The beer guide to save your life

Naveen Ganglani
The beer guide to save your life
There's no denying the role this alcoholic treasure plays in almost every culture in the world

MANILA, Philippines – Beer. It’s known universally, and for ages has been one of our greatest allies.

Need something to accompany your lunchtime meal? Beer. Need something to ease off the stress after a long day of work? Beer. Need something to complement your weekend road trip with your special someone? Beer.

Of course, too much of anything is bad, and the principle certainly applies to beer, too. 

Nevertheless, there’s no denying how prominent a role this alcoholic treasure plays in almost every culture in the world. But how deep do the choices you have for your beer preference go, exactly?

Lucky for you, class is in session. Welcome to Beer 101.

Let’s get down to beer business 

Beers in the Philippines like San Mig Light, Pale, or Red Horse will forever be crowd-favorites, but fans of the drink must allow themselves to try the different variations of the beverage that are typically created by craft breweries. 

There are thousands of breweries in the United States alone and many more around the world, including right in the Philippines – such as Craftpoint Brewing, Joe’s Brew, Katipunan Craft Ales, to name a few.

To truly understand beer, one must first know the difference between ales and lagers, which you can consider the parents of the drink.

Usually a fruity taste, ales are made with the yeast – beer’s most fundamental ingredient – fermented at the top and in warmer temperatures. Lagers, on the other hand, ferments at the bottom and are usually brewed in a cooler setting; which leads to a clean, crisp taste.

So, what are the more popular type of ales and lagers, and how are they different from one another?

Pale Ale



This is one of the most prominent types of ale. A pale ale is lightly floral and definitely bitter or as a beer aficionado would call it, very noticeably hoppy. 

India Pale Ale (IPA)



IPAs are a variation of the classic pale ale. They usually have higher ABV, though, which can make them an acquired taste. They are outright hoppy, floral, fragrant, and strong. What’s even better and more refreshing than your usual IPA is a flavored IPA — these make it much easier to warm up to them — especially a grapefruit one!

American Lager

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Also known as the classic house party beer. American lagers are usually very fizzy, slightly bitter, (much like a San Mig Light) and light. Classic examples of these are Bud Light, Coors, Pabst Blue Ribbon. They are very easily drinkable and the beer of choice for party games like beer pong, flip cup, etc.




Stouts are the darkest beer you’ll find. Sometimes pretty high up there in ABV, stouts are brewed with barely, making it thick, rich, roasty and a little bit hoppy. There many different kinds: coffee, milk, chocolate, oatmeal, oyster, and imperial to name a few — imperial being the highest in ABV, and only really safe to try if you’re a stout fan… unless you’re feeling daring, of course.




A porter is a Stout’s older cousin. Brewed from brown malt, porters are also dark, heavy, and rich in flavor, but the difference is the smokiness and the mouthfeel. Some porters are also aged in bourbon barrels, which gives them a unique taste – much like a combination of bourbon and a stout.





Wheat beers are usually Bavarian or Belgian. One of the most popular kinds of wheat beer that you may come across is a Hefeweizen. As the name suggests, wheat beers contain mostly wheat, and the rest of it is made up of malt.

They have a silky mouthfeel, are a little bit on the sweet side, and have just the right amount of flavor so as not to overstimulate your palette. It’s a good one to ease you into liking beer. Blue Moon is one of the most popular examples of a wheat.

Sour Ale



If you’re a fan of sour fruits and candies, then you’re sure to fall in love with a sour ale. They’re made with bacteria and wild yeast, which gives them a distinct flavor. What makes sours even better is when they’re brewed with tangy fruits, such as dragonfruit, blood orange, green mango, and the like. Nothing can compare.


Saison Farmhouse Ale. File photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

The classic summer beer. A Saison, also known as a farmhouse ale, has a unique taste, because unlike other beer styles, it is not filtered. It’s know for it’s tart-y but hoppy flavor. It usually has a mix of the following flavors: citrus, herbs, and spices.


Ciders are not exactly beers but close enough, and most breweries have them. It’s basically fermented juice, and almost tastes like a combination of juice and bubbly. Ciders are usually very sweet, especially when it’s an apple cider — which is the most common one. A couple of other ones you may come across are pear, which isn’t as sweet, and berry, which has a little bit of a tangy flavor.

So, which beer is the one for you? –