Time flies when you’re covering a craft brewing scene that, in the past three years, has seen 78 brewery-owned hospitality venues come online within San Diego County. Of those, 55 were the products of completely new brewing companies. And, currently, my list of work-in-progress brewery projects clocks in at 40-plus. Some of those have been on that list for years. Case in point, a project from a downtown bar and restaurant that I let readers in on a whopping 16 months ago.
While it doesn’t yet have a name, I can finally disclose details I had way back then, but wasn’t at liberty to share. The Local Eatery and Drinking Hole (1065 Fourth Avenue, Downtown) is currently closed for renovations. As reported in October of 2013, its rebirth will include the addition of brewing equipment, making this long-time hotspot for booze and pub-crawling a full-fledged brewpub. But who will be in charge of the new 10-barrel brewhouse?
When I first reported this, I was itching to share the identity of that individual. After all, I had just worked closely with him as part of my day job at Stone Brewing Co., where I interviewed this gentleman as one of two co-winners of Stone’s 2013 homebrewing contest. In doing so, I had the chance to taste a couple of his homespun beers and was impressed by their flavor and quality. So when I found out The Local had selected him to fill their brewer position, I was ready to tell the world and offer a vote of confidence. Unfortunately, the folks at his day job weren’t privy to his impending move, so I kept this news under my hat until he was ready to talk.
Now, well over a year later, he’s told all the necessary people at his employer (and numerous news outlets), so I can finally tell all of you that Robert Masterson will serve as head brewer for this new venture. A member of local homebrew club, the Society of Barley Engineers, Masterson has won many awards for his beers, including the aforementioned Stone American Homebrewers Association-sanctioned competition that saw he and fellow homebrewer Ryan Reschan’s tropical India pale ale, Robert Masterson & Ryan Reschan/Rip Current/Stone R&R Coconut IPA brewed at Stone’s Escondido facility and distributed nationwide.
As hard as it was for me to wait to tell readers about this, it must have been even harder for Masterson to wait so long to see his crack at the big leagues come to fruition. Look for The Local’s yet-to-be-named brewing component to debut this April when the greatly expanded venue reopens.