At 18,000 square feet with a 30-barrel brewing system and a production capability of 13,500 barrels a year, ROAK Brewing Co. is a virtual monument to the rapid growth of Michigan’s craft beer industry. And as their size may indicate, the brewery doesn’t scale back when it comes to their ideas on craft beers either.
ROAK currently offers a well-rounded selection of seven beers- five “core” and two seasonal, each with a unique and highly palatable flavor profile. A best seller, the Devil Dog (8.5% ABV), is a full-bodied oatmeal stout with notes of coffee, chocolate, and toasted oats that is highly drinkable despite its strength. The eye-catching label is the bust of a Doberman surrounded by fiery flames and is a tribute to the WWII K-9 fighting unit. “Devil Dog” is the nickname for a U.S. Marine, and a portion of the proceeds benefit local VA hospital, John D. Dingell Medical Center in Detroit. The Melonfest (5.6% ABV) is a seasonal wheat ale infused with cantaloupe that took head brewer Brandon MacClaren months of research and trial and error before he and the ROAK team arrived at a delicious end. The beer is first fermented with cantaloupe, then dry-hopped with hull melon hops to reinforce the flavor of the fruit. The result is a bright, crisp melon flavor that is a real testament to the artistic possibilities of hand-crafted beer. Another stand-out is the Around the Clock session India pale ale (4.7% ABV), a complex yet clean tasting beer made from four types of hops with notes of citrus, spice and a smooth finish. In addition to a zesty Belgian white ale, a bitter American amber, a dark strong ale, and an American IPA, ROAK’s taproom offers a wide spectrum of palate pleasing brews that are as delicious as they are inventive.
And while ROAK takes pride in “creating a beer that makes a statement,” the biggest statement of all may be the artist-designed taproom, which features a 30-foot-high sheet of black glass that frames the taps- an impressive piece of installation art in and of itself. The space’s clean lines and minimalist architecture are offset by rock-and-roll themed décor, with a guitar sculpture, gold leaf designs above the entryway, an enormous crystal chandelier and lush purple wall hangings.
As the name indicates, ROAK is located just outside of downtown Royal Oak, though the name also means “smoke” in Dutch, hence the flames in the company logo. Creativity imbues every aspect of ROAK’s operation, and the brewery’s “go big or go home” approach has retailers and restaurants across metro Detroit and neighboring counties taking notice. A list of over 300 distributers where you can purchase bottles and kegs can be found online. However, a visit to this impressive facility, where you can enjoy a slice of deck-oven pizza, sample a flight of newly developed recipes (six 4 oz. pours for $13.50), and take home a growler for only five bucks is highly recommended.
ROAK is located at 330 E. Lincoln, Royal Oak; open 4-10 p.m. Mon.-Wed., noon-11 p.m. Thu.-Sat., noon-10 p.m. Sun; 248-268-8780; roakbrewing.com.