San Diego has its share of world class breweries. There are certain names in the beer world where you know whatever beer you order from them will be excellently made. At Bar Sin Nombre the tap list features beers from these breweries on the regular. Belgian beers from a couple of breweries are regular highlights as well as Belgian inspired beers from within the US. You will always find a few select IPAs and stouts along with some excellent lagers. By keeping the number of IPAs on the board fairly small, they can rotate through IPAs to ensure that whatever you find is fresh.
They post updated tap list regularly on Facebook so you can see ahead of time what to expect. There is also a great selection of beers in bottles and wines for those who don’t drink beer.
Each beer is served in specific pours ranging from 8oz to 18oz with glassware selected to leave plenty of room for head. Most of the Belgian-style beers and sours are served in 8oz tulip glasses. I am especially glad that the larger pints are served in Impeiral Pint glasses and not the usual shaker pint glasses that I am surprised are still used at major bars around town.
The bar draws massive crowds occasionally when they share on Facebook that they have a special Cantillon on tap or other excellent beer. I have visited both when it is insanely busy, where I missed the Cantillon but saw a number of my fellow beer enthusiasts and more recently on a lazy Saturday where the crowd was light but still quite respectable.
The outside front has no sign telling you where to go, as part of the nameless theme but you won’t have any difficulty finding the place. The inside decor is simple with standard bar stools and plenty of spaces to stand around the outer walls. If you come on a particularly busy day you may barely be able to walk through the place. Though it only opened in Mid-November 2017, Bar Sin Nombre has already become a regular spot for local beer enthusiasts to visit, knowing that they will always find world class beer and meet people who appreciate the same.
When I last posted about the state of Craft Beer in the Philippines, most bars were focused on import beers, many of which were from California. Though many of these imports are still available in Manila, the quality of beers brewed by small breweries has increased significantly. I still haven’t found any breweries offering full fledged tasting rooms or restaurants like the place I visited in Siem Reap but I am now much more optimistic for the future of craft beer in the Philippines. In this post I focus on Manila and Cebu, the two cities I visited during this trip. And specifically I focus on two drinking establishments, The Bottle Shop in BGC Mall in Manila, and Ilaputi Restaurant in Cebu where they have taps from Cebu based Turning Wheels Brewing. Some may have also read about Irie Gastropub, though they had closed temporarily and were not open when I visited though they do plan to re-open with even more taps.
Manila – The Bottle Shop
The Bottle Shop in Manila has 15 taps and tons of selection of mostly Filipino craft beer with a few imports thrown in. Prices range from 250 pesos ($5) to 400 pesos ($8.50). The Bottle Shop felt like any other craft beer bar around and the servers were quite knowledgeable about the beers pouring such that they were able to give me an idea about the difference between the numerous IPAs on the board. While at the bar I drank 3 local beers, Katipunan Brewing’s Stout, Crow’s Brewing Mala Hierba IPA and De Puta Madre Double IPA.
Katipunan Stout was quite impressive and I wasn’t expecting to like it after having some fairly disappointing beers from them during a previous trip. But for a lighter alcohol stout this was quite tasty and could easily have come from any number of smaller craft breweries out of San Diego. It was complex and balanced with smooth mix of coffee and chocolate and plenty of roast. The Mala Hierba IPA from Crow’s Brewing was quite tasty with a dank piney nose and citrus forward taste while not being too bitter or too malty. This is a fantastically balanced IPA and you will have a hard time finding anything better in the Philippines.
In comparison, the double IPA was slightly disappointing because it had a flavor closer to a barleywine and hints of apple came in at the back end. The double was much more malt forward and highly bitter with notes of grapefruit from the hops. I liked it when I first tasted it but after drinking half of my beer I wished I had ordered another Mala Hierba. The Bottle Shop has a solid selection of bottles of craft beer as well, with many imports and a few Filipino beers that didn’t make it on the list. This is for sure a must stop if you are in Manila and want something other than the local macro beers.
Cebu City – Ilaputi Restaurant
On tap at Ilaputi are all beers from Turning Wheels, a Cebu based brewery. I tried a flight that had two double IPAs, an IPA, and an Imperial Stout. The first double IPA was cloudy and unfiltered with citrus hops dominating and fruity undertones. It was the most bitter of the bunch and probably the closest to an IPA. I also found out later that this was the freshest of the bunch too. Though I could drink it, I didn’t find it as tasty as Crow’s IPA mentioned above.
The IPA was malt forward and not as bitter, not very hoppy or impressive. The second double IPA was also quite cloudy and unfiltered with a strong bitterness and primarily citrus hops but it lacked the aromas that made the first double IPA so tasty. The Imperial Stout was fairly light body and was a primary mix of chocolate and roast but it also had the distinct flavor of pilsner malt, taking away from what might have been a tasty stout. It didn’t have enough body or flavor for the alcohol and compared with the Katipunan stout I had in Manila simply wasn’t close enough to style. Still, the first double IPA was tasty enough that I would want to go back if I was in town. I also was impressed by the presentation at Ilaputi with offering a flight of tasters on a flight board.
Considering my last post suggested there was not much hope for where craft beer in the Philippines is headed, I am now excited for where Turning Wheels and Crow’s Brewing go from here because they are obviously talented brewers and have an idea of what hoppy beers should taste like. If I hadn’t been to manila that fresh double IPA would have been just the thing I needed to hit the spot. While I wouldn’t suggest going to the Philippines specifically to try their beers if you are in the area these places are certainly worth visiting. I should also note that another place nearby was serving two beers on tap from the Cebruery. I was even less impressed by their stout and blonde than anything else mentioned above. So Crow’s and Turning Wheels are the two ones to seek out if you end up in The Philippines.
Before traveling to Iceland I had heard that the food and drinks were both quite expensive. One thing to keep in mind though is that they don’t expect you to tip so it is not too bad. One reason the craft beers are more expensive is the alcohol tax that is higher on higher alcohol beers. So the double ipa and imperial stout are served in 200 ml pours at most places.
I visited all 3 bars on my list inside Reykjavik. Mikkeller was the most expensive as to be expected. Sometimes it was 1400ikr for a 200ml pour or about $12. Mikkeller does not serve local beers but Norwegian beers and other imports. The selection is nice and at least given the price they are used to giving you a splash to taste a few before buying. Ironically I ended up ordering a beer from the US because they had recently finished a tap takeover featuring breweries from the Midwest.
Other bars serving local beers were more reasonable depending on what you bought. Two Reykjavik bars focus on serving the beers of two Icelandic craft breweries. So while you can’t visit the breweries directly you can order flights (though they are so expensive I would suggest sticking with the pints). Microbar primarily serves beers from Gaedingur brewing and they had a very delicious west coast style ipa that very much hit the spot. This one was 1200IKR for a pint, which is about $9.50
Just down the street is Skúli craft bar, another local bar, this one primarily serving beers from Borg but also offering other guest taps as well. When I visited there my husband and I together had a delicious imperial stout (brewed by Borg), milk stout (from Mikkeller), and saison (also from Borg). The saison was nice and crisp herbal and fruity with thyme added. It had a light honey flavor on the back. This reminded me of some of my favorite saisons brewed in the United States and really hit the spot. Prices here made me appreciate the prices at Mikkeller in Bangkok. Needless to say I didn’t drink a ton of beer while I was there because of the prices.
I would absolutely suggest anyone who visits Reykjavik go to both Microbar and Skúli craft depending on the style you like. They are both very close to each other. Google knows where Microbar is but gets the location of Skúli a bit wrong. The best way to get to Skúli from Microbar is to go out the south entrance and turn right, then look to your left for the Skúli sign. Visiting these bars is also the best way for someone to try some beers from the smaller breweries without leaving Reykjavik. Elsewhere you will find plenty of mass produced lagers and occasionally beers from Einstok, one of the larger Icelandic craft breweries, including their toasted porter, white ale, and pale ale. Ironically it is probably cheaper to buy Einstok beers in the stores in the US but it is still nice to order a few while in Iceland. The pale ale was nice and lightly bitter, featuring plenty of English style hops.
Back when I first posted about Tijuana beer I had only been able to visit a single brewery and a bar. Thankfully, over time there have been more and more places opening, making the area more accessible to visitors from San Diego. Specifically, a small plaza has started growing where you can taste beers from many different breweries all in the same enclosed space that is only about a mile south from the border.
For this specific trip I was able to visit Fauna, a brewery from Ensanada, a bar called El Tigre featuring the beers from Ludica, and Paralel 28, a local brewery that also has a few guest taps. This same area is soon to be home to a few other local Tijuana breweries including Border Psycho and Insurgente.
A few things to keep in mind about these breweries, most of them want you to pay in cash only. This is a big difference from Baja Craft Beer that was perfectly fine with people paying with a credit card. Most of them should be fine giving you some change in pesos after you pay for your beers in US dollars though you should be ready with smaller bills if you don’t want to end up with a lot of extra pesos back. Also, most of the people working there seemed to speak pretty solid English, so you should be able to order beers with no problem. If you have data roaming from T-Mobile you can get around with Uber, otherwise you will want to take a cab, which will also expect cash.
The area where these bars and tasting rooms are located is known as Plaza Fiesta though cab drivers might know it better as plaza del zapato. If you see a bunch of clothing shops you are in the right area but you need to go down the street until you see the bars. They aren’t particularly inviting from the outside but they have done a good job with making them look nice on the inside. Because most of the places I visited did not do flights like I am used to in San Diego I only ended up tasting a few beers at each location.
My first stop was Fauna. The bar is also a restaurant and they have some really good food from what I hear, though I only got to try one of the small ceviche tostadas. Beer wise I ended up trying their coffee porter because I had already tasted the IPA at Baja Craft Beer previously. The coffee porter hit the spot with plenty of roasted malt flavors and a solid strong coffee flavor.
Next I went across the street to El Tigre, where I got to try a few of the beers from Ludica. I tried a single taster of the Saison and was not impressed. It was overly sweet and yeast forward without any of the smooth flavors I expect in the style or much spice. I ended up with a pint of the Supermash Equinox Pale ale (single hop). I could tell that the hops were extra fresh and bright. It had a good tropical fruit flavor and a nice low malt bill. As you can see on the photo most of their beers were a bit lighter than I normally like.
Finally I visited Paralel 28, though they were out of a lot of their house beers and what was left didn’t appeal to me. So I ended up trying an IPA from Wendlant called Perro Del Mar. This IPA was quite tasty and had a lot of what I expect in a west coast style IPA. Before I went back over the border for the night I walked the short walk to my favorite taco place in Tijuana called Tacos El Frank. They are only open in the evenings and have some delicious carne asada tacos as well as other options for a very inexpensive price.
I hope to write again over the next few months when Insurgente and Border Psycho open their own places in this plaza. For now, I was glad that I got to experience what I did and see that craft beer is becoming more available. Sadly, it seemed the locals were still ordering macro crap in most of the bars because that is what they are used to. Almost everyone in El Tigre was drinking Indio. If you are thinking about visiting these bars, they aren’t known by Google yet. Probably the best thing is to look for Sótano Suizo, a bar in the same area to find out where to go.
Duck Foot Brewing grew out of a desire of one of the brewers to make beers he could drink. As someone with Celiac, a disease that makes gluten harmful to consume, he wanted to open a brewery where all the beers are safe to consume for someone like him. Though this is not the first brewery to add the enzyme that makes the beers gluten reduced–Stone used it in their Delicious IPA–they are the first brewery to use that inclusion as a central piece of their marketing.
Duck Foot is currently in the soft opening phase and when I visited them on Saturday, May 9th, it was the first day they were open to the public. Still, I enjoyed most of their beers and will be looking forward to seeing the sorts of things they come up with going forward. When I visited I got to try the blonde, wit, porter, IPA, and Double IPA. There was a stout available earlier that day that blew (ran out) before I got to taste it.
The blonde had a nice light citrus hop flavor that balance with the typical flavors of the style. Still a very crisp drinkable beer. The wit was also nicely done to style. It had nice crisp citrus and spice flavors as you would expect. The porter had a nice mix of bitter chocolate and coffee with a nice sweet caramel back. There is also a smooth nutty flavor in the back from some added hazelnuts. I thought this one could be a little thicker but it is solid.
The IPA was a nice Simcoe IPA and not overly bitter. It had good citrus flavors and tropical fruit with a moderate bitter after taste. The Double IPA was a bit sweeter with some tropical fruit flavors and good citrus. Both were very much in the San Diego style both in the flavors presented and the lighter malt bill giving the hops a prominent spot in the beers.
For a new place I was also quite impressed by the size of the tasting room. They feature a long bar and more bar seating near the windows. Indoors they are somewhat similar to 32 North in look though they feature some unique artwork on the wall that will help them stand out from the rest. All of the beers I got to taste will be core beers except for the wit. As they get closer to the grand opening I will update you on the different beers I get to try from Duck Foot.
Disclaimer: I was given the tasters of beer free of charge when I stopped by for my tasting. I did not modify my thoughts in any way because of this.
Update from Media Party:
I came back to Duck Foot for their media party that took place on June 2, 2015 when I tried three new beers that were not available previously. These were the Cali Honey Ale, Saison, and Red Ale. I thought the honey ale had a nice balance. It was not too sweet or medicinal like many honey ales get.
The saison is a solid basic saison with a light body and some Belgian yeast flavors. It lacked the typical spice of a saison but they mentioned that it will be available in different fruit variations going forward so they wanted to keep it simple. Finally the Red Ale was a nice dark amber color with flavors of roasted malts and light coffee. If it had a thicker body it could have easily passed for a porter. A very nice beer.