Libations

5 Rabbit – Hires Goose Brewmaster

August 13 2012 - 3:37 PM

Change is a difficult process for us.   Sometimes you have to keep telling yourself and others that you are something that you’re not until you start to believe it and, eventually, you might become it.  5 Rabbit brewing did not burst onto the Chicago scene with a splashy brewpub as did Revolution.  They didn’t have a celebrity spokesman such as Big Hurt Brew (by the way, gag me with warm sake).  They didn’t bring their star to town from elsewhere, like Stone.  Rather, 5 Rabbit quietly crept up on Chicago, popping up here and there with their slightly understated tap handles and magical-looking trademark.  They started out with a simple flagship beer, 5 Lizard, a kind of Corona upgrade, and gradually added to their lineup, each new offering more uncanny than its predecessor.  But what was unclear until now was their perceived direction, toward true artisan land or toward niche play, fermenting Latin-inspired beers for a cult following.  Their latest move points toward their desired direction.

In a press release this week, 5 Rabbit announced their hiring of John J. Hall as their new brewmaster.  Hall is of Goose Island pedigree, having worked at the Chicago craft brew icon since 1997 according to his archived profile page at Goose’s website.  He’s credited with having helped develop Goose’s staple beer, 312, as well as the pervasive Nut Brown Ale.  Considering the massive mainstream success of 312 (which may be an understatement on a craft brew scale), this move may indicate that 5 Rabbit sees him as as an engine for broader national appeal.  Their press release notes that 5’s beers are already sourced in Ohio and that Italian Stallion craft brew capital of the east, Philadelphia.  Perhaps they think he can develop a beer of mass appeal that will launch 5 Rabbit into 30-state success territory.  They might get there. Their signature stylings are lighter and citrusy, which should play well at college campuses, with party people, and among urban crowds.  Hall has done his share of homebrewing and has surely worked on many of Goose’s often stellar small batches, so perhaps he lends an artisan touch to 5 Rabbit, already a brewer defying convention.

Regardless, this seems to be a highly notable move for 5 Rabbit, bringing in a brewmaster of such stature, and signals their desire to become a big player.  Just remember to keep telling yourselves that along the way there. As Fred Flintsone said, “Think big. Be big.”

– M. Sheppard

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