Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Brewing though war

How a DoST loan and making their own malt helped a small brewery through the effects of the Ukraine-Russia war

WE met James Gatlabayan, head brewer for Santiago Brewery and Malthouse, while doing something naughty.

During last month’s Beer Fiesta (see the related story:, he was urging people to drink out of a beer bong, a favorite frat party pastime. Still, despite the beer being delivered down our throats with speed, we found it to be quite good, and asked for a round of the refreshing Amihan (this time in a glass).  Mr. Gatlabayan makes his own beer — but also his own malts.

While Santiago only truly kicked off in 2017, Mr. Gatlabayan has been making beer at home since 2014.

Santiago Brewery and Malthouse sell beer in bottles online, but the bulk of their sales comes from serving as a mobile bar in the wedding industry. Mr. Gatlabayan claims to be the only malthouse in Southeast Asia (though we found another in Vietnam). Still, he might be the only one in the Philippines, and due to some help from the Department of Science and Technology (DoST), he has increased their yield from three kilograms to 300 kilograms per week: enough to flavor 5,000 bottles of beer.

But what is malt? Beer is made from brewing and fermenting cereal grains, with malted barley as one of them. Malt, according to Mr. Gatlabayan, is made of grains that have been allowed to germinate. The germination process converts starch to maltose, the main sugar that goes into beer (and thus becomes fermented to turn into alcohol). “At the time that I started, there were no suppliers for malt and hops,” he said. “I had no choice but to find out.”

While malted barley is the most popular grain choice, he said, “It’s just that barley is the easiest to turn into malt.” He said that the whole process takes between four to five days. He also showed us his own do-it-yourself (DIY) equipment from his early days, such as a cooler and his own home oven — he now has better equipment, including a modified coffee roaster used to dry the grains. He learned that one can make malt from any type of grain: even from rice (specifically in its palay seed form) which is abundant in the Philippines. That, however, takes some time, with palay turning into malt in between 10 to 12 days compared to barley’s four to five. Other grains he had experimented with include oats, sorghum, and wheat.

“It’s harder to brew,” he admits, when asked about the advantages of making his own malts, instead of buying them. “But if you’re going to use the same type of malts, everybody will have the same taste of beer.” Besides, commercial malts can cost P80 and more per kilogram, and by making his own, he only has to spend P35. “Ang laki ng cost savings  if I supply my own. Even though it’s harder to brew — I know my malts. I can adjust to it.”

Thanks to making his own malt, he and his customers can become impervious to supply chain disruptions. For example, he points to the war between Russia and Ukraine, which cut supplies of malt to the country. According to him, a lot of the microbrewers here could not make their own beer. At that time, he had just developed a malt made from the drier, harder type of maize used to make popcorn, after facing a disappointment when he made a malt out of sweet corn, which, due to the high fat content, gave the beer a strange texture and a weak head (that is, it didn’t foam up enough). The popcorn maize-malt saved the day for himself and the other brewers, until supplies had been stabilized. “Magka-guerra man, we will always have beer,” he said.

Mr. Gatlabayan benefits from a zero-interest loan he took from the DoST that helps small businesses like his scale up their operations. “They’re really looking for backyard businesses that want to professionalize.” The loan, which took five years to pay and had a one-year grace period, was what helped him get all of his equipment to increase his yield. “You can’t get that from any bank,” he said. To other small business owners, he says, “They need to be proactive. They need to reach out to their local, regional DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) or DoST offices.”

Contact Santiago Brewery through or — Joseph L. Garcia

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get the daily email that makes reading the news actually enjoyable. Stay informed and entertained, for free.
Your information is secure and your privacy is protected. By opting in you agree to receive emails from us. Remember that you can opt-out any time, we hate spam too!



In a surprising turn of events, Dame Sharon White, the CEO of John Lewis, has announced her resignation from the company. After just three...


By Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson, Reporter MANUFACTURING ACTIVITY in the Philippines expanded in September, driven by resilient domestic demand and growth in new...


THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT’S (NG) outstanding debt reached a record P14.35 trillion as of end-August, mainly due to the peso depreciation against the US dollar,...


THE WORLD BANK expects the Philippines to be the fastest-growing economy in Southeast Asia this year, despite trimming its gross domestic product (GDP) growth...


FINANCIAL INTEGRATION in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region could boost economic growth in the Philippines by about 3.5 percentage points (ppts),...


THE Philippine Stock Exchange, Inc. (PSE) said the guidelines on short-selling transactions are to take effect immediately after securing approval from government regulators. In...

You May Also Like

Top News

As the world seeks sustainable and energy-efficient solutions for heating and cooling, the heat pump market is experiencing a significant surge. According to the...


The Toto site’s user-friendly interface makes it easy for both beginners and experienced gamblers to navigate through the various features. “¸ÔÆ¢Æú¸®½º site is a...


Almost 100 jobs are thought to be under threat at smart home energy technology manufacturer myenergi. The Grimsby firm, named one of the UK’s...


JUNIOR FERREIRA-UNSPLASH The Philippines is a very small power market by ASEAN standards, with market demand peaking at 15 gigawatts (GW) compared to Thailand’s...

Disclaimer:, its managers, its employees, and assigns (collectively "The Company") do not make any guarantee or warranty about what is advertised above. Information provided by this website is for research purposes only and should not be considered as personalized financial advice. The Company is not affiliated with, nor does it receive compensation from, any specific security. The Company is not registered or licensed by any governing body in any jurisdiction to give investing advice or provide investment recommendation. Any investments recommended here should be taken into consideration only after consulting with your investment advisor and after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company.

Copyright © 2021 SmartRetirementReport. All Rights Reserved.