Between Pizza Port and Left Coast Brewery, San Clemente has long been a big player in OC's suds scene. And getting ready to rightfully get more exposure is Artifex Brewing Company, which is coming up on its three-year anniversary. There might be a party, but it would almost be redundant since EVERY day here is a fiesta between the noon opening time and the consistent rotation of food trucks—Burritos La Palma was there when I last visited.
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Artifex's beers are impressive—the American Style Imperial Stout HoliDAVE (10% ABV) won a silver medal at the 2016 World Beer Cup for its rich, toasty, HUGE chocolate profile. But the local favorite is Unicorn Juice American Wheat with Passion Fruit (5.5% ABV). It's perfect for the summer, a solid wheat beer with the tropical flavor on the back end. Yippee Ki Yay Imperial Red IPA (8% ABV), meanwhile, is mucho malts and hops—your taste buds will thank you for this treat!
And then there's the No Name West Coast IPA (7.5% ABV). DANK AF! I don't usually smell my beer before I drink it, like some hipster douchbag, but this brew's aroma was strong, like a heavy Indica. It ain't a medicated cerveza, but it is one of the best WC IPA's in Orange County—bottle it, boys!
Artifex Brewing Co., 919 Calle Amanecer, San Clemente, (949) 429-7805; www.artifexbrewing.com