A return today of the Brewer of the Week series. One of the things I like to do with this series is to highlight new breweries and give them a little of the oxygen of publicity. This week we are heading up to Chicago for a few questions with the USA's first brewery focussed on the Latin community, 5 Rabbit.
Name: Isaac Showaki
Brewery: 5 Rabbit Cerveceria
How did you get into brewing as a career?
I discovered the brewing industry working as a strategy consultant six years ago. I worked at Bain & Co and that’s where I met my partner Andres Araya. Before joining Bain, Andres worked for the only brewery in Costa Rica on the production side. We were paired together and worked on a number of brewery projects in Mexico, Central America and Europe. My first project was for Cerveceria Baru in Panama. I fell in love with everything that was involved in the business: the people, the product, the work, etc. I loved working at the brewery and having the smell of malt in the morning. I knew six years ago that I wanted to do something in this industry. About two years ago I moved to New York and was amazed by the craft movement. One night at a bar drinking Brooklyn Brewery’s Brown Ale it hit me and that’s when I started thinking about opening a brewery.
What is the most important characteristic of a brewer?
Patience, passion and creativity. You have to patient and passionate about your work and have to be creative when creating new recipes. I’ve met outstanding brewers but some lacked the patience to see their work grow. Others lacked the passion in their brewing and simply others lacked the creativity to produce something different.
Before being a professional brewer, did you homebrew? If so, how many of your homebrew recipes have you converted to full scale production?
Usually people become homebrewers and then they decide to open a brewery. We started in the opposite side; we loved the business side first and then became passionate about brewing. When we were thinking about 5 Rabbit we knew we needed someone that could teach us and guide us through the brewing. In 2010 at Chicago Craft Beer Week we met Randy Mosher. Randy was the missing piece to our vision and he has been instrumental in creating our beers. Our three beers that are on the market came from home brewing recipes.
If you did homebrew, do you still?
Yes, we try to homebrew at least once a month.
What is your favourite beer that you brew?
We love playing with our 5 Vulture recipe. 5 Vulture is a Oaxacan-style dark ale with piloncillo sugar and ancho chile. It is a beer that you can add a lot of flavors and toy with the amount of sugar and chili used.
Of the beers you brew, which is your favourite to drink?
My personal favorite in 5 Lizard, a Latin-style witbier brewed with passionfruit, lime peel and spices. Andres loves 5 Rabbit, an all malt Golden Ale hat shows hints of light caramel and honeyed malt notes, carefully balanced with a sophisticated European noble hop aroma.
How important is authenticity when making a new beer, in terms of flavour, ingredients and method?
Authenticity is everything, you always want to create something that people taste and say, “I’ve never had anything like this before!” You don’t want to brew beer that people have had before, we are always looking to create new flavor profiles in our beers.
If you were to do a collaborative beer, which brewery would you most like to work with and why?
Any Chicago brewery. We’ve met all the brewers in the Chicago Craft beer community and love what each and everyone is bringing to the scene. We’d be honored to work with any Chicago brewery.
Which beer, other than your own, do you wish you had invented?
Pierre Celis’ Celis White