147 Beer Avenue in Davao City
I was in Davao City, Mindanao overnight this past week for work, and of course, I had to check the beer scene out. A quick message to the members of the Beer Club of Manila was unfruitful. Everyone, even the Davaoeños, told me that there weren’t any decent places to grab a non-adjunct beer. Fortune shone favorably on me though, as a friend who’s been based in Davao for the past year brought me to a 147 Beer Avenue, a small, little-known beer-centric pub that reminded me all too much of the Global Beer Exchange Bottle Shop. Thus, thanks to my gracious host and her boyfriend (a good high school friend of mine who luckily flew in that same night for a visit), I played third wheel and beer professor at the same time.
147 Beer Avenue lies among a row of dining establishments in Legaspi Suites, on the corner of Legaspi and J.P. Rizal in the middle of the city. Their beer wall is impressive, given my lack of expectations. They have a good selection of Belgian beers, including well-known Trappist brands Chimay and Rochefort. The rest is mostly mass market lagers, from the local San Miguel to Budweiser, Heineken and Corona. They also have a selection of popular hard liquors. The decor is beer geek chic, with wall-to-wall beer posters reminiscent of Gilmore Wines and Spirits and Pivo back in Manila. I don’t think they have a kitchen, but they have a load of your favorite imported chips for sale. I guess bringing in food is allowed, as well. There’s a pizza shop (Calda, known for its 36″ behemoths) next door, by the way.
The friendly staff behind the main counter (I wouldn’t really call it a bar), above which lies a collection of beer posters, empty bottles and beer glassware on display. Notable mentions are Rogue Ales posters, XS ceramic 750-ml bottles and pint glasses, as well as a trio of Belgian-style goblets. This is evidence that the owner of the place is at least highly familiar with craft beers. Whether or not he has stocked it in the past is another question. I wasn’t able to ask the staff about it.
I decided to go with the Campus, which I later found out was also produced by Brouwerij Huyghe, maker of the mind-blowing Delirium Tremens. Unluckily (and negligently) I accidentally deleted my close-up photo of the bottle and the glass. My gracious host took a photo of me while I was pouring though (To keep my status as an “anonymous man”, I cropped my face out, of course).
I wasn’t sure what style this was. The label was not helpful, and Beer Advocate lists this is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, but I found it more of a simple Belgian brune, or brown/dark ale. At 7%, the alcohol by volume is a tad tame compared to other strong Belgian ales. It was noticeably yeasty but still on the sweet side, with some dried fruit and dark berry that’s characteristic of dark Belgian beers. The flavor notes weren’t quite as pronounced with this beer, which felt a bit thin compared to the usual Belgian beers. I’m not too familiar with regular Belgian brunes, though.
The beers we had that night – a selection of Belgians: Campus, Floris Wit-Blanche and the Trappist Chimay Tripel – all had a healthy amount of residual yeast floating around. I expected this from the Chimay White, but not from this Floris Wit-Blanche photographed above. I didn’t know that even Belgian witbiers were bottle-conditioned or unfiltered. You don’t get that with Hitachino Nest White Ale or even Hoegaarden. I took a sip of from my friend’s glass, and it was your typical witbier, albeit a bit flat. It’s the typical mix of sweet and tart. I expected more sourness because of the visible yeast, but for better or worse, this was your typical, solid, easy to drink witbier.
Lucking into 147 Beer Avenue was definitely one of the highlights of my short but eventful trip to Davao (more on those coming soon). So if you’re ever in Davao City and craving a decent brew, take a quick cab to this place. You’ll love the atmosphere, and they’re sure to have a beer that’s to your liking. Last call on weekdays is just before midnight, and even on weekends, Davao City has a strict “no alcohol after 2 a.m.” policy. Still lots of time for you to enjoy though.