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October 3, 2012

Stroll to highlight local food, Michigan beer

22 venues to pair with 22 breweries for tasty experience

By Chris Jackett
C & G Staff Writer

ROYAL OAK — Local craft beer enthusiasts are revved up and ready to go for the second annual Michigan Craft Beer Stroll downtown this weekend.

After a successful first year, 22 restaurants and 22 Michigan-based craft beer breweries will pair up from noon-5 p.m. Oct. 6 throughout downtown Royal Oak to provide patrons a tasty combination of local foods and statewide specialty craft beers.

“The first year went good,” said Carrie O’Neill, president of the Royal Oak Restaurant Association and owner of The Rock on 3rd. “We sold just under 500 tickets. We anticipate more this year.

“Every bar or restaurant participating will have a Michigan brewery they’ll be pairing. Each restaurant picked their own Michigan Brewery.”

Each brewery will provide a 2- to 3-ounce beer sample with a food pairing at their host restaurant. A list of the beer and food pairings is available at www.rorainfo.com.

“We try to do the math where everyone’s getting a bang for the buck while at the same time being safe,” O’Neill said. “Everyone’s pretty generous with their food samples. We’re making sure everyone’s soaking up the beer as they go.”

Additional measures include more cab service availability downtown and an Emagine Theatre shuttle that can transport patrons from the theater’s Star Lounge to the southernmost participant of Oxford Inn, along with a third stop in the heart of the downtown area.

The restaurant association sold more than 1,500 tickets for the Wine Stroll earlier this year, allowing them to donate $10,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Oakland County, which  provided volunteers to work the check-in tents. After using the Royal Oak Public Library as the inaugural Craft Beer Stroll beneficiary, the Boys & Girls Clubs will be providing about 20 volunteers this year.

“With the proceeds, the timing couldn’t be better for us,” said Brett Tillander, executive director of Boys & Girls Clubs of South Oakland County. “These events are very helpful because they go right to the bottom line and help us provide services. We’re really fortunate. The restaurant association has been a longtime supporter of the Boys & Girls Club. They really do support so many things in the community. Not every community has a restaurant association.”

O’Neill said there is a 2,000-ticket cap on the Craft Beer Stroll, but since it’s still newer, she’s just aiming to improve upon the nearly 500 people who attended last year. Both Michigan State University and the University of Michigan football teams had home games last year, whereas both are on the road this year.

“I think that could be beneficial to us,” O’Neill said. “This is such a weather-driven event. I think it’s really big. The Rock (on 3rd) is a total craft beer store. The day of, the restaurants might not see the bottom line, but the people almost will certainly come back if you show them a good time.”

New restaurants such as Gemmayze, Town Tavern, Fifth Avenue and Gusoline Alley have signed on to participate in this year’s Craft Beer Stroll, joining other returning venues ranging from Bastone to bd’s Mongolian Grill, BlackFinn, Lockhart’s BBQ, Mr. B’s, O’Tooles, Tom’s Oyster Bar, Woody’s Diner and many more.

Breweries include Arbor Brewing Company, Bells Brewery, Dark Horse, Detroit Beer Company, Dragonmead and several others from Frankenmuth, Saugatuck, New Holland, Cheboygan and elsewhere throughout the state.

For $40 in advance or $50 on the day of the event, Michigan Craft Beer Stroll attendees will receive a lanyard, wristband, map of participating restaurants and punch card with all 22 venues listed on it that can be used like a checklist over the five-hour period.

Tickets are available in advance at www.rorainfo.com, www.neptix. com/events/3916 or any of the participating venues. Remaining tickets will be available at the three check-in tents – located near Third and Main, Sixth and Main, and Fifth and Washington – Oct. 6.

For more information, visit www.rorainfo.com or www.boysandgirlsclubs.us.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Chris Jackett at cjackett@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1110.