Over the past five years, the Philippine craft beer scene has grown in step with the gradual sophistication of the local palate. From less than five microbreweries, the landscape has seen the number expand to over 30 brands today. For beer enthusiasts, that has been a welcome development, especially for a country that basically grew up with just a couple of brands to choose from.
But an ambitious new player is positioning itself to elevate the industry further than anyone has every attempted to before. And it goes by the name of Engkanto Brewery.
Brought in by the tandem of Filipino Ian Paradies, and Rhode Island-based brewmaster Josh Karten, Engkanto Brewery is founded on the latter’s expertise crafted through his wealth of experience in running Proclamation Ale Company – brewers of a diverse line of award-winning beers – and the former’s passion to provide his countrymen a truly local, affordable, and topnotch craft beer.
And while many of the existing craft breweries in the Philippines share the love for the good brew, and the yearning to spread that love across these islands, no one has had the capital funding that Engkanto appears to have.
With a brewery in Makati (already bigger than most in the country), and an even larger one in Carmona, Cavite (word on the street says that Paradies will be opening a bar in the continually evolving haunt that is Poblacion, Makati), Engkanto has a production capacity that’s unprecedented in the local craft beer industry.
Together, the two breweries can produce up to seven million bottles annually, and 700 20-liter kegs daily. This also allows them to start at a much lower price point than virtually everyone else, with their line of beers sold before it hits the market at an average of PhP53 a bottle (while a keg goes for PhP3,200).
“A lot of Filipinos love beer – why just have small part of the market be able to enjoy and afford your beer,” Paradies said, emphasizing that affordability was one of his two conditions when they were shaping the company.
Engkanto is starting off with five flagship craft beers—a Lager (5% ABV), Blonde (5%), Pale (6), IPA (7), and a Double IPA (8.5) – all of which use modern hops (lie Cascade, El Dorado, and Amarillo), and were designed to be easy to drink. Apart from the basic craft brews, they also have Stout (made with coconut), and seasonal brews like the Dalandan Ale.
As a seasoned beer enthusiast, and an avid supporter of local breweries, this writer found their Pale, IPA, and Double IPA – while lighter than their pine-heavy Western counterparts – manage to be fruity, yet dry, and a notch above their local brethren.
While you will have to wait until the fourth quarter of 2017 (or at least until that still under wraps bar to open its doors) to see Engkanto bottles in stores, you can have a taste of the brewing magic at Cu Chi Bar in Poblacion, The Belle & Dragon in Legazpi Village, and The Bottle Shop in BGC and Magallanes.
If Engkanto and its promise have piqued your interest, you’d be wise to follow them on Facebook and Instagram @engkantobrewery as their kegs pop up at different events, and a growing number of bars across the metro.
By TIMOTHY JAY IBAY