Craft/Home Brewers’ Night at L’Incontro

I was at L’Incontro again a week ago for what should be the first of a regular monthly home brewers’ night. Global Beer Exchange holds its Thirstdays event there every Thursday (duh), but the fourth Thursday of the month will also double as a meet-up between homebrewers from not only Metro Manila but all over the Philippines. Last Thursday was the first home brewer’s meet up at L’Incontro, and it was graced by a who’s who of local home brewers. Aside from the young, up and comers, the man behind Bog’s Brew himself dropped by, as did a couple of the more experienced home brewers based in and around the Manila area. Of course, these home brewers’ meet ups are open to everyone who is passionate about beer, even if they aren’t brewers themselves (i.e. me).

Katipunan Craft Ales: Pale Ale and Chestnut Brown Ale

L’Incontro graciously allowed the craft brewers to bring in a couple of bottles each with corkage waived. First up for the night were a couple of brews from Raffy and Kiyo of Katipunan Craft Ales. Their Pale Ale had been featured previously in this blog, to good reviews. I’m glad to note that they’ve improved upon their recipe further. I noticed a lack of body and carbonation in the previous batch, and this newer batch was able to make the proper adjustments.
Their second beer was unique, a Chestnut Brown Ale brewed with the castanas you would see at the grocery. The only other nut brown ale available locally is Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown Nectar, but that doesn’t use real nuts, but rather syrup. Thus, it could easily be said that Katipunan Craft’s is the first real nut brown ale available in the country. The roasted chestnut flavor is apparent in the finish, and the beer is very very drinkable. Easily, this was one of the night’s favorites, and I only wish I had more to sample than the small taster I received.
Aldous B: Berliner Weiss, Benguet (Strawberry) Weiss, Saison

One of the yeast experts in the local homebrewing scene is Aldous Bee. If I’m not mistaken, he’s able to draw out the yeast strains from a bottled beer and use it in his own brewing. He’s done it with the unique Orval strain, which at least, from my pedestrian point of view, sounds difficult to do.

Thus he’s known to experiment with yeast more than other home brewers, and he showcased a few of his beers as well that night. His Berliner Weiss was in the classic vein, but brewed with Lactobacillus. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, and it did taste quite similar to Yakult. The Benguet Weiss was made with fresh strawberries and Lactobacillus as well. The strawberry notes were quite prominent. The Saison was also quite funky. I’ll admit to not being a big fan of sour beers. I think for most it’s a matter of adjusting taste buds and preferences. Many of the more “mature” beer drinkers have a deep fascination with sour ales, and I hope to one day be able to appreciate them as well. Locally, however, you can’t get any of the world class sour ales such as those from Russian River, so these are the best available sour beers in the Philippines.

Great Islands Craft Brewery: Classic English Porter and Strong Ale

I found out just that night that my friend Allan Baldis Agala, the man behind Great Islands Craft Brewery, actually went to brewing school in Illinois. No wonder he’s among the most consistent craft brewers in the country. Great Islands is also slowly but surely building up to start making its beers available to the public, and in my opinion, there’s no other brewer as ready for the big show as Baldis.

His offerings for the night were a classic English porter and what he called a “strong ale,” with three times more hops, according to him. I found the porter a bit less robust than what I’ve expected from the U.S. craft porters that I’m used to. However, the strong ale was my runaway favorite of the night. Don’t let that Red Horse litro bottle fool you, what’s inside is not only much more flavorful and full-bodied, but it likely has much more alcohol as well. Take that, “extra strong!”

I’m looking forward to more of these fun gatherings. Especially since I get to try ever-improving, handmade beers for free, along with the regular GBEX offerings from Stone, Ballast Point, Anderson Valley, Unibroue, Hitachino, Rogue, et al. Sadly, I don’t have a picture of the complete line-up of homebrewers that evening. I’ll try to borrow one and update this post later on if I can. If not, there’s always next time. Home brewing/craft brewing in the Philippines is only getting bigger and better, so watch out flavorless canoe-sex beers! Real Ale is coming for you.

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