The Buzz About Juan Brew
This solar-powered microbrewery is out to change the way we drink our beer.
In the last two years, the Philippine beer industry has seen the rise of microbreweries. In fact, there are around 15 new microbreweries in the past two years alone. Juan Brew is one of them.
Juan Brew produces around 5,200 bottles a month.
Filipino-German Alexander Lietz, founder of Juan Brew, started the microbrewery inspired by a random Facebook ad. “In 2014, I stumbled across a Facebook ad for a beer-making kit and to me, that was a whole new concept. I love beer but to be able to make beer, to make it in your kitchen, that was something else,” he shared.
Lietz did more research on beer-making for small quantities and that paved the way for Juan Brew. “The first batch turned out okay, it tasted like actual beer. I kind of had that epiphany moment there, ‘Wow, maybe I can make my own beer and not just on a small-scale but maybe for my friends and family as well'."
It’s not all beer-pong fun as Lietz revealed. For one, beer takes about two weeks to ferment. Lietz was quick to say that there was no instant gratification. “It’s a lot of work and investment upfront before you can yield your reward."
According to founder Alexander Lietz, the first year was spent importing and supplying ingredients to other local brewers.
The Lietz family business also helped Juan Brew create an affinity with the small but thriving local craft beer community in the country. Juan Brew supplied raw materials via the Lietz’s chemical trading business. According to Lietz, “The first year was more focused on importing and supplying the ingredients and in that sense, we’re friends with everyone here. Everyone was also our customer at the same time.”
Juan Brew, as Lietz, says is all about elevating the concept of beer-drinking. “Our real mission in Juan Brew is to help shake off the notion that beer is a cheap man’s drink. Beer is as diverse in flavors and styles as wine is so you have food pairings with wine, you also have food pairings with beer. There are many beer styles and that beer can be treated like wine.”
In a culture where P50-beer bottles are accessible and ubiquitous to the average Juan, the more pricey craft beer bottles might be more of a novelty than a lifestyle. Lietz thinks there is a market, though. “Filipinos are really open about beer. Because of social media and globalization, more and more Pinoys are travelling, they’re also exposed to foreign beer cultures. Pinoys are quite patriotic and we want to say, ‘What are we doing in the Philippines?’ There is definitely more of an openness here now.”
Juan Brew's microbrewery is the first solar-powered brewery in the country.
Juan Brew also advocates sustainable business practices. They are, in fact, the first solar-powered microbrewery in the Philippines. They also opt for organic produce versus high-volume industrial output with preservatives. Their equipment is all made in-house including the tanks, a move that also supports the local economy. They even used recycled pallet wood from their malt shipments. They are also the first local brewery to can craft beers as cans are recycled more in the Philippines.
Right now, Juan Brew produces 4,000 liters monthly, roughly 5,200 bottles a month. “It’s a drop in the swimming pool compared to what the industrial guys make. But we’ll hopefully double our capacity in November and that concludes our pilot facility,” Lietz shared.
Juan Brew's four beers—IPA, Dry Stout, Bavarian Wheat, and Pale Ale—are available in several bars, restaurants, and retailers in the metro.
Juan Brew is currently stocked in several bars, restaurants, and retail outlets in Bonifacio Global City, Makati, Quezon City, and Alabang, among others. “We’re working on having a permanent set-up, we’d like to have a pub where our fans and customers can go and visit and taste our products,” Lietz added.
If local craft beer festivals are any indication (Brewfest MNL—the local craft beer festival—just had their biggest festival to date held last September) craft beer is definitely going places. Lietz is confident that Pinoys will soon think about pairing a roasted malt with ihaw or a rib-eye steak. “It is the right time to introduce [craft beer] to the Philippines.”
Learn more about Juan Brew, check out their website here.