Since curfew hours are still enforced and social gatherings remain discouraged, one would think a neighborhood brewpub isn’t exactly the kind of business one would dive into. Not when there’s no telling just when people can really go out and gather. “Some people think it’s a crazy decision that I opened a business, just when many have closed down,” Jun Flores, owner of El Deposito Brewery, tells us.
But the entrepreneur has got it in his head that his craft beer business can ride out the crisis—as long as he keeps it small enough so he could manage the expenses, and special enough for people to discover the great-tasting homemade brews.
Flores had worked for 20 years in an IT company in Singapore. It was there where he developed a passion for brewing beers—craft brews were an expensive commodity in the Lion City. When he returned home to the Philippines in 2015, he realized craft beers have also become a booming business here so he put up Kapitolyo Brewery. In 2019, however, that business closed.
This year, Flores was able to get a small space—about 25 square meters—in North Averilla St. (near P. Guevarra and Wilson St.) in San Juan City. Its just enough to fit his brewing equipment, a small bar for customers, and an al fresco area that can accommodate 10 people.
The bar began operations only a month ago. Adapting to the pandemic, operating hours are much earlier—3PM to 10PM on Monday to Friday, and 11AM to 10PM on Saturdays and Sundays. Flores decided on this schedule so that more people can visit during the day, at different times. He observes some people have changed their beer-drinking habits during the pandemic. “In places like Poblacion, people start going out in the morning or afternoon and start drinking.”
What he would have wanted El Deposito Brewery to do is change the lasingan culture, which is typical among Filipinos. What he wants instead is for their customers to appreciate the flavors the brewery is offering, especially the craft beers. This is the reason the beers vary all the time. Flores even invites other brewers to showcase their own concoctions in his pub. “Our drinkers always look for something new, so that’s what we give them,” he says.
Their homemade brews range from P100 to P150, while beers from their guest brewers range from P150 to P200 a glass.
They don’t serve food at the bar but customers can buy from the neighboring restaurant, Flossom Kitchen and Café, which offers everything from appetizers, salads, pasta, rice meals, sandwiches, and desserts.
“We have an understanding [with Flossom]. Customers could order food from them and serve it in our bar. Then if people order beer from them, they’ll also get from us.”
Flores knows that in order to reach a bigger market, their beers should be made available for delivery. So El Deposito has partnered with Beer2Go, which carries different local beers.
At this point, the bar and brewery is still encouraging customers to enjoy their beers at home, which is why it is offering refills at a much cheaper price (P300 per liter). Flores hopes to expand the business once the country recovers from the pandemic.
Photos from El Deposito Brewery on Facebook