Bastogne — a Walloon municipality of Belgium located in the province of Luxembourg.
Bastone — a Belgian-inspired brewery and restaurant located in the City of Royal Oak.
For 11 years, Bastone has anchored itself on the corner of 5th and Main, providing patrons with Belgian brews, delicious food and a comfortable atmosphere.
During its run, the brewery has racked up countless awards on an annual basis for its products. Yet, despite all of its acclaim, Bastone flies relatively under the radar when it comes to Michigan breweries.
“People who are beer enthusiasts know who we are, but I don’t think the general public knew us as a brewery,” said General Manager John Sleamon. “Our brewery is in the basement. There’s no window where you can see the brewing so, a lot of people don’t know we’re a brewery. They just think we’re some Belgian place.”
That “Belgian place” is not only one locale, but technically four establishments all housed under one roof. In addition to Bastone, you will find dance club Craft, wine bar Vinotecca and Belgian beer bar Monk. Throughout all four of the locations, Bastone beers are readily available for patrons.
There is one man solely responsible for all of the beers produced at Bastone: Brewmaster Rockne Van Meter.
With prior experience from his time at Big Buck in Auburn Hills and Rochester Mills in Rochester, Van Meter now flies solo at Bastone and has been with the brewery since 2005.
This year, he and Bastone will be responsible for producing around 600 barrels.
“This brewery is very hands-on and I’m also the only one who works in the brewery,” Van Meter said. “So, for me, 600 barrels a year is a good amount to make especially when dealing with open fermentation, Belgian styles, American styles and lagers. It also affords me the time and effort I need to focus on quality.”
Quality that comes through a variety of styles, all of which are determined by Van Meter.
“We had a set list of menu beers that were in place when I started, except for our Triple which was added later,” he said. “The seasonal beers I brew are for the most part, beers I want to drink or try my hand at making. I am the sole decision maker when it comes to what seasonal beers to make, and also on the recipes for our menu beers.”
Sleamon said Bastone is focused on three main things: “Good beer, good food and good service.”
With any great beer offerings, pairing them with food is equally as important. Coming out of its 100% fresh kitchen, some of the most popular menu items are steamed mussels, pomme frites and the steak sandwich, according to Sleamon.
In addition to keeping his focus on the mainstay brews, Van Meter isn’t afraid to try different things or make improvements.
“If I feel something needs to change in one of our menu beers, then the change is made. I’m given a lot of freedom to do what I do,” he said.
While changes and improvements are welcome, the rules are bent, not broken.
“I haven’t and will not however, change a beer from what I know to be stylistically correct and change it to meet an individual’s expectations,” Van Meter said.
Bastone has grown quite comfortable in its 11 year stint in Royal Oak. Sleamon credits the city the brewery resides in as a large part of its success.
“There’s a lot of energy in this place,” he said. “Royal Oak is a great town and has a lot of great things going for it.”
As the city around Bastone is constantly changing, Van Meter plans on continuing the established quality associated with the Bastone name and keeping it simple moving forward.
“Keep on making beer,” Van Meter said. “I’m not trying to make the most beer or anything like that. So I guess I’d really just like to see it get better than it was yesterday and is today.”