Crazy Carabao looks at market’s changing tastes, adds cider to craft beer lineup

Crazy Carabao looks at market’s changing tastes, adds cider to craft beer lineup

AS THE CLOCK ticks closer to Crazy Carabao’s 10th anniversary, it’s releasing the Newtons Noggin Apple Cider, a new non-beer addition to its previous product lineup.

The Sta. Rosa, Laguna-based brewery already has Pilsner, Pale Ale, Wheat, Golden Ale, and India Pale Ale on its menu, with large quantities of these consumed on Nov. 23 at Odd Seoul 2 Bar in Quezon City, amid a drinking contest and a beer pong match.

The brand was founded in 2014, making it one of the earliest players in the country’s craft brew game. A favorite story of Crazy Carabao’s co-founder Brad Hannam is that, “the brand and the company really started from Manny Pacquiao.” He and his buddies would fly all the way to Las Vegas to catch world-renowned boxer and later senator’s matches, beginning in 2008. Being exposed to the American craft beer scene, the group asked themselves why there wasn’t a craft beer scene in the Philippines, and the group began the grunt work to make the beers.

While most of the ingredients are imported, they have a Filipino brewmaster to make use of the malts from Australia and Europe, as well as the hops from the Yakima Valley near Seattle. “We pride ourselves on having some of the best ingredients in the world,” said Mr. Hannam in a speech. “Our goal as a craft beer company is to help many more Filipinos enjoy the different notes and unique styles of beer. Our following is rapidly growing, and we want to keep it fresh and interesting for them by expanding our product portfolio to target the varying tastes of our customers.”

In an interview, Mr. Hannam, who has a background in construction, discussed how they’ve managed to stay in the game. The craft beer competition is getting fierce: in a recent craft beer fiesta BusinessWorld attended, there were over 20 participants, a fraction of the number of craft brewers in the country. “We made sure that we’re compliant with everything. We’re able to reach into all the big retailers, hotels, all those sorts of things,” he said. They’re also taking innovation seriously: with the aforementioned apple cider, it was a need to make something that wasn’t beer for a more discerning market. “We’re looking as well into developing [other] non-beer products,” he said.

They’ve also changed their packaging to make it more uniform, as well as beefing up their online presence (revamping the website and having a presence on online platforms Shopee and Lazada).

Mr. Hannam also told us that they’re in discussions with different groups to bring the beer abroad, and said that in about six months, Crazy Carabao beer may be found stocked in Australia and Hong Kong.

Not only has the craft beer scene changed since he started, but Mr. Hannam looks at the changing palates of Filipino as well: “They’re willing to try different things.”

Currently, Crazy Carabao is available in bars and restaurants across Metro Manila, including most of the five-star hotels in the country (the website has a beer finder feature) and in all the main retailers such as S&R, The Marketplace, Landers Superstore, as well as in Lazada, Shopee, and many other top online stores. — Joseph L. Garcia