MANILA -- The Lonely Planet’s Global Beer Tour book lists some weird beers around the world. In the USA, you can find beer brewed with hot chili sauce (Sriracha Stout by Rogue USA), shellfish (Chocolate Lobster from Dogfish Head) and even bull’s testicles (Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout by Wynkoop Brewing Company).
With the craft beer scene booming in the Philippines, you can be sure that we have our share of unusual flavors.
Here are a few locally brewed beers with distinctly Pinoy flavors and ingredients that I’ve come across
1. Everything from Great Islands Craft Brewery
With adventurous beer flavors like Puto Bumbong (brewed with purple glutinous rice, roasted coconut and muscovado sugar), Bicol Express Wild Chili Ale (with roasted chili), Halo Halo (an herb and spice beer inspired by the popular Filipino dessert) and Hani Luya (salabat-inspired ginger honey beer), Great Islands Craft Brewery’s selection of beers are difficult to ignore.
The microbrewery, which opened in 2014, has been producing small batches of beer inspired by local aromas, flavors and personalities of the Philippines and features iconic Pinoy culture and landmarks on their beer labels. Be sure to grab these rare brews if ever you come across them in craft beer events and bazaars. They’re worth trying for the novelty factor alone and make excellent gifts for beer enthusiasts.
2. Ube Beer by Cebu Beer Factory
Ubeer is one of the artisan craft beers brewed with ube or purple yam produced by the Cebu Beer Factory based in Cebu City. The brewery which opened in 2016 brews unique and tasty beers using a Belgian and French method for the price of local products in the Philippines.
Most Pinoys associate ube with sweet desserts like ice cream, pastries, cake, jam or topped on halo-halo, when it’s traditionally boiled and mashed with condensed milk and butter, but Ube Beer isn’t as sweet as you’d expect. Ube is a tuber similar to a potato, so the actual flavor without all the sugar is on the subtle side. The taste of purple yam has been described as comparable to vanilla with the nuttiness of pistachio.
3. Guimaras Gose by The Cebruery
Gose is a traditional German-style unfiltered sour wheat beer known characterized by its use of coriander and salt. Guimaras Gose is one of the core beers of The Cebruery Artisanal Ales and Lagers, a craft brewery based in Mandaue City in Cebu launched in 2014.
Every batch of Guimaras Gose makes use of raw Filipino sea salt, freshly ground imported Indian coriander, and mangoes from the island province of Guimaras. While Guimaras is known for producing some of the sweetest mangos in the world, this distinctive beer has a combination of tart, salty, sour and fruity notes. Just imagine green mango in beer form. This beer is best paired with dishes like kinilaw (ceviche) or can serve as a palate cleanser for fatty dishes like bagnet or chicharon.
4. Sili Beer from Ibalon Craft Brew
A lot of travelers to the Bicol region make it a point to try out the famous sili ice cream from Legazpi City. Meanwhile, beer lovers passing by Naga City can sample beer brewed with siling labuyo (bird’s eye chili) from Ibalon Craft Brew.
This brewpub along the foodie strip of Magsaysay Avenue in Naga City, which opened in 2017, serves crat beer infused with native chili along with other local brews like a chocolate stout flavored with Bicol cacao and coffee beans. Pair these with unique local appetizers like biti (fried fish belly) dinamita (chili spring roll), or pili nuts with Himalayan salt.
5. Adobo Stout by Alamat Craft Brew
Adobo in beer? Yes. It exists. Manaul Adobo Stout from Alamat Craft Brew is inspired by the unofficial national dish of the country, a meat stew typically marinated in in vinegar and soy sauce. The stout was originally brewed and bottled in the middle of 2018 and had a limited release as a third anniversary beer of the independent backyard brewery established in 2015.
In order to get the flavor profile of adobo, brewers used a majority of ingredients from a traditional meal including peppercorn, laurel leaves and even chicken to come up with the unique aromas and flavors of this unusual beer. Extra rice, anyone?
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