Just a few blocks from La Casita Mexicana—where Ramiro Arvizu and Jaime Martin Del Campo’s chiles en nogada turned the city of Bell’s Gage Avenue into a culinary destination—sits Border X Brewing, a new 7,000-square-foot brewpub. Housed in a brick-lined former bakery, the business looks out at the city’s historic James George Bell House and (the far more infamous) Bell City Hall.
The recently opened Border X outpost is the first L.A. County location for the family-run brewery, which originally opened in 2014 a mile from the U.S.-Mexico border crossing in Otay Mesa before relocating a few months later to Barrio Logan, a largely Chicano neighborhood near downtown San Diego. Back then, a parade of women pushing strollers showed up on opening day for a taste of Abuelita’s Chocolate Stout. It’s that success that David Favela, Border X CEO, hopes to repeat in Bell, a sleepy working-class burb that’s home to an equally robust Latin American community.
At the new taproom, a 45-foot-long bar, backed by enormous steel fermentation tanks, pours 16 draft beers, each one formulated to spark memories among people, like Favela, who grew up with a foot on either side of the border, cast in a “third space… ni de aqui, ni de alla.”
“We have this middle culture,” says Favela, whose recipes reflect the fusion of his Mexican American roots: a German-style gose spiked with coriander; a golden horchata stout; and the lauded Blood Saison, a hibiscus-infused brew inspired by the agua de jamaica of Favela’s boyhood.
“We’re Mexican,” Favela explains. “We grew up with grandmothers, mothers, and aunts who made jamaica deep, dark, and ruby red—tart enough to take the paint off a ’57 Chevy. Other breweries use hibiscus flowers. They’ll sprinkle it in so it gets pinkish, but there’s no tie to the experience of a Mexican American household.”
“We’re Mexican. We grew up with grandmothers, mothers, and aunts who made jamaica deep, dark, and ruby red—tart enough to take the paint off a ’57 Chevy.”
The decision to open in Bell, as in Barrio Logan, is not happenstance. The company’s arrival cements a grassroots effort that has been growing in greater East L.A. for years.
SoCal Cerveceros, SoCal’s largest club for Latino home brewers, has seen membership swell to 125 teams. Several are on the cusp of opening their own breweries, including Brewjeria in Pico Rivera and Feathered Serpent in San Dimas. As any beer shop worth its hops will attest, beer makers are burning to connect with Latin American drinkers. Golden Road sells a frutero-inspired beer. Stone teamed up with Tijuana’s Cervecería Insurgente on Xocoveza, a Mexican mocha stout. But few aim to engage with locals as directly as Border X does.
“Our first rule is to build a business for people who live here,” Favela says. “We tailored this brewery to make people [in Bell] feel welcome—the music we play, the artwork we show. We’re celebrating a history that already exists.”
4400 E. Gage Ave., Bell.
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