I'd be embarrassed to say when I first started drinking, but let's just say it was in my early teens. I started with beer and Tanduay rhum with Coke. I typically enjoy lagers. I think it's the Filipino in me.
The local craft scene in the Philippines is amazing as there are new breweries opening all over the country! We are a long way away from the craft beer scene in the US, Europe, Australia, Japan or even our Asean neighbors like Thailand and Vietnam, but it's definitely growing.
My favorite local breweries are Turning Wheels, a Cebuano brewery, and Crow's and Joe's. My all-time favorite beer, however, is from a brewery called Russian River in California.
A lot of breweries are bringing recipes and beer styles popular abroad. This is good but I feel it's also important to achieve some balance and take into account local palate and taste profiles when thinking of products to offer the market.
Engkanto Brewery’s five flagship variants are Lager, Blonde Ale, Pale Ale, IPA and Double IPA. The Lager was something I pushed for as it is a great beer for the Philippines, a tropical country. This beer is crisp and easy to drink, and our lightest beer, both from a taste and alcohol standpoint. Our Blonde Ale is our entry level ale and has citrus notes to it. It's a beer that is very easy to drink and can be enjoyed by people who aren't even beer drinkers.
Our Pale Ale is personally one of my favorite beers among our flagships, mainly because it is a very well rounded beer and easy to drink. Our IPA and Double IPA are our big beers. Each is 7% and 8.5% ABV respectively. The IPA is more traditional in a sense that you get more of the bitterness coming through and has a more piney note, versus the Double IPA, which is like a hop bomb without being too bitter. Both are easy to drink though. My cousins refer to our Double IPA as our traydor (traitor) beer because it's super easy to drink yet really strong.
Right now the establishments that carry Engkanto Brewery beers are Belle & Dragon, Batala Bar, The Smoking Joint, Hooch, Donosti, Balay Dako, Cu Chi, Boiler Room, The Bottle Shop, Señor Pollo and Howzat.
My bar of choice depends on my mood on a given night. I love Belle & Dragon in Makati because it has great ambiance, fantastic food, live music every once in a while, sports coverage and the fact that they only serve draft beer. Plus they have Mandalay connected to it. Bank Bar in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) is also one of my favorite bars in Manila, especially when I'm entertaining guests as they serve incredible drinks and food and the space is gorgeous.
I'm a huge fan of street nightlife districts and the best place for that in Manila in my opinion is Poblacion, Makati. I love the fact that you can hop from one establishment to another (and not have to be in a mall), plus the place has so much character and charm. I love the grittiness that it also represents. And there are a ton of great spots there: H&J, El Chupacabra, Señor Pollo, Cu Chi, Handlebar, Z, Howzat, Tambai, Bucky’s, Pura Vida, Smokeyard, the list goes on and on. I, along with my wife, sister and cousin, will be opening a bar in the area and we will be serving all Engkanto beer variants and one-off brews, and we'll be cooking with our beers as well. I believe it will be different from anything else found in Manila.
I do love live music and I’m a sucker for cover bands but unfortunately not many establishments center around live music. Strumm’s and Handlebar were places I used to go for live music, but haven't been there in a while.
Cebu and Manila are two of my favorite cities in the world mainly because they have both been home for me. Outside of these two, I'd say Palawan, Siargao, and Bohol. Boracay and Baguio both have so much charm and are beautiful but they haven't done a good job controlling development and both locations have lost a lot of their rustic and natural charm.
When time permits, my favorite place in the world is the beach, and I'm lucky that Sandra, my wife, and our kids also love the beach. We love swimming, snorkeling, island hopping and fishing (at least for me). I grew up in Cebu and I always recommend visits to our sandbars. For tours, I'd recommend Fun & Sun.
My all-time favorite beach destinations in the Philippines are San Remigio and Punta Engaño (northern Cebu), Siargao, Pamalican and El Nido (both in Palawan), Nasugbu (Batangas). Palawan in my opinion has the best beaches in the world.
The most beautiful resort I have been to would have to be Amanpulo. It could possibly be the best resort in the world.
The hotel in Manila I enjoy the most is Solaire Resort and Casino because it has so much to offer. Between gaming options, food establishments, pool area, shooting range, spa and bars, you have everything you need. Plus the rooms are incredible and extremely affordable compared with other Manila hotels.
Ian Paradies is a beer aficionado and president and founder of Engkanto Brewery, a craft beer producer catering for the local market. Paradies and business partner and brewmaster Josh Karten opened Engkanto Brewery in April this year.
Published June 2017