One of the things I love the most about traveling to new destinations is trying out new things, particularly beer. You could always drink the same old thing you’ve gotten used to, but why should you when there are so many other beers to try out, right? The Philippines is in the midst of a craft beer revolution and if you haven’t tried any of these local beers, you’re missing out on a lot! If you’re curious about the whole craft beer scene or are just starting to appreciate the variety of beer styles and flavors available in the country, you might want to ease in with some (or all) of Nipa Brew’s beers.
Nipa Brew is a local beverage company with beers that are brewed for adventure. The brewers believe that life is all about exploration and discovery, so they’ve dared to find new flavors and experiences in their beer. Tired of the same old beer that’s available in the market, this group of young brewers decided to break away from tradition, and start their own.
The dynamic group behind Nipa Brew (who all happen to have science backgrounds) started their journey as home-brewers, experimenting with various flavors and ingredients. In September 2014, construction began on their Microbrewery in Makati City, Philippines. In January 2015, they brewed their first beer (Tropic Haze) using their 200L brewhouse system. Not long after that, in March of 2015, Tropic Haze was made available to the public, sparking their beer journey. Currently, they’ve partnered with The Professor’s Brew (a line of beers brewed by Chemistry professor Carlo Ng) in collaborating awesome beers and experiments, so you know the group is pretty serious about the science behind their beer.
Nipa Brew was among the first group of craft brewers based in the metro when craft beer was just starting to become popular in the country. Their beer styles and labels are very fun, hip and friendly, perfect for craft beer beginners. Nowadays, you can find their bottled beers in a selection of restaurants, bars and cafes around the metro (and in major hubs outside Manila like Boracay, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo and Bacolod). They also have a strong social media presence and participate a lot during events and weekend bazaars. But for folks based in Quezon City, one of the best places where you’re sure to get beers fresh on tap is Blue Rocket Café + Kitchen, a neighborhood cafe located in the intersection of Scout Reyes and Scout Lozano in Tomas Morato.
A lot of breweries are located in the Taguig and Makati (Poblacion) area, which can be pretty far for those coming from QC given the traffic. Blue Rocket’s location offers a good option for weekend dates and family events for residents from the area, offering a place where everyone can enjoy good comfort food along with quality brews. For non-beer drinkers, there are a lot of good coffee options.
Craft beer is still not that widely available in a lot of restaurants in Quezon City, or at least not available fresh on tap. I’ve been drinking Nipa Brew’s beers whenever I can get my hands on them, but recently got to enjoy most of the varieties during Brews, Bites & Blogs, a Craft Beer 101 and Food + Beer Pairing at Blue Rocket, which gave bloggers an overview of the history of beer, the brewing process and what makes craft beer different from commercial beers.
As an appetizer, we had Fizzo Calamansi Jasmine Tea Soda, fresh tea soda brewed using natural Calamansi and Jasmine Tea that you can pair with hearty meals or light snacks. It went really well with the Smoked Salmon and Pesto Puff Pizza, a cross between a pizza and a croissant, with rich cheesy and smoky flavors. Fizzo Craft Soda is non-alcoholic and offers a healthier alternative to soft drinks because it has no preservatives, just like their beer.
Nipa Brew currently has five core beers, which I’ve tried separately on different occasions, but never all in one sitting. I wouldn’t recommend you drink five full bottles of all their variants at once, because craft beer is really more flavorful than commercial beers and it can hit you pretty quickly. Even if you just have two, you’ll be happy or you can always split a bottle with a companion to try more varieties. We got to taste serving sizes of each so we could appreciate the flavors more.
The first beer we got to try was Sun Stoked (4.5%), an easy-drinking blonde ale with a pinch of citrus zest. This beer is best paired with light foods like chicken, seafood and vegetables so we had it with Blue Rocket’s Pumpkin Pasta. The light blonde ale with citrusy notes didn’t overpower the creamy pumpkin sauce and smoked salmon and spinach in the pasta dish. Sun Stoked is a good afternoon beer, the kind you wouldn’t mind sipping while you’re lazing at the beach.
Next up was Tropic Haze (5.5%), a hazy wheat ale with tropical fruit notes. Tropic Haze is actually Nipa Brew’s flagship beer, and was inspired by Philippine flavors, climates and landscapes. This is best paired with light foods like chicken, seafood and vegetables, or fruity desserts.
The wheat ale was paired with Torched Shrimp and Soft Shell Crab Tempura, which was served with a side salad. The Japanese-inspired dish was sweet and salty from the combination of the teriyaki, miso and cheese sauces which were torched for that added burnt flavor.
Nipa Brew works with smaller nano-breweries such as The Professor’s Brew by helping them expand production and helping out with marketing and distribution. The Hop Flask by The Professor’s Brew is an India Pale Ale with bolder, and more pronounced flavors that goes well with food with strong flavors and spices. Blue Rocket served us one of their signature best-sellers, the Baked Spicy Korean Chicken Rice, a sweet and spicy chicken dish topped with melted cheese on top. As a fan of IPAs, this was one of my favorites of the beers we tried.
As a palate cleanser, we were served a Radler, Nipa Brew’s version of a beer cocktail. Radler is a secret menu item that combines Fizzo Calamansi Jasmine Soda and Tropic Haze. This was served with Blue Rocket’s Big Breakfast, which had French toast, eggs, bacon and sausages. The term Radler actually German for cyclist, and I can easily imagine drinking this as a thirst-quenching sports drink after a bike ride somewhere. You don’t want to get too intoxicated during rides, but you still want a celebratory beer, so this is a happy medium. Beer for breakfast, why not, right?
For dessert, we had Drop Zone (6.0%), an India Brown Ale with Bitter, Dark Chocolate Notes which is best paired with roasted or smoked food like barbecue, sausages, roasted meat, blackened fish, or even chocolaty desserts. We got to try it with a Burnt Butter Dessert Brick a la mode and a slice of Blue Rocket’s Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Cake. The bitter and dark chocolate notes of the beer was a nice compliment to the sweet, moist and decadent desserts. Blue Rocket Cafe serves some pretty good bricks (their version of brownies), which you can order in boxed sets. Drop Zone was another clear crowd favorite.
We weren’t served two of Nipa Brew’s other core beers during the craft beer pairing event, but I’ve tried them on previous occasions.
Bliss Point (5.0%) is a smooth brown ale with sweet hazelnut notes that’s best paired with hearty foods like roast pork, smoked sausage and grilled salmon.
Meanwhile, Midnight Blur (5.5%) is a Luscious Porter with Cacao and Coffee Notes that goes great with roasted or smoked food like barbecue, sausages, roasted meat, blackened fish. If you’re looking for a nightcap or like coffee, Midnight Blur Porter may be the beer for you.
You really appreciate the flavors of food more when you pair it with the beverages that complement the flavors. Blue Rocket Cafe + Kitchen’s menu lists the suggested beer pairings in their menu. Aside from the five core beers, Nipa Brew has seasonal brews, which they serve in kegs during events or release as part of their Limited Edition Explorer series. You can also buy beer gift packs in four or eight beers. You can even get custom labels and stickers on their beers for your special events like birthdays, weddings and product launches.
The brewers behind Nipa Brew believe that people who say they don’t like beer just “haven’t found the right beer yet.” Nipa Brew offers a variety of sweet, bitter, hoppy, unique, surprising and quirky beers, so there’s something for everyone. The flavors are all balanced, designed for the Filipino palate and not too aggressive, making these good introductory craft beers for anyone (of drinking age) who’d like to try something new. Price wise, the beers average at P150-180/bottle or glass at Blue Rocket Cafe, which is fairly priced considering their quality.
Blue Rocket Café is located on 79 Scout Reyes, corner Scout Lozano, 1103 Quezon City. Check out their Facebook page at Blue Rocket Cafe. Telephone: 02-9317769
Nipa Brew Craft Beers
- Website: www.nipabrew.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nipabrew/
- Instagram: @nipabrew
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Professor’s Brew
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheProfessorsBrew/
- Instagram: @theprofessorsbrew