Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Founders Finds Continued Growth in Local Brewing Operation

Just a little more than two years after moving into its new brewing facility on Grandville Avenue in downtown Grand Rapids, Founders Brewing Company is reporting significant, on-going growth.

Prior to the move in 2007, Founders employed 19 people in its 8000-square-foot facility, with a production capacity of 5000 barrels. The move to the current 27,000-square-foot facility meant an increase to more than 70 employees and five times the production to 30,000 barrels. In fact, barrel production for 2009 was up 72% and President Mike Stevens couldn’t be happier.

“We’re seeing significant growth in our existing markets up 63%, which is a good sign of brand strength. With the addition of a couple new markets, we are now distributing Founders brands in 15 states,” Stevens says. “In addition, local support and growth, have been a strong contributor to our successes as well, without it Founders would not be the brewery it is today.”

Distributors for Founders are also pleased with the growth of the brand, especially those in Michigan.

“Founders is Michigan’s hottest growth brewery two years running…with un-precedent percentage growth not seen in my tenure here at Rave,” says Rick Lack, Vice President of Rave & Associates in Ann Arbor – which is reporting a 92% increase in brand sales for 2009. “Creative beer styles, capacity upgrades and package improvements … plus great brewers and awesome people will get you this type of growth. Founders is on fire!”

Founders Brewing Company has been a part of the Grand Rapids scene since 1997 and Kent Beverage has been there every step of the way.

“Our success with the Founders brand has a lot to do with their ability to provide a consistent quality beer that meets the needs of the diverse palate of the craft beer consumer,” says Shannon Gary, Craft Brand Manager at Kent Beverage in Grand Rapids, who reports a 42% increase in brand sales for 2009. “Founders consistently offers great beer at a great value for the craft enthusiast”

While 2009 was a banner year, Stevens expects 2010 to exceed those numbers. The recent addition of five 200-barrel tanks means Founders is now pushing a production level of nearly about 30,000 barrels which translates to $10 million in revenue (up from $1.8 million at the close of 2007).

“We are proud of how we’ve grown over the past 13 years to become not just a local name but a serious contender on the regional and national craft brewing scene,” says Stevens. “Our crew is making some of the best beer in America and that is reflective in the continued growth we’re seeing in the local, state and regional marketplace.”

Currently Founders ranks as the #4 highest rated microbrewery in the world according to industry polls found on Ratebeer.com


Friday, February 12, 2010

Record Number of Craft Brewers Gather to Mock Winter at February 27 Winter Beer Festival at Fifth Third Ballpark

Chill Out at 2010 Michigan Winter Beer Festival

Record Number of Craft Brewers Gather to Mock Winter
at February 27 Outdoor Festival at Fifth Third Ballpark

* * * Tickets Selling Fast – Sell Out Expected Once Again * * *

Attendees at the 2010 Michigan Winter Beer Festival will find more craft brewers than ever before – with about 50 signed up to showcase 300-plus craft beers from around the state. Sponsored by the Michigan Brewers Guild (MBG), the fifth annual event runs from Noon to 5pm on Saturday, February 27, at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, just north of downtown Grand Rapids.

Tickets for the Michigan Winter Beer festival – which include admission and 15 tasting tokens – are $35 each in advance and are available online at www.michiganbrewersguild.org, at the Fifth Third Ballpark box office and at participating Guild member breweries and select retail outlets (see the MASH for outlets). The event undoubtedly will sell out, as it did the past two years. If any tickets remain, they will be available at the gate the day of, for $40 each.

“We still expect to sell out this year, even with a 25% increase in available tickets,” says Scott Graham, Executive Director of the Michigan Brewers Guild. “Advanced ticket sales are tracking way ahead of last year already. That says a lot about our reputation for providing a quality entertainment option for Michigan craft beer lovers.”

MBG Enthusiast Members are admitted at 11am, one hour before the general public. Enthusiast membership is $25 per year and may be purchased online at www.michiganbrewersguild.org/beernut.asp. Benefits include discounts at participating membership brewpubs, a free t-shirt proclaiming your Michigan Beer Nuttiness and VIP status at our various festivals with early admission.

“We’re excited to be back in Grand Rapids for our winter celebration,” Graham says. “This year, we’re again setting up in the right field parking lot with a series of tents, an entertainment stage, a food tent and a bonfire to help keep everyone warm – weather permitting.”

Special entertainment for the 2010 Winter Festival includes the Chicago-style blues band Hank Mowery and the Hawktones (www.hawktones.com), who will take to the stage first, followed by the rock / soul / funk sounds of Four Finger Five (www.myspace.com/fourfingerfive)

The Festival will be held in the outfield parking lot at the ballpark, as it was last year, and breweries will be located within several large tents. The tents, combined with body heat will help take the edge off the temperature. Keep in mind, this is an outdoor event and that you should dress accordingly. Hats, mittens, boots and long-johns are recommended to keep you warm. We are planning to have a central bonfire, but only if the weather cooperates with low wind conditions.

It would be helpful if everyone could hoist a Michigan beer and do a fair weather dance. We are hoping for good weather for a late February day in Michigan, but the Festival will take place snow, rain or shine.

Michigan’s thriving brewing industry contributes over $24 million in wages with a total economic contribution of more than $133 million. In terms of overall number or breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #6 in the nation – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.”

The Michigan Brewers Guild exists to unify the Michigan brewing community; to increase sales of Michigan-brewed beer through promotions, marketing, public awareness and consumer education; and to monitor and assure a healthy beer industry within the state. For more information, including a list of Michigan microbreweries and brewpubs, log on to www.michiganbrewersguild.org.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

WGVU and D&W Fresh Market present The Great Wine & Food Symposium

On Friday, February 26 from 7:30 – 10 p.m., WGVU and D&W Fresh Market present West Michigan’s premier wine tasting event at The Grand Rapids Public Museum.

Guests will choose from more than 300 wine selections from around the world and tempt their tastes with gourmet food samples provided by D&W Fresh Market as classical piano music drifts through the halls. The event also includes 20-40% discounts on wines ordered during the evening.

Our wine tasting events often sell out before the event date, so patrons are encouraged to reserve their tickets soon at wgvu.org or by calling 800-442-2771. Tickets are available in advance for $50 per person; if any tickets remain, they will be available for $60 per person at the door. WGVU members who give annually at the $50 level or above may purchase tickets to The Great Wine & Food Symposium for only $40 until Friday, February 12. Guests must be 21 years or older to attend and present a valid ID. Tickets are non-refundable.

Special hotel packages, including a pair of tickets to the event, are available at the JW Marriott. Each package also includes breakfast for two and parking - stay in a standard room for $249 or on the concierge level for $319 (plus tax). To purchase an event package, contact The JW Marriott at 616-242-1500.

The Great Wine & Food Symposium is sponsored in part by Broadway Grand Rapids, Centennial Securities, Mason Street Warehouse and My Auto Imports.

WGVU's continued mission is to provide educational, informative, and entertaining programs and events to the West Michigan community as a service of Grand Valley State University.