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Explore The Pour July 2014 : Page 6

COVER STORY Founders Brewing Co. pioneer in Beer City, USA Extreme beer movement began in Grand Rapids By Dan Gretzner II From every bottle, can and tap, Founders Brewing Co. embodies the Michigan craft brewing spirit of providing fresh, flavorful beer for great times in the Great Lakes. But happy times weren’t always in the hops when Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers started Canal Street Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids in 1997. “The first couple years we made mainstream ambers, wheats and pales and weren’t setting the world on fire,” says Stevens, Founders CEO, who co-founded the brewery in his late 20s. “We were losing money and came to a crossroads, so we looked back at our roots. We got into this because we were homebrewers. “We started creating the beers we wanted to drink. Our first beer was Dirty Bastard, a high gravity Scotch ale. We were pioneers in the extreme beer movement, and we got great support from our community,” he says. Name change Devoted to the old brewing tradition of Grand Rapids, the first bottles displayed a black and white photo of four brewing pioneers from days gone by with the word “Founders.” Soon, locals started calling the beer Founders, rather than Canal Street Brewing Co., and history was in the making. The business officially changed to Founders Brewing Co. in 1999. “We were doing extreme beer before most were doing extreme beer,” said Stevens. “We developed high gravity beers with large hop aromas. We began bottling beer from bourbon-aged barrels and created the first session ale with our All Day IPA.” Thanks in part to popular IPAs, a bold Scotch ale and the national phenomenon Kentucky Breakfast Stout, affectionately called KBS, Founders ranks as the 26th largest craft brewery by volume in the nation and is now available in 32 states and several countries. This year, Founders began distributing beer in Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Tennessee. The brewery sold 111,000 barrels in 2013 with a goal of selling 180,000 in 2014. One barrel equals 31 gallons. ExploreThePour.com { July 2014 } 5 Photography by Jeanette Stull

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