Wanting to learn more about the handcrafted beer Joe’s Brew, I ask good friend Teddy Montelibano to meet up in Poblacion, Makati, where the brewery itself is located.
Sitting behind the restaurant Holy Smokes on Matilde Street, Joe’s Brew occupies a two-story structure: a small bar on the ground floor that serves the beer brand on tap and in bottles; and the brewery on the second floor.
At past 8 p.m. Teddy and I find ourselves in the company of fellow journalist Jose Mari Ugarte and Joe’s Brew co-proprietor Marco Viray (brother of main man Joey Viray).
It is said that beer on tap (draft beer) has a more refreshing taste than bottled ones, and this I confirm upon sampling Joe’s Brew.
The bar offers “Beer Flight,” a sample of any four of its five creations—Fish Ride Pale Ale, Sierra Madre Wheat Ale, Soothsayer Pale Ale, 34th Pursuit IPA, Sun Sweeper Double IPA—for P300.
Thrown in as part of the taste test is a new variant, Poblacion Common—which, at 6 percent alcohol content, has a slightly stronger buzz than the regular San Miguel Pale Pilsen, but delectably bursts with barley flavor.
The Sierra Madre Wheat Ale (5 percent alcohol) has a fruity taste but not too sweet, while the Soothsayer Pale Ale (5 percent alcohol) has a caramel malt flavor.
But the Fish Rider Pale Ale (5 percent alcohol), which has a stronger caramel malt taste, gets me in a delightful mood. It is now my favorite brew.
The conversation gets more animated. The next hour, the TV atop the bar is tuned in to “Game of Thrones.” I drink more Fish Rider and get a good buzz.
Joe’s Brew, 5834 Matilde St. Poblacion, Makati
Oto’s vinyl records
Marco invites us to take a walk down the street to check out Oto, a new bar whose name is Japanese for “music.” Marco says the place has vinyl records, which excites us.
Oto looks dark but its subdued lighting complements the jazz tune, a track from Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly With Me” album that’s playing when we arrive. Looking around, I notice the guys running the place are young. And they’re playing Sinatra!
A voice calls out: “What are you doing in my neck of the woods?” It’s Garch, Manila Peninsula director of public relations, smiling as he walks up to our group.
At the bar, Marco orders a cocktail called Old Fashioned: Wild Turkey bourbon, orange peel and Angostura bitters (water, 44.7 percent ethanol, gentian, herbs and spices). I ask for the same drink, my first time to appreciate a cocktail after trying out a Suntory Highball a few months ago at Chotto Matte in BGC.
The music moves on to some progressive jazz quartet, before switching to Boz Scaggs’ 1976 album “Silk Degrees.”
In walks Sanya Smith, a model and daughter of Joey “Pepe” Smith, with two friends. Sanya says hi, fondly nudging my head like a long-lost friend, even if we haven’t really been formally introduced, though I’m quite close to his dad whom I co-managed in 1993-95 after he was released from jail.
The bartender offers us a Breakfast Martini: gin, lemon, Contreau, marmalade and sugar. It is drank straight up and feels like a shot of energy.
Pretty soon we are all smiles, enjoying the vibe and the company of women and song.
“Let’s go have a walk,” says Marco. Off we go, where, I’m not sure, but I have a feeling we’ll end up in Tambai.
Oto, 5880 Enriquez St. Poblacion, Makati
Fullhouse at Tambai
True enough, after passing through Don Pedro St. and catching a glimpse of Alamat and Pura Vida, we walk up to Tambai—the sari-sari store-turned yakitori bar on Felipe St. whose second floor are being leased to Marco and Joey as an outlet for Joe’s Brew and other drinks.
It’s fullhouse on a Tuesday night, the crowd’s chatter loud and joyful, as I approach the bar to order a bottle of Joe’s Brew Fish Rider.
It is now 1 a.m. and Mari is visibly impressed at the scene. “Look at this place,” he says, “jalousie windows,” pointing out that it’s so ordinary like a plain living room of an old house, and with people you can’t lump into a single type. “Amazing,” Mari blurts out.
Are we good for a nightcap, I ask, suggesting we go back to Don Pedro St. and drop in on Pura Vida.
Tambai, 5779 Felipe St. Poblacion, Makati; tel. 0917-842- 3725
Pura Vida’s reggae music
Turns out that Pura Vida is a reggae bar, how cool is that. No, we do not expect to see Rastas passing joints around, though the place distinctly has the feel of a Jamaican hangout as reggae music plays.
We settle for a bottle each of San Miguel Pale Pilsen, which comes in ice-cold. Oh yeah, we’re jammin,’ havin’ a Rastaman vibration and losing track of time.
Six hours in Poblacion can yield pleasant surprises.