Engkanto Brewery brings ‘magic recipe’ to beer sector

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The power duo behind Engkanto Beers: Ian Paradies (left) and Josh Karten (right)

Filipino-Spanish Ian Paradies left his job at one of the world’s largest port management companies in the country to pursue what he loves—beer.

The 34-year-old admits not knowing anything about making it, but shares with pride that he has years of drinking experience under his belt.

For his venture to work, Paradies searched high and low for a brewmaster with the right combination of knowledge and experience to make a reality of his vision.

Eventually, through mutual friends and a few email exchanges, he met Josh Kanter, the owner of the popular Proclamation Ale Co. in the United States.

With Paradies’ background in marketing and advertising and Kanter’s experience in running the award-winning brewery in Rhode Island, they started Engkanto Brewery.

Their goal? To introduce to the market a line of high-quality craft beers that fit the average Filipino’s palate and pocket.

“The market is underserved … we want to try to take the beer from what people thought beer was, to what people should think beer is and can be. We really want to educate the beer market … A lot of Filipinos love beer. Why just have a small part of the market be able to enjoy and afford your beer?” says Paradies.

Even if the market is dominated by the giant San Miguel Corp. and Asia Brewery Inc. and with small-scale breweries accounting for an increasing share, both Paradies and Kanter believe that there is still room to grow.

“Back home, it’s big. It’s different. We have like 5,000 breweries and here you have like, 20, right? And the drinking age is 18. That changes everything,” Kanter adds.

The brewery is set to launch five flagship craft beers, together with seasonals and one-offs concocted with fruit flavors.

Not to give away their trade secrets, Kanter says that theirs is a distinct brewery not only because of the pricing but also due to some unorthodox techniques they use when brewing.

This “magic recipe” is what makes Engkanto true to its name, which Paradies derived from the concept of folklore and mysticism.

To make it more relatable, they used the Tagalog spelling of the word.

The team hopes to give a “mystical experience” to those who are down to drink a few Engkanto beers.

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Inside their brewery in Makati, me and our photographer Leo Sabangan get to try their beer variants – for free! Photo by Leo Sabangan

Engkanto’s variants

There is enough Engkanto variants to go around for everyone.

If you’re an old-school drinker, you’ll definitely enjoy their lager. This is their lightest beer offering and the cheapest of the bunch. The taste can be very European with a few accents to fit the Filipino palate. If you fancy more malt in your drink, you can try the pale, which offers a little more body than the lager. It’s heavier too, with 6 percent ABV (alcohol by volume).

If you’re into something more flavorful, you can try their IPA and double IPA. These beers have a little more hops in them, with an alcohol content of 7 percent for IPA and 8 percent for double IPA.

Kanter also prides himself in pioneering new kinds of beer that they’ll be releasing soon, like the stout with coconut and the dalandan ale, which Paradies likes to call the “Philippine-dale.”

“You got this crazy dalandan aroma, you got some dalandan flavor, but you also have that underlying taste of beer in this. It doesn’t taste like juice, right? But it has this crazy thing going on. So we can do that endlessly in this country with all the amazing fruits you guys have,” says Kanter.

The team has already experimented with different fruits like mangoes, pineapple, guava and calamansi —all sourced from the country’s provinces.

The stout, on the other hand, gives off a coffee-chocolate taste.

Theirs has an 11% alcohol content, but to our surprise, doesn’t taste heavy.

The beers are sold at an average of P53 a bottle while kegs are priced at P3,200 each.

All these varieties are ready for the taking.

Bars, restaurants, and hotels in Metro Manila as well in Calabarzon will be the first places to try their selections.

Eventually, Paradies wants to serve the beer in his hometown Cebu, and to the rest of the country as well.

Engkanto, with breweries in Makati and Carmona, Cavite, is a relatively large operation for a craft beer brewery.

The company can produce seven million bottles annually and 700 20-liter kegs daily, when both become fully operational.

The company’s target buyers are young professionals, as well as those in the upper class.

“To me, those are the guys changing the consumer landscape. The culture has really changed … Back in the day, when I graduate, I start my family, I buy my first car … Now the mindset is ‘okay I’m still young, I don’t need a house yet, I can rent an apartment; I don’t need a car, there’s Uber and Grab; and now I can use my disposable income on things that I can experience.’ So travel, fashion, food, drinks … It’s perfect timing actually and they’re looking for products similar to what we’re creating here,” says Paradies.

There will be more beer variants from the brewery as they progress, but right now, Paradies wants to focus on building their brand and sharing their carefully crafted beers with Filipinos. With the market starting to realize that they can spend a little more, the Engkanto Brewery sees a rich and full future ahead.

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