Tag Archives: Southeast Asia

Craft Beer in the Philippines – 2016 Edition

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

Philippines Beer 2016 01
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.

Their solid lineup of bottles available.
Their solid lineup of bottles available.

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.

I can't remember if this is the double IPA or the single IPA but based on how dark it is, it is probably the double IPA.
I can’t remember if this is the double IPA or the single IPA but based on how dark it is, it is probably the double IPA.

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.

Philippines Beer 2016 04

As you can see, many of these beers are really hazy.
As you can see, many of these beers are really hazy.

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.

Philippines Beer 2016 06

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.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

Siem Reap Brewpub – Siem Reap Cambodia

Siem Reap Brewpub 01

When I planned my trip to Siem Reap Cambodia, the land of $0.50 draft beers, I wasn’t expecting to find a brewery. I didn’t even search for one until I was already a week into my trip, relaxing at my hotel in Penang Malaysia. To my surprise I found one right off the bat, because the brewery knew how to market itself as craft beer. Siem Reap brew pub is located a little bit away from pub street, where most visitors spend the evenings enjoying cheap beer. Thankfully Google knows where it is and it is fairly easy to find because of its large space and bright lights. They have five beers available, a blonde, a golden ale, a honey wheat, an ipa, and a stout (which the simply call a dark ale). I tried all five over two separate visits because the flight of tasters only includes four.

Siem Reap Brewpub 04

The blonde ale is crisp and delicious with notes of citrus and honey with detectable floral hops but nothing overpowering. Most drinkers might not notice the hops at all. The Golden ale is fruity and medium bitter and to me resembles a pale ale more than a golden ale. The beer has notes of banana, Apple, and spice with a strong bitter finish. Those who aren’t much into hops should skip this one. The honey wheat is smooth and not too sweet, and drinks like a good wheat ale with hints of honey. The spice notes typically from a Belgian yeast are present and balance nicely with the honey.

Siem Reap Brewpub 03

Siem Reap Brewpub 05

The ipa mostly has flavors of tropical fruit and apple with a light body and good balance. The Golden ale was almost more hoppy. The ipa is neither a classic British style nor northwest style nor West Coast style. After speaking to the brewer and learning that this primarily uses galaxy hops I was less impressed because it didn’t taste anything like what I’m used to with the hops. It isn’t terrible but I ended up drinking more of the lighter styles instead. The stout is medium body with molasses flavors dominating and supported by dark chocolate notes in the back. The molasses is a nice nod towards the local stout flavors but this beer is much more complex.

Siem Reap Brewpub 02

The Brewpub has a fancy feel to it with a pond in the center of the outdoor area and comfortable seating outside. Inside tables have white table cloths and folded cloth napkins. For a Cambodian brewery I was glad that they charged only $3 for a flight and the same for each individual pour of beer. This is a nice change from Malaysia where the imported beers are usually $8 to $10, though they are also a Muslim country and so alcohol is not as common. I found the beers at Siem Reap brew pub to be overall very impressive and much better than any craft beer offerings I’ve tried in the Philippines. Before heading home I stopped by the Philippines to try some craft beer to see how they improved. As you will read in my next post, a few breweries are making some solid beers in the Philippines as well.┬áIf you care about quality local beers when you travel be sure to stop by this brewery if you are ever in Siem Reap.

Top two:
Honey wheat
Stout

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus