2022 Tastemakers: Chelsea Rennie, Kyle Hofmeister, Rob Camstra & Nick Guyton of Gemüt Biergarten
At this beautifully renovated fire station in Columbus' Olde Towne East, Gemüt’s founders have created a destination for German beer enthusiasts and families alike.
In a city stocked with good breweries, it takes something to stand out. In a short time, Gemüt Biergarten has done just that—without relying on IPAs. Founders Chelsea Rennie and Kyle Hofmeister, along with brewers Rob Camstra and Nick Guyton, have taken a beautifully renovated 1896 fire station in Olde Towne East and added expertly done German beer, food and a sense of community to create a destination for beer enthusiasts and families alike.
Crafting a Community Beer Garden
Rennie and Hofmeister, who are married, were working in the hair and bar industries, respectively, when they started brainstorming ideas for a bar. “A co-worker invited me to Germania’s Sommerfest,” Rennie says. “It was a nice event, all ages, kids running around. It struck a chord with us.” Her husband chimes in: “There was something for everybody. It was wholesome and fun, but still a party.”
The duo began planning a beer garden serving imported German beers. They knew Rob Camstra, a brewer at the now-defunct Four String Brewing, from “Dungeons & Dragons” gaming nights. “We told him about the bar and importing beers,” Rennie says, “and he replied, ‘You guys wanna brew?’” Realizing that it made more sense to make and sell their own beer, the couple hired Camstra, who brought on Nick Guyton, another Four String veteran.
“They’re the brains behind the beer,” Hofmeister says. “I knew if I let them off the chain to do what they love, they’re going to come up with some great stuff.” Gemüt has already received external validation: Its Golem Czech pilsner took home a bronze at the 2021 Great American Beer Festival, while the Woden’s Hunt dunkel snagged a bronze at the World Beer Cup this year.
Everyone is Welcome
The Gemüt team has created a sense of welcome at their brewpub. Rennie and Hofmeister live in the neighborhood and value the community that’s grown around it. “That’s the coolest part about modern breweries,” Rennie says. “Every brewery is a beer garden in a sense, where people come to meet up and hang out.”
The name Gemüt derives from the German term gemütlichkeit, meaning a sense of warmth and good cheer or “two beers deep and feeling cozy,” Hofmeister jokes.
“I was in a Target parking lot and I was looking up words and stories,” Rennie says, of naming the brewery. “Gemüt came up. I teared up. It means ‘the feeling of being accepted.’ A beer garden is a place anybody can go, where everyone is welcome.”
734 Oak St., Olde Towne East, 614-725-1725
About Chelsea Rennie
Hometown: “I grew up in a military family, so we moved quite often.”
Local dish she craves: Budae jjigae from Gogi Korean BBQ
Always in her fridge: Kimchi
Go-to bar: Antiques on High
Restaurant/bar business advice: “Be patient with planning and financing, hire a good liquor attorney and always practice open communication with your business partners and team.”
Something Columbus needs: “More design-focused concepts and wine bars”
About Kyle Hofmeister
Local dish he craves: Shoyu ramen with curry from Tensuke Express
Always in his fridge: Cholula green pepper hot sauce
Restaurant/bar business advice: “Focus on finding and investing in the right people. Our motto is ‘Good jobs for good people,’ and I try like hell to live up to that.”
Something Columbus needs: “I would like to see a shawarma cart on every corner.”
Reading recommendation: “Columbus Beer: Recent Brewing and Deep Roots” by Curt Schieber
About Rob Camstra
Local dish he craves: “Just about everything on the Tensuke Express menu”
Go-to bar: Ace of Cups
Restaurant/bar business advice: “Don’t get into it for the money.”
Reading recommendation: “Technology Brewing & Malting” by Hans-Jürgen Manger and Wolfgang Kunze
About Nick Guyton
Always in his fridge: Ranch dressing
Go-to bar: Dick’s Den
Restaurant/bar business advice: “Create good jobs, and always support your staff.”
Something Columbus needs: More specialty grocery stores
Reading recommendation: “Mild Ale” by Dave Sutula
Chelsea Rennie, Kyle Hofmeister, Rob Camstra & Nick Guyton are one of nine “Tastemakers” profiles in the August 2022 issue of Columbus Monthly.