Filipinos undoubtedly like their beer. San Miguel, the most popular brand, is to beer what Jollibee is to burgers and jeepneys are to the ordinary Pinoys’ means of transport. According to stats, “Filipinos consume 1.25 billion liters or 3.9 billion bottles of beer per year,” most of which I believe are shared over good company and sizzling plates of sisig or some other pulutan.
I honestly haven’t tasted as many varieties of beer in my lifetime as when I attended the Beer Appreciation Night at Red Box, the “uber-ly wholesome” karaoke bar in Greenbelt 3 (with another branch in Trinoma). Apparently, Red Box is where you can find one of the most extensive beer selections in the metro.
Why beer? Because it seems Pinoys believe there is a correlation between singing and alcohol content - the more you drink, the more you’ll likely to have the guts to belt out those tunes in front of other people, as opposed to just singing in the shower. And beer is just out there as one of the most accessible, convenient drinks around.
Pinoys drink their beer according to their own style (with ice, straight from the bottle, and such..) , but according to Chef Philip Golding of the Yats Wine Club, there is a proper way to drink beer. Says he: do serve your beer ice-cold at a temperature of 3 to 6 degrees Celcius, but don’t put ice on the beer itself; don’t drink it straight from the bottle; and do pay attention to the foam, color and aroma of the beer, among other things.
Certain kinds of beer pair well with specific types of food, and here is what we tasted:
Germany’s Heineken, my personal favorite - a light pilsner with full flavor and soft, pleasant aftertaste. Goes well with smoked sausage.
Germany’s Beck’s - golden pale in color with smoky, wheaty flavor and a touch of bitterness that finishes cleanly. Pairs well with crispy pata, believe it or not.
Stella Artois - a bottom-fermented pilsner lager that is considered “table beer” in Belgium. Yes, you can drink this with Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato (BLT) sandwich!
Japan’s Kirin - made of the finest barley malt, this is distinctive for its smooth finish and no bitter aftertaste. Goes well with fish and chips made from Japanese breadcrumbs (and some tartar sauce to go with that).
Belgium’s Hoegaarden - a unique coriander-flavored beer. I must say this is an acquired taste, but you won’t mind it if you much cheese-topped baked mussels on the side.
America’s Budweiser Beer is “brewed with a combination of barley malt to achieve a very specific flavor balance.” And this should go well with baked buffalo chicken wings.
Other beer choices in the house: Ireland’s Leffe Blonde, Guinness Stout, Netherland’s Grolsch Pilsner, the Philippines’ Cerveza Negra and rare bottles of triple-fermented La Fin Du Monde which costs from P700 to P1200 each.
My verdict after taking sips of six different kinds of beer: nahilo ako! (I got dizzy!)
Red Box was gracious enough to give more beer schwag afterwards. My friends are having this, if only they care to come to the house