The sweltering heat in Manila has unleashed a different kind of thirst in me. While I would normally uncork a bottle of red wine or stir up a gin and tonic in the afternoon, the unrelenting humidity had me pouring a chilled Czech pilsner that reminded me of the unofficial happy hours at my college pub when I was a student abroad. With just one sip, it woke up my palate with its smooth bracing bitterness, delicate aromas, and even subtle sweetness.
The beer in question was a Pilsner Urquell, delivered to my doorstep in a huge 4-liter “growler” (a large jug specifically used to transport draught beer), freshly drawn from the tap, and meant to be consumed within 24 hours. This is the brilliant new strategy of Don Revy Philippines, the beer brand’s local distributor, which first launched this offering during the MECQ.
The original “pale pilsen”
Managing Director Jojo Vega imparts what drew his company to this Czech classic, after his successful ventures into the wines and spirits category, “Craft beer was becoming popular in 2018. We thought having a beer that represents craftsmanship will be the next big thing and Pilsner Urquell was the answer. Simply put, being the world’s first and original pilsner will surely create a lot of interest, and it did.”
It’s worth noting that this Czech lager could very well be the reason behind Filipinos’ undying love for pilsner. Vega revealed how every golden beer in the local market pays homage to the original Czech classic. “Even the original Filipino beer, San Miguel, founded in 1890, copied this beer. Check the San Miguel beer brand and the label has Pale Pilsen. It’s because Pilsner Urquell is brewed and made only from one source, the city of Plzen (or Pilsen) in the Czech Republic. I should know because I was with San Miguel for 15 years and I keenly remember the trainor mentioned the Pilsen lager as the inspiration of the San Miguel Pale Pilsen.”
It may be hard to fathom that a 178-year-old Czech tradition continues to shape and form today’s Pilsner Urquell lager, but the same recipe of local ingredients—including sweet Moravian barley, delicately bitter Saaz hops, soft Pilsen water, and bottom-fermenting H-strain yeast—is still maintained from the first beer created by Brewmaster Josef Groll in Pilsen in 1842.
Draught on delivery
While the ECQ may have awakened latent desires for alcohol due to the liquor ban, it also presented a unique opportunity for Don Revy to share Pilsner Urquell through growler delivery. “The ECQ has caused a major shift in the behavior of consumers as they have now become used to shopping online and having these delivered at home,” Vega imparts. “As soon as the government announced MECQ, we sourced and secured the growlers and arranged for the printing and installing of labels to take advantage of this new phenomenon.” He noted that it may take a bit of time before consumers will have the confidence to drink at bars or restaurants again, and so at-home drinking will continue to be relevant. “This new concept also provided us the opportunity to sell our kegs in the warehouse,” he adds.
The fancy growler contains roughly 4 liters of Pilsner Urquell, freshly drawn from the tap with every order. Vega states, “Currently, we priced it at a supposed lucky number of P888, being old school and born in the superstitious era.” The 4-liter growler is equivalent to around twelve 330-ml bottles, which comes out to an effective price of just P74 per bottle. Vega adds, “It’s compelling enough to generate a lot of awareness and interest for consumers to be given the opportunity to try the world’s first and original pilsner.
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Don Revy assures that the Pilsner Urquell growler will always arrive at your doorstep as if it was drawn straight from the tap, with numerous steps taken to preserve its crisp flavors, such as storing the kegs in temperature-controlled warehouses, and chilling both the kegs and growlers in chillers. “We pour the beer sideways or add another nozzle to further regulate the flow and avoid undue oxidation,” Vega describes. “We fill up the growler all the way to the top so there’s no space for air before we put the cap on tightly.”
The measures don’t stop there as the growler is kept on ice until it reaches the customer, from iced chillers while awaiting pickup to being transported on ice. There is even a “freshness” tag on the bottle, reminding consumers to finish the bottle within 24 hours and keep it chilled right away. Even the cap serves a purpose, sealing in the freshness after every pour until the entire bottle is finished.
Vega was surprised by the overwhelming response from people keen to have freshly poured beer at home, while also getting an impressive-looking bottle as a keepsake. He foresees a busy time ahead, managing the online and home delivery space, and eventually offering promotions like growler bundles and refill incentives. Vega shares, “Upon availability of smaller containers and while dine-ins and bars shall continue to be regulated, we plan to also consider single serves via 1-liter or even 2-liter SKUs so consumers will be more confident of finishing the freshly poured, ice cold beer within 24 hours.” The Don Revy team assures a 24-hour order-to-delivery lead time to guarantee that freshness.
While COVID-19 and GCQ may be our new normal for the present, it certainly doesn’t rule out ways to enjoy a tipple at the end of the day. With a draught at home from Pilsner Urquell, I am ready to lift my glass and hope for an optimistic outcome to all of this. Na zdraví!
Visit Don Revy on Facebook. For orders, call or text (0917) 594-0353, (02) 8556-3312, or email [email protected]