New brews on tap in Ray Brook

Paul Tatro, center, owner of the Ray Brook Brewhouse, cuts a ribbon in the establishment held at either end by brewmaster Clinton Green, left, and chef John Warchol. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

RAY BROOK — The Ray Brook Brewhouse held a soft opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday afternoon to celebrate Thursday’s grand opening of the brewery and restaurant.

Owner Paul Tatro, surrounded by the brewhouse staff, cut a ribbon held by brewmaster Clinton Green and chef John Warchol. Tatro said he is excited to begin serving craft beers and “funky pub grub” on Thursday but that Tuesday’s ribbon cutting felt “amazing.”

Tatro, who previously owned Owl’s Nest Pizza Parlor in Saranac Lake, said he has always been interested in owning a brewery, and that the opportunity came when he found the right brewmaster in Green.

“He was one of the best beer wizards out there,” Tatro said. “That’s when I decided, ‘Hey, this is what I’m going to do.'”

Green said he has been brewing beer professionally for around seven years, but he has been home brewing much longer than that. He said he got into craft beer early on and started home brewing in his early 20s. His professional brew career started by “luck,” he said.

The Ray Brook Brewhouse opens for business Thursday. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

In his 20s he started working as a chef.

“I would just bother all the brewmasters,” Green said.

Green was working for Great Adirondack Brewing Company in Lake Placid when he ran into Tatro, whom he had worked for at Owl’s Nest years before. When Tatro asked him to craft the beer list at the Ray Brook Brewhouse, he could not turn the opportunity down.

“It was an easy decision to make,” Green said. “It would allow me a little bit more freedom and creativity, which is really my favorite part of it. If I couldn’t be this free and creative, I don’t think I would do it.”

Green said he was given lots of opportunities at Great Adirondack, with the ability to mess around with seasonal brews, but at the Ray Brook Brewhouse he can experiment constantly with its 11-beer selection.

Clinton Green, brewmaster at the Ray Brook Brewhouse, stands with his favorite beer, the Wild Integrity, above his brewing setup. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

He described his taste-crafting process as “sort of off the cuff.”

Even though Tatro had previously been a longtime business owner, he still received assistance from the Small Business Development Center at SUNY Canton in presenting plans to banks for loans. Advisor Tony Searing was in attendance at the ribbon-cutting and said he and Angela Smith advised Tatro, as all SBDC clients, free of charge.

Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Director Patrick Murphy presented Tatro with a certificate of recognition from the chamber for “outstanding achievement … and hard work.”

The event was also attended by Ethan Mikesell of the yet-to-be-opened Hex and Hop Brewing in Bloomingdale. There has been a series of successful breweries that have opened in the Tri-Lakes in the past few years, and there are still more to come.