BrewDog is Finally in the Philippines
Scottish craft beer powerhouse BrewDog is now in the Philippines, thanks to Global Beer Exchange. I had my first taste of its Punk IPA a couple of years ago and it blew my mind. Since then, I’d been itching to get my hands on this brewery’s offerings. I had my first real chance just a couple of weeks before the Philippine launch, during a visit to Bangkok. Hardcore IPA was a beast of an India pale ale, while the Scotch ale/wee heavy Dogma was its malty counterpart.
BrewDog is also known for its back-and-forth battle with Kleinbrauerei Schorschbrau for the strongest beer in the world some time back. It’s an excellent example of a craft brewery – it pushes limits, challenges norms and dismisses mediocrity. When you think about it, individual people would benefit from taking a craft brewer’s philosophy into their daily lives. But more on that in another article.
BrewDog may have gotten its reputation from its balls-to-the-wall beers, but it also has proven that it knows how to turn the dial down a few notches to produce excellent sessionable ales that are light, yet complex, like this Dead Pony Club. This is a pale ale that, at 3.8%, can be enjoyed safely all night. I began the night with this surprisingly hoppy, moderately-carbonated beer paired with a “craft” porchetta sandwich from Rex, who regularly caters beer events at the Bottle Shop. The subtle flavors of the Dead Pony Club complemented the juicy and subtly seasoned porchetta.
Of course, I had to go with a Hardcore IPA, because I really can’t get enough of this beer. I don’t think many will agree that this is the best among Brew Dog’s Philippine line up and the best Imperial IPA one can get their hands on in the country. But that’s what I love about craft beer — there’s a brew for every unique palate. I feel pained when I read an ignoramus say that a certain craft beer is “kadiri” after trying only one style, but nevertheless overjoyed that my taste buds and I will have more of the good stuff (in my opinion at least) to themselves.
I went back a notch after the Hardcore to Brew Dog’s 5 a.m. Saint. I’m not a fan of amber/red ales, as I find them a bit too bland and not as flavorful as other styles. This one was pretty good though, with a pronounced malt character. It was decently hopped, for its style, which is probably why I enjoyed it more. While personally, I’d go for a different choice of beer, the 5 a.m. is indeed a saint as far as red/amber ales go.
Of course, this being a Thirst-day, a lot of other rare and unique beers were shared.
The first was Samuel Smith Imperial Stout, a British craft beer which was a definitive example of its style. It was the English who first shipped their heavier stouts to Russia at the request of the czars, after all. It was thick, but not as syrupy as American styles, and of course, not as bombastically bitter. Excellent for a cold night.
Jim also opened a bottle of Fat Pauly’s Ilaya. Fat Pauly is a craft brewery from Iligan, Mindanao, and I was lucky enough to meet their eponymous brewer Paul, earlier that evening. The Ilaya, according to him was patterned after the recipe of Pliny the Elder. I found the grass notes and bitterness on point, but overall, I found this beer perhaps overly herbaceous.
Another brewer dropped by that night, and this one was actually a professional. OFW and balikbayan Arnold Miguel is a supervisor with Brewster’s, a craft brewery and resto-pub based in Alberta, Canada. He worked up the ranks and has been brewing now for five years, and is a strong supporter of the craft brewing movement in the Philippines. He brought one of his creations, Rig Pig pale ale, which was delicious. The whole night, Arnold was extolling the potential of Filipino brewers and how they can definitely compete with those overseas, and his best example was Katipunan Craft Ale’s Indio Pale Ale. I cannot but agree with him. The flavor profiles of both pale ales were very similar – true to the American pale ale style and much better than many other pale ales I’ve tried.
Another local craft beer ended the night. Baldis of Great Islands Craft Brewery shared a bottle of a young Brown IPA that he collaborated on with visiting Norweigian and Filipino-at-heart Rhum Bretsen. This had only been fermented for around a week, but it was well worth a try. It was the typical Great Islands IPA with a solid malt backbone and a lasting bitter finish but its trademark bitterness was enhanced even more by the fresh imported hops provided by Rhum. Both of these guys have made arguably the best home-brewed IPAs I’ve tried (given my limited exposure), and their collaboration made their beer baby exponentially better. Baldis gave me a bottle to bring home, which I have been storing in the fridge. It will be ready next week, and I can’t wait. In the interim though, I’d been drinking more BrewDog Hardcore.