The leader of the pack was Dan Buonodono, who opened the EagleMonk Pub and Brewery last year with his wife, Sonia. EagleMonk is the only microbrewery in Lansing (for now) and it’s quietly been building a following with its handcrafted beer, homemade soda and specialty pizza dough. It works out to be an interesting new phase for Buonodono’s life, who retired from working an information technology for the state three years ago.
“It’s not just a hobby,” Buonodono said. “It’s my retirement plan. I started making beer 29 years ago for fun, but now it’s my life.”
Buonodono’s lineup consists of six rotating taps and three full-time brews: the signature Red Eye Rye, Annie’s IPA (a British-style India Pale Ale) and the EagleMonk IPA (American-style). There’s always either a stout or a porter ready to go (lately, it’s been the Marcy Street Stout) and three wines, which are mostly Italian. Coming soon is the Winter Warmer, which he let me sample. It’s going to go great with a couple of more inches of snow on the ground.
EagleMonk took over a building that had been many things over the years, including a service station, an ice cream parlor and a party store. Buonodono grew up about a mile and a half from here, on Lansing’s west side, but had no memory of the building.
“It was kind of unassuming,” he said. “But I put a year of work into this. I think it stand out a little more now.”
That kelly green paint job and the big reveal of extra windows certainly makes it more inviting. As for the name, well, that’s nothing more than a mash-up of the symbol of these here United States and Buonodono’s favorite brewers. So, to speak in symbol talk, EagleMonk means “American Great Beer Maker.”
Buonodono subscribes to the whole “rising tide lifts all boats” idea when it comes to the competition. Last fall, BAD Brewing Co. opened in Mason, and two more are on the way, but he’s all smiles.
“I can’t wait for HopCat and the Lansing Brewing Co. to get here,” he said. They’re both supposed to open in August. “It’s going to attract so many more beer lovers to the area. You watch — Lansing is going to become a beer destination.”
And EagleMonk is all about spreading the “made local” love. They get their sandwich bread from Roma Bakery, the ice cream comes from the MSU Dairy Store and sandwiches arrive with Better Made Chips.
Sonia Buonodono says that they’re thinking of adding a lunch menu this spring, as well as a beer garden for an authentic beerophile experience. After all, what better way to enjoy an authentic, handcrafted beer than outdoors? After it warms up, of course. That Winter Warmer can only do so much on its own.
EagleMonk Pub and Brewery
4906 W. Mt. Hope Highway, Lansing
3 p.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday;
noon-11 p.m. Friday -Saturday;
noon-8 p.m. Sunday