Rich Lopa, Rocky Lopa, and Noreen Lao’s interest in craft beers began with their interest in travel. While many travelers may visit the well-worn paths of tourist destinations, follow Anthony Bourdain’s (may he rest in peace) footsteps to local holes-in-the-wall, or even pop into the McDonald’s to see the country-specific menu items, Rich, Rocky and Noreen sought to try the craft beer of each destination. They admitted that their palates had become somewhat spoiled by the flavors and techniques they’d experienced that they had to wonder, why couldn’t they make their own craft beer on the islands they called home in the Philippines?
Going into commercial scale brewery, producing beer with the same international standards that we got to like so much, and producing this consistently for your consumers demand more responsibility and obviously technical knowhow.”
So Noreen (who is a bio-chemist) and Rocky went off to the Seibel Institute in Chicago, and also visited Germany, Austria and Czech Republic to study the chemistry behind brewing beer. With all the ‘technical knowhow’ now filling their heads and notebooks, the three took a year to set up a professional brewing facility in the cool climates of Tagaytay. Though the facility took a year to set up, they are now fully running to produce 5 variants of Monkey Eagle beers.
The most accessible for the tropical weather is their refreshing Saison Farmhouse that is light with a mild fruity undertone. The Burning Matt Pale Ale takes it a notch higher with more bitterness, though this fragrant beer still goes down nice and easy. They call their American-style wheat beer the refreshing Blue Wheatch, which Rich (a foodie who also enjoys experimenting in the kitchen) says pairs well with spicy Asian cuisine. Then there is the Potion 28 IPA, though don’t be afraid of it, as it is more drinkable and accessible than most IPAs as it offers a sweet balance to its high IBU. And finally, there is the General Luna Ale, a blonde ale that is only available in Siargao and Kermit Manila.
These brewers may have had international training but they are proud to be offering Filipino products, reflecting their pride in the name of the company (named after our national animal the Philippine Eagle, formerly called the Monkey-Eating Eagle). And while Rich tells us that they follow “the general rules to conform to the different styles, we definitely add a little of this, take away a little of that until we come out with a beer taste that we like.” The result is a beer that has international influence but is suited to the taste of Filipinos and the climate of the tropics.
MONKEY EAGLE BREWERY
A local craft brewery that designs complex beers with the island-life in mind.