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Brewery to watch: Gun Hill

A brewing vet launches a stout revolution in the Bronx.
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TKTKTKT // Matt Furman for DRAFT

Chris Sheehan // Matt Furman for DRAFT

Gun Hill is proud to call itself the Bronx’s first brewery—and even prouder to call itself the borough’s first GABF gold-medal-winning brewery.

Born of conversations between co-owners Dave Lopez and Kieran Farrell on a dusty Bronx baseball field where both played semi-professional ball, Gun Hill has had to forge its own path in a largely industrial, decidedly un-touristy neighborhood. The brewery doesn’t yet package its beers, so it relies heavily on drawing drinkers to its 2,000-sq.-ft. tasting room flanked by an auto body shop, a Social Security office and a plasterer’s union. Lopez and Farrell, though, wouldn’t have opened anywhere else; Farrell is a Bronx native, and Lopez has family roots there.
“Look, we’re not like any of these breweries right off the L train in Brooklyn, but you can get here,” says Lopez. “It’s about a 45-minute train ride from Manhattan. And if you have a car, it’s incredibly accessible, a mile off of two highways.”

Though the pair had local cred, they had zero professional brewing experience. The solution? Bring on a brewer who has more than a decade of it.

He’s Chris Sheehan, who came to Gun Hill with a résumé that includes stints at seven breweries, including 11 years at Chelsea Brewery, plus four prior GABF golds. He calls the 2014 win for Gun Hill’s Void of Light stout “a pleasant surprise,” though given his past success with stouts in competition, he couldn’t have been caught too off-guard.

“I’d love to see us become a stout brewery and have a reputation for that,” Sheehan says. “One of the key characteristics of any stout that I brew is that I don’t hold back. I really want it to jump out with pronounced flavors of roasted malts.”

It’s not just judges who have taken note—the neighborhood is on board, too.

“When we first were looking at the location, I was skeptical about the business we’d get coming in the door,” Sheehan says. But the tasting room has managed to draw a diverse crowd, including neighborhood regulars as well as doctors and nurses from nearby Montefiore Hospital.  “It’s surpassed my expectations.”

GRAB A GROWLER:

Gun Hill Gold
“I wanted to start our brewery with a lighter beer, but I didn’t want it to be your workaday, training wheels beer. I basically brewed it to be a session ale but with considerably more character and body. It’s a light ale that appeals to the craft beer drinker.”

Void of Light
“I’m putting forth my best effort to keep it flowing in the taproom, so keep an eye out. I’m also working on a barrel-aged version for future release.”

Gun Hill IPA
“I guess you could call it an East Coast IPA. It’s still an American style, but it’s got a little more malt to back up the hops, and a darker color than California IPAs. That doesn’t mean it’s lacking hops, though. It’s incredibly enjoyable; easily our best-selling beer.”

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