I always feel like I’m in a different country whenever I go around the neighborhood of Poblacion in Makati. Barangay Poblacion in the old downtown area feels like a backpacker red light district, similar to Bangkok’s Khaosan Road or Cambodia’s Pub Street. The food choices in the neighborhood have wide international appeal, from small Korean joints to biker bars serving Indian cuisine.
Updated August 2017
A revolution is definitely brewing in the craft beer scene here in the Philippines. It seems that in the past few years, there’s been a boom in local microbreweries. According to the Philippine Craft Beer Community as of 2017, there are now 36 local breweries: 12 Craft Brewpubs and 24 Nano / Microbreweries with over 200+ Craft Beer Styles in the Philippines. (Whew. It’s getting hard to keep track of all these beers and keep this post updated!)
While guzzling down 99 bottles of beer for a self-imposed sidequest, I was glad to come across some great craft beers which are brewed right here in the country. If you’re a craft beer enthusiast or you want to try something new, here are some homegrown microbreweries and beers that you should look out for when you travel around the Philippines.
For travelers, backpackers and province-based tourists, Manila is often just thought of as a stopover between flights on the way to another destination. The big city can be overwhelming with the heavy traffic and crowded streets. At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much to do except eat out, go shopping in the malls, visit museums or churches. There’s also the gritty and chaotic areas of Quiapo and Divisoria, which have become synonymous with Manila.
I often take the tourist sights in Manila for granted because this is where I live and work. But if I were a first-time tourist in the Philippines, or if I had to take around foreign tourists, balikbayans, expats or province-based friends, what would I do and where would I go? Here are some suggestions of unique and fun activities you can do while in Manila.
Thailand’s food is a feast for the senses. First you eat with your eyes, as each dish is beautifully presented. A whiff of the spicy aroma teases you again before you finally dig in. Once you start eating, every bite tantalizes the tastebuds. Thai cuisine is diverse, with influences from a lot of different countries. Its flavors are complex. Each individual element and condiment is used deliberately. It’s a delicate blend of exotic spices, flavors and textures that result in dishes that transports you to places.
Updated September 2016
There’s a new food park in the neighborhood! Merkanto, located inside 38 Autocare Car wash in UP Village, serves international street fare. I love sampling street food and eating in hawker centers when I travel to other countries. Street food is really big in other countries and it looks like the trend is catching on in the Philippines. Though there are a lot of restaurants and food parks already in the Maginhawa area, I have to say the concepts here are pretty unique. The dishes are affordable, and so far from what we’ve tried, everything tastes delicious.
Opened in April 2016, Merkanto currently has 6 food cart-type stalls serving a few street eats from Korea, Vietnam, Morocco, Indonesia, Brazil and India plus one beverage stall specializing in craft beer from the Philippines. It’s fairly new, so it doesn’t get as crowded as some of the other food parks even during weekends. However, I’m sure once word gets around, people will start to flock here as well. Below are some sample dishes per stall and the price range so you can get an idea of the offerings. Continue reading
I was really excited when I started seeing photos of Alamat Craft Brew’s beer on Instagram and the Philippine Craft Beer Community‘s page. I have a fascination for stories about Philippine mythology and think it’s really cool that brewers aim to popularize our folklore and promote local artists through beer.
Alamat Craft Brew is a limited batch craft brewery, currently working in a homebrew setup in Quezon City. The name of the brewery is inspired by the founders’ “nationalistic, yet playful, spirit.” In support of the local craft beer industry, they decided to adopt a local but very distinct name. The name Alamat is the Filipino word or legend or myth and the beers are inspired by Filipino Folklore and Mythological Characters and creatures. They currently have 3 bottled beers: Balete Pale Ale, Ansisit Session IPA and Kapre Roasted IPA (Limited Edition).
The Cebruery is a Cebu-based craft brewery that launched in 2014. I read that their brewery in Mandaue, Cebu is open for site visits on a reservation basis only and didn’t have a chance to visit because of limited time during a recent trip. Luckily, I found out that Coco Loco, a new bar and restaurant in Anda Beach in Bohol carried their craft beers, so I made it a point to visit the restaurant to check it out.
Crazy Carabao Brewing Co. (CCB) is one of the newer microbreweries in the Philippines. Launched in late 2015, this Laguna-based brewery aims to deliver the freshest and finest locally made boutique beers to quality establishments throughout Metro Manila and beyond.
I first got to taste their beers last October 2015 during Brewfest PH in Circuit Makati and absolutely loved everything about it. Last week, I ordered cases for a party at home, so I got a chance to take better photos of the different beers and savor it. Aside from the amazing taste, the design and packaging of the beers are distinctly Filipino, which I like.
Irie Gastropubliko is a bar and restaurant in Cebu City that’s been around for a couple of years. Located on the Ground Floor of Skyrise 4 Building in the business district of Cebu I.T. Park, it caters mostly to those living and working in the area. They also get a lot of expats and craft beer enthusiasts from all over, who really seek out the place since it’s apparently the only place that you can try beers on tap from Turning Wheels Craft Brewery, Cebu’s first craft beer.
What’s that? Beer brewed in Baguio City inspired by the five realms of Ifugao Mythology? Shut up and take my money!
Xavierbier, which launched their flagship line in 2014, is one of the newest microbreweries to hit the craft beer scene. Their line of Mythic beers represent five realms: Pugaw (Earthworld), an India Pale Ale; Kabunyan (Skyworld), a Wheat Beer; Dalom (Underworld), a Brown Ale; Lagud (Easternworld), a strawberry beer; and Daya (Westernworld), a German Lager.