximum cool-down time before beer-thirty has arrived.
There are indoor and outdoor speakers, which blasted a great mix of tunes for the eclectic listener. I was immediately blessed by Waylon and Willie doing their infamous duo of "Luckenbach, Texas." Much as the fine folks of the aforementioned city, it wasn't long before I was "feeling no pain." While the jukebox quickly moved along to anything from classic rock to newer alternative rock like Spoon, I decided to cool my heals and stay for a few.
The bar area is large and very open with plenty of tables and a stage at the far end. I later discovered their extensive live music offerings while draining my store of used beer at the urinal.
The bar area is fully equipped with a restaurant shelling out some great smells and fine looking reubens, among other sandwiches, all named after specific beers on the menu.
Off to the side, they also have a well-stocked store with lots of fine souvenirs displaying the Founders logo.
Everything available here is brewed by Founders. Some might consider this a disadvantage to a brew pub, but the selection here is great and has something for any and every palate.
The Breakfast Stout came highly recommended. Word on the street was that it had been ranked somewhere as the #3 best beer in the world. I can't speak to the accuracy of that statement, as it was a seasonal and not available.
I had partaken in one of their Centennial IPA's (7.2%) earlier in the day at a downtown bar. I'm very much a hop-head, so I typically stick with the IPA's whenever available. This was definitely a good brew that I will look for in beer stores moving forward.
Having already taken care of the regular IPA and being originally from Texas, I quickly turned my sites to the Double Trouble IPA (9.2% and a double IPA that I'd like to believe was named after Stevie Ray Vaughan's back-up band). This hop-heavy and very strong brew packs just as much flavor and punch as SRV's guitar riffs.
Not to be outdone by it's weaker little brothers, the Devil Dancer Triple IPA (12%) was my final beer at the brewery and a very zig-zag walk back to my downtown hotel. While more sweet that it's younger siblings, the heavenly hops flavor was still ever-present. A nice way to cap off a great day in Grand Rapids.
Go. Go. Go. I highly recommend this to any brewery lover. A great experience and some wonderful beers. Very friendly staff (Melissa and Mountain Man Gabriel) to help serve me for a great time.