The city of Brockton is so integral to the ethos of Brockton Beer Company that it’s in the name. Yet for the past few weeks, if you’ve had a fresh draft from Brockton Beer, it was likely served in Boston rather than Plymouth County.
That’s because the new Massachusetts brewery — which hasn’t yet opened a taproom but has made a name for itself through buzzy beer-industry collaborations — is the latest beermaker to take over the taps on the main floor of Roslindale’s Substation. Open every Friday and Saturday for the next few months, Brockton Beer at the Substation kicks off a new series of beer halls-in-residence at the historic building-turned-coworking space. The pop-up is helping Brockton Beer Company to live its mission of “building community wherever we go,” according to cofounder Ed Cabellon, even as his team’s plans to open a Brockton taproom face delays.
The Substation Beer Hall is the latest effort by property managers Adam Rogoff and Laura Charles, who opened Workhub at the Substation in November 2020. Rogoff, a longtime Roslindale resident, has been involved with the revitalization of the Substation building for nearly 20 years. Charles, the Substation’s director of community and business development, signed on to help establish the coworking space and programming.
Built in Roslindale Village in 1911, the Substation was once part of the electrical network that powered trolleys running throughout Boston. The property was decommissioned in 1971 and sat empty until 2014 when Historic Boston and Peregrine, a Rhode Island developer and the building’s owner, embarked on a multimillion-dollar renovation project.
The beautiful brick building with soaring ceilings, shiny floors, and big windows finally welcomed tenants in 2017 and instantly hit the craft-beer map when Trillium Brewing Company debuted a pop-up beer hall. The following winter, Jamaica Plain brewery Turtle Swamp took over the Substation as a permanent beer hall, but it closed in 2021 citing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the Substation property managers had the opportunity to take over beer hall operations themselves, they jumped to preserve the amenity it’s become for their coworking clients and the broader Roslindale community, Charles said. Now a coworking space by day, the main floor of the Substation has myriad community uses by night, from circus arts performances to private events, plus weekend beer hall hours. Brockton will be there through July, followed by to-be-announced future brewery partners for four- or five-month residencies.
“We want people to come in and see their own vision here. It is becoming this very multipurpose space, but we are super-committed to Fridays and Saturdays staying open to the public as a beer hall,” Charles said.
This community-minded approach to the space is speaking Brockton Beer’s language, said cofounder LaTisha Silvera. Beer is the product, cofounder Cabellon continued, “but it’s really about creating the energy for downtown Brockton that we know will come once we open, similarly to what this space can do for Roslindale and for Greater Boston.”
It’s why the company answered the Substation’s call to do the pop-up, even though they had anticipated opening their own taproom in Brockton in April. Construction and licensing delays have pushed those plans, and now Brockton Beer Co. is eyeing a late spring debut in their hometown.
“If we can’t open our doors [in Brockton], we’re going to continue to push that strategy forward in spaces like this,” Silvera said, noting the beer company will also return in July to downtown Brockton’s Prova! pop-up outdoor beer garden. “If you invite us, you’re gonna get all the Brockton love that comes your way. All the diversity, all the differences, all the similarities, all the energy and everything.”
For now, Brockton is using Rozzie as a training ground for its growing team, and doing market research with plans to begin distributing their beers in the Boston area by the end of 2022. The pop-up beer hall is also helping the Brockton crew envision what weekends will be like when their own taproom opens.
“There will never be TVs in the brewery. We have community tables [because we’re] creating a place for people to just share space,” Silvera said.
A handful of rotating Brockton Beer drafts and can pours are available to sip onsite, including flagships Frederick & Main Lager and Ticket to Vibe Double IPA. The beer hall doesn’t serve food, but Charles is working to bring in pop-ups, she said; folks are welcome to bring in their own snacks as well. There are also wines, canned cocktails, and soft drinks for sale.
So far, the residency is working out for the Substation. Charles notes that patrons never really hung out around the bar during past iterations of the beer hall, but that for the past few weeks, people are lingering to chat with Brockton Beer’s bartenders.
“[The company’s] openness to connection is so clear,” she said. “It just feels like a really great way to bring this space back to life as a beer hall.”
Brockton at the Substation Beer Hall is open Fridays 4 to 10 p.m. and Saturdays from noon until 10 p.m. Follow @WorkhubSubstation and @BrocktonBeer on Instagram for updates.
4228 Washington St., Roslindale, thesubstation.space/beer-hall.