Man Man at Founders Fest
Grandville Avenue, Grand Rapids
June 22, 3-11 p.m.
foundersbrewing.com, (616) 776-1195
Founders makes damn good beer. That's not a secret, especially to those of us right here in West Michigan. But word has gotten out, and in the company's short 16-year history, its reach has already spread to 25 states.
And as its market has expanded, so too has its facilities. Most recently, the Grand Rapids-based brewery began work on a $26 million expansion project that includes a new cellar, beer garden, larger taproom, new offices and even a space devoted to beer education.
"The new cellar is really about accommodating existing market growth," said Founders CEO Mike Stevens of the expansion. "The brand is really starting to take off. We are adding a few new products to our brand calendar, but mostly it's slated to take care of the year round."
The business also plans to put a concerted effort toward teaching people what goes into brewing good beer with the new educational facility.
"We call it a training center," Stevens said. "We're looking as a company to get much more heavily involved in the educational side of brewing beer and understanding beer in general. We're going to do some courses, call it Beer 101. Those will all be conducted through the education center."
As Founders continues to grow, the business hasn't lost sight of the community that has helped it achieve success. So as a "thank you" to the people of the city Founders calls home, Founders Fest, an annual celebration of beer and music, will be held on Grandville Avenue in downtown Grand Rapids for the sixth consecutive year.
Among the various performers at this year's Founders Fest is Man Man, an experimental rock group out of Philadelphia, which is gearing up for the release of its fifth album, scheduled for release in August.
"We're kind of touring sparingly over the summer, waiting for when the album drops," said Frontman Ryan Kattner, who goes by the stage name Honus Honus.
But the band members are still very much excited about the handful of shows they do have scheduled for the summer.
"I get my kicks off playing live," Kattner said. "It's great to be able to share that energy with other people."
They're also looking forward to sharing the new album.
"This one is really surprising, even to us," Kattner said. "It's just an amazing record. There's a joyousness to it that was unexpected. ... Our last record was so heavy, but this one is in such a different direction."
"The dynamic was a hell of a lot different," Kattner continued. "It wasn't like making Man Man 2.0. It's an evolution."
The band has been working some of the new material into its sets, so expect to hear some new songs at the Founders Fest performance.
"Oh yes, we've been able to mix them in with our other songs," Kattner said. "It's been very well received. They're definitely jams. Man Man has never been a rock band in the conventional sense of the word, but we still rock, you know?"
Founders Fest Lineup:
G. Love & Special Sauce
Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk
Lowdown Brass Band
Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys