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12 Pinoy Craft Beer Brewers Reveal Their 2nd-Favorite Craft Beer

It's easy to love your own, but what about the rest?
ILLUSTRATOR Jasrelle Serrano
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The craft beer culture has grown exponentially in the Philippines in the past few years, but while the competition is thriving, so is the sense of community. We asked some of the country's top beer brewers probably the most difficult question of their craft beer-brewing life: what is their second-favorite craft beer? In the words of one brewer, it's a tough call simply because this industry is about variety and mood. But support plays a part too, and everyone's drinking everyone else's.

"Honestly, I don't have a favorite, not even from one of my beers. Whenever possible, I match the beer to what I am about to do, like [if I'm about to] eat or read. Usually, I drink local beers that I haven't either tried or drunk for a while. If there are varieties available, I usually go for dark beers before the hoppy ones."

–Allan Baldis Agala, Great Islands Craft Brewery

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"These favorites are my favorites for now because it's extremely hard to have a favorite style, let alone a favorite beer brewer, and more so to identify a favorite beer! I love [Crows] De Puta Madre because it is an absolutely in-your-face double IPA. It appeals to the hophead in me. Being a brewer and knowing what it takes to get those flavors and aromas to rise, I am very sure that Mari is being extremely generous with his hop additions. For him, it's all about brewing it how he likes it. Costs and sales considerations are secondary. He even calls this out when he says Crows is not for everyone. I like that his intent is clear and uncompromising. It really comes through when you enjoy a pint of his beer.

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Lately i have been obsessing with brewing dark beers. I am particularly interested in stouts, and have been reviewing historical recipes and approaches to brewing them. So i have been sampling this style and really enjoying it, which probably explains my second beer choice! Fat Pauly's Stout. I only got to sample this once, but I clearly remember the experience. The coffee notes are clear with some supporting spice notes that do not overwhelm or take away from the coffee. The amount of roast is just right, without being overly bitter or ashy. The mouthfeel is round in a way that its satisfying, but keeps you going back to fill your glass. The result is a stout meant to be enjoyed slowly and savored with friends. It really works for me."

–Jaime Fanlo, Pedro Brewcrafters


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"Cerveza Sagada's Violet Ale [because] of its unique take on starch source. [Also] Baguio Craft Brewery's Pugaw for control on ingredient input."

–Paul Stuart del Rosario, Fat Pauly's


"I think my second favorite would be the Singlespeed Stout from Turning Wheels Brewery in Cebu, especially when they use nitrogen to carbonate the beer. I like stouts in general because of the malty sweetness and chocolate, coffee notes. When nitro is used, it becomes smooth and easy to drink."

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–Lee David, Kapitolyo Brewing Co. 


"Among the other local craft beers, Craftpoint's Hopnosis IPA would be my favorite. It's strong fruity aroma hits you right off the bat, and it's citrusy flavor and lingering bitterness is reminiscent of classic West Coast IPA's. Definitely one of my go-to beers when I feel like having an IPA."

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–Raffy Taruc, Katipunan Craft Beer


"Katipunan Indio Pale AleOne of the first true Filipino craft beers in Manila, I like this one for its no-frills, solid take on an American pale ale, with a malty backbone, citrusy bouquet, and a firm bitter finish. I tend to be quite adventurous with trying out new and extreme beers both local and international, but in the end I find myself going back to classic, tried-and-tested interpretations, and Katipunan's flagship ale is a winner in this regard.

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Hands down, Crows' brews are some of the best IPAs in the country. These are no-holds-barred beers in all their bold, bitter, pungent, citrusy, and aromatic glory. Not for the faint of heart, but for the true hophead, their IPAs are a gem. Definitely at the top of the list!"

–Marvin Moreno, Craftpoint Brewing Co.


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"That's a tough one...each one has their strengths in specific variants. If I were to answer one brewery to have all the qualities I like in a craft beer, that would be Alamat. Alamat is a small-batch craft brewing outfit that reminds me so much of how I started. Very much focused on product not size. I'm bent to the IPA style of beer. Hoppy beers is where I find my happiness!"

–Jose Mari Cuervo, Crows Craft Brewing Co.


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"This is really very difficult to answer. But I will say Katipunan [Craft Ale's] Signal No. Stout. I like the coffee notes paired with the hops. Strong and intense. It's one of the first locally brewed stouts in the Philippines and the boys at Katipunan do this well. I also like Mountain King IPA by Turning Wheels. I think Michael [Nikkel] really knows this style in and out. It's bitter as an IPA should be but it's quite balanced."

–Evan Yap, Nipa Brew Craft Beers


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"Whilst I don't have a particular second-favorite local craft beer, my answer would be that I guess I tend to try Turning Wheels Brewery beers more then most other local ones, and probably the reason for that is because Michael is always active and set up at our local craft brewfests so it's kinda easy to just walk up and get a nice fresh beer. I would try most of his beers and keep going back so that's a good sign."

–Brad Hannam, Crazy Carabao Brewing Co.


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"At the Cebruery, we’re always trying to respect tradition while at the same time being different and innovative, using unique local ingredients or being the first to brew a particularly difficult style or incorporating a challenging technique to introduce Filipinos to the breadth of what craft beer can be. That’s why I love anything brewed with barley malted by Santiago Brewery and Malthouse in Antipolo. These guys not only grow and harvest their own barley (which is challenging enough to do in the Philippine climate), but then they malt it themselves (malting is the process that makes barley suitable for beer production). They make this malt available for home and commercial brewers as well as brew some really unique and interesting small batch beers themselves (oftentimes incorporating other local ingredients like sorghum and wormwood). The commitment to local, more environmentally sustainable ingredients and willingness to pioneer something like barley malting in the Philippines is awesome!"

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–Taylor Hendricks, The Cebruery


"Cloudrunner by 63 North Brewing (Malate). Why? I grew up on British Real Ale, which is almost exactly the opposite of the now prevalent American hoppy craft beer. Cloudrunner is hoppy, but well-balanced and a good beer to drink with friends. For a long time locally, I would complain about the overpowering hoppiness (which is why Baler Brew is a wheat ale) to much derision but this is the beer that really got me into hops: its a hoppy flavor, but not overpowering meaning you can drink several of them. I like the ability to drink more than one beer with friends and not have my taste buds blown away. It's only availble in draft, the owner made the decision to do that in order to ensure quality and consistency: both of which are issues in non-mechanized bottling so wherever you drink it is tastes exactly the same pretty much: a little warmer here, and a little colder there. It's also pretty reasonably priced for a locally produced, lovingly made product...It might even been one of the cheapest craft pints around but one of the more rounded flavor profiles, by which i mean its got depth of flavor. It's got a kick too at 6%." 

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–Joe Cole, Baler Brewing Co.


"I would say Katipunan Craft Ales. Love their branding. The guys are awesome there, and their Signal No. 1 Stout is great."

–Michael Nikkel, Turning Wheels Brewery

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About The Author
Sasha Lim Uy
Managing Editor, EsquireMag.ph
Sasha eats to live and lives to eat. For five years, she handled SPOT.ph's food section and edited the last two installments of its Top 10 Food books. She also recently participated at the Madrid Fusion Manila as curator.
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