5 Rabbit: Craft Beer’s Latin American Culture

5 rabbit
5 rabbit
5 Rabbit Brewing. Photo Courtesy of Michael Kiser – Good Beer Hunting

When Andrés Araya first dreamed of opening a craft brewery, he dreamed of a unique name, something that could truly set the brewery apart through imagery and historical significance.

After diving deep into his Costa Rican heritage, Araya finally landed on 5 Rabbit, one of the five deities in the Aztec mythological traditions. “It’s kind of an interesting story,” explained Araya.

Interesting is to say the least. As the story is told, Mayahuel, the goddess associated with the maguey plant, mated with Patecatl, the god of healing and fertility. Together they created Centzon Totochtin, or 400 rabbits.

Andres Araya 5 rabbit
Andres Araya, the CEO of 5 Rabbit. Photo Courtesy of Michael Kiser – Good Beer Hunting

“The 400 rabbits represented the different states of inebriation or drunkenness,” explained Araya. “The way these guys saw it, it wasn’t a really negative thing; it was more of where you could get closer to the gods. Out of the 400 rabbits there were two that stood out a little bit more. One was ‘two rabbit,’ and two rabbit was actually the leader of the 400. Then there was another one that was called ‘five rabbit.’ Five rabbit was not the leader, but was interesting because he was also part of the five gods of excess. The five gods of excess can be compared to the seven deadly sins, but the difference between the seven deadly sins and the five gods of excess is these other gods are a lot like life lessons, so the spin is a lot more positive.”

When Araya first dreamed of opening his own craft brewery, is dream didn’t just include Aztec mythology, but actually included his home country of Costa Rica. While working in production and logistics for Cerveceria Costa Rica, Araya discovered craft beer from some homebrews that the brewmaster would create and share with the team. “They would go home and homebrew, and they would make some really interesting stuff,” said Araya about the brewers at Cerveceria. “For me that was very much eye opening, because they were making what they really liked and they were able to be creative through their homebrewing. That’s where I got to try a lot of the styles that I had never had contact with.”

In addition to gaining knowledge about brewing and craft beers, Araya also furthered his education with an MS and BS from Purdue University, and then set himself up to open 5 Rabbit with an MBA from Cornell University.

“Speaking with my wife, we had always talked about opening our own microbrewery in Costa Rica and becoming one of the first people to do that,” he explained. The idea continued to mull around until Araya began working in consulting on the business side of breweries when he realized it was probably going to be an uphill battle to open a microbrewery in Costa Rica.

John J. Hall brewmaster
John J. Hall, the brewmaster at 5 Rabbit. Photo Courtesy of Michael Kiser – Good Beer Hunting

“The U.S. has the three tiered system, although flawed in many ways, has protection for craft breweries,” he explained. “In Latin America you don’t have any of that. I give a lot of credit to craft beer pioneers in Mexico, Costa Rica and all the other countries in Latin America just because they not only have to try and get ingredients and a lot of the equipment to make good beer, but they also have to fight to get shelf space in retail stores.”

Araya finally decided with his wife to move to Chicago and follow the dream of opening his own brewery. However, they discussed many different angles to what this brewery would present to the consumer, and how it would be unique.

On his wife’s recommendation, they decided to truly reflect the tradition and culture of Latin America where he felt that other Latin American breweries missed the mark. “We draw from different geographies, different points in time, from ingredients, from all that stuff, so that’s where the pieces start coming together,” Araya explained. “That was the starting point of the company.”

Chicago called to Araya and his wife from their days at Purdue. A lot of their friends had ended up in Chicago and Araya believed the city had a culture already established for his dream of opening a craft brewery. “People are really interested in beer and food and in just every aspect that would make something artisanal, something different and something that is very much hand-in-hand with food,” explained Araya. “We liked the city, we thought it would be a perfect place for it and we just kind of said, ‘yeah, Chicago, let’s go,’ and uprooted and left Mexico.”

Araya and his family reached Chicago by January 1, 2011, and by June had contracted the first beer for 5 Rabbit. “We contracted for a year and four months, and that’s when we opened our production brewery around November of 2012,” he said. “We were business planning and all that stuff, nights and weekends, while I was working my other job [in Mexico]. I quit and we moved [to Chicago] at the end of December.”

5 rabbit
Photo Courtesy of Michael Kiser – Good Beer Hunting

In addition to 5 Rabbit, the brewery now distributes 5 Grass, 5 Lizard and 5 Vulture. However, Araya said that the beers aren’t to be enjoyed individually, even though they can be.

Instead, 5 Rabbit and its other brews should be enjoyed in a certain order. “For the series to make sense, if you look at the 5, they are layered, they are complex, they have a back story and they are very much tied to something,” he said. “They are really good paired with food. Those are beers that you can sit down and talk about and discuss and try and wrap your head around them for a while. I think those are really helped by having those discussions. It’s more of a group effort.”

The purpose behind enjoying the 5 Rabbit series is to see into the creativity of the personalities that Araya and his team have worked to create. As one opens a 5 Rabbit and then indulges in 5 Grass, 5 Lizard and 5 Vulture, in that order, they will experience unique personalities that reflect Aztec mythology, as well as Latin American heritage. Currently 5 Rabbit beers are distributed in Illinois and Ohio.





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