Two of the state's Belgian-influenced breweries -- Bastone Brewery and Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales -- have teamed up to renovate Baston's Royal Oak restaurant at Fifth and Main. The restaurant partnership makes its debut Tuesday.
Visually, it's a big change for the space, which opened in 2004 serving Belgian-style beers and food. Bastone's dining room and neighboring restaurant Vinotecca have been transformed into a Jolly Pumpkin tap house, with its signature quirky vintage light fixtures, rustic wood trim and chalkboard beer menus. This area seats 210 inside and 40 on a sidewalk patio. The bar is no longer on the south wall, but instead is a U-shaped structure in the center of the main dining area.
Jolly Pumpkin -- which has restaurants in Traverse City, Ann Arbor, Detroit along with the brewery in Dexter -- will serve lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. Those familiar with their restaurants will recognize the pizza, Jolly Pumpkin burger with bacon and truffle fries.
Bastone's new dining area is in a smaller, cozy spot where Monk Beer Abbey was located, with its own entrance on Fifth. Chef Cory Beattie has revamped Bastone's menu to showcase what people have come to expect from the Belgian restaurant: pomme frites fried in duck fat, mussels, soft pretzels, baked onion soup, Belgian blue burger and croque madame sandwich. Bastone has 60 seats inside and another 36 seasonal seats outside.
Both spaces will serve Bastone's beers, which are brewed in house, and Jolly Pumpkin's line of Belgian-style sour beers like Bam Noire, La Roja and Biere de Mars. The two restaurants will also serve wine, cocktails and beers from North Peak Brewing Company, which is under the umbrella Northern United Brewing Company along with Jolly Pumpkin.
To celebrate the partnership, Bastone brewmaster Rockne Van Meter and Jolly Pumpkin master brewer Ron Jeffries created Co-Operation Ale, a fusion of Jolly Pumpkin's La Roja amber ale and Bastone's Nectar des Deux triple. It's 8 percent alcohol by volume and is served as a 12-ounce pour in a tulip glass.
In spite of all these changes, the beer-making operations in Bastone's basement will stay the same. (Jolly Pumpkin's products aren't made on site, they're brought in from the Dexter brewery.)
"The only thing that's changed from a beer point of view, for me, is that we have new beers, and they're served alongside Jolly Pumpkin and North Peak," said Van Meter, Bastone's award-winning brewmaster. "The facility downstairs hasn't changed, no new equipment, no different equipment."
He calls the partnership "fantastic" and wanted to clarify for his customers any misconception that Bastone has moved or been shut out.
"Nobody is upset here, nobody," he said. "It's exactly the opposite, people are very excited, there's no 'takeover.' "
The collaboration, which Bastone initiated, also strengtheners the Belgian aspect of what is being offered at Fifth and Main. With Jolly Pumpkin's sour beers being available along with Bastone's Belgian-style beers and menu, it makes this corner "a cornucopia of Belgian-ness," says Van Meter.
"It couldn't get any more Belgian ... sour beer is solely Belgian."
Those new to the Jolly Pumpkin brand should take note that all their beers are sour ales.
"Bastone is a traditional-style of Belgian beer, Jolly Pumpkin is sour ales," said Jolly Pumpkin's CEO Tony Grant. "So with Jolly Pumpkin everything is barrel-aged and bottled-conditioned, so what that means once the fermentation is complete ... we transfer to oak barrels. We use a Belgian yeast in our primary fermentation so a Belgian yeast is a little bit of a spicier yeast. So where it differs is we diverge and head over to oak barrels and the beer sits in oak anywhere from several months to a couple of years to age."
Grant said one of the reasons to collaborate with another brewery instead of opening another tap room solo is to give customers more variety.
"The craft beer consumer, the enthusiast, loves diversity, they don't just drink the same thing over and over again," he said. "So how awesome to have another option available to you at the same time."
Jolly Pumpkin Royal Oak and Bastone Brewery, 419 S. Main in Royal Oak, opens Tuesday.
Jolly Pumpkin is open 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Fri., 10 a.m.-2 a.m. Sat. and 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun. Bastone’s hours are 4-10 p.m. Sun.-Thurs. and 4-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat.
Call (248) 544-6250. Walk-ins only, no reservations.