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craft beer stroll

Royal Oak is recognized as a destination for great entertainment, dining and drink. To understand all the reasons why might seem a lofty endeavor.

But once a year, the Royal Oak Restaurant Association makes it easy to take it all in during one afternoon.

craft beer strollThis is the seventh year the restaurants of downtown Royal Oak have collaborated to showcase both the town’s dining and Michigan’s craft beer for the Michigan Craft Beer Stroll, which will take place October 14, 2017 from 12-5 p.m.

“Over 20 downtown Royal Oak restaurants will offer a sample of food along with a sample of Michigan craft beer,” said Stephanie McIntyre, who is producing the event for the Royal Oak Restaurant Association. “Guests go from location to location, taste their samples and stroll around downtown Royal Oak.”

For $40 in advance and $50 the day of, participants can claim samples from all 23 restaurants while walking around downtown Royal Oak. No two locations will have the same Michigan beer, and the food selections are just as diverse.

“I think it’s a really great opportunity for folks to, in one day, get a taste of really great Michigan beer without having to commit to a pint at each place,” said Bob Morton, co-owner of Lily’s Seafood Grill & Brewery. “You can sample a little bit of all of these beers and still be able to walk at the end of the day.”

The stroll is also a perfect way to experience the versatility of craft beer as a complement to quality cuisine, Morton said. Lily’s Seafood Grill & Brewery is serving a choice between its house-brewed Pilsner, Marzen and Stout alongside chocolate stout cupcakes.

A lot of people might not think to pair beer with dessert, Morton said, or there may be a guest who never drinks a stout because they have a misconception of what darker beer tastes like.

“We’re going to take advantage of that opportunity to maybe broaden their horizons and educate their palates a little bit,” Morton said.

The Michigan Craft Beer Stroll celebrates Michigan’s rich craft beer culture, but it has increasingly become a celebration of Royal Oak. The event encourages people to join up with friends and walk from eatery to eatery. While they’re taking in great food and beer, they’re also taking in the town of Royal Oak.

craft beer stroll

And a few of the participating restaurants, like Lily’s, brew their own beer or will be featuring beer brewed in Royal Oak.

Royal Oak Brewery, for example, has been brewing beer in town since the ‘90s and has participated in the Craft Beer Stroll every year.

“We’ve been championing craft beer since September 1995, and any chance we get to do it, we jump at,” said Tim Selewski, general manager of Royal Oak Brewery. “For us, it’s a really easy decision to be a part of something like this.”

The event isn’t just for those interested in beer, though.

“Beer lovers, food lovers and just entertainment lovers in general will all find a rewarding experience in coming to Royal Oak and taking part in the Craft Beer Stroll,” Morton said.

The Royal Oak Restaurant Association puts on the Michigan Craft Beer Stroll with the intent of donating proceeds to a local nonprofit.

“It’s something that they always incorporate into all of their events,” said McIntyre. “It’s just a really important part of giving back to the community that supports them throughout the year by eating and drinking and hanging out at their restaurants.”

McIntyre said these events usually result in a $10,000 donation to the chosen nonprofit. Over their many years of engagement, the Royal Oak Restaurant Association has donated over $250,000 to nonprofits in the Royal Oak area, McIntyre said.

This year’s proceeds will go to Detroit Dog Rescue, an organization with the mission of creating a state-of-the-art no kill animal shelter in Detroit.

Those who’ve participated in the event in the past say it’s a spectacle to see.

“This event blows me away every year,” Selewski said.

“It’s a cool thing to be down in Royal Oak the day of the event, because you’ll just see these groups of happy people, roaming from place to place,” McIntyre said.

“They’re roaming around town in these packs and they’re having a blast,” Selewski said. “They’re laughing, enjoying the food and checking out these places they haven’t tried before.”

That’s what the Michigan Craft Beer Stroll accomplishes for Royal Oak: exposure to the sheer variety of experiences the town has to offer.

“You could come here every day and have a totally different experience,” Morton said. “The beer stroll is a great way to experience that diversity in one day.”

Attendees are encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance at Eventbrite.com.

 

Sponsored by the Royal Oak Restaurant Association 

 

Royal Oak is recognized as a destination for great entertainment, dining and drink. To understand all the reasons why might seem a lofty endeavor.
But once a year, the Royal Oak Restaurant Association makes it easy to take it all in during one afternoon.
craft beer strollThis is the seventh year the restaurants of downtown Royal Oak have collaborated to showcase both the town’s dining and Michigan’s craft beer for the Michigan Craft Beer Stroll, which will take place October 14, 2017 from 12-5 p.m.
“Over 20 downtown Royal Oak restaurants will offer a sample of food along with a sample of Michigan craft beer,” said Stephanie McIntyre, who is producing the event for the Royal Oak Restaurant Association. “Guests go from location to location, taste their samples and stroll around downtown Royal Oak.”
For $40 in advance and $50 the day of, participants can claim samples from all 23 restaurants while walking around downtown Royal Oak. No two locations will have the same Michigan beer, and the food selections are just as diverse.
“I think it’s a really great opportunity for folks to, in one day, get a taste of really great Michigan beer without having to commit to a pint at each place,” said Bob Morton, co-owner of Lily’s Seafood Grill & Brewery. “You can sample a little bit of all of these beers and still be able to walk at the end of the day.”
The stroll is also a perfect way to experience the versatility of craft beer as a complement to quality cuisine, Morton said. Lily’s Seafood Grill & Brewery is serving a choice between its house-brewed Pilsner, Marzen and Stout alongside chocolate stout cupcakes.
A lot of people might not think to pair beer with dessert, Morton said, or there may be a guest who never drinks a stout because they have a misconception of what darker beer tastes like.
“We’re going to take advantage of that opportunity to maybe broaden their horizons and educate their palates a little bit,” Morton said.
The Michigan Craft Beer Stroll celebrates Michigan’s rich craft beer culture, but it has increasingly become a celebration of Royal Oak. The event encourages people to join up with friends and walk from eatery to eatery. While they’re taking in great food and beer, they’re also taking in the town of Royal Oak.
craft beer stroll
And a few of the participating restaurants, like Lily’s, brew their own beer or will be featuring beer brewed in Royal Oak.
Royal Oak Brewery, for example, has been brewing beer in town since the ‘90s and has participated in the Craft Beer Stroll every year.
“We’ve been championing craft beer since September 1995, and any chance we get to do it, we jump at,” said Tim Selewski, general manager of Royal Oak Brewery. “For us, it’s a really easy decision to be a part of something like this.”
The event isn’t just for those interested in beer, though.
“Beer lovers, food lovers and just entertainment lovers in general will all find a rewarding experience in coming to Royal Oak and taking part in the Craft Beer Stroll,” Morton said.
The Royal Oak Restaurant Association puts on the Michigan Craft Beer Stroll with the intent of donating proceeds to a local nonprofit.
“It’s something that they always incorporate into all of their events,” said McIntyre. “It’s just a really important part of giving back to the community that supports them throughout the year by eating and drinking and hanging out at their restaurants.”


McIntyre said these events usually result in a $10,000 donation to the chosen nonprofit. Over their many years of engagement, the Royal Oak Restaurant Association has donated over $250,000 to nonprofits in the Royal Oak area, McIntyre said.
This year’s proceeds will go to Detroit Dog Rescue, an organization with the mission of creating a state-of-the-art no kill animal shelter in Detroit.
Those who’ve participated in the event in the past say it’s a spectacle to see.
“This event blows me away every year,” Selewski said.
“It’s a cool thing to be down in Royal Oak the day of the event, because you’ll just see these groups of happy people, roaming from place to place,” McIntyre said.
“They’re roaming around town in these packs and they’re having a blast,” Selewski said. “They’re laughing, enjoying the food and checking out these places they haven’t tried before.”
That’s what the Michigan Craft Beer Stroll accomplishes for Royal Oak: exposure to the sheer variety of experiences the town has to offer.
“You could come here every day and have a totally different experience,” Morton said. “The beer stroll is a great way to experience that diversity in one day.”
Attendees are encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance at Eventbrite.com.
 
Sponsored by the Royal Oak Restaurant Association 
 

Roak

Everything about ROAK Brewing Company screams rock and roll—from the décor, to the music, to the names of the beer. For an old rock chick like me, this was a sure fire hit mix.

RoakOwner John Leone says that the rock theme was accidental. “We were starting to make up names for beers, and it’s harder than you might think. You think you have the best name, but someone else has done it,” Leone explains. Then he realized that musicians have been drawing influences from music for ages, and so he decided to do the same. In his case, the influences mostly come from the realm of classic rock. “Sometimes I’m inspired by an album cover, sometimes it’s lyrics,” Leone says. “I go to my brewers with my vision, we hammer it out, and find the path to head down” towards great beer.

Leone says that, like classic rock songwriters, there sometimes is “creative tension in the process between (brewers) Brandon (MacClaren) and Adam (Stout). But if we were all happy and agreeing, we wouldn’t get that final end product. Creative tension pushes us, makes the best possible beer, and we are only going to get better.”

While not everyone picks up on the rock theme right away, there have been many compliments on the taproom and its song list. I heard some great rock songs while at ROAK one fine Sunday afternoon. Through the magic of my imagination, I have made them fit nicely with my experience.

Seeing Things (for the First Time)

The first time I heard the Black Crowes, I was a freshman in college and just starting to listen to music that wasn’t what my friends and parents listened to. I knew immediately that I would love that band, and I did. Similarly, the first time I walked into ROAK, I took a gander at the huge chandelier, the dramatic color scheme, and the beer selection and immediately knew I would love the brewpub. And I did!

“Roak” means “smoke” in Dutch, and where there’s smoke there’s fire—or in this case, very excellent atmosphere. The deep reds and blacks put me in the mind of the best rock video—edgy, yet cool. And a great place to enjoy some good beer.

Roak

The Weight

In this song, The Band implores us to take a load off—and that’s exactly what we did. My friends and I kicked back and ordered the soft pretzel appetizers and three different personal pizzas. Beer cheese and hot mustard accompanied the pretzel, which was nice and soft on the inside without being soggy or too doughy. All of the pizzas were a hit, too. The ROAK deluxe included pepperoni, mushrooms, peppers, and onions, the Carne piled on the meat, and the Arrostito offered a variety of vegetables from Portobello mushrooms to baby squash. The crust was crunchy, the cheese was delicious, and the toppings were all outstanding.

Sometimes brewpubs really strike out on the food, but that was not the case at ROAK. My usual standard is whether I would go there even if they didn’t have beer, and I most definitely would. And if I lived any closer, I would echo this song and definitely put on some weight (see what I did there?).

I’d Like to Change the World

Can beer change the world? Probably. Will it “stop the war”, like Ten Years After commands in this song? Probably not, but at least we can try. And speaking of trying, we tried five beers at ROAK and enjoyed them all.

ROAKa Cadabra – Belgian-style brown ale that was well balanced and had a hint of the apple cider that was added to the ale’s mash. Made with apple cider, the recipe pared down a bit on the spices this year. “We used a different source for the cinnamon sticks,” Leone says. “And that made a huge difference in its profile.”

Also, Leone notes that this title came from Black Sabbath’s Sabbra Cadabra, which he happened to be listening to during the process of creating and naming his beer.

Melonfest – Melon is a difficult flavor to capture in a beer, but the brewers did a fabulous job getting just the right taste in this wheat ale. They dry-hopped it with melon hops, which added a nice zing without being too cloying.

This beer is inspired by the Allman Brothers’ Eat a Peach album. Leone loved the album artwork, recognized that Michigan is known for its melons, and created this beer with his brewers. “They did a great job,” Leone praises. “It’s all pureed melons and cantaloupes, no extract. We wanted a beer that you could drink when it’s a 90 degree day and want to be refreshed.”

Higher Ground Coffee Stout—This Turkish coffee stout hit the spot after the smoother milk stout. Made with coffee roasted in nearby Ferndale, it packed a punch of roasted grains and java.

Misirlou – Despite being absolutely unable to pronounce the name of this beer, I was fortunately able to very much enjoy it. Perfect English summer ale, with bitter hops and nice balance.

Creamsicle – Hopefully, you remember eating these as a kid. This orange vanilla ale balanced the best of those summertime days. Perfect way to end the summer!

Ramble On

Alas, nothing gold can stay and we eventually had to leave this fabulous taproom. Leone tells me that many people have expressed their appreciation of the taproom, saying that it isn’t “typical” of a craft beer taproom. “To that,” he says. “I say that there shouldn’t be anything ‘typical’.”

Just like rock and roll.

 

Photos courtesy Roak Brewing

How did you start brewing?

Rockne Van Meter: “I started brewing in my kitchen in the late ‘90s. I went to the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival in 2002, which was a bit after I started brewing at home, and the Monday after that festival I decided to quit my job and see if I could get a job brewing professionally. That morning, after turning in my keys to my employer, I went to a few surrounding breweries to see if they needed any help. Upon my last stop, I was lucky enough to talk with the Head Brewer at Big Buck, Eric Briggeman. We spoke and he showed me around the brewery. A week later I called to check and he asked if I wanted the job. I said yes of course. He is now the Michigan Brewers Guild president and Kim Schneider, whom I met and worked with at Big Buck, preceded me here at Bastone.”

What were you doing prior to brewing?

RVM: “I was doing building maintenance at an apartment complex. Pretty much fixing anything and everything that could wrong in a home. Plumbing, appliances, electrical, HVACR. Very exciting.”

What is your favorite style to brew?

RVM: “I think my favorite styles to brew depend on the day and week I have scheduled. Sometimes brewing a seasonal is great because it’s not something I brew all of the time. And sometimes if I just want to get out and be outside and enjoy the day or weekend, a fast brew day is best. It really depends on mood.”

How do you decide what to make next?

RVM: “The season is a factor in what beers to make, kind of. I think that I personally like to drink lighter beers in the warmer months and a little heavier beers in the winter, so that’s what I try to make. I will however, make a high ABV beer in the summer and a sessionable beer in the winter. It’s also determined by what styles of beer I’m drinking or wanting to explore more of at that time.”

Do you have a ‘philosophy’ when brewing?

RVM: “I guess my philosophy would be to brew true to style, clean and as flavorful as possible. Don’t over-complicate, but don’t be lazy. Quality not quantity.”

When did you fall in love with beer?

RVM: “I’m not sure I’ve ever ‘fallen in love’ with beer, but a year or two before I started brewing professionally is when I became aware of craft beer and the many facets of its creation. The art, science and culinary aspect of brewing beer led me to wanting to become more involved in beer. There’s more to beer than just beer, you know?”

What is your favorite style to drink?

RVM: “I’m quite partial to Belgian and German beers. And I’m not a huge fan of very higher ABV beers like 10% or higher. So anything low ABV and Belgian or German in style would be nice. A saison or Berliner Weisse would fit that bill.”

What’s your favorite beer of all time?

RVM: “I don’t have a favorite beer of all time. My tastes and desires for beer have changed completely and continue to change. In my earlier years I wanted high ABV beers, and now it’s much more of a sessionable beer I’m looking for. I appreciate any beer that’s clean, flavorful and within the style that it’s meant to be brewed in. I’ve had too many great beers to say one was better than the other. I don’t know how you’d compare a great stout to a great lambic, or a great pilsner. They’re completely different entities.”

Outside of your own, what’s your favorite Michigan brewery/beer?

RVM: “First off, my own beer is not my favorite beer. I am a fan of a lot Michigan breweries including Founders, Griffin Claw, Jolly Pumpkin, Dragonmead and Kuhnhenn.  I’m very much looking forward to the opening of Old Nation Brewing Company.”

Where do you see craft beer going in the future?

RVM: “I have no idea. Everywhere.”

Do you have a ‘brewing hero’ or someone you admire in brewing?

RVM: “There are people that, I think, represent the brewing industry with class and dignity. Some of the people that I hold in high regard for this reason, and others, are: Garret Oliver, Sam Calagione, Alec Mull, Scott Graham, Ron Jefferies, Joe Short, Bill Wamby, Travis Fritts, Garrett Marrero, Charles Bamforth, John Mallett and Fred Bueltmann. Amongst others.”

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.”

4.8% ABV, Can

Appearance: Clear reddish-orange with a medium head.
Aroma: Malts with some spice.
Taste: Bread with some caramel and roasted malt qualities. Some vanilla and slight fruit as well.
Mouthfeel: More carbonation than I expected. Medium bodied.

MillKingIt is certainly making a scene in Royal Oak — and with beers like its Brik Irish-Style Red Ale, it’s easy to see why. This somewhat spicy, bready, malty ale is full of flavor. With just a hint of bitterness at the end, the sweet qualities round out by themselves quite well, and make for a great tasting red ale.


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