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.
According to Xavierbier’s website, there are six like-minded individuals from three different countries behind this microbrewery, who were all driven by their desire to make their mark on the craft beer culture in the Philippines. In 2011, Chris Ordas met with Ryan Garcia in Seattle to discuss the possibility of opening a microbrewery in the Philippines. Within two years, they were joined by Mico Cortez, Michael Anderson, and Alex Basa to offer their individual strengths. Their ideas were fleshed out in Edmonton, Canada when Chris and Alex met with Arnold Miguel, Xavierbier’s Head Brewer. They decided to set up the microbrewery in Baguio because of its unique cultural identity and cooler climate, which is conducive to brewing. Baguio Craft Brewery formally launched in June 2014.
I first got to sample a few of their beers at Barley Gastropub in Quezon City during Xavierbier’s Manila Launch. Though some beers are now available in selected bars in Manila, the best place to savor these fresh on tap is at The Tasting Room at Baguio Craft Brewery. Located along Marcos Highway, it’s off the main hub of Baguio establishments, but worth the trip, especially if you’re a craft beer enthusiast or if you want a different drinking experience in Baguio.
During a trip to Baguio City in August 2014, I made it a point to visit the place on my own and was amazed at the variety of brews available aside from their mythic line.
Despite being only 2 months old when I visited, the place was packed. The place has a distinctly Cordillera vibe, with lots of wooden details and decorations including carved Ifugao figures and barrel men decorating the beers on tap. Above the bar was the menu and taplist written on chalkboards. The main space in front of the bar was a bit cramped with people standing over bar tables made out of old barrels and other spilling out into the al fresco area in the hallway and near the stairs.
With the cold Baguio breeze, it’s literally a cool place to hang out at night in the City of Pines. I just wish I had a companion at the time since drinking alone made me stick out like a sore thumb with all the groups and couples. Normally, I’d sit at the bar, but all the seats there were taken. Good thing there was a little nook at the back of the restaurant leading to the area where the beers are brewed, where I could sit in obscurity and enjoy my beer. This quote from Edgar Allan Poe adorning one wall perfectly captured my mood.
Having just come from a heavy dinner and dessert at Azalea Residences, I didn’t have the appetite to order food, but everything on the menu sounded like perfect beer matches. Dishes available included Buffalo Wings, Moroccan Spicy Shrimp, 3 Mini Bburgers, Fish Tacos, Hungry Bacon and Hungarian Sausage. All dishes had a price range of P180 – P350/order. I’ll try the food next time I visit.
During my visit to Baguio Craft Brewery, I only managed to try two variants of the beers on tap. I would have opted for the sampler, but it included beers I had previously tried and I wanted to try something new. Previously, during their launch in Manila, I sampled Pugaw and Dalom. Pugaw India Pale Ale (ABV: 7.0%) has a high hop flavor and bitterness, with citrusy and piney notes. It tastes clean and malty, with a medium-dry finish. The Dalom Brown Ale (ABV: 5.0%) tastes malty and toasty, with a strong flavor of chocolate and coffee.
Baguio is well-known for their strawberries, so I definitely wanted to try the Lagud Strawberry Beer (ABV: 5.4%). With its distinct fruity flavor, this was pretty sweet and easy to drink even without any pulutan.
I found the Kabunyan Wheat Beer (ABV: 5.4%) surprisingly strong for a wheat beer. With hints of banana and clove, the beer tasted light, yet bitter, with a strong flavor of wheat. This beer is supposed to go well with sweet desserts, fresh salads, tomato-based pastas and soups and fish. I did feel an urge to have something to snack on while drinking this.
There were also some very interesting-sounding seasonal brews being served on tap like Zigzager (Triple-Hopped Double India Pale Ale at ABV 10.0%), Falling Rocks White Stout (ABV 6.0%), Twin Peaks (6.05%) and Nyog Stout (6.0%).
Aside from Xavierbier’s Mythic Line, they have a seasonal line beers called Legends, which includes RIPE Passionfruit Beer (5.4%), which tasted sweet and tangy, with a fruity aroma. Other brews include Ida Raspberry Beer (5.4%), Kraken Baltic Porter, Message in a Bottle Black IPA, and Englishman in New York American Pale Ale. Of all of the local craft breweries, I really like how Xavierbier designs their beer bottles. The Mythic line has a distinctly local flair, yet stands up against foreign craft beer lines. I want to take the bottles home to add to my beer collection.
Too bad they ran out of the bottled variants for sale, so I couldn’t take any home for souvenirs. Since everything was served on tap, there were only a few on the counter for photo op purposes only. TIP: If you want to take beer home, bring your own container 🙂 I will definitely return to Baguio Craft Brewery to sample the other beers the next time I head up North to Baguio.
ADDRESS & CONTACT INFO:
Baguio Craft Brewery. RKC Building, 120 Marcos Highway, Km 4 (Ben Palispis Highway), Baguio City, Benguet, Philippines. Open daily from 5:00 pm to 1:00 am.