At long last, Brato Brewhouse & Kitchen (190 North Beacon St., Brighton) is ready to open its doors, unveiling a powerful starting lineup of beers and a food menu chock full of brats, breads, and fermented foods.
Founders Jonathan Gilman and Alex Corona set plans in motion to open their own brewery back in early 2017 and have since devoted their time to securing a space and building out a brew hall and restaurant, all while while running prolific pop-ups at local breweries and businesses, including a recurring weekend pop-up at Lamplighter Brewing Company in Cambridge. Through a total of 400 events, Gilman and Corona have introduced themselves to the public with their food first, and now they’re ready to bring in the beer.
The brewery’s grand opening is planned for the weekend of November 1 through 3, although its doors are already open as of October 26.
“It feels sudden, as crazy as that sounds, but that’s how I would describe it,” Gilman says. “It’s all clicking into place.”
Corona and Gilman met while working at Cambridge Brewing Company, where Corona served as head brewer and Gilman was the restaurant’s sous chef. In bringing together their respective talents, the pair hopes to make Brato a destination for both its food and its beer. The space doubles as taproom and restaurant, with heavy wooden tables and booths as well as a large central bar, and there are four paintings representing the key elements of Brato’s essence: pickles, grilled cheese, sausage, and hops.
“We didn’t want it to be too much of a dark cave or a sports bar or anything else; we want all people to feel like they’ve got a reason to be here and to be excited to be here,” Gilman says.
To that end, there’s something for everyone on the food and drink menus, which stand out for attention to detail, even in their simplicity. Early on, Gilman and Corona committed to developing complementary beer and food menus, and Gilman has mirrored the grain profiles of Brato’s beers in its breads, which are made in-house and will be key to the grilled cheese and beer flight pairings at the brewery.
“Our sourdoughs are made with flour but also a significant amount of malt that is used in the brewing process, not spent grain. This is malt that hasn’t been brewed with yet, so it still has these fermentable sugars,” Gilman says. To match a beer to a bread, Gilman will use the same grain, mill it down, and mix it into the bread.
Along with Brato’s grilled cheeses, the core menu (available during all operating hours) will feature a variety of sausages and a selection of fermented or pickled items, like house pickles or kimchi, plus lighter fare like soups and salads. There will also be a handful of bonus dishes during lunch (from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and dinner (from 5:30 p.m. onward) and eventually for brunch as well.
The menu will feature vegan and gluten-free options too, and there will be non-alcoholic beverages like coffee, kombucha, and — playing up the fermentation angle — some shrub sodas and switchels, a drink typically found in Vermont that blends apple cider vinegar, maple, lemon, and ginger.
“We really want to be a place that pushes the fact that we’re both beer and food at the same time, and we’ve always believed in that,” Gilman says. “I think simple is always better and I think it’s actually bolder to cook simpler because you’re not hiding behind different frills and gimmicks. If you’re competent in your cooking ability, the best thing to do is create good food simply and just execute it well.”
Brato’s starting list of beers includes Evelyn, a pale zwickel-style lager; Foam on the Range, a west coast IPA; Brasserie Brato, a Belgian table beer; Blue Bin, a hazy IPA; Two Scales, a hazy pale ale; and Pumpkin Patches O’Houlihan, a harvest saison.
Right now, Brato is still awaiting gas hookups to get the brewhouse functioning, which will likely happen in early December, with the first beers brewed in-house hitting the bar right before the end of the year.
“Something that I want to try out with the brewery is decoction brewing,” Corona says. “It’s an old German technique where part of the grains in the water when you’re mashing are put into the kettle and boiled. This creates the Maillard reaction, which gives a little more complexity to the flavor and helps clarify the beer as well.”
In the meantime, the team is getting help from all those local breweries where they ran pop-ups: Corona has contract brewed Brato’s beers at Idle Hands, Bone Up, Night Shift, Cambridge Brewing Company, and Remnant, to which Corona extends “thanks and appreciation to all of our brewery and industry friends that helped us along the way.”
Update, October 28, 2019: Brato Brewhouse & Kitchen opened on October 26; the story and headline have been updated accordingly.