A Birthday Six-Pack

My beautiful baby sister is no longer a baby, having turned eighteen today! To commemorate her reaching adulthood – and Philippine legal drinking age – I gifted her with a six-pack of different beers from across the world, which I felt were a good representative of the variety of flavors that beer can produce, while still being beginner-friendly, so to speak. Thus, there were no adjuct lagers here, or course, but also none of the more in-your-face India pale ales or Russian imperial stouts. My selections were based on easy drinking, versatility, flavor profile, and even visual appeal.

1. Chimay White – a Tripel from Belgium brewed by Trappist monks. Described by prominent beer writers as the Tripel that started it all, this beer is already quite recognized in the Philippines, being readily available in bars such as The Distillery, and even in groceries. One of my personal favorites, and the double meaning of the name in colloquial Filipino is always good for a laugh. It’s a decent alternative to sparkling wine in terms of look and complexity of flavor. Like other classic tripels, pair this with good cheese, or succulent seafood like salmon and scallops.

2. Timmermans Kriek – a cherry-flavored Belgian Lambic, this is an example of a real fruit beer, unlike the malt beverages with artificial apple or lime flavors that at least, do not have the audacity of calling themselves beer. While I personally am not a big fan of sweet lambics, this is often a hit with young women, and is a good beer for pairing because of the distinct flavor profile it contributes. Good with a vinaigrette as a starter, or with a rich chocolate cake for a Black Forest finish to a meal.

3. Rogue Dead Guy Ale – an American amber ale which I’ve described as a good introduction to US craft beer. This was probably the second or third craft beer I tried, way back when Pivo had a decent selection, and it was enough to get me interested. It’s not overly bitter, and in fact is well-balanced, perhaps even on the sweet side in the mind of many a hophead. Perfect for a first craft beer, in my opinion, along with typical pub grub like pizza or anything deep-fried.

4. Anderson Valley Barney Flats – this oatmeal stout from California is another good example of its style, and a favorite among the local craft beer enthusiasts. It’s a lesson in basic beer. Not all dark beer is bitter or strong. This one is an easy drink, with beautiful coffee and chocolate notes that will impress a first-timer, without being too over-the-top. I’ve had this for breakfast before, and I highly recommend it with a hearty weekend brunch of eggs, hash browns, and of course some bacon.

5. Kostritzer Schwarzbier – a dark lager from Germany, this is more proof that dark beer does not have to be heavy, and that lagers can be both flavorful and interesting. I was actually supposed to also get a Franziskaner Hefeweissbier as my German example, but it was either that or the next beer, so I decided to ahem, go black. Nonetheless, Kostritzer is a great beer with sausages or grilled or roasted pork or chicken.

6. Hitachino Nest White Ale – of course, this Japanese interpretation of the Belgian witbier style made popular by Hoegaarden and Blue Moon is a must-have for any introductory six-pack. I order one for every person I expose to craft beer, and as I’ve previously said, sit back and watch their mind get blown. As with many wheat beers, this is versatile enough to pair with anything, but sushi is always the go-to favorite.

I think that’s a decent enough collection. I maybe would have substituted one or two beers but the selection at Gilmore Wines was everything but cleaned out when I dropped by. Well, I can always buy my sister more beer next time.

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