I’ll be the first to admit that last week was rough as far as brewery reviews go. Three visits yielded three negative reviews. So it feels rather wonderful to kick this week of West Coaster beer coverage off with a positive review. I recently stopped in at The Local Eatery and Watering Hole (1065 Fourth Avenue, Downtown) to check out the first drafts from its recently debuted onsite fermentation operation, Resident Brewing Company. Brewing operations are led by award-winning homebrewer Robert Masterson. This is his first professional gig, but beer-drinkers nationwide had the chance to taste the fruits of his imagination after he won Stone Brewing’s 2013 homebrewing competition and had he and brewing partner Ryan Reschan’s coconut India pale ale (IPA) released in kegs and bottles under the gargoyle clan’s moniker. But here’s the thing—that was far from an authentic sample of Masterson’s brewing style or prowess.
I worked for Stone when this beer was brewed and released. On brew-day, while interviewing Masterson and Reschan, I tasted the homebrew that took top-honors at the competition and it was outstanding. So much coconut and big, tropical hop flavors. I felt as though I’d been transported to some island paradise. It was that good. Sadly, the beer that was released to the masses was nothing like what I tasted. It can be very difficult to replicate ales and lagers produced on the home-front on a large, industrial brewhouse, so I don’t fault my former colleagues, but the coconut was nearly non-existent and the hop flavors were totally different. The resulting Robert Masterson & Ryan Reschan/Rip Current/Stone R&R Coconut IPA was a great double IPA, but not a coconut IPA.
If you want to taste what I was fortunate enough to sample, now you can. Resident’s Vacation Coconut IPA is now on tap at The Local along with five of Masterson’s other inaugural beers. Vacation brings a lovely bouquet of coconut and cocoa butter. That’s followed up by a beer with just enough bulk to deliver a slightly-sweet punch of toasted coconut oomph along with grassy spice from the hop-bill. It’s a must-try IPA in a county awash with this beer style. An American IPA called Urbanite is also on tap. Coming in at 6.8% alcohol-by-volume (ABV), it is heavy on Mosaic and Amarillo hops. As a result, pine resin notes are at the forefront and remained like tacky sap on the roof of my mouth. Rosemary woodiness and a touch of oniony spice is in there, too.
The hoppiest beer from a bitterness perspective, however, is Hall Pass, a 5.5% ABV pale ale that’s so sharp in its bite that it actually overshadows all other flavor. It’s as if the beer is completely unencumbered by any malted barley, so if you prefer traditional, caramel-touched, English-style pales, this beer is not for you. Masterson admits Hall Pass is too high on the IBU (international bittering units) scale and intends to bring it down next time around. He’s also going to do some work on Loud Mouth, a hoppy amber ale that is definitely hoppy, but not amber (he wanted color versus caramel, but ended up with neither) and far too thin-bodied. It was the only brew I would label a dud of the sextet.
Two of my favorite of Masterson’s offerings were the least hoppy. Perky Blonde has a lot going for it—a subtle sweetness, sparks of banana and lemon, and a subdued bitterness akin to a Pilsner in its finish. It’s not the cookie-cutter, crowd-pleasing light beer most brewpubs offer, which is refreshing. Likewise, Back Alley American porter is not the cookie-cutter, crowd-pleasing dark beer most brewpubs offer. Its nose is all chocolate milk and roasted hazelnuts while the flavor is a balanced blend of cola and medium-roast coffee. It’s a rare crush-able porter, which is perfect for a venue like the Local where many visitors spend hours watching sports.
Next up on Masterson’s brew schedule are an oatmeal stout, Hall Pass 2.0 (he plans on dialing back the IBUs by 10 or so) and a saison brewed with Dupont and French yeast strains. The second brew of the latter will find its way into barrels where it is intended to transform into a tart farmhouse ale. But these beers will only be tapped if they are defect-free. Masterson already dumped the product of one stout when it came out starchy and proved irreparable. That’s to be commended, as are these initial draft offerings from Resident Brewing.