There’s more than meets the eye with The Local Eatery and Drinking Hole’s (1065 Fourth Avenue, Downtown) recent remodel. Shut down for months for a complete overhaul that greatly expanded its footprint while updating its décor and craft beer options, the bar and restaurant reopened in late May. Though not yet complete, there’s another significant element of the revamp that will bring something to downtown San Diego that’s never existed—a Type 23-licensed brewery and tasting room operating within a Type 47 eatery. These State of California-assigned numbers mean little to the layman, but a great deal to the businessmen behind The Local and its work-in-progress Resident Brewing Company.
Before moving on the restaurant expansion, The Local partner James Langley, had been kicking around the idea of getting into the brewing business, having what he considered an ace in the hole, brother-in-law Robert Masterson. A local homebrewer best known for winning Stone Brewing Co.’s 2013 Homebrewing Competition and having he and co-champion Ryan Reschan’s recipe for a coconut-infused India pale ale brewed at the Escondido brewery and distributed across the country, Masterson actually got his start when Langley gifted him with a homebrew kit back in 2009.
Having witnessed his brother-in-law’s progress and prowess, he felt he was ready for the big leagues and wanted to team together. At first, the duo explored brewery locations around San Diego County, focusing on spots in suds-heavy areas like Miramar. In the end, Langley believed the best option was to fold the concept into The Local. Given its name because of its on-site capacity, Resident Brewing is being constructed in an adjoining space The Local crew took over as part of its expansion. Coming in at around 1,700 square feet, its centerpiece is a 10-barrel Premier Stainless brewhouse, funneling house beers into a cellar consisting of three 10-barrel fermenters plus a 20-barrel tank.
The answer to the most obvious question is: yes…the coconut IPA will be brewed at Resident (Stone’s only requirement is that it go by another name). As for the other beers Masterson plans to brew, the answer is many, but he will stay true to his homebrewing tendencies. Up until now, roughly 50% of the beers he has brewed have been hop-forward, so expect various IPAs and ales featuring new and experimental hops. Masterson is also a big fan of Belgian-style farmhouse ales. He plans to explore this style, including oak-aging saisons in wine barrels. As for the opening day lineup, it will likely feature an American blonde ale, hoppy pale and porter. An occasional lager may make its way onto the beer board, too. As a rule, the majority of the beers will be under 7% alcohol-by-volume (ABV), though there will be higher-ABV exceptions.
All of Resident’s beers will be served from an 18-tap bar in the back of The Local. It will operate with its own license, POS system and assigned servers. Such division is required by State law, but thanks to pre-planning and the installation of special systems, it should be very easy for the business to delineate sales and staffing in accordance with California legal requirements. Because of the dual licenses, patrons will be able to order Resident beers in any quantity they desire, from small taster glasses, to pints to growler fills. As a bonus, food will be available from a kitchen that’s visible from a round window to the right of the back bar.
The brewery is similarly on display, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows on the left side of the back bar as well as a windowed exterior looking out onto C Street. But there are interesting components of Masterson’s operation that are less visible, namely a basement’s worth of opportunity. In addition to The Local’s expanded street-level area, ownership benefits from the square-footage of a basement matching the venue’s footprint plus space under the sidewalk on Fourth Avenue. This will allow for plenty of storage, including a mill, keg-washing equipment and a large cold box. In time, an elevator lift will be built to bring ingredients from the sidewalk into the basement in a method similar to those employed in Manhattan. Mechanisms are currently being built to lift brewing ingredients from basement storage to the brewhouse as well.
Masterson expects to begin brewing by July and anticipates serving beer no later than August. Initially, kegs will be split among The Local as well as sister properties The Local PB, Wonderland Ocean Beach and The Rabbit Hole. All three are operated by Brendan Huffman and Mina Desiderio, Langley’s business partners in the Local/Resident project. No packaging of beer is anticipated until at least six months out, but Resident expects to produce between 500 and 1,000 barrels of beer in its first year, and 1,000-1,500 barrels over the following 12 months.