10 years ago, Manila’s beer lovers sipped away on icy cold bottles of San Miguel, unaware of the factions of underground craft brewers who were busy honing their skills in kitchens, garages, and cheap office blocks until finally, they would revolutionise Manila’s beer scene.
What began as very much an underground movement has quickly come ‘above ground’ and all but saturated the market for craft beer in Manila. In the beginning, it was all about growing people’s awareness of craft beer, which many in Manila attribute to the work of Jim Araneta who pioneered The Bottle Shop– a craft beer store selling international artisan brews. At this point in time, there was only a handful of international craft beer brands who were importing their bottled brews into Manila. They were expensive, and generally only consumed by marginal groups of experimenters with extra money in their pockets. However, the seed was planted and from that point on, word began to spread and Manila’s taste for craft beer began to develop- rapidly.
We’ve already witnessed a number of places in Asia undergo their own version of a ‘beer revolution’. Metropolis cities like Shanghai and Beijing have enjoyed years of success selling craft beer, as well as the likes of the newcomers in Ho Chi Minh who have been making waves in the international brew communities for their inspired concoctions, such as Pasteur Street Brewing Company’s passion fruit wheat ale. Now, Manila is set to join rank with these successful models with its own burgeoning craft beer scene.
Take a look at some of the best spots to enjoy a craft beer (or five) in Manila:
Bonifacio Global City (BGC)
Located to the southeast of the center of Manila, Bonifacio is one of the capital city’s largest financial districts, and is a hub of high-tech offices, swanky apartments, shopping meccas, and most recently- craft beer bars.
It’s only natural that an upscale district like BGC would be one of the first to join the uptake of craft beer in Manila, considering the hefty bill that almost inevitably follows a few pints of the stuff. But the people of Bonifacio have clearly shown that even if the price is high, they are still more than willing to pay out when it comes to high quality craft beer.
- The Bottle Shop opened their second flagship store in 2015- this time perfectly located to bring bottled craft brews right to the doorstep of Bonifacio’s thirsty crowds. This is an ideal spot to grab a couple of bottles for a Netflix and chill sorta’ night.
- The Perfect Pint has been serving up suds of international and local craft beers from Manila for three years already in Bonifacio. With the perfect balance of old style pub ambience with a touch of modernity, The Perfect Pint is a favourite for food and beer lovers in BGC.
- Tap Station does what it says on the tin; it offers one of the largest selections of craft beer in Manila. Coupled with their specialised menu of tasty bar snack, it’s the perfect place to take a load off after a long day traipsing around BGC.
Makati Central Business District (CBD)
Makati is home to one of the first ever craft beer retailers in all of Metro Manila- a huge contributor as to why it’s still one of the best areas in town to satisfy your craft craving.
- The Bottle Shop first began in Makati, and was arguably the birthplace of the entire scene for craft beer in Manila. Worth stopping in just to pay homage (and to try out one of their cured meats platters).
- Backyard Kitchen & Brew prides itself on their focus for all things local- that goes for both the kitchen and the brew side of things. The Sierra Madre Wheat Ale that they have on tap is worth making the trip for in itself.
Up-and-coming Places for Craft Beer in Manila:
Quezon City is already starting to sell craft beer in a couple of choice spots, but so far doesn’t show anything like the same demand (or spending power) as BGC or CBD. However, the local brewers are keen to continue making craft beer in Manila more accessible- so watch this space.