SOMERVILLE – They are cooking with beer in the kitchen; they are brewing beer right in the dining room; and of course, they are pouring plenty of beer at the bar. At American Fresh Brewhouse, there is beer everywhere and customers could not be happier.
Brand new to Assembly Row in Somerville, right across from the Orange line T stop, American Fresh Brewhouse is a spot that beer geeks and food fanatics can all call their happy place. Caitlin Jewell and her husband Jeff Leiter may be new to the restaurant game, but they have beer in their blood. Back in 2011, they started the Somerville Brewing Company and their Slumbrew beers became fast favorites.
“Each one of the beers has an incredibly unique personality,” Caitlin said. “It’s an expression of the ingredients that are involved and quite often they’re a very flavor-forward beer.”
Since their beers are packed with so many unique flavors, they pair perfectly with food, which is a big reason why Caitlin and Jeff decided to open this restaurant.
“We saw the brewing of beer and the serving of beer as a holistic thing with making great food,” Jeff explained. “So we thought that we’d combine the best of those two things to create a great experience for people.”
Handling the food side of that experience is Executive Chef Todd Alsworth, whose dishes go great with beer because many of them are made with beer.
“It’s pub fare, but it’s a little elevated because we use all of our products in the cooking as well as just pairing it with the food,” he said.
Any meal at American Fresh Brewhouse should start with a beer, whether it’s in a glass, or in appetizers like the Cheddar Ale Soup made with a hoppy IPA; Bacon Wrapped Scallops drizzled with a cranberry balsamic Blood Orange Hefeweizen sauce; or Drunken Mussels steamed in a Belgian Ale.
“They’re Prince Edward Island Mussels, and we use our Trekker Trippel Ale; that’s basically the sauce,” Chef Todd said. “We steam them in the Trekker Trippel and it cooks down very nicely and actually adds some sweetness to the broth and to the mussels themselves.”
Other beer-friendly apps include nachos piled high with salsa, lime crema, and guacamole; charcuterie boards filled with meat and cheeses that are perfect for sharing; and Brewhouse Wings that swap out the standard Buffalo sauce for a favorite from another city in upstate New York – Rochester.
“Rochester didn’t want to be outdone by Buffalo, so they kind of came up with their own signature sauce,” Todd explained. “Instead of it being a hot sauce base, it’s more of mustard and honey base. From there we kind of elevate it with some other things. We put our Trekker Trippel Ale in it, and that makes for a really, really great sauce.”
Sandwiches shine at American Fresh Brewhouse and there are all kinds of options to choose from. There is the All American Meatloaf sandwich with caramelized onions and chipotle ketchup; the Cellarman Burger boasting bacon, onion rings, and beer-barbecue sauce; and since they are in Somerville, a Fluffernutter is always a solid option.
For the ultimate nostalgia meal, nothing beats a Grilled Cheese and Tomato soup – no spoon necessary.
“If you want to eat the sandwich and then eat your soup, you can do that. But me, I’m a dunker,” Chef Todd revealed. “I like to take a big bite out of my grilled cheese sandwich and dunk it right in the soup and go at it.”
Rounding out the menu are awesome entrees like their 12-ounce ribeye with garlic mashed potatoes; fluffy Fish and Chips made with a beer batter; and extra cheesy Mac and Cheese.
“There’s a ton of cheese in it of course; that’s the attraction,” Todd said. “I use parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese, and Monterey jack cheese, and we top it with seasoned panko crumbs so it gets nice and crispy and bubbly on the outside. A delicious, delicious experience.”
Of course, the other part of the experience at American Fresh Brewhouse is the beer. There are two dozen on draft, and most are made right down the road at Somerville Brewing Company’s Headquarters. However, a few are produced right in the restaurant in full view of the customers.
“We have a three and a half barrel system here and we’re brewing on site, so you can actually see us making beer in the late afternoons,” Caitlin said.
“We built a mezzanine in this restaurant so that we do all of our fermentation upstairs, and then we can pour the beer right down into the taps, right down below,” Jeff pointed out. “Customers love to sit around the bar and they can look right in here and they can see the beer being made.”
Whether you order one by the pint or a bunch in a flight, Jeff and the folks at American Fresh Brewhouse believe what they are serving is more than just beer.
“Beer is a great way for people to come together. You can socialize over a few beers, and have a good time, meet up with friends. That’s what I like most about the brewery is that it’s a meeting place for people really to enjoy each other’s company.”
You can find American Fresh Brewhouse at 490 Foley Street in Somerville and online at slumbrew.com.
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