Jul 22, 2009

My Favorite Beer in the World

You could usually tell the nationality of the hotel food & beverage director or general manager by the extensive list of wines from a particular country in their signature restaurant or banquet wine list. My food & beverage mentor from my days with Regent International, Jean-Pierre Leroux, distinctively added more French wines to our hotel list. A good f&b director friend from Austria, Gerhard Schmied, introduced the restaurant crowd in Grand Rapids with a stellar array of Austrian wines well before the Gruner fad started. 

Count on me to be the first GM in history to add Filipino wines to the hotel restaurant list - if that ever happens. In the meantime, my legacy lies in one of my favorite beers in the world. The Philippine's San Miguel beer is a crisply golden, hoppy beer with a distinct bitter-hop finish. It's the first Asian brewery in South East Asia (1890) and the also the first brewery in Hong Kong (1948). It commands a 95% market share in the Philippines. 

As you can imagine, every Filipino grew up on San Miguel beer. It was in the summer before high school when I started "enjoying" this brew. My friends and I would hang out at the local pool hall called "Pink House" and lavish in our freedom by drinking beer and smoking Marlboro "blue seals" - the term we used to classify American tobacco from the locally made Marlboro cigarettes.

Grand Rapids was a little slow in adopting this top notch Asian beer. A couple of years ago, World Market started carrying the beer as part of their global beer pack along with family-owned specialty grocery store, GB Russo's. The turning point came when the JW Marriott Grand Rapids introduced San Miguel beer in its Mixology selection in 2008. Then came the giant Meijer grocery chain - though I'm a bit irritated that they keep displaying the beer in the Latino beer section! The Asian store in the area also started carrying it last year.

I've been on a mission to promote San Miguel in the area by asking for it at the local watering holes even though I knew they didn't serve it. A few of my friends have been on a similar mission. To our delight, one of our favorite local bars, Logan's Alley, finally started offering San Miguel beer. So a funny thing happened last week when my Filipino friend, Mark Schoonmaker, texted me to meet him at Logan's for a little happy hour. We both ordered San Miguel's. I started texting more Filipino friends to join us and within an hour, we have occupied our little corner of Logan's. The first timers to Logan's were surprised to see San Miguel on our table - and with their burst of enthusiasm, the onslaught of San Miguel orders resulted into a steady stream of flowing San Miguel beer to our corner until we drank the bar dry of its supply. It was a small triumph for us "little people" from this poor country in Asia -  but it sure felt much larger than that. 

Have you ordered a San Miguel beer lately?


kgabridge said...

I haven't had one in a long time, but I assure you I will order one next time I'm out...sounds really good right now. I'm in charge of 7 kids at this moment. :)

George Aquino said...

With the 7 kids, you're going to need at least a six-pack of San Miguel.

Miguel said...

There is a California wine called Corte Riva - Mabuhay - owned and operatred by 2 FIlipinos in California. maybe you can add that to the wine list fo your HOtel :)

My Hotel Life said...

Miguel, I will take a look at that wine. Thanks for reading my blog. I love reading your blog, too.

Miguel said...

Nice blog...thanks for reading mine too :)