Bringing the keg experience to local beer culture
Ian Paradies intends to make beer culture fresh again
Ian Paradies is brewing more than just beer; he’s set to help develop keg culture in the Philippines. Even with the bottled and canned versions we have, he believes that beer is meant to be enjoyed fresh from the tap in order to capture the genuine body of the beer. Keg and brewery culture is found in many bars and restaurants abroad, so why haven’t we caught on yet?
This question is how Paradies mustered the courage to start his own company, Napa Gapa Beverages Corp., operating under the brand Engkanto Brewery. Craft culture may be fledging here, but for him, it’s not enough. Think of a bar adorned with taps all around, which you can get a fresh pint of beer, from bubbling to the brim—this is what he envisions to be an everyday luxury.
What is beer to you?
It’s something to be enjoyed. It’s casual and meant to relax you, something you can enjoy at any occasion: in a party, at the beach, after a long day’s work. It’s something that doesn’t make you feel bad after [drinking]. You can find options that suit your palate without breaking bank.
How is beer culture here?
I would say it’s very strong. As the country continues to grow, as people earn more, there is a tendency to move away from locally distilled spirits. It’s strong, with how people see wine or beer as casual drinks that can be imbibed daily. I feel that’s where the market is heading. People are more likely to buy beer or wine at a restaurant, plus we have much more options now.
What’s one big setback going into this venture?
Psychologically, beer is ingrained into the Filipino mind to be only [one brand]. They don’t even have to look at the menu to know that it’s there. That company has done a great job, they have products that cater to different markets, but we want to change that.
We’re not competing with craft beers. Rather, we’re creating a different segment in the craft culture and a different option for enjoying beer. Price points may vary, types may vary, but craft is one big segment that’s trying to change what beer is to what beer should be.
What sets Engkanto Brewery apart from others?
We will be selling only draft beer for the time being. We won’t be bottling yet because we want to develop the brand first before anything else. We want to build up the draft cul-
ture. If you have the options to drink beer bottled, canned, or draft, it’s always best to go with draft because it’s fresh: no pasteurization, non-filtered. You get it straight from the tank to the keg, so you get more flavor. Many bottled beer has to be filtered or pasteurized first [so that it’ll have a longer] shelf life.
We have have five variants to start with. The lager is our lightest beer while the rest are ales: blond, pale, IPA, and a double IPA. IPA is short for India pale ale. The name came about when Britain colonized India and would use beer for trading or for the crew to consume during journeys. Whenever they shipped ale from the UK to India, the beers would lose almost all its flavor [during the trip] so what they did was use a lot more hops. By the time the beer got to India, it still had flavor.
What got you into this business?
When I was a teenager, I used to joke that one day I would open a brewery or a distillery. I love the social aspect of drinking, and I love beer.
I was with the family business for nine years. During this period, I was assigned to Jakarta, Indonesia with my family. Upon coming back, I decided to put up my own business. I felt there was a big opportunity to open a brewery, and I wanted to produce something of high quality, unlike big companies. I wanted craft beer but one that is affordable.
With big beer companies, for a time, they were the only ones available. Craft beer stepped in but because of production limitations and ause of higher quality raw materials, it had to be sold at a steeper price. We want to capture the audience in between, because certain price points capture certain markets. We want to reach a much bigger market.
What are your days like now?
Busy and jumping around. We have a partner for this, an American brewery that’s focused on the technical side. At the moment, I’m more focused on the marketing and the branding, and my wife is helping me with the branding and the launch. The great thing is I get to work with family and friends in terms of services we are outsourcing. It’s a great experience because we know each other and we’re on the same boat when it comes to how things should be done.
What’s the story behind the brewery’s name?
It’s something that the local culture can relate to. We went for the Filipino spelling of engkanto rather than the Spanish one because we wanted something related to local mysticism and folklore, and how they transformed over time. Older generations were accustomed to [telling and re-telling myths and legends]; nowadays, we don’t know them so much. It’s the same with what we’re doing with beer: taking Filipinos back to what it was and showing them what it should be, with higher quality and different variations but still catering to every kind of market. How can we introduce change to a person who’s been drinking beer for 40 years without overwhelming him?
Aside from their four drafts, Ian Paradies is planning to offer seasonal beers like a chocolate stout and light dalandan beer.
Brewmaster Josh Karten