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|Written by Kevin Brown|
|Sunday, 07 August 2011 21:40|
Latin themed beer? Does that sound like the latest faux-craft brew the macros are trying to foist off on us? Well, think again.
Chicago start-up 5 Rabbit Cerveceria aims to fill the Latino niche, and not with watery concoctions that need a lime jammed down the neck to have any taste.
Randy Mosher is seeing to that. Well known as the author of Radical Brewing, Tasting Beer and The Brewers Companion, Randy also lectures on beer styles at the Siebel Institute and is a gifted graphics designer to boot. A chance meeting over a few beers with young businessmen Isaac Showaki and Andrés Araya led the three to discover that a) they were passionate about beer and b) they got along great. “We sort of just clicked,” Randy says. “Isaac and Andrés are real go-getters, and their business experience and industry knowledge are invaluable.” They are also the principal investors. Randy’s title is Creative Director with, he says, a “very small” stake in the company.
Besides coming up with 5 Rabbit’s unique graphics, Randy also developed recipes for the two beers that are currently in release. The first brew, Cerveza de’Oro, is a golden ale with a touch of honey and noble hops. The second is a ‘Latin Witbier’, 5 Lizard, flavored with passion fruit. All the beers are brewed on contract at Argus Brewing. Sales are strong, although they are only available in Cook County. “Our distributor is selling out,” Randy told me. “We’re getting calls from out of state distributors. That’s gratifying since we’re doing pretty unique beers in a largely ignored market.” Distributing further afield will have to wait until Argus can add brewing capacity. “We don’t want to move into a market we can’t support,” Randy said. “Maybe we’ll be in all of Illinois in two years. Down the road, of course, we would like our own brewery, but we’ll be contract brewing for some time to come.” See 5rabbitbrewery.com to learn what the name means and to find retail outlets.
Despite capacity issues the beers will keep coming out. Look for 5 Vulture, a dark ale with ancho chiles, in September. Randy’s also thinking about a special brew for Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead.) “Possibly an Oktoberfest type with sweet caramel del leche,” Randy mused. “Need to do a test batch. We’d also like to do a Latin IPA at some point, or something with cocoa and coffee.” Radical brewing indeed. We’ll drink to that!
Remember when barrel-aging was radical? Maybe it isn’t so cutting edge anymore, but it sure can be good. Haymarket Brewpub will release Indignant on Aug. 6. This is Haymarket’s first barrel-aged brew, but certainly not the first for brewmaster Pete Crowley. You will be ‘Indignant’ indeed if you miss out on this Imperial Stout. It will be available on draft and in a limited run of bottles.
From what I hear Two Brother’s Hop Juice Festival was a great time, just as expected. Besides lots of excellent beer, food and good fun the fest also benefited a very worthy cause, the Make A Wish Foundation. “We are very proud to say that we raised enough money through the Hop Juice Festival to grant four year-old Emma’s wish to meet the Disney princesses in Disney World,” Two Brother’s Jason Ebel emailed. “Emma has a rare form of cancer that she has been bravely battling for quite some time. She is a real fighter and is doing well...The turnout for the event was so big that we are happy to say we were able to donate enough extra money to grant a second wish through the Illinois chapter.”
At least three more breweries have opened in St. Louis, or soon will. The brewer at 4 Hands Brewing near Soulard will be familiar to some of our readers. Will Johnston is a five year veteran of Goose Island. He relocated to the Gateway City last year to open his own brewery with a partner. 4 Hands will be a distributing brewery but will also feature a tap room. Phil Wymore is another Chicago transplant (do we see a pattern here?) He left gigs at Goose Island and Half Acre to open Perennial Artisan Ales in south St. Louis. Finally, Civil Life Brewing is nearing completion. No northern Illinois connection that I can find, but they will bring the count of St. Louis area brewing operations to 20+.
Looking for a unique venue for sampling craft beers? Short’s Brewing Co. and the Traverse Tall Ship Co. is hosting its “Microbrew Tasting Cruise” every Sunday evening through Sept. 4. The cruise around Grand Traverse Bay (Michigan) aboard the sailing ship Manitou runs $50 and includes pizza and a guided tasting of Short’s beers by a brewery representative. As one of the largest sailing ships on the Great Lakes, the Manitou is a replica of an 1800s “coasting” cargo schooner. To make reservations call toll free 800-678-0383 or log on to tallshipsailing.com.
The Illinois Craft Brewers Guild has again released Replicale – the annual brew that each member brewer produces to the same recipe using the same ingredients. It’s really amazing how different from one another these beers can be. This year the style is American-Belgo Pale Ale. The only place you can taste the different versions side-by-side is at the Oak Park Micro Brew Review on Aug. 20. Held from 3-7 p.m. in downtown Oak Park, this is the place for both great beer and great food. It’s a zero waste event also! Purchase tickets through the link at the ICBG website illinoisbeer.com.
Kelleher’s Irish Pub in Peoria will host a craft beer fest showcasing unique and special beers on the street outside the bar on Aug. 27.. Look for 60 beers, with at least 24 on tap. More info at kellehersirishpub.com.
Here’s a few more upcoming beer festivals. Check the calendar at alestreetnews.com for a complete listing. Maybe I’ll see you at one of them!
Mickey Finn’s Backlot Brew and Rib Fest Aug. 6-7, Libertyville, IL. mickeyfinnsbrewery.com