Situated in downtown Royal Oak, attached to Tom's Oyster Bar, sits Ale Mary's. It's a newish, beer-focused bar that's attracted quite a bit of attention from both locals and those far and wide. We wrote about their food menu and commented on the environs earlier this year. We praised them quite wholly.
We haven't changed our minds.
At Ale Mary's, beer is the main event; everything else is tied for second place. The environment is nice, don't get us wrong. In the summer you can sit outside on their small patio, but as the weather cools, more people will be packed inside. There's a communal bench, where things can get a little tight, but it's all about the experience, really. Guests can also sit at the bar or at the few high-top tables that line the back wall. This place isn't huge, and on weekends you can expect a wait. Thankfully, you can always pop into the adjoining bar for a drink to pass the time.
Go for lunch on a weekday and you can usually get a spot at the bar, though it's not slow by any means. Workers are kind and knowledgeable, eager to answer questions about what's on the menu. Do you like imperial stout? IPAs? Belgian wheats? Let them know what your tastes are, and they seem quite happy to make a good fit.
Don't get too attached to any one beer, though. Suds come and go quickly inside Ale Mary's; in fact, that's the point. If a beer's on tap on Monday, it probably won't be there on Friday. If you're someone who doesn't like change, maybe this isn't your bar. If you're someone who likes to try new things on the regular, this is the place for you.
When we stopped in last week, plenty of fall-friendly beers were on tap. We ordered the tasty and thick Narwhal, an imperial stout from Sierra Nevada. After chowing on a beer cheeseburger (yes, this is as amazing as it sounds) we got a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, which isn't just an amazing Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference, but a tasty double Belgian IPA from Short's Brewing. On the board were selections like Totally Roasted from Vander Mill, Final Absolution from Dragonmead, and Funkin Punkin from Short's.
In bottles, Ale Mary's has St. Bernardus, Jolly Pumpkin Bell's, Chimay, and many more. But if you're looking for Coors Light — sorry, bud. If you're a Coors Dude, don't forget they've got a full bar next door.
In our last review, we mentioned that this place is all beer — and it is, but food and whiskey are on the menu as well. Of course, most things on the menu are made with beer (beer cheese soup, beer cheeseburger, beeramisu, etc.), and the whiskey only complements the beer.
Their whiskey menu is small, but well-curated. Anything from Knob Creek to Woodford Reserve to Elijah Craig is on the menu, plus they have a few local selections, including Valentine's Woodward Whiskey. Don't want to commit to a single whiskey? No problem, Ale Mary's serves whiskey flights for your tasting pleasure. There are two types, one for the regular whiskey drinker and one for the expert.
Don't think you have to be an expert to enjoy Ale Mary's, though. This place is for everyone — as long as you don't mind a little change every once in a while.