Brewpub is finished product of hard work and dedication to craft beer
Christian Hartenstein likes to tell the story of how he and his family arrived in Claremont.
His wife, Kate, had just been accepted to Western University on her way to become a nursing supervisor. As she was looking for a place to live nearby, she happened to drive down Indian Hill Boulevard from Foothill south into the Village.
“She pulled over and she called me and said, ‘this is where we’re raising our kids. This is the town I want to live in,” Mr. Hartenstein, 30, said. “And I said, ‘Okay, yeah.’”
Six years later, The Hartensteins want to open a brewpub—a blend between a brewery and a casual restaurant. It’s called Campsite Brewing Company, and it’s slated to open in Peppertree Square in early 2019.
Both Christian and Kate Hartenstein are co-owners of Campsite—Christian will be the head brewer and Kate will be the general manager.
For Christian, opening a brewpub is the culmination of years of dedication to craft beer, starting when he took a home-brewing class with a friend and including a career change. At the time, he was working as a paramedic in San Bernardino—a job he says was rewarding but tough, something he didn’t see himself doing for the rest of his life.
“We brewed a batch of beer and it was really fun. I really enjoyed the science aspect of it and the art aspect of it,” he said. “I was looking for something to do and I thought this would be a good field to explore.”
Mr. Hartenstein began working at SoCal Homebrew in La Verne, which later moved to a job as an assistant at Last Name Brewing. At Last Name, he moved up from working in the taproom doing hand bottling to a lead seller position. He also had a hand in managing tanks and fermentation, and planning production.
Mr. Hartenstein also got a formal education in brewing beer—he received a professional brewing certificate from UC San Diego. These kinds of credentials, “set me up to be really prepared to open up my own brewery,” he said.
He chose the name Campsite Brewing Company to reflect he and his wife’s love of the outdoors. Both Christian and Kate have been camping for years, and wanted their business to reflect that passion.
“We wanted to create a really fun, nostalgic atmosphere where people could share our love of sitting in the great outdoors and sharing a beer, but in this awesome little town of Claremont,” Mr. Hartenstein said.
A menu hasn’t been set just yet, but Mr. Hartenstein wants Campsite to focus on American-style beer, using American hops and yeast. He is particularly fond of IPAs and Pale Ales, especially “Hazy IPAs,” which bring out the flavor notes while lessening the bitter punch.
He spent several months looking for the perfect location, but ran into problems. He found there wasn’t a commercial space in Claremont that could accommodate what he wanted—a brewpub that was equal parts a restaurant and brewery.
That’s when he found an available, standalone space at PepperTree Square. The 5,700 square-foot building, which has languished without a tenant for years, was a blank slate that ticked every box on Mr. Hartenstein’s wish list.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to come in and build it exactly how we want,” he said, noting that the ample outdoor space would be perfect for creating a camp-like setting, complete with chairs and fire pits.
He also liked the location—one block away from the Village, with the possibility of the proposed Village South expansion making it even more attractive.
“Even if Village South didn’t come, I think its still one of the best locations in the city,” he said.
The Hartensteins have to go through a few city channels before they can open Campsite, the largest of which is a zone change. Currently, PepperTree Square is not zoned to accommodate a brewpub, and Mr. Hartenstein will be making an appearance at the May 15 planning commission meeting—and, eventually, a June city council meeting—to try to change that.
“Once we kind of get over this hurdle I think things will move quickly,” he said.
In the meantime, he wants to introduce himself to the community with an informational meeting at the Blaisdell Center this week. The meeting, coordinated with local resident Jim Keith, is helping the Hartensteins coordinate the event.
In Mr. Hartenstein’s words, the meeting is a way to “give the community an opportunity to come out and hear about us and hear about what we’re proposing to go into pepper tree square. Just a little about our concept and if they have any questions or concerns.”
The meeting will take place at Blaisdell on Thursday at 7 p.m. More on that meeting, as well as the May 15 Planning Commission meeting, will be in a future edition of the COURIER.