Beer and the Philippines go together like sunny days and the beach.
Both are great, but they are better together!
Filipinos treasure their beer and have no problem inviting tourists to share in their love for the beverage.
While travelling in the Philippines, you’re bound to find some international staples like Heineken. However, you should also be prepared to be blown away by the variety and quality of Filipino beer.
The Philippines has a long history in both brewing and drinking beer. This article delves into some of the history, culture, and variety surrounding Philippine’s beer.
A Brief History of Filipino Beer
The beer industry established its foundations in the Philippines in the late 19th century when a Spanish merchant was given a royal grant from his kingdom to open the first modern brewery in the country, La Fabrica de Cerveza San Miguel.
San Miguel (known today for their Pale Pilsen, San Miguel Light, and Cerveza Negra) beer quickly rocketed to success within the nation, becoming the best-selling brew in the Philippines. They eventually began to export to nearby neighbouring countries, and their renown grew despite the great world wars in the first half of the 20th century.
After reclaiming their breweries from Japanese military occupation, San Miguel resumed production and remains the country’s primary manufacturer.
In recent years, craft beer has become a growth industry both inside and outside of metropolitan areas in the Philippines. Microbreweries are popping up all over the place, adding to the rich culture of Filipino beer.
Do Filipinos Drink a Lot of Beer?
It’s safe to say that Filipinos consume a healthy (healthy as in substantial) amount of beer. They take their drinking seriously, and beer is most assuredly their favourite beverage. Beer drinking in the Philippines is what some would call a national pastime.
The average Filipino will drink roughly 20 litres of beer per year, which may not sound like much, but bear in mind that most serious Filipino beer drinkers consume far more than that.
What is the Most Popular Beer in the Philippines and What is the National Beer?
The San Miguel Pale Pilsen is hands down the Filipino favourite. It is made by the renowned San Miguel brewery, contains 5% alcohol, and can be found in every restaurant and bar in the Philippines.
It just so happens that the San Miguel Pale Pilsen is also the national beer of the Philippines, dating back decades.
What Beers do They Have in the Philippines?
Philippines beer comes in many flavours and strengths, but these are some local favourites.
- San Miguel Pale Pilsen: The national favourite, this golden lager has strong aromas of caramel and wheat. Its pale colouration belies its kick – a decent 5% alcohol!
- Red Horse Beer: Also from the barrels of San Miguel, this beer is not to be trifled with. It contains a whopping 6.9% alcohol, but still retains a sweet, full flavour.
- Gold Eagle Beer: Carrying on the tradition of animal symbolism, Golden Eagle beer is a lighter option at 4.5% alcohol. It’s less widely available than San Miguel beers, but certainly worth a try if you can find it.
How Much is Beer in the Philippines?
A beer will run you anywhere between sixty and a hundred pesos, depending on where you are and what you’re drinking. Imported beers and craft beers will naturally be more costly, generally upward of the one-hundred-peso mark. Bear in mind, tourist destinations will always be more expensive. The Filipino peso is a relatively weak currency, so they like to squeeze Westerners for a bit extra.
What are the Different Styles of Filipino Beer?
The Filipinos tend to favour pale, flavourful lagers, but they also enjoy a dark beer. The Cerveza Negra by San Miguel Breweries is a dark brew of around 5% alcohol, with chocolatey undertones and hints of coffee.
Craft brewers in the Philippines have become known for their ales with Engkanto and Crows Craft Ales rising to prominence, the craft culture is bigger than ever!
What are the Best Filipino Beers to Try?
Everyone’s taste is different, but among Filipino beer brands, we recommend trying the San Miguel Pale Pilsen for the true local experience. If you’re a Guinness drinker back at home, then the San Miguel Cerveza Negra is a must! If you’re looking for a beer with a kick, then Red Horse Beer is the one for you. Just make sure you have a sober friend to get you back to your hotel in one piece.
What are the Best Microbrew or Craft Beers in the Philippines?
- Engkanto Double IPA: Coming in at 8% alcohol, this brew is not for the faint-hearted. Tropical fruit flavours and a creamy texture await those lucky enough to get their hands on a bottle.
- Crows Pale Ale: Crows Craft Brewing & Distilling Co. has some excellent choices, but we recommend the Crows Pale Ale. It’s light on the bitterness and 6% alcohol.
What are the Best Filipino Beers to Pair with Filipino Food?
The unique flavour profile of Filipino food is best experienced with a refreshing local beer. Given the use of powerful herbs and spices in most Filipino cuisine, you don’t want a beer pairing that’s going to clash with the food.
We recommend either the Manila Light (5% alcohol), which comes from San Miguel’s main rivals, Asia Brewery, the San Miguel Pale Pilsen, or the San Miguel Light (5% alcohol). These beers offer a pleasant kick and gentle flavours that complement the explosive Southeast Asian flavours instead of overpowering them.
How to Order a Beer in the Philippines
Filipinos speak Tagalog, (pronounced tuh-gah-log with emphasis on the ‘gah’) and will undoubtedly appreciate you ordering your beer in their language. There are a few different dialects depending on where in the country you are, but the phraseology for ordering beer is pretty standard wherever you go. Simply approach your barman and say “pwede ba akong uminom ng beer” (consult a local for the pronunciation) and you’ll be sipping away in no time!
Jake has been a craft beer and homebrew enthusiast since his college days. He loves scouring Europe for unique and unusual hops to add to his beers.
Founder of Jake’s Brew Haven – he currently hosts beer-tasting sessions at select local pubs in Baltimore.
Jump To a Section Below
- A Brief History of Filipino Beer
- Do Filipinos Drink a Lot of Beer?
- What is the Most Popular Beer in the Philippines and What is the National Beer?
- What Beers do They Have in the Philippines?
- How Much is Beer in the Philippines?
- What are the Different Styles of Filipino Beer?
- What are the Best Filipino Beers to Try?
- What are the Best Microbrew or Craft Beers in the Philippines?
- What are the Best Filipino Beers to Pair with Filipino Food?
- How to Order a Beer in the Philippines