What goes into making local craft beer

We went inside Engkanto Brewery’s distillery in Cavite and here’s what we discovered

If there is a perfect way to kick off the weekend, it is with a bottle of cold beer in your hands. Whether you’re enjoying it alone in your place while watching a good movie or sharing it with the company of your friends during karaoke night, nothing beats beer, especially craft beer, to keep one’s spirit on a joyous note. Among those that champion craft beer in the Philippines is Engkanto Brewery.

Established in 2017, Engkanto Brewery is on a mission to elevate Filipinos’ appreciation for craft beer. Led by founder Ian Paradies, together with the brand’s managing director Richard Basora and brewmaster Michael “MJ” Jordan, the brand not only puts the art of craft beer in every bottle but also highlights local flavors through ingredients sourced from different parts of the country. 

Ian Paradies, Michael “MJ” Jordan, and Richard Basora

“We want to be one of the leaders in driving craft beer locally. We don’t consider other breweries as competitors—they are partners,” Ian says. “Seeing the process, the kind and care that goes into making the beer, and the ingredients, you get a better appreciation of what goes into the product that you like… That’s the idea, for everyone not just to enjoy the beer and the product, but also understand what goes into it.”

In this feature, we are diving deep into the process of making craft beer. To do that, Manila Bulletin Lifestyle visited Engkanto Brewery’s space in Carmona, Cavite to see how craft beer is made from a number of ingredients to being the beloved beverage we drink from a bottle, or a large beer stein, depending on how much you love it. 

How Engkanto Brewery’s craft beer is made

There are four main ingredients in making a craft beer—malt, hops, yeast, and water. Malts used for craft beer can range from light, dark, wheat, and caramel. The brand sources its malts and hops internationally, like in the US and New Zealand. For its honey-flavored drink, it gets its raw honey from Baguio and Bukidnon. 

The first part of making a craft beer involves the brew house, where the brewmaster prepares the wort, a sweet liquid extracted from the malt with water and hops. It is then transferred to a different vessel to separate the liquid from the grain. The liquid is boiled and sterilized in a large kettle for about 60 minutes with added hops for bitterness, flavor, and aroma.

What happens next is the fermentation process, the stage wherein the yeast converts the sugar in the wort into alcohol and carbon dioxide. After five days of fermentation, comes the dry hopping, which elevates the beer's scent and taste. Next is the cold crashing, where the beer is kept in a cold and dark place to help clarify it. The beer is then left to mature for days. And then the yeast is removed. 

After the fermenting and the maturing comes the filtration process. To make its eye-catching appearance, unwanted particles are removed from the mix. The beer can be clear and hazy, depending on the style. 

Safety of the customers is among the top priorities of Engkanto Brewery that’s why quality assurance is an essential aspect in all of the stages of the brewing process. Before the brewing process, all of the ingredients are tested to ensure that their quality meets the company’s standards. After fermenting, maturation, and filtration, the beer is then tested by its QA team for its appearance, dissolved oxygen, yeast viability and morphology, gravity, pH, and cleanliness. 

Once the beer got its shining stamp of approval from the QA team, it is now ready for bottling and packaging. Engkanto Brewery’s bottling machine has a 6,000 bottle capacity, which also does the labeling and coding of the product's expiration date. 

All in all, making a craft beer can take up to 18 to 24 days, depending on what kind of beer you are making. 

Tasting and pairing

Apart from giving a tour of the brewery’s facility, MJ also reintroduces Engkanto’s award-winning craft beers and some of its new brews. “The beer flavors come from a lot of different areas. Some inspiration can be a classic beer style,” MJ tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “There is a lot of research involved and understanding of their style. Almost like a chef when they cook, with my experience, it is kind of knowing how to achieve that flavor through the malt, hops, and different yeasts. It is a combination of experience, trial and error.”

Engkanto Brewery's products

First is the Live It Up Lager, a crisp and refreshing drink made with “New World” hops, is a perfect partner to spiced feta dip, a caviar cake, ham, and dried fruits. Made with local honey, the High Hive Honey Ale is a sweet and floral beer best enjoyed with sausages, sliders, and slices of pastrami. Next is the Mango Nation Hazy IPA, putting a spotlight on local mangoes and is best paired with fruit dishes like salads, as well as lechon and croissant with prosciutto and arugula. Last is the Green Lava Double IPA, a zesty drink with grapefruit, mango, and pineapple flavor notes, a good beer to go with blueberry tart. 

“It has been fantastic so far,” the brewmaster tells about working in the Philippines. “I love the ingredients. I think you guys can grow anything in the Philippines. They are amazing, fresh, and good quality—something we want to explore more and more”

To know more about Engkanto Brewery, visit @engkantobrewery on Instagram and online at engkanto.com.ph.

Hello, readers! Do you have a story you want us to feature? Send us a message on Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, and Twitter and let’s talk about it.