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Thirty reasons to head south to Machete

A killer taplist and a little spice mark National City bar's first year

Tajin and chamoy salt the rim of Council's Prickly Pear Beatitude tart saison at Machete Beer House.
Tajin and chamoy salt the rim of Council's Prickly Pear Beatitude tart saison at Machete Beer House.

Early February marked one year since Machete Beer House brought craft beer to National City. In that short time, Machete has already earned a reputation for having one of the more intriguing beer selections south of Highway 94. After following its tap updates over the past few months, I would say Machete consistently offers one of the most come-hither taplists in the county.

This has much to do with the efforts of its proprietors, Eddie Trejo and Joann Cornejo, who take care to strike a balance between beer styles and tastes across Machete's 30 tap handles. It also likely reflects relationships Trejo has made working for several years within the craft industry prior to opening a bar.

Most new craft beer bars in San Diego don't have the wherewithal to furnish beer lists comparable to those of pubs like Hamilton's, O'Brien's, and Churchill's — longtime craft beer champions with longstanding connections to the industry's most revered brewers.

But Machete is on their heels. For its anniversary, it hosted a party featuring some notable Green Flash, Cellar 3, and Alpine releases, including a cask of Alpine's Duet IPA with passion fruit. It also offered AleSmith's highly sought Vietnamese Speedway, and Paper Mache Té, a tamarind sour made by ChuckAlek Independent Brewers to mark the occasion.

Granted, most bars break out their best for special events like this. But when I visited the Friday night following the anniversary, once again some pretty impressive beers graced the chalkboard taplist. Local notables included Lost Abbey's Framboise de Amarosa and Modern Times' Orderville IPA, released that day for the first time outside its tasting rooms.

There were also a couple of Colorado standouts — Oskar Blues' excellent Death by Coconuts porter and Avery's bourbon barrel aged Vanilla Bean Stout. And for the first time I encountered beer from Mexicali craft brewer Cerveza Fauna, specifically its pointedly bitter Lycan Lupus IPA.

After trying the Lycan, the girl seated next to me caught my eye. Rather, her pink beer did — served in a tulip glass rimmed with what appeared to be red salt. This turned out to be a mix of Tajin and chamoy — the former a chili lime seasoning, the latter a savory pickled fruit sauce.

The popular latino condiments are sometimes used to dress the tomato juice and beer cocktail, Michelada. Sometime during this first year, though, some regular customers enticed the Machete team to add them them to fruited versions of Council Brewing's Beatitude, and it stuck. In this case it accentuated Council's latest release, made with prickly pear.

I happen to have recently learned to love Tajin, so I gave it a shot. I would never have thought to drink a beer this way, but the salty spice and fruity acids brilliantly contrasted the tart saison. I might be hooked, but doubt I'll get around to trying it again. Because next time I visit Machete, I know there'll be at least four or five other beers I want to try first, and I will happily go south to try them.

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Tajin and chamoy salt the rim of Council's Prickly Pear Beatitude tart saison at Machete Beer House.
Tajin and chamoy salt the rim of Council's Prickly Pear Beatitude tart saison at Machete Beer House.

Early February marked one year since Machete Beer House brought craft beer to National City. In that short time, Machete has already earned a reputation for having one of the more intriguing beer selections south of Highway 94. After following its tap updates over the past few months, I would say Machete consistently offers one of the most come-hither taplists in the county.

This has much to do with the efforts of its proprietors, Eddie Trejo and Joann Cornejo, who take care to strike a balance between beer styles and tastes across Machete's 30 tap handles. It also likely reflects relationships Trejo has made working for several years within the craft industry prior to opening a bar.

Most new craft beer bars in San Diego don't have the wherewithal to furnish beer lists comparable to those of pubs like Hamilton's, O'Brien's, and Churchill's — longtime craft beer champions with longstanding connections to the industry's most revered brewers.

But Machete is on their heels. For its anniversary, it hosted a party featuring some notable Green Flash, Cellar 3, and Alpine releases, including a cask of Alpine's Duet IPA with passion fruit. It also offered AleSmith's highly sought Vietnamese Speedway, and Paper Mache Té, a tamarind sour made by ChuckAlek Independent Brewers to mark the occasion.

Granted, most bars break out their best for special events like this. But when I visited the Friday night following the anniversary, once again some pretty impressive beers graced the chalkboard taplist. Local notables included Lost Abbey's Framboise de Amarosa and Modern Times' Orderville IPA, released that day for the first time outside its tasting rooms.

There were also a couple of Colorado standouts — Oskar Blues' excellent Death by Coconuts porter and Avery's bourbon barrel aged Vanilla Bean Stout. And for the first time I encountered beer from Mexicali craft brewer Cerveza Fauna, specifically its pointedly bitter Lycan Lupus IPA.

After trying the Lycan, the girl seated next to me caught my eye. Rather, her pink beer did — served in a tulip glass rimmed with what appeared to be red salt. This turned out to be a mix of Tajin and chamoy — the former a chili lime seasoning, the latter a savory pickled fruit sauce.

The popular latino condiments are sometimes used to dress the tomato juice and beer cocktail, Michelada. Sometime during this first year, though, some regular customers enticed the Machete team to add them them to fruited versions of Council Brewing's Beatitude, and it stuck. In this case it accentuated Council's latest release, made with prickly pear.

I happen to have recently learned to love Tajin, so I gave it a shot. I would never have thought to drink a beer this way, but the salty spice and fruity acids brilliantly contrasted the tart saison. I might be hooked, but doubt I'll get around to trying it again. Because next time I visit Machete, I know there'll be at least four or five other beers I want to try first, and I will happily go south to try them.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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