Braintree’s Popular Widowmaker Brewing Will Expand to Brighton in 2023
The local brewer will collaborate with street food business Bone and Bread to open a taproom and kitchen in the former Brato Brewhouse space. Expect “goth ski lounge” and “intergalactic, spacey, stoner rock” vibes.
A new brewery headed to Brighton later this year hopes to help keep the historically grungy, but quickly developing, neighborhood “a little punk rock.” Widowmaker Brewing, established six years ago on the Braintree-Quincy line, is adding a second taproom at 190 North Beacon St., Boston. On track to open around late May, the new location will also become the center of operations for the South Shore-based food truck Bone and Bread, which serves what it describes as “farm to street food.”
Widowmaker founder Ryan Lavery was a touring drummer before getting into the beer business. He spent many nights on the very same Brighton block, he says, practicing at the Sound Museum. The legendary rehearsal space closed at the end of January to make way for a new biotech development. “The fact that our landlord didn’t want to sell to those companies and [instead] be this kind of lone survivor—hopefully we’ll still be there as a little punk-rock brewery when all that’s done,” Lavery says.
A former electrical supply store, the 190 North Beacon St. address was more recently home to Brato Brewhouse + Kitchen. Following a years-long buildout, Brato finally opened in the fall of 2019, less than five months before the pandemic shutdown. Brato closed in November 2022, citing financial nonviability.
The Widowmaker partners also include cofounder and CFO Colin Foley and Kenny Semcken, who is also a cofounder of Plymouth’s Second Wind Brewing. They were able to purchase the kitchen and brewing equipment the Brato team installed, which includes tanks specially set up for decoction brewing, a historic German technique which enhances the flavor and body of lagers. The South Shore brewery, which shifted its business model in 2020 to be more focused on distribution, is best known for hazy IPAs like Blue Comet, Ecstasy of Gold, and the nectar-sweetened Honeymaker, but lagers have always been on tap, Lavery notes, and will be a focus of the new brewery.
Longtime Widowmaker employee Ryan Lemish will be the head brewer in Brighton, and the brewery’s current lead, Chris Hogan, has been promoted to director of brewing operations. The second location will enable Widowmaker to brew about 800 additional barrels of lager, IPAs, and other styles within the first 12 months, Lavery estimates. In May, Widowmaker will also return to its outdoor residency in Quincy’s Kilroy Square, “so we got a good amount of beer to make to support all that,” Lavery says.
Brighton also marks an evolution of Widowmaker’s partnership with Bone and Bread, a food truck that chef John Brennan launched in 2021. Brennan is a South Shore local and longtime friend of Lavery and other Widowmaker folks. After his job cooking at a private school ended when the pandemic began, he started to pick up bartending shifts in Braintree while plotting his own business. “It was a great opportunity to see the environment of the brewery world,” Brennan says. “The customer base, the whole idea of food trucks coming and going, networking with a lot of other trucks that way as well.” When his own truck hit the streets in late 2021, its first pop-up was at Widowmaker; eventually, Bone and Bread became a Thursday-night staple in Braintree. It will continue to do offsite events once the Brighton kitchen opens, Brennan says.
Bone and Bread is subleasing the space and will have its own branding in the taproom, Lavery says. Kitchen hours will mirror beer service, with a menu of about 20 food items including Bone and Bread signatures like the brewery burger; the all-beef Korean (street) corn dog wrapped in pepper jack cheese and a sticky dough, topped with crushed tortilla chips, roasted corn, mayo, cilantro, and crumbly cotija cheese; and a selection of “uncommon ramen,” like a grilled cheese and tomato soup-inspired noodle bowl.
Bone and Bread will also introduce a late-night menu in Brighton, as well as Sunday brunch. “Over the past year, we’ve tested out many items, and we’ll probably add more [menu] consistency” than the food truck allows for, Brennan says.
Atmospherically, the new taproom also reflects Widowmaker’s evolution. “To me, it’s like a matured version of Widowmaker,” says Lavery, who notes that customer expectations have changed greatly since Braintree opened in 2017 (hence the in-house kitchen). Along with restaurant-style booths and bar stools, Brighton will have a lounge area with comfortable seating and coffee tables around a newly installed electric fireplace. Says Lavery, “It’s kind of like a goth ski lodge.”
The brand, while still eclectic, has also settled into “intergalactic, spacey, stoner rock vibes,” as Lavery describes its sensibility. The team is working with Deb Lawson of In the Weeds Studio to create a cohesive look for the new space. Renovations began with a fresh coat of black paint inside and out, with wallpaper going up that looks “clean and classy from afar,” Lavery says, with skulls hidden in a Magic Eye-esque pattern. On the exterior wall facing the outdoor patio, local tattoo artist Jonny Garlin is working on a vibrant mural.
Allston-Brighton “needs to stay metal,” Lavery says, “and we’re happy to be that part of it for the neighborhood.”
Coming to 190 N. Beacon St., Brighton, Boston, in late spring 2023; 220 Wood Rd., Braintree; widowmakerbrewing.com.