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Baguio Beer Run: Where to Grab a Cold One in The City of Pines

by Jean Arboleda

For most people, Baguio has always signified summer vacations spent escaping the Manila heat, or Christmas, bundled up in a thick sweater, drinking hot chocolate at Camp John Hay.

INSTAGRAM: baguiocraftbrewery

So I know what you’re thinking: since when has Baguio City stood for beer?

In recent years, The City of Pines has been steadily gaining renown for being a beer lover’s paradise. The city’s homegrown brands and top-notch establishments elevate the local drinking experience, while still keeping that trademark low-key vibe. For homebrewers, the cool temperature helps the fermentation process, and for drinkers, it’s the perfectly chill place to grab a cold one with friends.

They say that the best way to get to know a neighborhood is to grab a drink. In the spirit of journalism and scientific discovery (barely), let’s go on a beer run (or, as we get progressively more buzzed, a beer crawl) and explore some of Baguio’s best pubs and dive bars.

Baguio Craft Brewery

INSTAGRAM: baguiocraftbrewery

It wouldn’t be right to start the night anywhere other than Baguio Craft Brewery, the well-loved establishment that earned Baguio the most beer cred. It’s a little way away from the city proper, but it’s well worth the drive.

Wooden slats behind the bar, along with beer-barrels-turned-bar-tables, form the cozy rustic interiors of the Tasting Room, while the al fresco deck is the perfect place to talk, enjoy the cool breeze, and listen to some live music. When you reach the bar, you'll notice that the wooden tap handles serving the beer have little dark wooden figures carved on them—come closer, and you'll realize that these are bululs, which were traditionally used by the Ifugaos to protect their crops. Guess these modern iterations now have the task of protecting the ales, stouts, and lagers on tap!

INSTAGRAM: baguiocraftbrewery

It’s not just the bululs that give Baguio Craft a distinctly Cordillera identity. Their signature “mythic beers”Pugaw (India pale ale), Lagud (strawberry beer), Kabunyan (American Wheat Beer), Dalom (brown ale), and Daya (Vienna Lager)—are named after the different realms in Ifugao mythology.

INSTAGRAM: baguiocraftbrewery

Feeling overwhelmed by all the options? Don’t worry, you can ask for a free taste; while you’re at it, ask the bartenders about the beer. They’re always more than willing to educate and convert casual beer drinkers to craft beer connoisseurs. Yes, now you can finally figure out what ABV (alcohol by volume) and IBU (international bitterness unit) mean! How much alcohol do you want in your beer, and how bitter are you willing to go?

INSTAGRAM: baguiocraftbrewery

If you’re new to the craft beer scene, or just want to start with something light, go for the fruit beers like the Keywheat kiwi beer or the Lagud strawberry beer. These have little to no hop aromas, are light and easy to drink, and are tasty AF. Want something heavier? Ask for one of the ales, which generally have higher ABV and IBU values, such as the Hop Attack (Imperial IPA) or Englishman in New York (American IPA). Or, you could leave it up to chance and just choose the beer with the most interesting name. It’s hard to pass up a chance to order the Kraken (Baltic Porter) by shouting “Release the Kraken!”, while the Zigzagger (Triple Hopped Double IPA, ABV 10%) seems to hint at how you’ll be walking after a few rounds.

INSTAGRAM: cecelinamarie

Baguio Craft Brewery
120 RKC Building, Km. 4
Ben Palispis Highway (formerly Marcos Highway)
(074) 620 2278
info@baguiocraftbrewery.com

Hoka Brew

Our next stop brings us down the highway to the Podium Boutique Hotel's Hoka Brew, which carries a wide range of international beers and a variety of craft beers on tap from neighboring microbreweries such as Cerveza Sagada Craft Brewery and Pampanga-based Bulul Brewery. Designed like a modern log cabin and offering a breathtaking mountain view, Hoka Brew is the perfect place for a chill inuman session.

INSTAGRAM: hokabrew

If you’re in the mood for something smooth and refreshing, the light Vanilla Bourbon Stout is a crowd favorite. But if you’re looking for something more adventurous, I would recommend trying out the Sagada beers, which use locally-sourced ingredients in crazy creative ways. You’ve probably tried the Mountain Province heirloom rice before, but have you ever tried beer made from that rice? The Gusi Violet Ale is brewed using balitinao, which gives it its unique violet color and distinctive fruity taste. The Alig Wheat Ale is brewed with a delicious combination of wild sunflower honey and orange zest, while the Kapi Coffee Stout is brewed using Sagada’s signature Arabica coffee. Let the ingenuity of these local homebrewers sink in as you down a couple of pints.

INSTAGRAM: avonnmae

Hoka Brew
The Podium Boutique Hotel, Km. 4
Ben Palispis Highway (formerly Marcos Highway)
(0999) 992 8006 / (0917)852 8006
thepodiumbh@gmail.com

The Camp

By this point in time, depending on how buzzed you are, you may be craving a more laid-back vibe to wind down your night, or looking for a fun party to hit up to build on the momentum. No matter what you’re in the mood for, your best bet is The Camp along Leonard Wood Road, which offers you a bunch of Baguio’s best nightlife spots, including Just Another Damn Good Sick Joint, Here, and Hardin, in one building.

INSTAGRAM: bae._.ne

Just Another Damn Good Sick Joint, popularly referred to as just Joint, is a classic pub catering to mostly college students and young professionals. Fans of How I Met Your Mother will surely appreciate the Bro Code-themed décor. You can choose from a wide range of international beers, or enjoy your draft beer in a large mug. If you’re up to the challenge, try chugging your beer in less than 30 seconds to win a free shirt!

INSTAGRAM: thejmgonzales

Meanwhile, X marks the spot at Here, a rustic meets industrial gastropub, where you can choose an appetizer platter so the servers can help you match it with the best international or local beer. For those looking for someplace quiet, enjoy a nightcap at the appropriately named Hardin, a beautiful garden café. Enjoy the jazz or acoustic music while nursing any of the international beers they serve.

Just Another Damn Good Sick Joint, Hardin, and Here
The Camp, #30 Leonard Wood Road, Baguio City
(0917) 532 0396

So it’s been a long night, and by now you can unironically say “Wish you were beer!” Next time you’re in Baguio, make the most out of this craft beer haven—finish up that strawberry taho, and try picking up a pint of strawberry beer instead. Bottoms up!

Find Baguio travel inspiration when you check out our Travel Guide. Explore all your accommodation options at the best price here.

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About Jean
Jean Arboleda will try anything once. She has, at different points in her life, worked in government, telecommunications, social media, music, gaming, and tech. On any given day, she would rather be reading, preferably surrounded by puppies. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @jeanarboleda.

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