Nestled among the art galleries on revitalized Logan Avenue is Border X Brewing (2181 Logan Ave.). From the antique tin ceiling to the wall-to-wall art, Border X is more than just a drinking destination.
The tasting room is spacious, warm and inviting. Countertop seating open to the street adds to the sense of place, perfect for sipping pints and people watching. There's a gallery space, which was host to this year's Chicano Con, an event held as an alternative to Comic Con and in response to a lack of outreach to Barrio Logan. The gallery also showcased local artist Junco Canché and his provocative political cartoons sending up various characters on the American right.
The beer at Border X is distinct, and management has done an admirable job separating itself from the crowded San Diego market. The Gran Hefe Hefeweizen and Abuelos Pale Ale are true-to-style, crushable brews. Abuelita's Chocolate Stout strikes a nice balance at 8 percent ABV, allowing the Mexican chocolate and roasted coffee notes to take center stage.
The most distinct offerings at Border X, however, are the Blood Saison and Golden Horchata Stout.
Blood Saison, brewed with hibiscus and agave, looks as menacing in the glass as a serving of cherry Kool-Aid, but don't be deceived. It is a flavorful medley of tangy fruit and just-there sweetness. It was a real crowd pleaser, and seemed to be the most popular beer during my short time holding down a barstool on a recent Friday night.
Then there's the unique Golden Horchata Stout. San Diego beer geeks are familiar with Stone Brewing's Master of Disguise golden stout, but a shared hue is where the similarities end. Border X's Golden Horchata is an interesting take on the style, and considerably sweeter than I'm used to in a stout. I was disappointed on a return visit when they had temporarily run out; this brew and the Blood Saison belong on any shortlist of must-try San Diego beers. In addition to their own beer, Border X reserves a number of taps for craft beer from south of the border. These nano-breweries have limited distribution, so itís rare to be able to try so many outside of Tijuana's Plaza Fiesta.
Border X also has a kitchen, serving a limited menu that includes barbecue wings and lengua. A stop here won't bust your budget. A flight of beer is only $5, and each of its menu items hover around $10. Border X wears the spirit of art and activism on its sleeve, and is solidly ensconced in the vibrant culture of this transitional neighborhood. The quality of the beer is enough to command a visit, but the culture and community stays with you long after the last pint is poured.