2012 Backlog Brews: A Year in Beers

2012 was a monumental year. There was a lot on my plate, figuratively, and a lot in my glass, literally. Thus, as much as I would have wanted to, was not able to come up with full reviews for the following beers. Some of these were just not that deserving of much more than a few tasting notes, while others were just swept away by the other things that kept me occupied last year, particularly bar review. This just goes to show that the craft beer scene in the Philippines really grew in 2012 with choices for every palate. That said, it was a great year for me, and I hope it was for everyone else, too. Now, on to the brews, in no particular order:

Foie the Win: The Battle for Foie Gras Burger Supremacy

Victory V-12 Quadrupel paired with 2nd‘s foie gras burger. There were high expectations for this pairing. The V-12 was a big, bold beer, but it lacked the complexity of of more popular quads such as Rochefort 10 and St. Bernardus. It’ll kick La Trappe ass any day, though. The burger was even more disappointing – more akin to eating a hockey puck.

'Cue, Stone Smoked Porter and Cake Club

Stone Smoked Porter paired with Cue‘s lamb ribs and bone marrow tacos was a dream pairing ever since I first tried said beer at the old Tasting Room on Legaspi Street. The beer didn’t disappoint, and the complemented the food well, even adding smokiness. Cue’s food was surprisingly bland, and needed the optional sauces for flavor.

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Gordon Biersch Marzen is your typical Marzen/Oktoberfestbier, albeit brewed by an American company. It’s well-made and strongly malted. It’s a good session beer strength-wise, but I found the sweetness too cloying after a while. Now I feel like I won’t be able to enjoy Oktoberfest in Munich if ever I’m able to go.

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Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale is another easy-drinking beer, and fun when served with light Japanese snacks like these crispy bean thingies from Aji Ichiban. It’s another common favorite among first time entrants into the craft beer arena.

Duvel: The Devil in its Glass

Duvel, in its infamous oversized tulip, is a thing of glory. The Duvel glass is considered by many to be the best for appreciating beer, and with good reason. it’s able to showcase everything:the body and head, the effervescence, the aroma. Duvel, the beer, is the quintessential Belgian strong golden ale. It’s not too sweet, not too strong. Like the devil it’s named after, it’ll betray you after a few glasses.

Hitachino Nest XH (Extra High)

Hitachino Nest XH Extra High was one of the first beers I sampled for this blog. I planned on featuring this a long time ago but just never got aroudn to doing it. It’s a good imitation of the traditional Belgian strong dark ale, but in the end, it’s still an imitation, again lacking the complexity of the Trappist and abbey products. Paired with blue cheese and aged cheddar, though, this beer will still satisfy.

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Duff Beer is the famous Simpsons adjunct lager. This bottle was actually a year or so past its “expiration.” The novelty of drinking Duff is just that, and there’s really nothing else to write about.

Katipunan Craft Indio Pale Ale is something I’ve featured before, back before it was even named. I’m proud of these boys for continually trying to improve their product while at the same time taking the initiative to introduce the Filipino market to craft beer.

Samuel Adams Noble Pils is enjoyable. I like it better than the Boston Lager because of the dryness, but I wish they had showcased the crisp, spiciness of the Noble Hops more. This would probably be my second favorite pilsener after Victory Prima Pils.

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Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout and Sonja‘s red velvet cupcake was an enjoyable partnership. I like having my sweet desserts with black coffee and this was pretty much the same. I enjoy this one much more than Hitachino Nest’s Sweet Stout. Strong coffee notes, bitterness and dryness. Very good for capping a meal.

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Singha paired with Nav Modern Thai‘s crispy catfish curry was a surprisingly enjoyable experience. Singha is a mass produced beer, but I found the quality to be much higher than the local San Miguel Premium and other imported “premium lagers” such as Stella Artois or Heineken.

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Colt 45 (now with “triple hops”) got me with their marketing. I immediately regretted that decision. I wonder just how much hops made it into the recipe considering that this beer costs less at retail value than water. The metal and rust notes are also not from any variety of hops I’ve tried.

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Guinness Foreign Extra Stout is my favorite cooking beer. It’s also another go-to brew for me at an unfamiliar bar, because it’s relatively inexpensive. It gives a lot of roasted flavor, but there’s a large chance that you’ll get some soy sauce as well, especially when it warms up.

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Unibroue Maudite is the often-ignored brother of the La Fin du Monde. It doesn’t make it any less good though. This is a heavy beer that still works well with roasts or grilled meats.

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Unibroue Trois Pistoles is another Belgian strong dark ale, but this one is more eclectic than the straightforward Maudite. It’s got more spice and nuance to it. As a sit-down sipping beer, I think I like this one best among the three Unibroue big boys that we have in the Philippines.

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Guinness Draught is brewed in Dublin, unlike the Foreign Extra that comes from Singapore. It’s more airy and also more bland than the Foreign Extra. I used to prefer the latter because of its more robust flavor and lower price point, but ever since I noticed the soy sauce notes with Guinness, I’ve begun to favor the Draught more.

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Anderson Valley Poleeko Pale Ale and Achiote‘s “wagyu” steak burrito are both solid offerings, but the fact that you can get much better product for the same price means I’m not coming back. Achiote’s guacamole is amazing, though.

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Bitburger Premium Pils is a German pilsener like any other. More spice than your mass market adjunct-laden pilseners, but still limited by its style. If you watched X-Men: First Class, this was the beer being served on tap at the German pub in Argentina.

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Anderson Valley Boont ESB (Extra Special Bitter) paired with fish and chips is one of the timeless beer and food pairings that work unlike any other. Don’t be surprised about this beer’s lack of hoppiness though. Traditional English ESBs, while relatively bitter, are tame compared to American IPAs. Sadly, the only restaurant where this pairing is available is Craft Rock and Grill. Otherwise, buy the beer and cook the fish and chips at home.

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Trappistes Rochefort 8 is the median offering between the 6 and 10. I find the tasting notes among the three pretty similar, with a gradient of depth of flavor and booziness as you move your way up from the 6 to the 10.

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Victory Hop Wallop packs a wallop alright, but not in terms of hop bitterness. I find it quite sweet, even more than other East Coast American IPAs and double/imperial IPAs. The hops are there, though, because their narcotic effect is quite strong. One bottle is enough to lull me into a good, long sleep.

And that rounds it up. A blessed, prosperous 2013 to everyone! Here’s to more good food and drink ahead! Cheers!

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