PAPA BOLO: BREWPUB
BY HELEN HERNANE-PALAPAG
Celebrating their first year in June, Papa Bolo continues to draw in customers from all walks of life. Craft beer enthusiasts will love seeing and touring where their beers are made while barkadas (friend Papa Bolo showcases Tagaytay in all they do. Founder Congresswoman Aniela Tolentino, who’s a third-generation Tagaytay local herself, created the brewpub to empower the community by supporting their farms, employing locals, and bringing positive attention to the wonderful offerings of Tagaytay.
With the help of Canadian chemist and American craft brewer Mike Wayne—Papa Bolo’s Director of Brewing Operations—their brewery’s finest creations showcase local ingredients. Piña Niña (with an ABV or alcohol by volume of 5.2 percent) is created with 100 percent Tagaytay pineapples that add a tart finish to the beverage.
Surprisingly to Wayne, but not to Tolentino, Piña Niña has been their bestseller since opening. Another must-try is Tsokmate (6.7 percent ABV), which they label as an “English-style porter made with rich cocoa.” The tablea they use for Tsokmate is locally-grown and is sourced from groups) looking for a cool and relaxing place will find their new home on any of Papa Bolo’s three floors.
Their unique name stems from the folklore behind the name of the city. Legend says that a father and son duo were hunting down a wild boar in the hills of the town. During said chase, the son cried out “Taga, itay (Cut him down, father)!” and thus the name Tagaytay (a portmanteau of taga which means ‘to cut’ and itay meaning ‘father’). Papa Bolo, literally translated to “Father Knife,” references the city’s origin story.
Also, their best-selling dessert is the Taal Meringue, which visually takes after the iconic eponymous volcano. It features a savory and sweet grilled corn and buttery cheddar mousse, covered in toasted meringue to achieve that Maillard “volcano” aesthetic. Flowing down this decadent mountain like lava is an equally sweet but subtly tart raspberry coulis that is expertly paired with a crumbled sweet pea sponge cake on the side.
Another must try is their Pineapple Tart. In the middle of the wheat crust is their in- house pineapple jam topped with almond cream that balances the strong, sweet and tart flavor of the piña jam. Topping off the tart is a scoop of your choice of Manila vanilla or durian ice cream, the latter adding a complex touch to the dish.
With their multiple food and beverage offerings that include piña, Piccio mentions the brewpub easily uses at least 650 kilos of Tagaytay pineapples a month! He reveals that their pineapples, hops, and other raw materials are stored in a room they call “Canada.” One of the largest cold rooms outside of NAIA, Papa Bolo named their cold storage “Canada” when Mike Wayne was working in shorts and shirt perfectly comfortably when everyone else on the team was shivering in the 3°C temperature.
Sourcing local, however, can only go so far as there are no producers of hops or malts in the country. Wayne reveals that they source these raw materials from Germany, Australia, Belgium, and United States (US). Talks of developing malt grown here in the Philippines is underway and their optimism increased when Papa Bolo learned about the recent developments at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) regarding similar cereal grains.
Alfonso, Cavite. Using 10 kg of cocoa nibs, 10 kg of tablea, and a creative use of roasted husks, they bring the best of Alfonso chocolate to this Filipino craft beer.
Their restaurant manager, Arnel Gatpandan Piccio, shares that some of their recipes are seasonal in nature. For example, he cites their Christmas beer, Citrus Snap (6.4 percent ABV), which was released in December last year. It’s a “bitter-forward [craft beer] with notes of orange, ginger, and cinnamon.”
In addition to brewing their own beers, their food menu presents classic bar chow pairings and not-so-subtle hints to their origins. Their street food platter which includes kwek-kwek (deep- fried boiled quail eggs in orange batter), lobster balls, cuttlefish balls, and cheese balls, kikiam, and “Manong’s sauce” is their take on the humble pica-pica (finger food).
𝐖𝐈𝐃𝐄𝐍𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐂𝐑𝐀𝐅𝐓 𝐁𝐄𝐄𝐑 𝐀𝐔𝐃𝐈𝐄𝐍𝐂𝐄
In addition to supporting local farmers, Papa Bolo has become a leader within the burgeoning craft beer market in the Philippines and aims to spark interest for the uninitiated in the art (and science) of craft brewing through education and tastings, both in Tagaytay and proper beer festivals around the country. “We’re happy to show guests our in- house brewery each time they come.
Our staff is knowledgeable about the process and the brewery so we rotate the crew on who gets to guide the tour. The free tour is upon request, and when there are no sensitive steps happening in the brewing process, we’ll gladly show where our beer is made,” Piccio shares. Tours are withheld only when there is a potential safety concern during brewing. Otherwise, as Piccio demonstrates to LEAGUE, guests are free to explore the brewery with the staff guiding and educating them about the craft beer-making process.
All of their craft beers are made in their in-house brewery from scratch— milling, mashing, brewing, fermenting, and packaging all take place there. Piccio adds that the team is a fan of Star Wars so they named vessels after Star Wars characters. “Fermentation depends on the temperature and varies between recipes. Our Barkada Bliss pilsner takes up to seven weeks because pilsners need to be clean [in a visual and textural sense] so the yeast needs more time to eat the larger sugars. Our best-selling Piña Niña takes as little as three weeks to complete,” Piccio adds.
As of writing, their iconic Piña Niña is the only one available to-go in a can, but he adds that they’re looking to can their other craft beer offerings soon. The Piña Niña is worth Php395 per box of four cans. It was first released on December 15 last year, with their first batch being sold out in just 10 days. Up to today, it is what the beertenders suggest for first-time guests. For those who are looking for more traditional beer flavors, Papa Bolo also offers the Cowboy Classic (American Pale Ale, 4.7 percent ABV) with “light cereal and tropical notes with low bitterness;” the Barkada Bliss (Bohemian Pilsner, 5 percent ABV), which is as classic as they come with its crisp and clean flavor profile; and the Twin Suns (Double IPA, 10 percent ABV), which is a perfect mix of “juicy dry hops” with its bitterness counterbalanced by plenty of sweet malt.
All of their craft beers are priced the same at Php275 per glass. Their food menu is a mix of different cuisines, but each dish is meant to pair nicely with their craft beer. Master chefs RJ Ramos and Alphonse Sotero suggest pairing the mild taste of the Cowboy Classic with their chicken lollipop, which has a powerful hickory rub. They also like pairing the sweet and tart Taal Meringue with the equally flavorful Piña Niña. Lastly, the chefs never shy away from suggesting a quintessential match, which is their street food platter “and any craft beer.”
Those looking for heavier dishes will be pleased to know that their curated menu contains Bacon Poutine (fries covered in cheese and brown gravy), which is undoubtedly a nod to their master brewer Wayne’s Canadian background; Meat Platter (Frankfurter, Cumberland, pork belly, grilled corn, and fries), Crispy Pata (deep-fried pork hock); Wagyu Skewers (covered in stout beer glaze and deep-fried crispy enoki mushrooms); Steak Frites; Baked Mussels (topped with melted bechamel and togarashi); and Soft-Shell Crab (fried and paired with pineapple curry purée and mixed herbs). Furthermore, if you want a full beer experience, you can also try the Beeramisu—a unique take on the classic Italian dessert. It contains stout beer jelly, ladyfingers, stout beer syrup, and mascarpone.
The three-storey building reels in curious Tagaytay tourists with its glass walls, giving people only a glimpse as to what it can offer. Outside, its minimalist concrete entrance paired with the stainless-steel sign that merely says “Papa Bolo” offers no other clue. But with its prime location, just in front of Sky Ranch, it quickly drew attention and with its unforgettable craft beer and delicious food, it is no wonder that the establishment quickly rose to its current must-visit status.
Papa Bolo can accommodate as many as 450 guests and they have several event areas and private rooms that could be rented for a reasonable and consumable rate. They also have a rooftop area wherein they hold acoustic nights or invite DJs to play. Standing, the al fresco area could fit up to 200 guests or around 160 guests if seated. Upon entering, their industrial interior complements the rugged vibe of the craft beer selection while also exuding an upscale and exclusive atmosphere, much like their carefully designed food menu. What quickly draws your attention going in are these huge oak barrel-like structures that act as table separators, providing privacy for their patrons. These “barrels” are stacked on top of one another up to the second floor of the restaurant, evoking the image of a brewery’s barrel room, bringing the ambience full circle.
All over the place, customers could find vintage pieces curated by Tolentino (or brought from her own home) and paintings created by her sister Athena, who has been serving as Cavite’s vice governor since 2022. Guests can also help themselves to the games found around the bar, such as video games and giant Uno cards. Piccio reveals that they are constructing a giant Jenga game, which will be placed on the third floor.
From the entrance to the interior, Papa Bolo also keeps its senior and persons with disability (PWD) customers in mind. Outside, there is a wheelchair-accessible ramp, and inside, there is an elevator which could take them to all upper floors.
Piccio remains mum on their plans for their upcoming first anniversary celebration but assures that their customers will be pleased and they should keep an eye out for their announcement.