Palawan is a province in the Philippines known for its beautiful beaches and islands. It’s the gateway to the Puerto Princesa Underground River, a World UNESCO Heritage Site and other tropical beach destinations including El Nido, which is becoming more popular with international tourists because of various media features citing it as among the best island in the world.
READ MORE: 10 Things To Do in Puerto Princesa, Palawan
But aside from basking at the beach, for beer-drinkers, one of the best reasons to go to Palawan is to pay a visit to Palaweño Brewery, the first and currently the only craft beer brewery in the country’s “Last Frontier.” Established in 2013, Palaweño Brewery is also the first female-run craft brewery founded by Malu Lauengco and Ayah Javier.
I had the chance to meet the brewers and try some of their beer variants during craft beer events and bars in the metro (and during our dinner at Kinabuch’s), but I’ve always wanted to visit their microbrewery and tap room in Puerto Princesa. During our last free day during a media tour around Puerto Princesa hosted by Microtel Puerto Princesa and AirAsia, I got to finally visit the place along with fellow travel blogger Journeying James, who’s now based in Puerto Princesa, and got to chat with Malu of Palaweño Brewery over a few beers before my flight back.
Palaweño Brewery is located along 82 Manalo Street, in Palawan’s capital Puerto Princesa City. While their beers are also available in numerous establishments in the city (such as Ka Lui’s, Kinabuch’s Bar & Grill and Badjao Seafront) and as far as El Nido and select bars and restaurants in Metro Manila, the tap room provides a cozy venue for you to chat with the brewers themselves.
The microbrewery was undergoing renovations during the time of our visit because of an upcoming TV shoot feature for BBC Channel (they’ve also been featured on CNN), but thankfully the tasting room and lounge remains open.
Palaweño Brewery’s Tap Room is an intimate spot to enjoy a few bottles of their craft beers or a beer flight sampler of their beers on tap. There’s a small bar up front where their bottles (and a few samples brought by other local brewers on display), with a chalkboard showing the beer variants available, the ABV, IBU and price.
Even though they’re located in the city, there’s a distinctly laid-back beach vibe about the place, with its use of wooden furniture and the warm, inviting space. It feels very casual, laid-back and unpretentious for afternoon drinking or early evening drinking sessions. It’s the kind of place you wouldn’t mind hanging out in after coming from an island-hopping tour.
As of February 2018, the taproom now serves light bar chow like sausages, empanadas and chicken wings that you can pair with your beer. I suggest you visit after lunch or mid-afternoon before dinner if you’re really hungry for full meals. Or you could just grab a late meal of chao long nearby after your drinking session.
Palaweño Brewery’s line of craft beers are named “Ayahay,” a local slang term for chill or relax, which captures the laid-back style of the island and the beers.
Palaweño Brewery produces five core brews and a few seasonal brews that make use of locally sourced ingredients and flavors unique to the island itself, including Palawan honey, chili, mangoes, coconuts and more. Their core line-up includes:
- Ambog Ale (ABV: 7.0 ) – This classic beer is a merry mixture of brisk hop flavor and golden copper color to make a refreshing pint that is still flavourful enough to enjoy the whole year round.
- Palawan Wit (ABV: 6.8%) – A Belgian-style ale that is very pale and cloudy in appearance due to its high level of wheats and oats. The crispness and slight twang comes from wheat and the lively level of carbonation.
- Honey Kolsch (ABV: 6.5%) – an old but popular German-style beer with our equally famous Palawan honey from the Southern Palawan tribe, Palaw’an. Pale color, light body and smooth mouthfeel with a subtle floral character.
- Ayahay IPA (ABV: 7.0%) – The star of the hop world, Ayahay session IPA boasts of its intense single-hop aroma, but highly sessionable. Savour the flavour!
- Honey Nut Brown (ABV: 7.2%) – Styled after the Southern English brown ale, this artisanal brew incorporates Palawan honey, adding floral hints to its caramelly, chocolatey flavor. A well-balanced, intensely drinkable beer.
Normally, they serve beer flight samplers here, but this wasn’t available because of the ongoing renovations. However, there were lots of bottled beers available, so James and I just split a couple of bottles to taste a few, including the Hunter Honey Nut Brown Ale, Honey Kolsch.
Aside from there flagship beers, the brewery has also experimented with seasonal brews such as Mango De Palawan (making use of Palawan mangoes) and Buko Loco, a Coconut Cream Ale. During our visit, Malu let us try a shot of their killer Coconut Rum. I’m not much of a rum drinker, but this drink changed my mind. This was insanely good.
Another cool thing about Palaweño Brewery are these customized six-pack beer wicker baskets, which are crafted by the inmates of Iwahig Prison and Penal Colony, a model prison and farm in Palawan where inmates engage in livelihood projects for rehabilitation.
You can easily carry around this six pack of beer for your picnics at the beach. The packaging also makes it a great gift option to beer-lover friends. The basket has partitions, so you can always reuse it for other items like utensils, household items, newspapers and the like. Pretty cool, right?
On my most recent visit (Jan 2018), I got to try some of their special brews including Nog-Nog Oatmeal Stout (ABV. 8.2%), Paragua Belgian Golden Strong (ABV: 9.8%) and Tandikan New Zealand Imperial IPA (ABV: 8.4%). If you like your beers strong, I highly recommend the Paragua. Loved this one!
The core beers range from P150-P170 per bottle or glass, with special brews (Oktubre Marzen, White Sands Imperial IPA, Tandikan) costing P250 each. Coconut Rum costs P150 per shot to P800/300 ml bottle.
If you find yourself in Puerto Princesa, Palaweno Brewery is definitely worth visiting. For those who plan to drop by, take note that they close fairly early and are only open from 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Monday to Saturdays. Free brewery tours are normally offered every day except Wednesday. Cheers!