The Chestnut Hill Brewing Company, which is celebrating its sixth year in business this April, has certainly delivered on its original promise.
The Chestnut Hill Brewing Company, which is celebrating its sixth year in business this April, has certainly delivered on its original promise “to be the community destination of choice in Chestnut Hill, and to create a memorable experience for everyone.”
When co-owners Nick and Lindsey-Pete Gunderson, both vegans, established their “vegan gastropub” in 2017 they brought a comfortable, laid-back space to Germantown Avenue that beckons visitors as well as locals. The neighborhood staple is known for its inviting garden seating as well as its delicious food – and patrons gather inside or out over house-brewed craft beer, and what Nick and Lindsey call “healthy-ish food.”
On any given night, you’ll find young couples with small children by their side, tables of friends enjoying Neapolitan wood-fired pizzas and elevated comfort food, and pals at the bar sampling self-taught Nick Gunderson’s inspired brews. These include such distinctive flavors as Catherine’s Anchor, a potent heavy-bodied Russian Imperial stout with roasted chocolate flavors, and his personal favorite, the delicate Fiddler, an unfiltered single malt pilsner fermented for six weeks.
Every Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m., trivia buffs enjoy the brewpub’s challenging “Trivia Night,” when Steve Silverberg presents his array of brain teasers — on subjects as varied (depending on the time of year) as Black History Month, favorite Halloween monsters, Christmas carols, or women in cinema.
According to general manager Rob Emerich, a former bartender and front-of-the-house supervisor, the popular event draws between 20 and a hundred trivia buffs to the beer garden every Wednesday. Winners take home a 64-ounce growler filled with their choice of any brew on tap that evening.
The beer garden features a gently raging fire pit, an array of long tables, as well as high-top and cushioned seating in a space shared by all the vendors at Market at the Fareway. At the height of the pandemic, the Gundersons introduced state-of-the-art overhead heaters to make the spacious beer garden accessible all year round, even in the dead of winter.
Parties of up to 16 can reserve tables there by contacting Lindsey. Raised in Chestnut Hill, she feels totally in her element in the hospitality business and joined her husband to design their restaurant.
The beer garden also welcomes dogs. Nick and Lindsey often bring Barley and Hopz, their sociable Newfoundlands, to “make friends” by the fire pit. The couple recently hosted their third “Newfie Meetup,” which concluded with a dog walk at the equally dog-friendly Valley Green Inn.
That’s how the brewpub’s executive chef of two years, Dan Berret, wound up joining the team. One spring night, as he was sitting on his front porch in East Falls, he noticed a giant shadow crossing his path. Out strolling all alone was a beautiful black Newfoundland whose dog tag identified his owners as Nick and Lindsey Gunderson. Berret called the owners to retrieve their wandering pal.
Two years later, while looking for a more independent location than the corporate kitchen where he then worked, Berret saw a posting for a chef at Chestnut Hill Brewing Co. He got the job on merit, and later laughed with Nick and Lindsey about their previous contact two years prior.
Berret enjoyed the challenge of the existing menu, much of which is vegan, and which already featured signature items such as the Firepit Salad, a mix of arugula, spinach, and kale with roasted red peppers, pickled red onion, roasted corn, feta, avocado, and sunflower seeds in a spicy chipotle vinaigrette.
The chef has also introduced, among other items, the falafel burger, featuring house-made falafel, pickled red cabbage, fresh herbs, and vegan tzatziki, served on a sweet potato bun with fries. He describes the menu as “thoughtful, elevated bar food.”
My wife Eve and I enjoyed two hearty small plates—the sweet and tangy crispy Brussels, served with Fresno chiles, fried shallots, agave, sesame seeds, and mint, and Southern-fried oyster mushrooms, made from local organic mushrooms and served with a zesty taproom mustard.
We also sampled the presto bianca, a white pizza lavished with mozzarella, ricotta, Romano, garlic, oregano, Parmesan, pine nuts, and fresh basil pesto, and the smashed chicken burger, flavored with Vermont white cheddar, lettuce, onion, and garlic aioli, served on a sweet potato bun with fries.
How we had room for the chef’s Basque cheesecake, enhanced with a sweet cherry wine sauce and fresh raspberries, is still a mystery, but it was a fine cap to a memorable evening at the region’s consistently enchanting community hub. Chestnut Hill Brewing Co. is located at 8221 Germantown Ave., Chestnut Hill; 215-247-0330; chestnuthillbrewingcompany.com.