When In Vigan: Visit This Microbrewery For Homegrown Craft Beers

Have your fill of freshly brewed beer paired with smoked meats and seafood at Calle Brewery!

“We believe that every great city should have a microbrewery—and great food to go with it,” says Chef Robby Goco, who is known for creating innovative foodservice concepts, such as Cyma Greek Taverna, SOUV! by Cyma, and Green Pastures. This time, he traveled north to the heritage city of Vigan to put up Calle Brewery, a unique restaurant that serves craft beers, smoked meats, fresh seafood, and other dishes inspired by Ilocano cuisine.

Built in 1875, Casa Lourdes was the ancestral home of Don Florendo and Doña Maria Verzosa. Now, it’s the site of Calle Brewery and Tapas & Wine Bar by Titania.
Photo by Calle Brewery

To create the beers, Calle Brewery got the services of Joe’s Brew, a Manila-based craft brewery founded by brothers Joey and Marco Viray. “When you go to the U.S. or Australia, many cities have a homegrown brewery and every craft brewer is associated with the town they’re from,” says Marco. “Since tourism in Vigan is picking up, Chef Robby and his partners decided to open a restaurant here, and we were so happy they approached us.”

Calle Brewery is the ideal place for big families and groups of friends to eat smoked meats and bond over several bottles of craft beer.
Photo by Calle Brewery
If you want to try a variety of craft beers, order the Flight (P180), which is a sampler of four flavors of your choice
Photo by Calle Brewery

For Calle Brewery, Joe’s Brew created five styles of beer, named after Philippine heroes: Salakot ni Diego is a blonde ale, a light and smooth drink with notes of honey, spices, and fruits. Espada ni Lapu-Lapu, a popular drink with the ladies, is a wheat ale with coriander, banana, and clove notes. Canyon ni Panday is an American pale ale with a citrus-like aroma and a strong caramel malt flavor. Kabayo ni Gabriela is a dark brown sweet stout with caramel and coffee undertones. For those looking for a strong beer with a kick, Bigote ni Antonio is a supercharged version of the pale ale with citrus, floral, and tropical qualities.

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The beers are named after Philippine heroes!
Photo by Calle Brewery

The beers are freshly brewed in a small brewery behind the restaurant. Beer is made from four essential ingredients: water, barley, hops, and yeast. “It’s hard to grow barley and hops in the Philippines so we import those,” explains Joey. “But 90 percent of beer is water so that’s very important. Eventually, we’d like to infuse local flavors and produce, such as cacao, into the beer to make it as Ilocano as possible.”

Chef Robby adds, “Filipinos are so used to cheap commercial beer, but we wanted to aspire for something better. We wanted to brew it fresh without preservatives.”

The fresh seafood bowl comes with your choice of Filipino sauces (salted egg, crab fat, coconut ginger, fiesta mix) or Western flavors (Cajun, lemon pepper, garlic butter, calle mix).
Photo by Calle Brewery

Avid beer drinkers can attest that almost any type of food is good with beer, but Chef Robby thought that since they are in Vigan, they had to utilize local ingredients. “Ilocos is blessed with fertile soil, and the mountains and the sea are right beside each other. It’s such a great place to cook,” says Chef Robby. “As a chef, you go to a place where there is access to good ingredients.”

The beef short ribs (dinosaur cut) is good for two to four people. But if you finish of the whole plate by yourself, we won’t blame you! It’s that good.
Photo by Angel Aquino

Calle Brewery serves bar snacks that play on traditional Ilocano food, such as the Bagnet Sisig, Bagis with Pickled Onion, Truffled Popcorn with Chichapop, and Skinny Fries with Vigan Longganisa Bites—all of which go perfectly well with their beers. “Ilocanos really like their pork crispy. They also love flavoring everything with bagoong,” says Chef Robby. “We wanted something that could go up against local food so the beer is a bit more potent."

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Calle Brewery’s Crab Set comes with fresh lobster, mussels, and clams. Best paired with Dirty Rice and a pint of beer!
Photo by Angel Aquino

The blonde and wheat beers go well with Calle Brewery’s fresh, locally sourced seafood. You have a choice of crabs, lobsters, mussels, clams, and special vannamei (whiteleg) shrimps. “The source of the shrimp was flown in from Hawaii, then they were cultured and bred here,” says Chef Robby. “These are very delicate shrimp. They only eat natural algae. They’re so sweet!”

Once you’ve chosen your seafood, take your pick from a variety of sauces, such as salted egg, yaman dagat (crab fat), or coconut ginger. Finally, you can choose how spicy you want your seafood bowl to be.

Calle Brewery’s meats are smoked for up to 15 hours, resulting in a juicy tenderness that makes the meat fall off the bone.
Photo by Calle Brewery

The darker beers (pale ale and sweet stout) are the perfect companion to Calle Brewery’s smoked meats, which include pork belly, pulled pork, beef brisket, and baby back ribs. Ilocos Sur coffee is used as a rub, while wood from native santol trees is used for smoking. “The meats are smoked for eight hours, and then smoked for an additional six hours to get the right consistency,” says Chef Robby. “You should be able to break down all the proteins. It literally melts in your mouth.”

Vigan’s Calle Brewery is just the beginning. According to Chef Robby, the goal is to open microbreweries in other places, such as Pampanga and Davao. “We definitely want to be involved in the growth of the craft beer industry,” adds Marco. “I think the next step in the whole industry is to increase awareness and availability by opening local breweries all over the Philippines.”

Calle Brewery is located at Casa Lourdes, #11 Calle Encarnacion, Vigan, Ilocos Sur. For inquiries and reservations, call (077) 604-5223 or visit their Facebook or Instagram account.

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