A Beginner's Guide to Craft Beers

You might have heard of craft beer, but what exactly is it? Generally, craft beers are those that come from small-scale and independent breweries. In the Philippines, they’re usually beer bottles with quirkier labels and more interesting flavors. They’re those that you find in smaller batches and in your favorite specialty store as compared to commercialized beers that you can easily find in grocery aisles.
In the past few years, craft beer’s popularity has been growing and there’s really no surprise why. Apart from brewers’ more hands-on approach to the brewing and experimentation process, craft beers are actually created with just a few raw ingredients compared to the usual additives that commercialized beer has.

Getting Started

Now that you have an idea of what craft beer is, it’s time to learn more about some of its popular styles before you crack open a bottle.

Lager, one of the most popular types, is actually very diverse. To give some perspective, the traditional German Pale Lager is golden in color and generally has a light taste while the Dunkel, another German lager, is known more for its dark brown color and bolder taste.
Probably the most popular, if not the Lager, Pilsners are often snubbed by many craft beer enthusiasts because of the unfortunate assumption that lighter color means lack of flavor. Contrary to that popular belief, Pilsners’ lighter color is actually one of its traits that make it extremely difficult to brew correctly. Here’s an idea why:

Pilsners are much more expensive to brew. Brewers need about three times more fermenters and vessels than usual. Their brewing time takes three times longer than, for example, an IPA, they also require much more cooling, and back to its light profile– if there are any flaws, it can easily be revealed. 
Hopefully, by knowing why it’s challenging to masterfully brew a Pilsner, you can appreciate it more. It’s known to be perfect for summer– it goes without saying that living in a tropical country like the Philippines, it can definitely be your go-to beer. There’s no heavy beer taste and actually, has some sort of bread-like notes from its malt… combined with some citrusy notes and earthy tones.
Pale Ale
The Pale Ale is known to be golden and copper in color and has two styles– the English and the American. 
The English Pale Ale is generally medium-bodied and bitter but the bitterness isn’t overpowering. It’s a rich-flavored beer with some fruitiness and moderate malt. The American Pale Ale, on the other hand, has bold hops that results in a more citrusy pale ale with piney flavors. It’s known to be an easier drink and has lower alcohol content.
Indian Pale Ale
Also known as “IPA”, the Indian Pale Ale is said to have gotten its name from the time a group of sailors were traveling from Great Britain to India. Because of the six-month long journey, they loaded the barrels of ale with hops to preserve the beer longer. What resulted was a more bitter beer that turned out to be extremely refreshing for the climate in India! The IPA is distinctly bitter and because of that, it has very polarizing views– on one side, it draws more people in while on the other, it makes them steer clear.

How to Enjoy Craft Beer

Every bottle of craft beer is made from innovative and precise craftsmanship of the brewer so, it’s only best to use all your five senses as you gulp it down.
As you open the bottle, you can immediately distinguish the level of carbonation.  
By looking at the pour, you’ll notice the color and thickness of the foam. With the color, it’ll help you identify if the beer is true to its style. It’s easier to distinguish flaws in some beers, like Pilsners, due to their light color.
The beer’s aromas will let you go on a journey– because of the wider varieties of hops in the market, the smell can actually make you distinguish some specific fruits or even candy!
From your sense of taste, you’ll notice the mouthfeel, the level of bitterness, and the flavors– both the initial and the finishing, similar to wine. 
Lastly, the sense of touch helps determine if the beer is in the perfect temperature. A general rule of thumb is, all beers should be served between 3-12 C (38-55 F).

Pairing Food with Craft Beer

Contrary to popular belief, there are a number of equally mouthwatering dishes that pair perfectly well with beer. There’s more to beer-pairing than chips, folks!

Let’s start with the IPA. Because of its distinct bitterness, it goes well with hot curry as it brings out the curry’s more subtle notes. Although, don’t expect the IPA to balance the level of spice! But flavor-wise, trust us that the IPA will complement the dish perfectly.
For seafood, It’s almost auto-pilot by now to pair it with white wine, right? Now, try opting for beer! You read right, beer. If you’re having sushi or sashimi any time soon, try grabbing a Pilsner. Its crisp and clean finish is just as (or even more) refreshing as white wine when you pair it up with your favorite Japanese sushi. 
Now that we’ve touched on seafood, it’s a must we talk about red meat. We know what you’re thinking– steak ALWAYS should be paired with a bold red– true but, there’s no harm in trying something new. Beer can pair exceptionally well with your favorite cut of juicy steak. For this instance, make sure to pair it up with a Lager.
Mass produced beer isn’t bad but you’ll be missing out on a world of freshly brewed beer with bold flavors that craft beers offer. Unlike commercialized beer, craft beers have more variety because brewers are always coming up with newer and more unique blends. Another reason is, you’ll get more alcohol content than mass produced beer– where the term, “beer water”, comes from. Craft beer also includes natural ingredients and definitely no additives. These are only a handful of reasons why so many have fallen in love with craft beers. 
To get started, ease your way into the world of craft beers with Philippines’ very own craft beer breweries. You could start with Engkanto’s Lager and or Monkey Eagle’s Psychedelic Blonde. These, and more, are available to order and for delivery in our online store.