Founders To Grow At Brass Works

October 6, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — The Founders Brewing Co. is closing, but only temporarily.

Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers, owners of the popular brewery and pub in the BrassWorksBuilding at

648 Monroe Ave. NW
, will be shutting the business down for a few days in the next two to four weeks to begin renovations.

"We're actually going to be expanding the tap room," said Stevens, president of Founders Brewing. "We're putting about a $50,000 investment into the tap room."

The east wall that leads into the bottling room will be pushed back a bit so a stage can be built there to accommodate the musical entertainment that Founders has become known for over the past five years. When there isn't live music, Stevens said, the new space will give the tap room more seats.

The plan also includes expanding the kitchen in order to have munchies available for customers day and night.

"It's kind of hard to sit down here at night and drink 10 percent beer without putting something in your belly," Stevens said with a laugh.

"We're going to be doing a bit more with seating and we're going to give everything a fresh coat of paint."

Founders Brewing recently extended its lease at Brass Works for two more years and has 6,000 more square feet to work with than it had last month. The additional square footage gives the brewery enough room to install new brewing tanks and double its brewing capacity to 8,000 barrels annually.

"The tanks are being fabricated specifically for us because of our ceiling height requirements. So we won't take delivery of the tanks until December, and 2007 is when we will really start seeing that extra capacity come to fruition," said Stevens.

Founders Brewery had intended to move into the Imperial Metals building at

301-303 Ionia Ave. NW
, a structure that is being renovated by the Irish Twins Group LLC. The brewery had planned to buy 15,000 square feet in the building, but difficulties in getting the deal financed nixed the move.

But at Brass Works, where the business has been located for the past 10 years, Founders now has a total of 17,000 square feet.

"It's really going to allow us to kind of proof the business out, so to speak. We've got two more years on this lease," said Stevens. "In those two years, we will really be able to ramp up our production, and then probably make a move once this lease is done. That's the plan."    

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