I’m not much of a beer drinker. Beer is a taste I never really acquired, so when I got invited to check out the Holgate Brewhouse‘s craft beers, I was hesitant in saying yes. The real draw that got me to agree to going was my curiosity for the charcuterie and where it was being held at – The Black Pig. And up-and-coming restaurant cum watering hole in Alabang, it was worth checking out while it was still on its soft opening, before the hipsters find out about it.
Just so ya’ll know, at the end of the night, I had drunk as much beer (I have now developed a taste for craft) and wanted to take a few of the bottles home – I have finally found my appreciation for a cold one!
The Black Pig can be hard to find, located at the extension mall of CommerCEnter in Alabang behind the building with the Army Navy. We initially thought the mall was still under construction, but after seeing a few people go in and eventually disappear into a restaurant or store, we went inside and headed to the second floor where a party was clearly in full swing with lots of very happy looking locals and expats. As you can see, the sign wasn’t even up yet!
We were there to check out the debut of Holgate Brewhouse’s craft beers in the Philippines, with the founder, Paul Holgate, flying in from Woodend, Australia, to share his passion for authentic microbrewed craft beer.
Before the amazing beer pairing and tapas began, we had a few mocktails to pass the time to whet our appetite. Between the line up of craft beers that were to be served that night, and the marvelous creations of Chef Carlos Garcia, I didn’t want to load up on them too much, as good as it was.
We were also served a few appetizers – cheesy breadsticks, some really cheddar-y crackers with salsa, and an interesting seaweed crackling with avocado purée that was slightly salty with that distinct nori taste that I wanted a lot more of.
Paul gave us a rundown of the Holgate brand. The range of beers are brewed with 100% malt, real hops, and sparkling fresh Macedon Ranges water – all of the finest ingredients from Australia and around the world to create a diverse range of Ales and Lagers. Holgate Brewhouse utilizes hops from Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Northwest of USA, Czech Republic and the United Kingdom. Their base malts are locally sourced from Australia, while they use the very best specialty malt from Germany and the UK. That’s a lot of work to go into one bottle of beer, if you ask me.
The beer pairing with the lightest beer in the bunch – the Mt. Macedon Ale – as well as rolled up pieces of Beef Carpaccio, stuffed with watercress and arugula.
The Mt. Macedon Ale was my favorite, and I was pleasantly surprised with the citrusy notes in the beer. That, and that beer could actually have citrusy notes. What a revelation! This only contained 4.5% alcohol, so it took a few more glasses of these to get me buzzed.
The only way I can describe Holgate’s ESB, or Extra Special Bitter, is that it’s reminiscent to Guinness. A little more potent that Mt. Macedon with 5% alcohol content, the dark brew tastes quite like Irish stout, and paired nicely with potato croquettes filled with thin slivers of meat.
Next up, we tried the Road Trip, an American IPA, was a brew Paul came up with in celebration of their trip around the US Pacific North-West. This beer had hints of grapefruit, citrus, and a woody aroma to it, the golden hue was a few shades darker than the Mt. Macedon, but tasted a lot stronger with the 5.8% alcohol content.
I was more interested in the dishes that were coming out of the kitchen at this point, like the simple yet beautifully plated Chicken Liver Pâté for example, that went really well with their freshly baked bread that was still warm when laid out in front of me. The pâté was light and fluffy, the flavors were delicate, with a hint of red wine and truffle in every bite. I would go back just for this. I hope they sell this to go!
The Black Pig’s Charcuterie Board held the best selection of charcuterie the establishment has to offer, and it was such a treat mixing and matching the different meats with cheeses and pickled vegetables. Have your fill of Jamon Iberico de Cebo, Morcilla Iberico, Chorizo Iberico, Salchichon Iberico, and Lomo Iberico, along with their fantastic cheese selection of Brillat Savarin, Calvad ‘Auge, Tomme de Savoie, and St. Agur. A board is probably good for around four people to share, and I could’ve done with a bottle of wine by then, but it was a beer tasting after all, so another round of Macedon it was.
The strongest craft beer of the bunch was the Hopinator – a special release Double American IPA with 7% alcohol. This had notes of caramel with a bitterness to it and an ass-kicking that I just didn’t like. I left this to the more seasoned beer drinkers.
The Hopinator was served with Oven-Baked Local Pork Belly, with the fatty pieces of porcine helping with alcohol absorption. Everyone was some shade of red at that time. The sea of pork cubes was a sight to see – the bronzed, crackled skin sheltering the layers of fat and meat underneath.
Dessert was definitely my favorite part of the meal – and the beer pairing – with cubes of Chocolate Praline Mousse served with Holgate’s Temptress – a chocolate porter with 6% alcohol that smelled and tasted of luscious chocolate. The praline mousse was like a rich, Fererro Rocher covered with a silky rich fudge and cocoa powder. This was so good, I wanted more! Our server heard us and gave us another one. I love you, whoever you are.
Thank you to our very generous hosts that evening – Anton Garriz, Paul Holgate, Steve McDonald, Tricia McDonald, Berna Garriz, and chef Carlos Garcia! We had a marvelous time and learnt a ton!
If you find yourselves in Alabang, make sure you don’t miss out on The Black Pig! The newest watering hole in the south is also a bar and charcuterie, so bring the buds and sit down to a night of good drinks and great food! Cheers, mate!
The Black Pig is located at Commercenter Alabang, Commerce Ave. cor. East Asia Drive, Filinvest Corporate City, Muntinlupa and is open daily with Lunch from 12nn – 3pm, the bar starts at 3pm onwards, and Dinner from 6:30 – 10pm. For inquiries and reservations, please call +63 2 808 1406 or +63 917 846 2674.