If sitting around a campfire with good company isn’t the epitome of existence, we don’t know what is. Add a hot meal and a cold beer and suddenly that scene gets even better. A pair of outdoor enthusiasts felt the same way, and they created a business for other people who, like them, wanted to unplug and live their best lives, eating and drinking with friends and family in the great outdoors.
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Kate and Christian Hartenstein founded Campsite Brewing Company in 2018 and, in May, opened their camping-inspired restaurant in Covina, California. From the fire pits and mature trees to the reclaimed wood bar tops and the Fireside S’mores Stout brewed onsite, this brewery is a true passion project made by campers for campers.
Born in the Outdoors
In an interview with Outdoors.com, Kate Hartenstein says the idea for Campsite Brewing was truly born around a campfire. “In our 20s, we would go camping several times a year with the same big group of friends,” she says. “Christian would bring the beer he home-brewed, I would cook family-style meals, and we would sit around the campfire watching our loved ones enjoy our creations and fantasize about how we could make this our day job. We wanted to recreate that feeling of sharing great beer and a satisfying meal out in nature with people we love.”
With Campsite Brewing Company, they’ve done just that. There are no televisions, but there are picnic tables, communal tables, lounge seating, and fire pits with rocking chairs. The patio space, dubbed The Campground, also offers yard games.
“We wanted to encourage guests to focus on their friends, really taste the hand-crafted beer they’re drinking, and savor their juicy burger,” Hartenstein explains.
Creating that Perfect Mountain Vibe
The couple thought through the aesthetic and the vibe they wanted to create for years before it became a reality. “We knew we wanted to include natural elements, such as real rocks, stones, wood, and metals, and that we wanted to repurpose as much material as we could,” says Hartenstein.
Their building, a 100-year-old citrus packing house, turned out to be the perfect canvas for the nostalgic camping vibe the Hartensteins were hoping to create. The couple values sustainability, and they salvaged everything from trusses and wood planks to corrugated metal and doors in creating their space.
They also wanted to create an authentic camping experience. The Campground has seven individual fire pits that are actual fire rings you would find at a state or national park.
“We knew we needed mature trees so that guests felt transported to the mountains and could find respite from the city,” Hartenstein says. “The boulders that line our deck contribute to the mountain vibe, and you can always see children climbing and exploring, just like they do in nature.”
Camping-Inspired Food and Drink
All beer served at Campsite Brewing Company is brewed in house by Christian and his production team. The Hartensteins say guests love the Fireside S’mores Stout, which is made with real graham crackers, cacao nibs, and toasted marshmallows, as well as the Trailhead Pale Ale, which they describe as a “refreshingly balanced pale ale.”
The menu is a camping-inspired but elevated comfort food experience, with mainstays like a curried chicken pot pie and, for dessert, the s’mores skillet—toasted marshmallows over a bed of melty milk chocolate, served with graham crackers for dipping.
Hartenstein says the reception they’ve received so far to their concept has been very positive. “Our guests really connect to our vibe and the atmosphere,” she says. “We often hear it reminds them of their childhood or makes them think of a certain place [in nature] they like to visit.”