The second largest craft brewer in the state is about to embark on its third expansion project at its Grandville Avenue site in Grand Rapids.
The company is seeking approval to build an approximately 9,000-square-foot, two-story addition to the brewery off the north side of its existing facility. The addition will be used for extra production space and will not add to the company’s taproom and restaurant.
“All we’re doing is adding more cellar space for the fermentation process of our beers,” said Sarah Aldrich, marketing coordinator for Founders. “Right now, that is basically our biggest bottleneck in our ability to produce more beer.”
By adding the space for brewing operations, Founders would lose about 27 parking spaces west of the building. With the brewery continuing to grow, the company said it needs the extra space for new brewing equipment. The expansion is an effort to fulfill increased demand, according to documents submitted to the Grand Rapids Planning Commission.
“There are much bigger plans to come,” Aldrich said. “This is just very basic, making the production facility bigger.”
Founders has submitted plans to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. for consideration of a business incentive. The company hopes to get word from the state in the next 30 days, she said.
In June of last year, the planning commission approved a 4,000-square-foot expansion of the building, which followed a previous $6.6 million expansion of the brew house and taproom that took place in the summer of 2010.
In August of last year, the company brought the first CombiCube B brewhouse system to North America and started brewing on it in the fall. The system is fully automated and was customized to replicate the brewery’s old system. The company also modernized its bottling operation (which can now bottle 750-mL glass bottles), fermentation and storage cellars.
Over the summer, Founders also started distribution to a handful of new states, including Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire and upstate New York.
In anticipation of the brewery’s upcoming 15th anniversary, the company recently celebrated with the release of its 15 percent ABV barley wine, dubbed Bolt Cutter. The beverage pays homage to when the brewery was in financial trouble early on and the bank threatened to chain brewery’s doors, prompting co-owner Dave Engbers to buy a set of bolt cutters just in case.