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San Clemente Journal

Artifex: Craft Beer on Del Mar

Mar 28, 2022 03:02PM ● By Nina Welch

Founder Tom Cordato at Artifex, in its historic location downtown.

There’s a brew pub in town! Founders Tom Cordato, Nicholas Cordato, and Johnny Johur opened Artifex Tasting Room at 98 Avenida Del Mar one year ago. After successfully operating their brewing company and tasting room at 919 Calle Amanacer for seven years, they decided to bring the party beachside. According to Tom Cordato, beer is more than a libation, it’s community. Hence the open-air atmosphere where one can sit in the sunshine and enjoy a brew in downtown San Clemente. 

With Tom’s restaurant background of 30 years, Nicholas’ sales experience, and Johnny’s expertise as a brewer, they decided to open a business in San Clemente, a less competitive brewery scene. It didn’t take them long to foster a thirst for craft beer and the California lifestyle. 
As head brewer, Johnny creates all brew recipes from scratch. He is known for his IPAs (India Pale Ale). He won awards in the State of California Beer Competition and the San Diego National Beer Competition.

There’s a coincidence to be noted at the Artifex Tasting Room on Del Mar that can’t be missed. When walking into the pub, a beer-lover is greeted with a sign on the wall depicting this very location’s history. PROHIBITION ENDED HERE SAN CLEMENTE, CALIFORNIA. “Immediately after the 21st Amendment became law, the San Clemente City Council voted unanimously to issue the first permit in the United States to sell wine and beer to Travaglini’s Café. Artifex on Del Mar now occupies this historic site - serving locally-made craft beer from the same underground cellar where those first post-prohibition kegs were stored nearly 100 years ago. Raise a pint to our local history.”

Food isn’t served at the Artifex Tasting Room, but customers are encouraged to bring in their own cuisine. Also, Gibroni’s Pizza delivers. Among the core beers they distribute and sell regularly are: Artifexican (Mexican style lager), IPA Trigger-Finger, Bog Trotter (Irish Red) and Unicorn Juice (American wheat beer with passion fruit).

In the ‘80s, a bikini shop occupied this space where customers now imbibe on their favorite brews. “When we removed the slats where merchandise was displayed, thick stucco walls were revealed,” said Tom. Plus, under the ceiling, large wooden beams created instant ambience.  Also, the backroom now referred to as “The Speakeasy,” consisted of changing cubicles for bathing suit customers. This cozy den now houses large leather booths where one can enjoy a beer and soak up the memories of a bygone era.

Artifex definition (Latin) noun ... Someone who works with their hands … a craftsman. 

Website: Hours: Mon-Thurs, 2-10; Fri-Sat, 12-10; Sunday, 12-9.
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