A Hispanic Brew For Success

Hispanic market brewery
Two friends borrowed Aztec magic to create 5 Rabbit, the first Hispanic American micro-brew.

Hispanic market breweryFour years ago, at 4 a.m. on a Sunday, an exhausted and highly stressed Isaac Showaki casually suggested to his friend and colleague, Andrés Araya, that they should open their own brewery.

Barley, hops and yeast had long played important roles in the career of Araya, who worked at the sole brewery in Costa Rica before consulting breweries throughout the region for global management consulting firm Bain & Company.

Araya liked Showaki’s idea, but not enough to act. Showaki soon shifted industries and homes, relocating to New York to consult for airlines. But his  love of craft ales, and his desire to start his own brewery, couldn’t be squelched.  “The craft brewery scene, led by Brooklyn Brewery, was enchanting,” he recalls.

More conversations with Araya to rekindle interest in their dream couldn’t sway him. It wasn’t until an impassioned Showaki unexpectedly showed up on Araya’s doorstep 4,000 miles from the Big Apple that his friend was persuaded to pursue the dream.

Today, Araya and Showaki are winning notice as the co-owners of Chicago-based 5 Rabbit Brewery, the nation’s first microcervecería.

5 Rabbit has benefited from word of mouth and grassroots marketing, in addition to local media coverage. Select mom-and-pop restaurants and pubs sell 5 Rabbit brews on tap. Consumers can also snap up six-packs of 5 Rabbit beers at select Whole Foods and Binny’s Beverage Depot locations.

The brewery has already earned accolades: Chicago magazine in its July 2011 issue named its 5 Lizard variety, a Belgian-style witbier with a hint of passion fruit, one of Chicago’s 36 best craft beers, proclaiming it “limey (and delicious).” The brew, along with 5 Rabbit golden ale and 5 Vulture, an  Oaxacan-style dark ale made with pilloncillo and roasted ancho chile, have been entered into the 2011 Great American Beer Festival. A fourth beer is presently in the testing stages, with a release date set for November 1st. It will be called Dia de los Muertos.

The need to turn an idea into an inventory led Showaki and Araya to put up 50 percent of the capital necessary to get 5 Rabbit off the ground. Private entities, including family friends and angel investors, contributed the other half. They avoided large investment firms out of concern that their brewery’s growth would be directed by others.  “As we were growing organically, we wanted full control of what we did,” Showaki says.



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