When most people think of Filipino culture, beer may not be the first thing that comes to mind.
Well, to some, it might.
Statistics tell us that “Filipinos drink almost 20 liters of beer on average a year.” This is not uncommon either. Beer is the usual go-to drink for many Filipinos because it’s cheap and accessible. Prices can range between $1 to $2 for a single bottle, which is much cheaper than in the United States.
Filipinos are big on gatherings with friends and family, which ultimately means more opportunities to drink and have a great time. Whether it be during holidays, birthdays, celebrating the country’s pride and patriotism, or just another relaxing Sunday, there’s going to be some form of beer or other refreshments there.
With that being said, the history of beer in the Philippines is a rich and diverse one, with roots tracing back to indigenous fermentations and evolving into the modern breweries we know today.
Where Did Filipino Beer Originate?
The earliest form of beer in the Philippines was known as “tuba,” which was made by fermenting the sap of coconut palms. This traditional method of brewing was passed down through generations of indigenous communities and was a staple in daily life. Tuba was also believed to have medicinal properties and was used to treat various ailments.
As Spanish colonizers arrived in the Philippines in the 16th century, they brought with them European brewing techniques and ingredients. This led to the creation of “lambanog,” a type of rice wine made from the sap of the nipa palm. While lambanog was primarily produced for personal consumption, it also played a significant role in religious ceremonies and celebrations.
In 1890, the first modern brewery was established in the Philippines by a Spanish businessman named Don Enrique Ma. Barreto. This marked the beginning of a new era for beer in the Philippines and set the stage for the commercial production of beer on a large scale.
What Are the Different Types of Filipino Beers?
One of the most iconic and well-known beer brands in the Philippines is San Miguel, which was founded in 1890 by Don Enrique Ma. Barreto. San Miguel quickly became the dominant player in the Philippine beer market and remains so to this day. The brand offers a variety of beers, including San Miguel Pale Pilsen, San Miguel Super Dry, and Cerveza Negra.
There are several different types of Filipino beers, each with their own unique characteristics and flavors. Some of the most popular types include (with some already mentioned earlier:
- San Miguel Pale Pilsen: This is the most widely consumed beer in the Philippines and is considered a classic. It is a light, crisp, and refreshing pilsner-style beer with a smooth finish.
- San Miguel Super Dry: This beer is similar to Pale Pilsen but with a slightly drier taste and higher alcohol content. It’s considered a premium beer.
- Cerveza Negra: A dark lager beer with a rich and smooth taste that is popular among beer enthusiasts.
- Red Horse: A strong beer with a higher alcohol content, it’s known for its distinct bitterness and strong aroma.
- Tanduay Ice: A sweet, fruity, and refreshing beer, it’s perfect for those who prefer a sweeter taste.
- Cali: A light beer with a smooth, crisp taste. It’s the perfect choice for those looking for a refreshing option.
- Lambanog: This is a type of rice wine made from the sap of the nipa palm. It’s traditional and strong and it’s mostly consumed in the rural areas of the Philippines.
- Tuba: It’s a traditional beer made from the sap of coconut palms. It’s a traditional, light, and refreshing beer, that has a slightly sour taste.
One thing you can’t deny is that enjoying a cold beer with a tasty dish like chicken adobo is like peanut butter and jelly. They just go hand in hand.
Despite the success of large commercial breweries like San Miguel, the craft beer scene in the Philippines is also on the rise. In recent years, microbreweries have been popping up all over the country, offering a wide range of unique and innovative beers. These craft breweries often use locally sourced ingredients and traditional brewing techniques to create a truly Filipino experience.
What Are Craft Breweries Like in The Philippines?
One example of a successful craft brewery in the Philippines is the Palaweño Brewery, located in Palawan. They brew a range of beers using local ingredients such as coconut, calamansi, and mango. Another example is the Cebruery, a craft brewery based in Cebu that combines traditional brewing methods with modern techniques to create unique and flavorful beers.
The craft beer scene in the Philippines has been gaining popularity among locals and tourists alike, and it’s not hard to see why. These microbreweries offer a refreshing change from the mass-produced beers that dominate the market and give a taste of the Philippines’ rich cultural heritage.
Sustainability is also an important aspect for many of these craft breweries. They often use renewable energy sources and minimize waste by recycling and repurposing materials. This not only helps the environment but also helps to promote sustainable practices in the brewing industry.
Some of the most popular breweries in The Philippines include:
- San Miguel Brewery: Established in 1890, San Miguel is the oldest and largest brewery in the Philippines. They produce a wide range of beers, including San Miguel Pale Pilsen, San Miguel Super Dry, Cerveza Negra, and Red Horse.
- Asia Brewery: Founded in 1982, Asia Brewery is the second-largest brewery in the Philippines. They produce several popular beer brands, including Colt 45, Tanduay Ice, and Cali.
- Palaweño Brewery: A craft brewery located in Palawan, It brews a range of beers using local ingredients such as coconut, calamansi, and mango.
- Cebruery: A craft brewery based in Cebu that combines traditional brewing methods with modern techniques to create unique and flavorful beers.
- Katipunan Craft Ales: A craft brewery based in Metro Manila, that produces handcrafted ales, lagers, and stouts.
- The Cebu Brewing Company: A craft brewery based in Cebu, that produces a wide range of beers, including their flagship beer, the Cebruery Island Hopper
- G Point Brewery: A craft brewery based in Metro Manila, that produces a wide range of beers, including their flagship beer, the G Point Lager.
What’s Next For the Filipino Beer Industry?
With the surge of interest in craft beer and microbreweries in recent years, as well as new innovations and trends in the industry. Here are a few things to watch for in the future of Filipino beer:
- Craft Beer: Expect to see more experimentation with flavors and styles, and more opportunities to try locally-made beers.
- Innovative Ingredients: Some Filipino brewers are looking to incorporate local, tropical ingredients into their beers to create unique and flavorful brews. Expect to see beers made with ingredients such as mango, coconut, and even chocolate. Some brewers are also experimenting with using non-traditional grains such as rice and corn in their beers.
- Sustainable Practices: With the growing awareness of the impact of brewing on the environment, some brewers in the Philippines are looking to implement more sustainable practices. Expect to see more recycling, water conservation, and use of renewable energy in the brewing process.
- Growth of the Industry: As the demand for beer continues to grow, the industry is expected to expand as well. More breweries, bars, and pubs will open, providing more opportunities for Filipino beer enthusiasts to taste and try new brews.
- Collaboration: Collaboration is becoming increasingly popular in the beer industry, and this is also true in the Philippines. Expect to see more breweries working together to create limited-edition beers and host beer festivals and events.
What Have We Learned?
The vast history and upbringing of beer, like the vast number of languages spoken in the Philippines, is a fascinating one. The history and culture of beer span centuries and encompass traditional fermentations, European influence, and modern innovation. From the humble beginnings of tuba to the rise of craft breweries, Filipino beer has come a long way and continues to evolve.