Drink

In Case You've Forgotten: The Brewery Makes Beer-And It's Good

It's called Cumpadre.
IMAGE Gabby Jimenez
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When businessman Raj Sadwhani and partners opened The Brewery in 2015 at BGC’s entertainment complex The Palace, it became the sparkling centerpiece of the burgeoning gastropub scene in Metro Manila. Chef Carlo Miguel curated a menu that was beer-friendly and familiar, yet with a pinch of innovation to spark interest in the thickly saturated genre. The shiny tanks used to brew its craft beers stood majestically behind the almost 60-foot-long bar (rumored to be the longest in the city), where master brewer Ramil Noble concocted the freshest beer. 

The food was so good, though, that people started coming in for dinner rather than drinks. Family-sized servings encouraged family-style eating, and the communal vibe made it easy and comfortable to bring the runts.

Nothing wrong with that. However, a recent visit to The Palace yielded a stark reminder. Noble’s Compadre Beer—served fresh at the bar and all the branches of the Sadwhani-owned Draft restaurants—is delicious, and frankly, people should be drinking more of it.

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Photo by Gabby Jimenez.
Photo by Gabby Jimenez.
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Photo by Gabby Jimenez.

The light and effervescent pilsner is the perfect refreshment on a balmy day. Wheat beer is heftier yet bears a delightful tropical fruitiness that is easy to love. Craft beer lovers looking for complexity can find it in its IPA, which is equals parts hoppy and fragrant.

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The rich coffee and chocolate notes of the stout have inspired bar and operations manager Ed Yonzon to incorporate the dark beer into his Filipino-themed cocktails. He found a good balance with the stout reduction in his creamy, frothy Compadretini and the fragrant and exotic Coco Compadre. Intrigued, we ask Yonzon what else fills his arsenal. He comes back with a very drinkable Bloody Mary wherein he utilized his stash of bacon-infused Jack Daniels Fire and the kitchen’s sun-dried tomatoes. The result is a remarkably sweet and savory coupling that even the non-fans grew to like.

Photo by Gabby Jimenez.
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Photo by Gabby Jimenez.
Photo by Gabby Jimenez.
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Food here, frankly, is still very good and worth the trip when hankering for hearty bar staples. New head chef Bernadette Unigo has noticeably pared down the hipster vibe. Her diverse menu is complicated enough, she says. “It does not need a twist,” Unigo explains. “We’re staying true to our signature flavors.”

Take, for instance, its version of the ubiquitous Filipino-Spanish pulutan, beef salpicao. Unigo’s stands apart from the melee because of the noticeable absence of liquid seasoning. If there was, it was used sparingly, allowing the steak’s beefiness to come through.

The peri-peri chicken’s African spices are prominent on its juicy flesh and crisp skin, and the continental treatment on the salmon fillet is of the highest standards with its perfect roasting and creamy, garlicky sauce. Everything is as should be in this menu, delivering a familiarity that surely sits well with those looking for reliability and consistency.

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Photo by Gabby Jimenez.
Photo by Gabby Jimenez.
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We can also talk about the other well-executed dishes of Unigo and her team (do try the crispy pork knuckles, fried chicken, and fish and chips so you know what I mean), but this is again deviating from what The Brewery is trying re-establish here. As craft beer makers grew in number and confidence, it seems that Compadre has become the shy wallflower amid the younger upstarts with brasher marketing. A companion, who was recently at one of the Draft branches, pointed out that there was no mention nor visual indication within the restaurant that it had its own craft beer on offer.

It really should, though. Compadre Beer might not have the complexity and creativity of other local craft beers, but it delivers in terms of quality and value. Perhaps when Noble finds inspiration, he will start making his seasonal brews again, something he did when they just opened a few years ago. Still, he is doing good work there, and people need to know. 

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Photo by Gabby Jimenez.
Photo by Gabby Jimenez.
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Photo by Gabby Jimenez.

Compadre Beer is available in The Brewery at The Palace, Uptown BGC, Taguig and at Draft Restaurant and Brewery branches. 

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About The Author
Jaclyn Clemente Koppe
Chinkee writes and eats for a living. By living, she means cake. Or steak. When she's not eating, she's running her own blog-shop, OneBigBite.com.
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