There's something to be said about what's brewing in Royal Oak. Within a few blocks of Main Street, one can find at least three brewpubs – , and .
Although wine sales are still strong – take for example the popularity of Royal Oak's , and – the National Brewers Association said that in the last year about 100 breweries have opened across the nation and craft beer sales are continually rising.
So, are breweries the new wineries?
"The funny thing that is happening with beer right now is that it's being appreciated a lot more than wine is," said Scott Morton, part owner of Lily's Seafood on Washington.
is a family owned and operated brewpub, characterized as a restaurant-brewery with more than 25 percent of beer sales created on site. Morton, who is in charge of the brewing, has run the operation with his brother Bob for the last 11 years.
"I think wine connoisseurs are starting to try all these beers and say this is great," Morton said. "This is another opportunity to try a different kind of beverage and still have all this diversity and be able to sit and taste and appreciate."
Seven very different craft beers can always be found at Lily's, with two seasonal beers always in rotation. Royal Oak Brewery also offers seven house beers, and at Bastone there are at least six on tap.
Like wine, craft beer offers customers an opportunity to sit and savor the subtle flavors and nuances in each glass.
"Beer appeals to a broader base of people," said John Sleamon, who has been a manager at Bastone for three years. "Not everyone enjoys drinking wine."
Bastone, a brewpub that opened in 2004, seeks to add sophistication to its beer drinking with art deco decor and Belgian-style brews. Except for Sam Adams, Bastone has won more awards for its beers than any other brewery in the country, Sleamon said.
The popularity of the craft beer industry can be attributed to its wide availability. Many local grocery stores carry Michigan microbrews on their shelves and instead of visiting a bar where your selection maybe limited to a lager style, customers now can choose between wheats, IPAs, blondes, porters, stouts, etc. The varieties and flavors are endless.
"People who drink beer are now aware that they have more choices and they are starting to appreciate the nuances that beer can now offer them," said Morton, who admits he had to first develop his palette to appreciate a wheat beer.
Each brewery offers their customers beer samplers to encourage trying a brew they might not otherwise choose.
"There was a time when beer was only associated with the 'beer guy,'" Morton said. "It's not like that anymore."