Artifex is not a brewery I expect a lot of people in San Diego will visit with the same regularity as others simply because of the long distance to get out there. A good 30 minute drive north of Bagby Brewing, it is best visited on your way north to LA or on your way south. In this visit I happened to drive up to Orange County unexpectedly and was able to drive past Artifex on my way south for a few tasters. They have a typical tasting room that is a mile or so from the freeway and easy to find. They also fill blank growlers if you happen to have one with you. When I visited I tasted the Brown Ale, Milk Stout, pale ale, AHAB IPA, Coconut Black IPA, No Name IPA, and Double IPA.
The brown ale was a nice medium brown in color almost dark amber and had mild flavors of caramel and English hops. The overall beer was quite tasty and easy to drink. The milk stout had a mild smoky flavor and a sticky aftertaste. The lactose was used sparingly so it did not have an intense sweetness that is typical with the style. It is a solid and tasty stout. The pale ale has a nice golden color and mixes tropical fruit and citrus with a medium bitter kick. The pale is a good example of the newer style of pale and will satisfy hop heads.
The AHAB IPA is their most popular offering and it had a nice combination of herbal and fruity hops. The beer is nice and light on the malts in the West Coast style. The Black IPA with coconut was quite delicious with an intense coconut flavor that mixes nicely with citrus hops without giving it too much bitterness. When I dropped by later for a growler of the same beer, the coconut had faded a little, leaving a more balanced mix of flavors, with the hops coming through a little more. This is still a beer primarily for hop heads.
The No Name IPA had a nice intense citrus hop flavor and light malt bill. This is a seriously tasty IPA with a nice light pine and citrus hop kick while not being too bitter. There was a hint of garlic on the aftertaste but nothing that took away from my enjoyment. Finally, the double IPA was quite thick, resiny, and slightly boozy. It is a good thick beer and one you would not down very fast. The boozy kick at the back was a little much for me but it is a solid double.
For a brewery that had their first anniversary in August of 2015, Artifex is brewing some delicious beers. It helps that the brewers used to brew for Pizza Port, a place well known for their delicious IPAs. For now the owners are often seen around the brewery and you will encounter a number of locals who probably come by regularly. They have food trucks most days though I happened to drop by the one day of the week when they didn’t have one. If you need a place to stop on your way through San Clemente, you should absolutely stop by Artifex.
Black IPA with Coconut
No Name IPA