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Filipinos’ love of drinking inspired ‘Vitamin Beer’

By Tessa Salazar
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:52:00 02/10/2008

Filed Under: Beverages, Science (general)

MANILA, Philippines -- Invention is 5 percent inspiration and 95 percent perspiration, Thomas Alva Edison, one of the world?s greatest inventors, said.

For Filipino inventor Virgilio ?Billy? L. Malang, who invented a vitamin-laced beer, that 5 percent inspiration came from the Filipinos? love of drinking.

?Tubig sa atin ang beer (Beer is like water to us),? he told the Inquirer. ?The Pinoy?s weakness is beer, and his next weakness is the next beer,? he added.

A 2004 Kirin Research Institute study ranks the Philippines as the 5th highest beer consumer in Asia (next to China, Japan, South Korea and Thailand), with 1.4 billion liters consumed annually and projected growth of 15.6 percent per annum. A Filipino drinks an average of nearly 20 liters of beer a year.

?Sa Pilipino kasi, tatlong okasyon lang na pwedeng uminom siya?Kapag siya ay malungkot; kung siya ay masaya; at yung pagitan ng dalawa (Filipinos drink only on three occasions?when they are sad, when they are happy and in between),? Malang noted in jest.

Malang?s Vitamin B complex-fortified beer or Vitamin Beer takes some of the guilt out of drinking.

?If you are looking for an excuse to take a swig, this is it,? said Malang, who claimed that Vitamin Beer replaces the essential Vitamin B which is lost when excessive amounts of alcohol are consumed.

Malang?s Vitamin Beer drew crowds at the First International Inventors Day Convention held early this month in Bangkok, Thailand, where 36 liters of his concoction were consumed.

Although it has yet to be marketed, Vitamin Beer won a gold medal at the European Union-sponsored Genius-Europe competition at the Budapest Fair Center in Hungary in May 2004 and bagged the Romanian Ministry Education and Research Cup among 1,000 inventions by 540 inventors from 46 countries.

Aside from his Vitamin Beer, Malang has also produced a ?tagay cup? good for three drinkers?with three handles and three cup lips assigned to each member of a drinking trio, and an anti-hangover capsule derived from ?activated? coco shell charcoal.

Home brewing kit

Malang ?s inventions are housed in a 580-sq.m. two-story office-cum-laboratory in Sucat, Parańaque.

He started concocting his own beer in the United States as early as the 1980s when he bought a home brewing kit for $50.

The home brewing kit?good for six liters?is now being used for concocting his other experiments and alternative ingredients to alcoholic beverages.

Malang explained that in making beer, four ingredients are essential: Water (of which beer is 95 to 97 percent); grain (which has been replaced by organic rice syrup); yeasts (which could be cultured) and then the hops (a bittering agent normally sourced from Europe). Hops from flowers are expensive, but are more ideal than hops from leaves, stems and bark.

Malang said that even with a US-made brewing kit, he repeatedly had to overcome inconsistent results until he thought of standardizing the content of the sugar in his beer.

According to Malang, the beer making process was tedious. ?It takes three weeks to complete since you have to make the beer mature and let nature do its job.?

But Malang learned how to shorten the process. He said that his patented process short ened the overall brewing process by 33 percent because of his use of organic rice syrup (which has been pre-gelatinized and ?saccharified?) that he calls concentrated wort that he adds directly to the fermenting stage process. This new process foregoes the conventional malting and mashing operation stages.

He said the new process makes for easier bulk handling, unlike grains that need conveyors, dust collectors and milling systems.

Malang said the secret to the distinct taste of his beer lies in his use of organic rice syrup (completely replacing the traditional barley and other adjunct grains) and the ?bittering? agent hops, while the yeast could be easily sourced from yeast banks from UP Diliman and the Food and Nutrition Research Institute. This combination of accessible ingredients can also produce a more affordable beer.

Secret substitute

Before fermenting, Malang said he plans to add a secret substitute to hops, which he says is sourced locally and is still up for patent.

Malang estimates the selling price of a 320-ml Vitamin Beer (minus the bottle) to be only P3. Including the bottle (or aluminum can) and labels, the price will go up to around P10.

For his Thailand exhibit, Malang used imported bottles from Hong Kong which jacked up the price of his beer to P18 per 500ml bottle.

Malang, president of the Manila Innovation Development Society, has 42 inventions to his name. He also boasts of 17 international and 19 local awards for his various ?innoventions.?

In 2003, he was granted P1 million by President Macapagal-Arroyo after he won a gold, a silver, and three bronze medal awards at the first Seoul International Invention Fair in Korea. His gold medal was for an ?effervescing vaginal insert with guava leaf extract.?

Some of his commercialized products include the lighting earpick made of satin plastic (an ear cleaner that collects available light and is reflected directly inside the ear), nose and ear aspirator (declogs ears and noses of infants) and the Feminet range of products for feminine hygiene.

He also created the K-9 chastity and incontinence belt for dogs, the Lolli Gundi (a Lagundi-based cough and cold remedy in lollipop form), a gas-level LPG-indicator cart that would determine if a just-delivered LPG tank has been indeed filled to the brim or lacking in content, and an ?earlier? warning device (a blinking spiral spring reflector cone for road emergencies that could be seen 200 meters away).

He also wrote the book ?Sex Every Minute.?

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