Local craft beer is booming right now. New beers and breweries seem to be popping up all over the place. In our monthly column, Happy New Beers, we will be documenting our exploration of this exciting new scene, reviewing a handful of the latest brews we’ve tried.
Munting Ilog “Dirty Annie”, One for the Road Oatmeal Stout, Row 1
MUNTING ILOG “DIRTY ANNIE” 1920 AUSTRALIAN BITTER ALE, ONE FOR THE ROAD OATMEAL STOUT, ROW 1 NEW ENGLAND IPA
6.3% ABV, 30 IBU (Dirty Annie), 4.8% ABV, 38 IBU (One for the Road), 8.1% ABV, 42 IBU (Row 1)
Tasted at Spektral Beer Lounge
Munting Ilog continues to be one of the most exciting craft brewers in the country. The “Dirty Annie” has quickly become a go-to standard: it’s crisp and malty, with nice biscuit notes and a somewhat herbal hop finish. Bitter ales are interesting because they kind of sit in the middle of the extremes of beer making: friendly enough to enjoy regularly, but with just enough of a spike of weirdness to make them interesting. The One for the Road Oatmeal Stout is the friendliest of these three new beers. Toasted oatmeal and chocolate are the dominant notes. Stouts are often perceived as heavy, dangerous beers, but they actually tend to be some of the lightest, nicest beers one can have, and Munting Ilog’s version is certainly a pleasant time. The Row 1 is Munting Ilog’s stab at the New England IPA, which is kind of the flavor of the month for beer brewers recently. Their version seems to be the closest among local brewers of actually replicating the main characteristics of the style: hazy and juicy with a candy funk, before leaving with a lingering hoppy bitterness. I’m told they’re still working on this beer, and that future versions will play around a bit with the hop mix to calibrate the bitterness. But the version we tried is already pretty great.
THE PERFECT PINT BLACKBEARD STOUT
6.5% ABV, 30 IBU
Tasted at the Perfect Pint Greenbelt 2
This beer is kind of a revelation. I personally like stouts, but even I have to admit that the style doesn’t really have as much variation in flavor as other types of beer. You mostly get that toasted grain flavor that recalls chocolate or coffee or other roasty flavors. But Perfect Pint’s new stout brings in some tartness in the form of blackberries. The beer is sweet up front, with jammy berry notes, before bringing in some fresh berry sourness. This beer recalls having a fruit and nut bar, or a fresh piece of toast slathered with blackberry preserve. It’s a pretty good time.
Bacuit Bay Brewhouse Hoppy Swamp Monster, The Perfect Pint Blackbeard Stout, Ed & Son Craft Brewery Dapitan Banayad Weissbeer
BACUIT BAY BREWHOUSEB HOPPY SWAMP MONSTER IPA
Tasted at Kapitolyo Brewing Company
Bacuit Bay Brewhouse is a new craft brewery brewing out of El Nido, Palawan. Their first release is an IPA, which is kind of de rigueur for any new craft brewery. But boy, they’ve made a good one. On the nose, the beer is just wonderful. It’s fruity and flowery and just altogether inviting. That smell just makes you want to take a sip. On the palate, the beer is sweeter than your average IPA, with those fruits and flowers really making their way to the front the line. The hoppy bitterness you expect from the style certainly shows up, but it’s balanced out by a lot of other flavors. If this beer is any indication of what the brewers are capable of, they might become another great reason to visit one of the most beautiful places in the country.
ED & SON CRAFT BREWERY DAPITAN BANAYAD WEISSBEER
Tasted at Spektral Beer Lounge
The first keg of the Banayad Weissbeer that arrived at Spektral was sold out by the end of the night. It’s a testament to just how easy this beer goes down. Ed & Son brews out of Batangas, and the head brewer is a chemist who worked at a Japanese brewery. On the nose, the beer is practically a banana shake. On the tongue, you get the expected wheat beer cracker and herb, with a fermented banana overtone. It is so easy to imagine drinking this all night. In fact, that is what people did the first time this beer was tapped. Once they start scaling up production of the beer, it could become a regular favorite.
Mitchell’s Backyard Brewery Mocha Stout, Cerveza Sagada Craft Brewery Gusi Violet Ale, Kapi Coffee Stout, Konig Turmeric
MITCHELL’S BACKYARD BREWERY MOCHA STOUT, NEW ENGLAND IPA
5.2% ABV (Mocha Stout), No information for the NEIPA
Tasted at Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza Katipunan
The mocha stout is pretty light. It doesn’t even have the deep, dark color that one would expect from the stout. It does, in fact, taste of mocha, more than the component parts of chocolate and coffee. It kind of feels like a brown ale more than a stout, but people might appreciate its sweet lightness. The New England IPA seems to just be an experiment for now, but it’s a worthy one. I’m not entirely sure if this beer fully adheres to the qualities expected from the style, but it’s certainly tasty: candied tropical fruit and herbal hoppy notes in a really creamy beer. Let’s see how this beer develops over time.
CERVEZA SAGADA CRAFT BREWERY GUSI VIOLET ALE, KAPI COFFEE STOUT, KONIG TURMERIC IPA
4.2% ABV, 76 IBU (Gusi), 5.2% ABV, 37 IBU (Kapi) 6.8% ABV, 65 IBU (Konig)
Tasted at Spektral Beer Lounge
Cerveza Sagada has always been about integrating local flavors into their beers, infusing their brew with ingredients found around the region. The Gusi gets its violet color from Baltinao, an heirloom rice from Mountain province. It’s a completely unusual pale ale with a funky aroma that might remind one of rice wine. There’s citrus and banana on the tongue, and a generally sticky quality to the beer that might put some people off. But its strangeness is also its best quality. The Kapi Stout has Sagada coffee in it, and if you’ve ever had Sagada coffee, then you know what to expect. It’s bright and bittersweet, with the slight acidity of the coffee just shining through that toasted darkness. The Konig has turmeric in it, and it does in fact smell and taste like a fusion between a hoppy IPA and a turmeric tea. These beers probably aren’t for everybody, but it would be folly to dismiss these beers as novelties. Cerveza Sagada is really trying to inject local personality into an industry that’s still largely about trying to live up to foreign standards. Once you’re able to break out of the orthodoxy of what beer is “supposed” to taste like, these beers really emerge as exciting expressions of our local palate.