Digressions Geek

Elias Wicked Ales opens a proper craft beer tap room in BF Homes with brewery behind it

Finally, a proper craft beer tap house right beside the Aguirre Ave gate.

The history of BF Homes’ drinking culture goes back a decade and a half with affordable bars like Central and Tides selling cheap cocktails and mixers by the tumbler (Blue Illusion for P120 for a tumbler — why not?!). Fast forward to the past couple of years, Metro Manila’s F&B scene has been undergoing a golden age with new food concepts popping up around Bonifacio Global City, Makati and of course, BF Homes in the south. I’ve written extensively about great finds in BF such as our very first 3rd wave coffee shop, Magnum Opus Fine Coffees and my hands-down favorite tantanmen at Mensakaba Geishu.

Local craft beers and hard ciders from Wednesday to Saturday starting 6PM

What the south seemed to be lacking though was a proper craft cocktail scene. Or if not that, perhaps a tap room that was serious about their beer. many bars have offered beer on tap as an option but none have gone fully committed towards the challenge, as craft beer is by nature more expensive.

Since Elias bought out the previous brewery, they’re selling Bel Ale;s remaining stock for only P300.00 for a 6 pack. This is authentic Belgian Beer folks, and I highly recommend taking this home after enjoying a few glasses of the local tap.

Enter Elias Wicked Ales — the name has been around for quite some time as a local beer player together with the likes of Pedro and Katipunan, but nothing spells dedication as to buying out Bel Ale’s complete paraphernalia, lock stock and barrel. For those who don’t know, Bel Ale was a south player I so wanted to succeed, but then I learned that their office by the BF gate was nothing more than, well, an office and not a proper tap room. Elias bought everything last year and today are still selling the remaining stock of beer (SO YES IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR REALLY GOOD BELGIAN BEER, PLEASE DROP BY AND BUY P300.00 FOR A 6 PACK WHICH IS A STEAL!)

Elias Wicked Ales is open from Wednesday to Saturday starting 6PM. They’re closed from Sunday to Tuesday because a lot of back of house brewing work happens on those days — it doesn’t get any fresher than that. Apart from craft beers, they also have a range of hard ciders (a moment of silence for Spiffy’s Grove in BF Homes — we miss you). The bartenders (BEER-tenders heh) tell me that since they don’t serve food, guests can opt to order from restaurants around the vicinity. Since they’re located right at the BF Homes Aguirre Gate (by China Bank, the BF Park and Pergola), choices for food as well as parking won’t be a problem.


Whiskey galore and more — 3 tips for alcohol tourists in Scotland

If you’re rather fond of a drink at social occasions, with meals or even as a post-work relaxant, it’s possible that you’ve sampled some of the fine alcoholic beverages that originate in Scotland.

According to trade figures from the Scottish Government, Scotch whisky exports from the UK to the rest of the world in 2017 totaled £4.359 billion in 2017 — a £356 million increase on the year before.

But, although ‘the water of life’ is Scotland’s most famous alcoholic gift to the world, the nation also produces superb gin and craft beer.

If you visit, you’ll be able to break up time at the bar with cuisine treats at cafes and restaurants, golf at some of the best courses on Earth and strolls through stunning countryside and charming cities like Edinburgh.

If sipping these treats from the source while savoring one of the world’s most beautiful nations sounds sublime, here are three tips for alcohol tourists in Scotland.

  1. Getting there

Depending on your departure point, you can reach Scotland from major US airports or with itineraries with layovers in places like Hong Kong and Bangkok.

But one of the best ways to get in a carefree mood for a Caledonian trip is to travel to the airport in your own vehicle — it’s far less hassle than unreliable journeys on packed public transport.

Book airport parking from and drop your ride off in a secure space before boarding your flight. You’ll shimmy towards check-in without a worry in the world, perfectly prepped for your very own highland fling holiday.

  1. Dewar’s

There are whisky distilleries dotted all around mainland Scotland and the Highlands and Islands, but Dewar’s distillery tour in Aberfeldy near Perth is a promising first stop, thanks to its location in striking distance of the country’s busy central belt.

You’ll learn all about the way Dewar’s whisky has been cleverly marketed worldwide across several generations and taste some terrific blends right from the barrel — all in a stunning setting tucked between rolling hills in a verdant valley.

Be sure to travel with a designated driver or book a taxi if you’re sampling the whisky’s on offer — drink driving laws in Scotland are appropriately stringent.

  1. Innis & Gunn

With a wide range of craft beers that includes tasty IPAs and a refreshing small batch lager brewed with naked golden oats, Innis & Gunn is one of Scotland’s foremost brands for ale aficionados.

And their distinctive pint glasses featuring the iconic stag’s head logo is frequently ‘liberated’ from pubs across the land.

You can sample the full range of beers from Innis & Gunn with high-quality bar meals at their beer kitchens in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow — but remember that their most popular products are also available at local pubs where they’re priced slightly more reasonably.

These three tips for alcohol tourists in Scotland are only the tip of a drink-soaked iceberg — you’ll find more imbibing inspiration in practically every town and city you visit.

So do a little research, drink sensibly and have the time of your life in bonnie Scotland.

What’s your favorite Scottish drink? Share your thoughts in the comments section.


Defining the “craft” in the local craft beer scene

This piece originally appeared in the Oktoberfest feature for The Manila Bulletin Lifestyle section.

Sometime in 2017, I joined a home brewing workshop under the guidance of Jaime and Nadine Fanlo of Pedro Brewcrafters. Finally, my romanticized dreams of moonshining — creating my own beer at home would come to fruition. I mean how hard could it be, right? Having spent an entire day at Pedro’s microbrewery in San Pedro, Laguna (this is where Pedro gets its name), flashbacks of my below-average grades in high school chemistry quickly turned my romantic aspirations into a Romeo & Juliet tragedy. You need to be absolutely crazy to try making beer at home. But then again, there’s a thin line between crazy and passion — let’s meet some of the crazy ones from the local craft brewing scene.

Jaime defines craft beer by showing a basic difference between craft and commercial beer we find mass produced in the supermarkets, “In my mind both products are good and have their purpose in the market. Commercial beers are usually brewed in very large quantities by known commercial brewing companies, with a majority of the stock holders having nothing to do with the brewing process.” On the other hand, craft beers are brewed by smaller, independent companies where most if not all owners are involved in the actual brewing process.

Kiyo Miura of Katipunan Craft Ales Inc adds to this sentiment by saying that it may come as a surprise to some that a majority of the beers we grew up drinking are essentially the same style — the mass-produced macro lager. “A handful of big brands churn out these brews which share an interchangeably crisp, albeit bland and inoffensive profile.” It’s basically the beer made with the least common denominator to appeal to a broad range of tastes.

“Craft beers, on the other hand, include the several dozen other styles in existence along with a continuously expanding list of sub-styles. From the dark and boozy Imperial Stout to the bitter and citrusy West Coast IPA, ales offer a far wider spectrum of flavors, smells, and experiences,” he adds.

“You can’t say you love beer and have not tried small batch craft,” says Ana Warren Gonzalez, Banquest & Events Manager at The Black Pig, that serves a range of foreign and local craft beers — most common on the local tap would be Engkanto, known for its fruity and light flavors. It’s essentially the difference between drinking hotel lobby coffee and an amazing pour over at a specialty coffee shop.

“Craft beer is all about breaking old definitions of what beer is supposed to be”, says Claudine Lanzona of Curious Creatures Taproom in La Union. Yes, even the surf town of La Union needed more beer options: “Mango chili beers, passionfruit beers, coffee chocolate stouts — mind expanding stuff. beer awakenings and so on.” Curious Creatures curates a number of inventive craft beer from various breweries — Craftpoint, Wicked Elias, Cebruery, Crow’s, Joe’s Brew — there’s something for everyone — from the conservative Pale Pilsen / Red Horse dude to the most adventurous drink snob.

Even the handling of craft beer is quite different. Because most craft beer is unfiltered and unpasteurised, it needs to be always refrigerated and consumed almost immediately to taste its full flavors. Which is why craft beer is really best enjoyed from the tap. Beers on tap come directly from the kegs, where the beer is protected from the sunlight. Contact with the sun deteriorates the beer’s taste, hence many bottled beers are served in amber bottles to lessen the effect.

The growing popularity of local craft beer still hasn’t realised its full boom, with growth being gradual and steady thanks to the growing number of local microbreweries and home brewers (approximately 40 in the country as of latest count), serving their craft beers to bars and retail outlets.