Two local beer and culinary minds have a new project planned for the Boston area that will put fermentation front and center. Jonathan Gilman, sous chef at Cambridge Brewing Company, and Alex Corona, the head brewer there, are in the midst of gathering funds, scouting locations, and developing food and beer menus for Brato Brewhouse & Kitchen.
The pair will combine Corona’s experience as CBC’s head brewer with Gilman’s time spent running restaurants and cooking. Brato Brewhouse & Kitchen will serve house-made beer, sausages, breads, and pickles (all fermented items).
“We want to be something that offers the really well-thought equal parts food and beer,” Gilman tells Eater. He has spent the better part of the last year developing a business plan for Brato. They’re raising money for it right now as Gilman and Corona search for a location. The top neighborhood contenders are Somerville and East Boston, Gilman says, and they hope to open in 2018, though the timeline is fluid.
In the meantime, they have time to work on menu specifics and test recipes. They plan to operate a 10-barrel brewing system, with a focus on session beers that are lower in alcohol, including lagers, pale ales, and possibly double IPAs and New England-style IPAs.
Gilman estimates they will produce 700 barrels in the first year and 1,000 in the following years, and they have no plans to distribute any beer outside of a small canning operation in-house. Gilman says he likes the idea of being a true neighborhood-driven entity.
The beers at Brato will be closely tied to the food. For example, if they brewed a saison with oats, rye, and wheat, those same ingredients would find their way into a sourdough for grilled cheese sandwiches.
The complementary food and beer concept will allow Brato to explore fermentation in different ways, offering house-made bread, grilled cheese sandwiches, sausages, and pickles.
“The main crux of it is grilled cheese and sausage,” Gilman says. He plans to work with places like Jasper Hill to source high-quality cheese that’s accessible to diners and beer drinkers alike. “The goal there is not to obliterate the cheese as you cook it,” he says, so they will be “sort of presenting a cheese plate in an applicable manner that people can relate to.” Grilled cheese flights (with multiple bread options) and beer flights will be paired together. The rest of the menu will feature entrees rotated each season, possibly monthly, plus some standard staples.
For the sausage, the Brato team plans to have a few permanent fixtures that will be made in-house. Potential varieties include brats made with local pork, turkey kielbasa, lamb harissa, duck pastrami, and Argentinian beef. Gilman plans to source all the meat used at the restaurant from within Massachusetts, and aim to use the whole animal.
The word “brato” has multiple meanings, which both apply to the restaurant. On one hand, it comes from the Greek for “to brew,” and on the other, it is a prefix for bratwurst. “It signifies a bridge between beer and food, which is a lot of what we stand for,” Gilman says.
Down the road, Gilman and Corona hope to offer fermented hot sauces along with pickles and cheese made in-house, barrel-aged beers, and even charcuterie. “We like the way that it sort of ties together in terms of having this very cohesive theme of beer, cheese, pickles, bread,” Gilman said.
As Gilman and Corona look for a future home for Brato Brewhouse & Kitchen and perfect recipes for the food and the beer, they plan to hold pop-up events around the city in the meantime.
“We’re just excited about the project,” Gilman said. “It’s really early; we’ve got a ways to go before we hit our goals to make this thing a reality. We got some ground to cover, and we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”
• Brato Brewhouse & Kitchen [FB]