In 2015, Ian Paradies founded Engkanto Brewery, driven by a need to expand Filipinos’ choice for beers. Growing up, he’d been accustomed to drinking commercial beers. He moved to the US for university, and during that time, he was exposed to a growing craft beer industry. It opened his eyes to the many possibilities of beer; and he felt that the Philippines, with its rich resources, had so much potential in making these kinds of beverages.
Ian created Engkanto beers specifically to cater to the Filipino palate. For him, it was important that their line was light and refreshing, since the Philippines is a tropical country. Plus, beer drinking here isn’t a get-drunk-after-two-drinks type of affair. It’s a social event that’s meant to last a few hours. With that in mind, we asked Ian for five types of beers he thinks every Filipino should get acquainted with.
Lagers (and pilsners, a type of pale lager) are Ian’s personal favorite type of beer. It’s light and crisp, with a controlled bitterness to it. It’s generally very easy to drink. According to Ian, they’re a great beer to begin with if you’re transitioning from commercial beer to craft beer. European lagers are the best, especially German ones.
It’s a refreshing drink best enjoyed in hotter, more humid places like the Philippines. But oddly enough, not a lot of local craft brewers make lagers. That’s because lagers require colder temperatures for production; plus, they need to be stored for a longer period of time to mature properly. Although, Engkanto does carry lager—the only non-ale beer in their flagship line.
Although more bitter than lagers, ales share a similar lightness. They have much more character and body though, with most having hints of fruit or spice. Ian recommends (and is a fan of) entry-level ales, such as blond ales and pale ales. It’s not hard to find ales in the craft beer scene, since most brands produce this type of beer. It was actually one of the first craft beers to become mainstream.
Four out of five of Engkanto’s flagship beers are ales. Their blond ale, with pineapple lychee notes, is extremely refreshing. Ian prefers their pale ale, though, which he describes as well-balanced. Their IPA is the most different (it’s the most bitter), and has notes of pine. Meanwhile, their Double IPA—which is surprisingly favored by their female customers—has a huge body and tons of citrus flavors (plus, it has the highest ABV at 8%).
3. Porter and stout
The difference between porters and stouts is complicated. The answer varies depending on the brewer; some attribute it to geography, others to look and taste. But generally, both are dark, malty, and have a lot of depth, with hints of coffee and chocolate. It’s “big alcohol,” as Ian describes it, averaging to 10% ABV. Unfortunately, it’s not that common in the Philippines. Although, you’ll find a few good brands in liquor stores and some higher-end supermarkets.
4. Sour Beer
Sour beer is—you guessed it—known for its tart flavor. It’s the oldest type of beer in history; before pasteurization and sterilization, all beers were sour. However, sour beer only gained traction in the contemporary craft beer world fairly recently. The beer is made sour using wild bacteria and specific yeasts.
Ian says we currently don’t have any sour beers locally. But if you want to try it, look for Belgian ones. Although, the US also have great sour beers, such as those in Goose Island‘s program.
5. New England-style Beer
As you’ve probably already inferred from the former four recommendations, Ian is not that in to bitter beer. Enter New England-style beer, another beer that’s low on bitterness. (Side note: It’s not officially recognized as a type of beer, but we’ll let it slide.) Instead, it has a soft, oaty flavor. And, unlike most beers, it’s hazy in appearance and a bit creamy in texture.
Bonus: Great brewers around the world + ian’s all-time favorite beer
Ian mentions several great brewers in the country—happy that there’s a growing community of craft beer makers and aficionados like himself. He singles out, though, Turning Wheels Craft Brewery in Cebu. They have “phenomenal” American-style beers, which they serve in a brewpub container van. On one side is the brewery itself, and on the other is the bar and restaurant.
The best breweries for Ian outside of the Philippines, though, are in the US. (The bias also comes because he’s mostly tried American brewers, especially in California.) Trillium Brewing Company, Tree House Brewing Company, Russian River Brewing Company, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, and Lagunitas Brewing Company have all left an impression on him.
As for his all-time favorite beer—”outside of Engkanto, of course”—he looks to Pliny the Elder from Russian River. Although his favorite type of beer are lagers, he loves this IPA because “it’s such an easy one to drink considering the amount of flavor the beer has.” He drives a point home, though, that beer is “similar to any food; it’s very subjective.” What could be the best beer for one, can derive a different reaction from another. The trick is to keep trying different types (and brands) of beers to find the best one for you.