Pale Pilsen may be the most internationally well known Filipino beer brand. Domestically however the throne belongs to everybody’s favorite steed Red Horse Beer.
Red Horse is San Miguels extra strong beer and is extremely popular in the country. This might be explained in large part because of it’s higher alcohol content while still having the same price as a regular pilsen. Red horse has an ABV of 6.9%.
However there is more to it than that. Many Filipinos seem to enjoy a beer with a stronger and sweeter taste. Red Horse Beer’s marketing is mostly targeted to younger male Filipinos with a macho rock style of marketing.
Red Horse Commercial with one of the nation’s rock heroes: Ely Buendia
On the official website you can read the following:
Red Horse Beer is your extra strong beer that brings you that pure alcoholic experience. It is not your ordinary beer – rebellious and flavorful yet bold and intense. It is sweet and bitter smooth, giving you a fueled kick. Excite yourself with this deeply hued distinct tasting beer.
So read on if you’ve been craving that “pure alcoholic experience”.
Taste and appearance
Red Horse Beer pours a couple of shades darker than Pale Pilsen. Just like pilsen it generates a huge foamy head when poured but the head quickly goes away to reveal a fizzy, deep golden glass of beer.
Smell is sweet with a slight grainy tone, the alcohol is definitely present on the nose.
The taste is pretty much like you emptied out the gas tank of your motorcycle and added generous amounts of sugar. It is sweet and fiery with very little hops or malt present. If drunken cold it is actually not too bad but as it warms this beer becomes less and less palatable to me.
Red Horse Beer is available pretty much anywhere all over the country and is the beer that no Sari Sari store or videoke bar ever wants to run out of.
It comes in a wide variety of containers:
- 330 ml Bottle(Stallion)
- 330 ml Can
- 500 ml Bottle
- 1 liter Bottle
A 330 ml Stallion bottle will set you back around 30-38 Peso. Red Horse thus offer more bang for the buck(or pow for your Peso?) than Pale Pilsen or any other lower alcohol beer. When drinking in restaurants and bars it’s often a good idea to get a full bucket of 5 or 6 bottles if in a group to save some money.
Among beers it is one of the cheaper options beaten only by the province only(and lower alcohol) Golden Eagle and the Asia Brewery direct competitor Colt 45 which is slightly stronger and sometimes also cheaper.
If you are drinking Red Horse with Filipinos you will sooner or later be introduced to the legendary smiling horse. The smiling horse is a different label design that is pretty rare to find. Filipinos will tell you that a bottle with this happy horse has a stronger taste and a higher alcoholic kick than the regular bottle.
The truth of the matter is that the happy horse is just an older bottle design. San Miguel wash and reuse old bottles and so some older designs are still in circulation. The beer is the exact same though and San Miguel brewery is in fact not run by Willy Wonka. But don’t stress this too hard. Though I think a lot of Filipinos just share this urban legend as a fun drinking story there seems to be a few that genuinely believe it and challenging people’s beliefs while drinking red horse is a surefire way to spoil a good evening.
Red Horse is not my first choice among Filipino beers since I prefer a cleaner, maltier taste for a lager beer compared to the fiery and sweet flavor of the horse. But you can’t dispute that for an extra strong lager I certainly had worse and if you like American or European extra strong lagers Red Horse stacks up pretty well.
If you want to part ways with your sobriety quickly it’s the obvious choice among beers. However if maximum intoxication for your peso is your only concern Red Horse is still nowhere near as good of a deal as the ridiculously cheap local liquor.
For others Red Horse should at least be tried once as it is really a part of the culture here in the country.
Other reviews and resources
Some of these reviews are of the export version that has 8% abv. My review is for the domestic 6.9% version.
Red Horse(Official Homepage)