Lots of people enjoy a good beer; but it’s a diligent and obsessed few who can actually say that they brew their own beer. And even fewer can say they’ve begun bottling and putting their creations out on the market. That’s why, we want to shine the spotlight on Katipunan Craft Ales, a unique, new, all-Filipino brew company.
It was a shared passion for beer that led four high school friends–Miguel Buling, Brett Lim, Kiyo Miura, and Raffy Taruc–to found Katipunan Craft Ales, which began as a home brewery and is now pioneering the craft brewing movement in the Philippines. In this entry, they take the time to share their story, and how we can make the most of our beer-drinking experiences.
How did you guys get started with Katipunan Craft Ales? Why beer?
We’ve always enjoyed drinking together and trying out different beers locally and abroad. I think the fascination just naturally evolved–from trying to taste all these different kinds of beers, to trying to make our own. We started learning how to homebrew.
At first, we did it out of Raffy’s kitchen making one gallon batches on a regular stove top. A few months later, we bought better equipment, moved the setup to Kiyo’s garage, and made bigger batches. We’ve moved out of the garage now and it’s just been growing ever since.
Let’s talk process. How is a good beer made? What goes into a good pint of beer?
Traditionally beer is made using 4 ingredients only: malted barley, hops, yeast and water. Most of the flavor, aroma, and character of a beer comes from the combination of malted barley and hops. Malted barley gives beer it’s sweetness, which in turn is balanced by the bitterness taken from the hops. But these are just the simplest flavors. For example, roasting the malted barley would bring out more caramel or toffee flavors. Roast it even longer and the profile would change to dark chocolate or coffee. The hops can also contribute a variety of flavors and aromas depending on where it was grown and when you add it during the brewing process.
So now, you can have beer that tastes and smells like citrus fruits, or pine trees, or lavender flowers. Apart from the four basic ingredients, craft brewers even experiment by adding fruits or vegetables, exotic spices, wood chips, anything goes. All these different combinations that can be mixed and matched result in a lot of complex flavors and different styles of beer.
What should a person look for when tasting beer? What is the best way to appreciate it?
1. Have your beer chilled. Don’t put ice in it so you don’t dilute the flavor. And not too cold, your senses will numb and you won’t be able to taste or smell the beer properly.
2. Drink it from a glass. This way you can appreciate its appearance and you’ll be able to smell its aroma better too. Don’t be scared of having about an inch of foam on top.
3. Smell it. Much like with food, a large part of the taste is influenced by the smell. You can almost immediately tell if it’s good or not just by the smell. Think of it as a nice teaser of what’s to come.
4. Taste! Take a good sip, don’t chug it all down. Let it linger in your palette, enjoy and try to discover the different flavors you can taste.
And most importantly, have it with friends. Drinking is a social activity and good beer is a nice thing to bond over and share stories with. That’s how this crazy venture all started!
Tell us about your different brews.
Indio Pale Ale is our flagship brew and is available all year round. It’s a good introduction to the flavorful world of craft beer. We recommend trying it side-by-side with other commercial beers so you can tell the difference.
Apart from that, we do special limited edition releases that fit the season or occasion. Last August we released Signal No.1 Stout. It’s a dark beer, good for drinking during the rainy season, which was the time of year when we released it. We’re planning to release another special brew this coming December. Something with Christmas spirit.
Where can we find Katipunan Craft Ales?
Right now, we’re available at two places: Sa Kanto and Ritual.
Sa Kanto is in The Podium shopping mall in Mandaluyong. They serve good Filipino food that goes well with our Indio Pale Ale. Ritual is in The Collective along Malugay St. in Makati. They’re a mini grocery/general store that sells local, organic, hand-crafted products.
What are your favorite books? Do you recommend drinking and reading? What should we be reading alongside a pint of Katipunan Craft?
Beer Craft by William Bostwick and Jessi Rymill was our first homebrewing book. It teaches you how to make small batches in your home kitchen with mostly basic kitchen equipment. It’s very simple and easy to follow.
Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher gives more background on beer as a drink. If you want to learn about the history, the different styles, how to go about tasting and appreciating beer, this is a good book to get started with.
We always say that beer is best enjoyed in the company of others, but a beer alone with a good book every now and then doesn’t hurt. We’ve had people tell us that our Indio Pale Ale is something they’d love to be drinking while lazing around on the beach. We think it would pair well with a book from your summer reading list, something light and refreshing just like the beer.
Learn more about Katipunan Craft
Thanks to the gentlemen from Katipunan Craft Ales for sharing their story with us. Miguel, Brett, Kiyo, and Raffy, we raise our glasses to you. Cheers!