San Miguel Beer Bar @ Changi

The brand is a genuine Filipino original. It enjoys bigger following even in countries like Hong Kong and  Singapore. I found this booth in Changi Budget Terminal serving passengers waiting for their flights back home.

The San Mig Booth

We don’t have a lot of big international brands that are well-known all over the world. So I get excited, like most Filipinos, when I see one abroad. The branding in South East Asia is that San Miguel is the “Great Asian Beer” – and I believe that it is. No good Filipino disputes this fact!

The biggest names in Asia are Kirin (owns 15% of San Miguel), Singha, Sapporo, Tiger, Chang, Lao, Tsingtao and Taiwan beer. The biggest are the ones from Japan that I heard are brewed in North America.

San Miguel has been brewing beers for over a hundred years. Making it the oldest among the other Asian brands. Tiger, who enjoys a huge chunk of SE Asian market , only started brewing around the 1940’s.  SMB has a brewing tradition that’s unmatched by any other beer maker –  more than 100 years of perfecting their beer formula – almost as old as Heineken and Coors.

Legends has it that the Soriano’s made a secret deal with the Americans during the liberation days to spare the brewery in San Miguel. The building were among the only few standing structure after the city was almost leveled to the ground by the vicious American assault. Did they intentionally avoided hitting the brewery to ensure Manila’s beer kept flowing for the thirsty GI long after the Japs are gone?

Like the famous champagne named after the French monk cum master wine maker, Dom Pérignon, the San Miguel recipe is said to had been first concocted by the religious Recoletos for medicinal purposes. Well, possibly for a good time as well, who knows. A German guy (brought in by the first Soriano that got involved in SMB during the early 1900’s) is credited for perfecting the beer into what it is now. Interesting is that the first bottled products rolled out of the Manila factory in an October day – the month when the German’s celebrates their beer festival – “oktuberfest”.

There are countless men who made invaluable contribution, not only to the beer’s taste, but to its survival as a profitable venture. The most important of which is that of the founder, Sr. Enrique Maria Barretto y Ycaza. He sought the approval of the Spanish Queen for his beer during a time when the monarch was dealing with so many issues and problem plaguing her empire. Barretto had his eyes in supplying beer to South East Asia. With his Royal grant, he begun the first ever beer brewery in the region – “La Fabrica de Cerveza de San Miguel”.

“When you have to ask the Spanish Monarch for a permission to brew a beer you had better brew a GREAT BEER!”.

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8 responses to “San Miguel Beer Bar @ Changi

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