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Filipino Beer: Tasting San Miguel, Part 2

(Note: This is the second part in a series of posts on Filipino beer. All of the posts in this series can be found in the Beer category.)

Filipino Beer Part 2 - San Miguel bottlesAs I said in the first part of this series of posts, I’m tasting Filipino beer from the San Miguel Brewery lineup as a service to mankind and an aid to those beer drinkers who may be on their way to this fair land of over 7,000 islands.

In Part 1 we covered three San Mig beers: Super Dry, Apple Flavored, and Zero. Since there won’t be much preamble here in Part 2 (you can read more about San Miguel and Filipino beer in general in Part 1), I’m going to try to fit the rest of the beers into this post.

Let’s Get Tasting!

All Malt

Filipino Beer Part 2 - San Miguel All MaltThis San Miguel Premium All Malt lager is  5% alcohol by volume (ABV). It was a light golden in color. The head stayed at about a finger’s width for a short time before disappearing. It left no lacing on the glass.

The aroma was malty and slightly metallic. Like most of the San Mig beers, it had a watery mouthfeel. The taste was sweet and malty with medicinal end high on the palate that left a slightly bitter aftertaste. Not a terrible beer. I would drink this with food if it was available.

Cerveza Negra

Filipino Beer Part 2 - San Miguel Cerveza NegraAs a lover of porters and stouts, I had high hopes for this 5% ABV San Miguel Cerveza Negra. A dark local beer in the light beer land of the Philippines? Yes, please!

The Cerveza Negra didn’t quite fulfill my expectations but neither did it fail me completely. It poured a tight, creamy foam head that built on the pour like a porter or stout but then settled out fairly quickly.

The color is a beautiful dark brown with a slight reddish tint. The aroma was sweet malt, burnt sugar and caramel.

It had a bit of a watery mouthfeel but the flavors imparted by the roasted malt tumble across the palate: caramel, toffee, and crème brûlée. This was the heaviest flavor profile of all of the San Mig beers and that was no surprise. The end was slightly bitter but the answer to that was to take another swallow.

San Miguel Light

Filipino Beer Part 2 - San Miguel LightAccording to the label, this faded golden colored beer is 5% ABV and has just 100 calories. It built a massive, foamy head on the pour that took quite some time to settle and left a lot of lacing on the glass. I’ve had this before but this is the first time that I took the time to really smell it and taste it completely.

Oddly enough, the aroma reminded me of Swiss cheese that also carried a light medicinal tone. It had a sweet, candy-like flavor with hints of the cheese I smelled earlier. In the mouth, it was very watery as you might guess with a light beer. The aftertaste was a bit chemical and faded very quickly.

Red Horse

Filipino Beer Part 2 - San Miguel Red HorseBilled as a “strong” beer, San Miguel Red Horse has 6.9% ABV. It had a pale amber color, very light carbonation and a head that’s easily missed if you blink.

The aroma was light and hoppy and a bit soapy. The smell carried into the taste which was soapy, slightly metallic and not very pleasant.

Red Horse is a popular local choice among San Mig beers and is basically a rapid alcohol delivery system disguised as a beer.

Pale Pilsen

Filipino Beer Part 2 - San Miguel Pale PilsenSan Miguel’s flagship beer and the beer I drink most often, Pale Pilsen is 5% ABV and a pale golden color. The head settles out quickly yet the carbonation continues to rise throughout the pours from the bottle.

It has a light hoppy aroma and taste that goes down crisp and easy. There is very little aftertaste. It’s a good, light pilsner and matches well with this hot climate and the food.


Filipino Beer Final Thoughts

Speaking of food, like everywhere else beer here is downed with food. During “drinking sessions”, Filipinos enjoy a wide range of “drinking snacks” called pulutan. Most of these San Miguel beers that I’ve reviewed would go fine with a social session of drinks and snacks.

A note on availability: Of the beers reviewed, there are only three that you will likely find at the corner sari-sari store. Those are: Pale Pilsen, Red Horse, and Light. The others are more likely to be found at larger supermarkets. As I noted in Part 1, I couldn’t find the lemon flavored beer at my usual supermarket. I also found that there’s a San Mig beer called Golden Eagle which was also not at my local market. If I find these later on, I’ll update these posts with their reviews.

Finally, out of all of these beers, my personal preference is for  the Pale Pilsen. It seems to go with anything and I often drink it by itself.

The Cerveza Negra is also a favorite but I would drink it with specific foods that the malty sweetness would match or help balance.

Thanks for reading my reviews of San Miguel Filipino beer. In coming posts, I’ll review some of the craft beers that are gaining traction here!


Disclaimer (also known as the “Cover Your Butt” section)

  • I do not pretend to be a tasting expert. I don’t have any training in professional tasting and I am not a chef, gourmand or brew master.
  • I recognize that taste is subjective and what I don’t like, you may enjoy. Let’s drink, not fight.
  • These tastings aren’t exhaustive. I tried to keep them quick and concise.
  • I did not and do not receive any compensation or consideration from anyone for doing this.
  • I bought all of the beers I tasted either at mainstream supermarkets or local sari-sari stores and I paid retail prices for them.
  • I drank all of the beers listed “Filipino style”, i.e., cold from the fridge and poured into a highball glass. I don’t like ice cubes in my beer so while that is also “Filipino style”, I didn’t add any ice to the beers.
  • I didn’t eat or smoke while tasting the beers except for the San Mig Pale Pilsen. I was eating Nova chips while drinking that. But I drink it every day so I don’t believe it skewed my tasting.
  • Some of these I tasted with my wife, some I tasted alone.


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