Thankfully each of the six beers from Baguio Craft Brewery was pretty drinkable in their own right and there are a good range of styles brewed as you can see below, the single effort from Asia Brewery was actually pretty good too and probably the best of the bunch in terms of the craft. The website the brewery have is also quite amusing, the guys that work there seem to have a sense of humour and enjoyment about their craft. The link is at the end of the article below.
So what about those cans…?
Englishman In New York
This 6% American Pale Ale is golden in colour and quite crisp in its pour, though the white head is very poorly retained following the pour. The nose is very similar to an English Best Bitter style, with a bitter malty aroma driving things, with a hint of dried banana following on. There is also some wood and that faint metallic tang from the malt.
The flavours are headed by a banana loaf flavour, which shunts along into the finish quite heavily along with the malt heavy profile. The mouthfeel is light but a little too cloying on balance. Not quite sure how this fits into the American Pale Ale category, as it certainly doesn't drink like one.
Kabunyan is a 6.1% wheat beer, brewed 'in tribute to a sky realm', where Kabunyan appears to be the name of a tribal deity in the Philippines.
Kabunyan (the beer) itself is a hazy orange colour with a very poorly retained head and the aromas are of light banana, cloves and a hint of orange but not a huge amount else. the flavours translate directly from the aromas, though there are hints of the wheat in the beer from this moment.
The effervescence in the can was a little low, as such the beer went a little flat towards the end of drinking, but it was nicely rounded and balanced with a gentle and soft mouthfeel and a lingering spice in the finish, though this did push through into a very unusual metallic tang at the end.
This honey infused professed West-Coast style IPA is 7.3% in strength and a deep copper colour, carrying a thin white head which was retained for a while into drinking. The aromas of the Busy Bee were definitely honey led, with some rock candy, pine, woody notes and a malty hum behind all this. The flavours translated almost directly, with a dry but floral honey note as the lynchpin and woodier, tangy hits coming through afterwards.
Busy Bee's body is actually pretty rounded in spite of the fizz, giving a slightly slick mouthfeel which benefits from the carbonation to remove any unpleasant residual character. The finish is bittersweet, quite sharp and has an overt floral quality, lingering in the mid to the back of the tongue. A definitely more complete effort than the beers above.
Rolling Fog Wheat Ale
Rolling Fog is a coppery yellow colour and at 6.1% appears quite hazy, carrying a fluffy and retained white head. The nose is slightly metallic, but has plenty of the staple aromas of a wheat beer in banana and cloves, along wih a mildly spiced wheaty perfume.
The flavours come through with all of these, along with some cereal notes. The mouthfeel is slightly thin and mildly residual, but acidically fresh, dry and mouthwatering which sharpens up into the finish, lingering in the middle and towards the back of the tongue.
Old Xavier 56 Bohemian Pilsner
Under carbonation strikes again with this can sadly, though it has travelled quite far around the world before it gets into my glass, so it is possible this did no favours to the lager.
At 6.1% (again) strength, this golden lager is hopped as with any other respectable pilsner, using Saaz hops. The aromas are very difficult to pick out, with some tangy metallic elements and a slight grassiness to it. The flavours are somewhat clouded by too much residual sugar in the brew, leaving an over the top sweetness and a full, if slightly slick residual mouthfeel.
There is a good level of dryness in the finish and plenty of malt character pushing things along, but the sweetness undoes any balance the beer would have had.
Brew Kettle (from Asia Brewery)
A Belgian Wit style ale from Asia Brewery rather than Baguio Craft, Brew Kettle is 5.3% in strength and has a hazy lemon hue to the body under a poorly retained white but initially frothy and well structured head.
The aromas are of rhubarb and custard, lemons, wheat, egg custard tarts, gooseberries and the obligatory banana ester notes. The flavours are quite light and pleasingly and acidically clean, with lemons, banana, sherbet, vanilla, cloves and allspice along with a slightly metallic cereal tang.
The body is light and the carbonation is excellent, to leave a cleansing quality to balance out any residual character. The finish is malty, citric, and gently dry to all in all, give quite a good bit of brewing from Asia.
Message in a Bottle
This Filipino Black IPA style beer poured with very, very low carbonation, so once again had me wondering if it is truly representative of the brew intended, or travel has once again undone any quality. Nevertheless, at 7.6%, it represents the strongest of the stable from Baguio and is black in body with an off white foam.
The pour was odd, as the carbonation shows some stout or porter character, in so much that following the initial pour, there was a settling and some fine bubbles gradually appearing 2/3rds way up the glass to contribute to the meagre head. The aromas were of juicy fruits, lightly roasted and acidic coffee beans, caramel and some light florality and citrus.
The flavours gave up some tropical fruit, leading into liquorice and aniseed, eventually to coffee (again, light roasted) and a citrus pinch towards the end. The body is chewy but not residual or cloying thanks in part to the acidity present, though the finish lingers with the acidity, it is an odd but not entirely unpleasant take on the black IPA style.
So there you go, there is craft in Baguio and I would be keen to try these beers as fresh as possible, but there are plenty of other breweries out that way and maybe one day we'll get to sample some of their beers.
Hopefully once again, you enjoyed the read - if you have had any experiences of craft beers from the far east, please comment below and offer up your thoughts!
Until next time,
This article was amended 21st November to reflect one of the beers was in fact from Asia Brewery and not Baguio Craft.