Founded: 1994, Grand Rapids
In the beginning, there almost was no Founders. The brewery that tops our list was on the verge of bankruptcy in its early years until they decided that instead of catering to popular taste, they would brew "complex, in-your-face ales, with huge aromatics, bigger body, and tons of flavor," and if folks didn’t like it, so what? They did, and the decision has paid off handsomely with a bunch of accolades, not the least of which is snagging the top spot in this list by a substantial margin.
Key Beers: All Day IPA, Backwoods Bastard, Harvest Ale, Porter, Kentucky Breakfast Stout
Here's how we awarded the points:
Awards for individual beers
Each beer in the Beer Advocate 250 or RateBeer 100: 3pts
Medals in The Great American Beer Festival or World Beer Cup since 2004: 3pts Gold, 2pts Silver, 1pt Bronze
Recognition for breweries overall
Prominent outlets have published Best Breweries in America lists of different lengths, so we awarded 10 points for a top-10 finish, 9 points for an 11-20 finish, and so forth (no list is longer than 100) for appearances on recent best brewery lists from RateBeer, Paste, and The Daily Meal.