The 6 Pack Starter’s Guide to Beer

Starting the beer drinking habit can be quite hard. I started out drinking beer by self education through books and blogs. I believe that I started out well with the help of my fellow beer lovers early on. Although I was lucky and patient enough to sieve through the plethora of information out there, it would be daunting task for anyone to start off the habit without a good start.

With that in mind, a six pack is the best way to start the journey into the world of beer. I compiled a suggested list for the neophyte beer enthusiast in you.

With this list, I compiled a set of criteria for the starter six pack.

The criteria should be that:

  • The budget fall under one thousand pesos
  • The beers are of light to medium in body and flavor
  • The beers will have a maximum of 7% abv
  • There should be six different styles of beer in the pack
  • The current list is based on the availability of the beers in the market right now except for Kapuziner (because I love it so much and I still have some in the fridge right now!)

With these stipulations here are the beers that I thought for the neophyte in you:

1. The Hefeweizen (German Wheat Beer)

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The hefeweizen is a german style wheat beer. It is a beer brewed with wheat, malts, water and hops. It uses unique yeast that imparts bubblegum, clove and banana flavors. It is slightly sweet with malty and biscuit flavors with slightly sour notes all encapsulated with the flavors discussed in the previous sentence.

Usually this beer is one of the cheapest beers around; they are usually served in 500 ml bottles. Thus, it is usually the most bang for your buck beer around.

This style, in my opinion, is the best beer to start with. It is a light bodied beer with great flavor. It is also one of the most versatile beers around when it comes to beer and food pairing.  I recommend drinking this beer and eating with pork (especially sausages) or chicken as initial food pairings.

When it comes to the selection, Kapuziner is the brand that I recommend the most. It is around 120 pesos. It is currently available at Gilmore Wines and Spirits. Next to Kapuziner, I highly recommend Franziskaner. It is significantly more pricey (at 150 pesos) but it is definitely worth the price. Other brands  to consider are Paulaner, Erdinger and Gordon Biersch. Most of these beers are available in major supermarkets. Price range is usually from 100-150 pesos.

2. The Belgian White Ale (Witbier)

Hitachino's Nest White Ale

The Belgian White Ale is the Belgian version of the wheat beer. It is also known as witbier which means white beer. It is a beer brewed with wheat with additional ingredients such as coriander and curacao orange peel. It is light in body such as the german style but it has more citrus and herbal notes.

The flavors in this style of beer are great for the palate especially at the start of the tasting. It goes well with almost anything but I recommend it with salad, seafood and chicken as initial food pairings.

Because of the versatility of Belgian White Ales when it comes to flavor, the availability of the beer is good. Hoegaarden is the most popular brand out there. I recommend Hitachino’s Nest White Ale although it is quite expensive. Blue Moon is another popular Belgian White Ale.

Hitachino’s Nest White Ale and Blue Moon are available at Global Beer Exchange and Gilmore Wines and Spirits. Hoegaarden is available in most major supermarkets. Hitachino’s Nest is priced at 250 pesos while Blue Moon and Hoegaarden are under 100 pesos.

*The beers on this list after number 1 and 2 are now pure malt beers. These beers are brewed only with malt, hops, water and yeast.

3. The Blonde Ale

Summer Sessions Blonde Ale

Moving on to a heavier note, the Blonde ale is a great style after moving on from the wheat beers.  It is not a heavy style. It is a beer in the lighter range but slightly heavier than the wheat beers. This style is malty and biscuity in its flavor with slight bursts of caramel. To add to that, hints of floral (close to the smell of sampaguita) notes and pepper (on a very mild potency) notes follow from the initial sweet introduction. The blonde ale is close to the flavor of the white ale but bolder in its flavor.

My beer bros from Craftpoint Brewing Co. make a mean blonde ale. It is called Summer Sessions Ale. It is available at Global Beer Exchange and Gilmore Wines and Spirits. Price is around 150 pesos.

If you’re looking for a readily available option , Leffe Blonde Ale is what you’re looking for. It is available in major supermarkets. The price is around 120 pesos.

4. The Pale Ale

Craftpoint's Liberation Pale Ale

The Pale Ale is one of my favorite beers. The style is focused on the balance of sweetness from malts and the right of bitter notes (it may be floral, minty or pine depending on the hops). The ale yeast lends slight fruit notes that give it a refreshing bite compared to the usual pilsners such as Pale Pilsen.

Beyond the Summer Sessions Ale, Craftpoint Brewing Co. also has their own version of a pale ale. They call their pale ale Liberation Pale Ale. I am amazed at the brewing ability of Marvin (the brewmaster of Craftpoint, by the way Marvin, please bottle your Belgian White Ale, you can take my money if you bottle it)! Craftpoint Brewing Co. is  available at Global Beer Exchange and Gilmore Wines and Spirits. Price is around 150 pesos. 

Taken from Katipunan Craft Ales' Facebook Page
Taken from Katipunan Craft Ales’ Facebook Page

The popular Pale Ale right now is Katipunan Craft Aless Indio Pale Ale. They named it as the Indio Pale Ale to signify that this is a Filipino/Pinoy version of a Pale Ale similar to the Americans calling their Pale Ales American Pale Ales. The Indio Pale Ale is not an India Pale Ale; it is a completely different style. Katiounan Craft Ales is available at Ritual, Global Beer Exchange, Gilmore Wines and Spirits and various places. I’m very proud of Raffy, Kiyo and their third friend whom I don’t know.  You can also taste their kegged Indio Pale Ales at Global Beer Exchange. Right now, I also know that they are available at Burgers and Brewskies. Kudos beer bros! Price is around 120- 150 pesos.

5. The Schwarzbier

Kostritzer

The Schwarzbier is a personal favorite of mine. It is a beer with a thicker body (the texture of the beer) compared to the previous styles due to the inclusion of darker malts in the recipe. In German, Schwarz means black and bier means (duh) beer thus, it means black beer! As they say, once you go black, YOU CAN’T GO BACK!

It’s sheer blackness makes the beer contain stronger presence of caramel notes and brown sugar notes. It is a joy to drink this style of beer. It is simple yet satisfying. Get a bottle of this and eat your favorite liempo. Thank me later.

We are blessed with the opportunity that it is available right now in the country. The classic representative of the style, Köstritzer (from Köstritz, Germany), is available right now Global Beer Exchange and Gilmore Wines and Spirits. Price is around 80 pesos.

If you are looking for a readily available option, Cerveza Negra is a Schwarzbier. It’s not as good as Köstritzer but it is available almost everywhere. I recommend drinking it fresh but you can never tell if the beer is fresh. Cerveza Negra is good only when it is fresh.  If the place that I’m in doesn’t have an extensive collection of beer, Cerveza Negra is the first beer that I look for. It is actually the best beer that San Miguel has to offer.

6. The Coffee  Pale Ale

Taken from Katipunan Craft Ales' Facebook Page
Taken from Katipunan Craft Ales’ Facebook Page

The Beer Bros from Katipunan Craft Ales has a brew called Dear Fred. A beer brewed with coffee from Yardstick coffee. I got to try this out at the Beerfest at Eastwood a month ago. It’s an interesting brew that has the same flavors of the Indio Pale Ale but with a coffee twist. I like this beer and if you like coffee, this is definitely a must try if you’re starting out. I got to try the fresh pint at 150 pesos then. Try it out with your favorite cheesecake! It’s perfect with a New York Cheesecake!

The six brews featured in this article are great introductory beers for the beer journey that you might want to partake into. The whole pack isn’t a tremendous damage to your wallet reserves. Try to ditch the usual beer and give these brews a change. It might be like going black. You might not go back!

For any comments, suggestions, flaming tendencies and even hate mail. Go ahead and message me at my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/beermanph . My mission is the spread the gospel of good beer. I would love to help in any way possible!

Cheers! Beerman out!

Drink for a Cause


From Yummy Magazine's facebook page

With the recent calamity striking our country, two of the local beer businesses here in the country are doing their part in helping to provide aid for our fellow Filipinos. Global Beer Exchange and Katipunan Craft Ales are donating twenty percent of their sales this coming weekend (November 16 and 17) to the Philippine Red Cross.

Global Beer Exchange has a great selection of local craft beers right now. They have an extensive collection of local craft beers ranging from Fat Pauly’s Hand-Crafted Ales and Lagers, Craftpoint Brewery and Katipunan Craft Ales. 

From Global Beer Exchange's Facebook Page
From Global Beer Exchange’s Facebook Page

 

If there ever was a time to start out your beer journey, start this weekend.

If not, try eating out in one of the establishments who are participating this weekend. It’s awesome that you can eat and help out the people who are in need.

*Global Beer Exchange is located at Tritan Ventures Building, Paseo De Magallanes Center, Barangay Magallanes, 1219 Makati City. Like them at https://www.facebook.com/GlobalBeerExchange

*Katipunan Craft Ales is available in various establishments. Like their Facebook page for availability https://www.facebook.com/KatipunanCraftAles.

Beer Myths: The Beer Belly

Yes, I said it. It is a myth. This myth ticks me off. Whenever I go out, it irritates me that people associate beer with getting fat and being lazy. They always say “I’ll drink a cocktail instead; I don’t want a beer belly.” The truth is, it’s your lifestyle that makes you fat; not the beer.

Take this into consideration, late night outings result into binge eating and binge drinking. No matter what you eat or drink, you will tend to consume more calories than normal. From the extra sisig to the last shot or last bottle, it’s the lifestyle that the person practices that makes belly, not the beer.

Image from Mike Lewis from flickr

Although the myth still permeates till this day, science (yes, SCIENCE!) has proved that beer is actually beneficial to everyone.

Charles Bamforth, chair of the Department Food Science and Technology and beer expert at UC Davis, states that beer in moderation is actually beneficial for health. He states in his findings that “beer is not comprised merely of empty calories. Rather, it can contain significant levels of vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and fiber.” Moreover, he states that “”In truth, the majority of beers on the market contain relatively low levels of carbohydrates.”

Science has saved the day for beer lovers. Just remember, beer is beneficial for health purposes. All it takes is a little moderation and a better lifestyle.

*For a more in-depth discussion on the matter, check out the link in my sources.

Source:
http://www.news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=7525

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2417/2287255428_708d20aaae_o.jpg by Mike Lewis: http://www.flickr.com/people/mikelewis/

The Beer Pour

With the glassware discussed in the previous article, it is time to move on to the pour. Pouring a beer is a tricky thing. There are several ways to actually pour a beer and the debate is an endless one. This post will show the different styles of pouring a beer to give you the choice of which would be best for you.

This link is from fora.tv. The speaker in this video is Dave McLean, an owner of a brewery in San Francisco. This pouring style is the style that most people are used to. This pouring style is easy and good. Using this style would be great while you’re starting out.

This video features and in-depth discussion on pouring and tasting beer. I recommend watching this video just for the eloquence and mastery of Dave McLean on the topic.

The other link is a pouring style that is recommended by Randy Mosher. Randy Mosher is the writer of the book “Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink.” The pouring style is difficult compared to the first but it does make the beer taste better. This is my personal opinion. Don’t take this as verbatim. My take on the pour is that it allows the beer to be fully aerated thus helping the beer reach optimal flavor in the least amount of time.

The last link is the pouring style for a German Wheat Beer. German Wheat Beers are different from most styles due to the high amount of wheat. The wheat gives the beer a larger head (beer foam). To add to that, most German Wheat Beers still have the yeast inside the containers. Due to this occurrence, pouring a wheat beer is similar but different in the tiny details.  Below is the video made by Cicerone (beer’s version of a sommelier) Robert V. He gives an in-depth discussion on the style itself while talking about the effects each step of the pour.

Pouring a beer is not that complicated. It just so happens that there are tiny details that sometimes become obsessive compulsive sometimes.

With that in mind,  it’s up to you which one suits you the best. If you think that a certain pouring style makes the beer better, then go with it! 

On Glassware: A Starter’s Guide

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With every liquid that we consume, we use containers in order for us to consume them comfortably. From water to alcohol, we use glasses, bottles and other similar containers for our beverages. It is, first and foremost, for function.

Drinking beer is associated with drinking it directly from the bottle. I prefer drinking beer poured on a glass. It might sound snooty and highbrow but people don’t drink good beverages directly from the bottle. Good beer should be treated the same way as well. You don’t see oenophiles (wine enthusiasts) drink directly from the bottle. They drink with the appropriate glasses not for the purpose of having a container for wine.

Appropriate glassware is necessary to appreciate a good beer. Having the right glass helps bring out the flavors, aromas and appearance of the beer. Having the right glassware also makes you cool. It makes you look educated (for the hipster in you).

With that in mind, it is hard to evaluate what type of glasses you need for beer appreciation. I listed three types of glassware here in this article due to their versatility and availability. This list is not focused on having the most appropriate glass for the style or type of beer. This is a list focused on having a starting set of glassware for anyone interested in starting out their beer adventure here in the Philippines.

The three glasses I considered are the flute glass, snifter and the goblet. Seen below are the three glasses.

The Glassware Starter Set by Beerman

*Side note: All of these glasses are stemmed glasses. Stemmed glasses are great at retaining the temperature of liquid. Stemmed glasses do not require to person to have his or her hands be close to the liquid thus preventing heat from the hands to reach the liquid.

The Flute 

Flute Glass

I love the flute glass for its versatility. This glass is commonly used for champagnes. It’s universally available to anyone who buys glassware. It is available everywhere and it is the most versatile glass out there. The long and narrow body of the glass is great at releasing aromas of the beer. The long body makes it easy possible to easily swirl the beer to release its aromas.

If you are trying out beers, I believe that this is the best out there for tasting. TO add to the, the flute glass is the glass used by beer judges for beer competitions. That alone is enough of a reason to see that the flute glass is a necessary glass for any serious beer drinker.

The Snifter

Snifter

The snifter is commonly used for cognacs. It is my glass of choice when it comes to drinking beer. I love the round body of the glass which makes it perfect for swirling the beer. The concave orientation of the bowl (the top of the glass) makes it easy for the aromas of the beer to be contained in the glass while preventing the beer to spill over while twirling. I find it the best glass out of the three when it comes to looking at the beer. You can examine all its properties due to the round body and concave bowl.

The Goblet

Chimay Goblet Glass

The goblet is the most bad-ass glass out there. You feel like a king or a high ranking Viking when you have one. My goblet is a Chimay (cue in the laughs, pronounciation: http://www.howjsay.com/index.php?word=chimay).

It is large enough to hold a bottle of beer at 330 ml and its thick glass body is good at maintaining head (cue in the laughs again, head is the actual term for the foam in beer). I love the goblet for the design on the body is great at maintaining the carbonation of the beer. Goblets are great at maintaining the bubbles in beer and it really is one of the best glasses out there to make beer look beautiful. It’s also great at deep sips. You can imagine yourself as a viking after a plunder of a village drinking tons of alcohol with a goblet.

To add to that, Chimay is available at S&R where you can get all three of the beers that the brewery produces while getting a goblet as well. That is the reason why I chose this glass for starters. It’s readily available and bang for your buck.  Lastly, this glass is just made of pure awesomeness.

The Chimay Pack

Glassware is important for beer. I actually cringe when I can’t drink a good beer on a good piece of glass. It’s like drinking a bottle of wine directly. It doesn’t feel right.

Sources:

The first photo comes from Mr Eli Convocar of http://www.booksbitesbrews.com
Check out his blog. He’s a great friend who shares the same passion as I do for beer.
*side note: I actually don’t like the glass used for the beer in that picture.  It’s still better to drink a beer from the glass though. 

Glassware photos and the Chimay pack is from my own collection.

To know more about glassware, check out beer advocate’s article on glassware. Some of the information here was obtained from the site: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/101/glassware

What is Beer?

To ask the question is a question on the essence of it.

“What makes a beer? How does it become a beer?”

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These questions can be hard or easy to answer.   Usual answers are that it’s a yellow liquid that has alcohol. It’s great with bar food. We can say that the beer is made from water, barley and hops. Both of these questions are right. The only problem with these answers is that they do not sufficiently answer the question:

“What makes a beer?”

Why should we take into consideration the what, how and why of it?!?!?

It’s a drink to get us drunk!

Rocktoberfest

It’s easy to perceive the most common form of liquid courage as means to an end to most people. For me, beer is more than just that. According to the famed beer writer Randy Mosher, it is the world’s greatest drink.

A beer is a liquid that uses the basic ingredients of water, barley and hops. I think it’s obvious to all of us that these are the basic ingredients of beer.

The Basic Ingredients of Beer

Although it might seem so easy to define that, there are various styles of beer that do not use barley and hops.

In Peru, beer is made out of corn. The name for this beer is chicha. This beer is made from corn and is flavored with various herbs. In essence, our basic understanding of beer is different from chicha. It might be hard to understand but it lies beneath the process of how a beer becomes a beer.

How does a beer become a beer?

The basic understanding of beer is that it has alcohol. To become a beer, a beverage must be fermented with yeast that consumes the sugar of the ingredients. By consuming the sugar, the yeast converts the sugars into alcohol. This is the basic formula for an alcoholic beverage but this is still not a beer.  This is how you make wine.

Why is it a beer?

To make a beer, a beer must be brewed before it is fermented. Brewing is the process of milling, mashing and steeping the beer. Basically, this is the process that makes beer different from wine.

The function of brewing is to convert the starch found from the starch ingredient (commonly barley) to sugar. Beer differs from wine in its process because wine is made through the direct fermentation of the sugars of the ingredient (mainly grapes) without the need for brewing. The sugar of the fruit is already ready for the yeast to feast on!

With the introduction of fermentation through the yeast, it imbues upon unfermented liquid its magical ingredient of alcohol. The yeast needs sugar, not starch, as its energy source in order to convert the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide (the reason why beer is bubbly!).

It sounds easy right? Well, if you watch how wine is made, brewing is probably more difficult than that. Making beer requires several skills that resemble baking. It is an art and a science. Brewing not only involves the processes of milling, mashing and steeping. Within the brewing process, the brewmaster decides the recipe for the beer, the brewing time, the fermentation temperatures, the yeast, the hops to be used, the packaging and so much more.

Beer could probably be the most complex drink to make in the world. Its history, its influence and its culture involve millenniums of interesting facts and trivia.

With that in mind, the next time you try out a bottle, a pint or even a keg; think about what is the beer that you are drinking?

*Here is a video of the beer brewing process if you want to know a little bit more on how beer is made http://www.youtube.com/watch?

v=Ycnwc5vPaAo

*If you are interested in Chicha, here is a link of the clip from Brewmasters, a show from Discovery channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fcf8WUB33hg

Photo sources:
http://www.cargillfoods.com/wcm/groups/public/@cseg/@food/documents/image/na3068874.jpg
Other photos are from my personal collection.