Craft beers the focus at October Fiesta

AN Oktoberfest, Filipino-style, is brewing over at Newport World Resorts. The three-day October Fiesta will feature craft beers and music from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2.

Participating microbreweries include Boondocks Brewing Co, Katipunan Craft Ales, Greshbrew, Beer Bunny, Weekend Craft Ales, Crows Beverage Ventures, NTL Craft Beer, Sagada Cellar Door, Drink It Now Pare, Elias Wicked Ales & Spirits, El Deposito Brewery, Nipa Brewery, and Engkanto Brewery. Some of their offerings were presented to be sampled during a tasting on Sept. 15 at El Calle Food & Music Hall, which will provide beer-matched munches like sizzling sisig, grilled sausages, and tinapa (smoked local fish) nachos.

Cherry Genato, Festival Director for the Manila Beer Fest, which is organizing the event under the Philippine Craft Beer Community, walked us through the beers.

Craft beers are made by microbreweries, in contrast to the industrial breweries we’re familiar with. According to her, there’s a production volume cap after which a microbrewery is designated as an industrial brewery. The people she works with work with volumes of 100 to 1,000 liters.

While microbreweries have a rather free hand on what kind of beer they want to produce, apparently, the ones here go back to a familiar flavor. “Pale,” said Ms. Genato, as in Pale Pilsen or Pilsner, which most of us grew old with. She credits this to the domination of San Miguel’s Pale Pilsen in the market. “When they taste beer as Pale, that’s what they associate it with,” she said, adding that it’s used as a reference, though with more intense flavors. This explains why the Boondocks Wheat Ale, the Katipunan Indio Pale Ale, and the Santa Maria Brewery Makiling varieties had similarities in flavor, but also a juicy pineapple note across. “Craft beer is like a work of art. Each brewer, they’re free to make whatever they want. Like a chef in a restaurant.”

While she says that entering the microbrewing industry might take about a million pesos, minimum, considering the equipment used, some hobbyists make do with stovetop operations. “Para ka lang nagpapakulo ng sabaw (it’s like boiling soup),” she said.

Issues in the industry she would note are the importation of the raw materials (like wheat, barley, and yeast), and the equipment used. This is why, she says, that the Philippine Craft Beer Community is partnering with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for a shared microbrewing facility.

At least they all keep each other afloat. “This is the only industry I’ve seen where people are helping each other. It’s not like a competition,” she said. “In order for the entire industry to have a fair share of success, it cannot be just one person doing everything.”

Tickets for the beer festival are now available from P250 for one craft beer sample, and P1,200 for one local craft beer each from Boondocks Brewing Co. and Katipunan Craft Ales, an El Calle Food and Music Hall Bar Chow Sampler, and a raffle entry for special prizes during the event. Musical acts during the festival include Donna Moreno, Dom Rodriguez, Musica, Rox Puno, Cass, Alex Arias, Junno, and Tiara Shaye, with performances beginning at 5 p.m. — Joseph L. Garcia

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