(The California Pilgrimage is my one month journey around California encompassing various activities but overall, these posts will be about beer. This title is directly from the first episode of Michael Jackson’s old show called The Beer Hunter. A True Beer Geek must know about Michael Jackson. If you don’t, you’re either a poser or someone who is starting out the journey through the Elixir of Life. I hope you are the latter.)
Day one, May 24, 2015
Genesis… The beginning… It is the first book of the Judeo-Christian religions referring to the origin story according to this culture and religion. It is, in some ways, my Genesis into Craft Beer. I have been crazy about the drink for the last five years yet I haven’t been able to visit the American Breweries I know and love. To that end, I was able to visit three breweries during this visit. This was quite low for my preferences but NorCal (I was mostly based in San Francisco and the Bay Area during this visit) has so much to provide. It is my type of place and I can’t wait to go back. Nevertheless, this day was a great start.
I arrived at SFO (San Francisco International Airport) around 4 PM with my grandparents (who are the best grandparents one can have). The view was cloudy and grey, a sharp contrast to the warm, bright and sunny palette that I was exposed to the past few months. I was ecstatic after bearing a fourteen hour flight in economy class plus the hour long wait at immigration. I arrived at my aunt’s house around 6:30 PM with this beautiful view of the Western Conference Finals Game (anything in a 72 inch screen is beautiful).
Prior to leaving for San Francisco, I messaged my good high school friend Aaron on my trip to the Bay Area. We agreed to see each other when I arrived but I didn’t expect to see him a few hours into my trip. He saw my uploaded photo of the TV on my Facebook feed and he surprised me by arriving at the driveway fifteen minutes later. It has been more than a year since I last saw him when he and his wife visited Manila. Seeing him just sent bolts of energy around my body and I couldn’t help but run and hug the mofo. After talking to him for a few minutes, I asked permission from my relatives if I could spend the night with them. Luckily, I have very understanding relatives.
Due to my incessant demand for beer (I was in California, it’s beer country), Aaron and Sarah brought me to Bj’s Restaurant Brewhouse at San Bruno.
Last July 4 was a special day for me. I was invited to check out the facility of Great Islands Craft Brewery and join in for the first brewing session at the new facility. The brewery is the brain child of one, if not the best, brewer in the country, Philippine Brewing God a.k.a. Baldis. For those now in the know, Baldis was the brewer who helped and taught the aspiring brewers several years ago who are now the people behind Katipunan Craft Ales and Craftpoint Brewing Co. With hearing the news of Baldis finally being able to set up the brewery of his dreams, I was ecstatic to see the place and see the man himself play with his new shiny toys.
The watering hole that started the Craft Beer movement opened its latest branch at the rapidly developing area that is known to my generation as the Fort (I grew up calling it The Fort or Fort and I refuse to call it by three boring letters). Technically, The Bottle Shop is the second branch from Global Beer Exchange, the company that imports American Craft Beers such as Stone, Anderson Valley Brewing Company plus the popular and deservedly appreciated Hitachino’s Nest by Kiuchi Brewery from Japan. The latest branch is the third watering hole by the company and the Beertender/Guru, Jim Araneta. The first one, the now closed The Tasting Room, was an amazing place near Greenbelt 5 where most of the original Beer Club of Manila. The latest Bottle Shop location continues the tradition of being the bastion for Craft Beer, both foreign and local. Last July 21, 2015 was the soft opening of The Bottle Shop to the general public. The Beertender himself invited several of the patrons of the original branch of The Bottle Shop at Paseo de Magallanes.
Beer is a drink that spans hundreds of styles and various ingredients. Thus, tasting beer is a great skill to have if you are a beginning beer enthusiast. It is obvious to everyone that there is a huge difference between a brew such as Cerveza Negra and a Pale Pilsen. The problem is, how do you prove it?
I would love to toast to the success of Books Bites and Brews first Craft Beer and Food Pairing dinner last Saturday. It was one of the first attempts at seriously providing people an avenue to the world of beer. With that in mind, I documented my experience that night for your viewing pleasure.
Good day fellow beer lovers. It’s been a while since I last wrote and the amount of material that I have to write is quite a lot for the next few days. First off, I went to the Omakase Degustation at Sensei Sushi for my friend’s birthday and it was great. I had paired beers with the dishes that night but the amount of writing involved is immense. That will happen next week since I was too focused on eating rather than documenting it. For a good background of the dinner, check out my cousin, Mikka Wee, write about the dinner on her blog at: http://mikkawee.com/2014/01/28/sensei-sushi-degustation/
Moving on, I wanted to write about my favorite things to do with beer, using it as an ingredient for dishes. People love using beer as an ingredient for dishes such as fish and chips where beer is added to the batter. That’s cool. I like the idea but the concept of using beer for cooking is a fairly complicated procedure. Using the ever available San Miguel beer is a great start to cooking with beer but I’d rather use one of my favorite beers around, Kapuziner’s Hefeweizen (German Wheat Beer).
Excuse me for word salad. I guess you guys want me to go straight to the point. Well here it is,
I remember a month ago during the holidays when I was in Davao. Now, Davao is a great city. It’s a great place to live since nature is around you and the people are warm and very relaxed. The problem with Davao is the beer selection. With that problem, I was forced to think of solutions to satiate my hunger for suds while also having some great grub to pair it with.
Nonetheless, I didn’t get to fully satiate my hunger and thirst for a great pairing but I returned to the foundation where I found beer and food pairing to be one of my passions in life. It is the simple Oreo cookie and Cerveza Negra!
Just like you guys, I celebrated the holidays so I was preoccupied with copious amounts of food and drinks that gave me the reason to slack off and just enjoy the time. With that in mind, I am sorry for posting a new article just now. I can be lazy that way but nonetheless, I promise to post regularly from now on.
Moving on, the holidays was a time for me to reconnect with friends and family. With this occurrence, it necessitated some celebratory drinks! As with this blog is primarily about beer, I celebrated these moments with beer and a few glasses of liquor as well.
I met up with my good friend Rommel during the holidays to catch up since the last time we saw each other was months ago. At first, I wanted to check out Black Sheep at W Building but it was too busy that night. My friend wanted to just have a relaxed night so we proceeded to The Bottle Shop of Global Beer Exchange.
We each had a drink and we choose the beers on tap.
With the yulitede season, I flew in to Davao at the behest of my relatives for the holidays. Sadly I had a hard time coping with the beer selection here but luckily I found some Guiness Extra Stout at the Swiss Deli.
Today also marks the birthday of one of my closest cousins and his older sister baked him a flourless, sugarless chocolate cake for his birthday dinner.
With the beer that I got, I had an opportunity to find a good beer for pairing with the dessert.
FYI: Guinness Extra Stout comes direct Ireland and it is significantly better than the Guinness Foreign Extra Stout cheaper 330 ml can that you can avail in most supermarkets. The Foreign Extra Stout comes from Malaysia and it’s horrible! Please avoid it at all costs!
Moving on, beer and food pairing is a passion of mine when it comes to beer. You can never dissociate beer from food. The biggest reason why I’m such a beer geek is because a great pairing of beer and food is one of the best gastronomic experiences around!
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)
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)
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
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
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.
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
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
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!