It was a passion for good beer that led Ian Paradies to start brewing his own batches. “Simply put, I love beer. I grew up in Cebu with the usual supermarket brands,” he muses. This love for beer led him to start brewing his own line of craft beers under the Engkanto brand back in November 2016.
While even expats who patronize it love it, Engkanto is brewed for the Filipino, he says. “I felt there was an opportunity in the market, with a craft beer that is designed to cater to the Filipino palate while being affordable.”
He describes the Pinoy beer drinker as someone who enjoys sweet and sour tastes. “Filipinos at the moment don’t appreciate bitterness. I think that will come later down the road. This is why we developed recipes that have tons of character and are extremely flavorful yet have a controlled bitterness so the Filipino palate can enjoy it.”
He took price points in mind too. “While we may not be as affordable as the supermarket brands, we have been able to achieve price targets that allow more Filipinos to enjoy a craft beer with our flagship variants.” He describes those variants are such: the Lager is light and crisp, the Pale Ale and Double IPA have a citrusy flavor and aroma. Those who do appreciate having some bitterness in life can enjoy the Blonde Ale and the IPA. These craft beers are now available in 55 outlets and at their bar Polilya on draft.
“When we were planning to open Polilya, we thought of it foremost as a place to showcase our beers. But when my wife and I partnered with my sister Nina and my cousin Alex, we started thinking of putting up a place that was much more than that, by offering a different experience
That understated connection starts with the bar’s name.
Aside from the craft beers on tap, they offer something quite unusual in the local bar scene—a range of beer cocktails. “We brought in mixologist Priscilla Young to create a line using our craft beers. Typically, beer is difficult to incorporate into cocktails because of its bitterness. What she did was to make a
Goldfinger and Fonzy Collins
Even the food has a touch of Engkanto’s enchantment. “Our menu was developed by Luis de Terry. The goal was basically to create pub food from different countries, utilizing our beer in dishes where it made sense.”
As such, their fish and chips and pickled tempura jalapeños use beer in their batter to make it better. The chocolate mousse uses stout for a full-bodied flavor, and the gambas
The response has been really good since it opened a few weeks ago. The Poblacion crowd merrily found its way to the lanai-looking lounge, with a mix of expats in their casual wear to the Salcedo yuppies regrouping after work.
Ian recounts, “We have had students in their 20s sitting next to a table of ladies in their 70s. Everyone feels comfortable here, and that for me is already a big achievement and a fulfillment of what we set out to do.”
*This story originally appeared on Esquiremag.ph.
*Minor edits have been made by the Town&Country editors.