July 29, 2021

5 Rabbit Cerveceria closing suburban brewery, eyes ‘new business model’ in a new location

5 Rabbit Cervecería is selling its equipment and shuttering its suburban brewery, but plans to launch “a new business model” to keep the brand afloat, brewery founder Andres Araya said.

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5 Rabbit, which launched in 2011 with a trail blazing emphasis on Latin flavors and themes in its beer, is becoming “less focused on distribution” to bars and stores and will therefore leave its Bedford Park production brewery, Araya said. It will sell its equipment via online auction Oct. 29 to Nov. 5.

Araya said he hopes to move 5 Rabbit to a smaller retail-focused operation “a little closer to the city.”

5 Rabbit also still hopes to open a brewpub in the Pilsen neighborhood, Araya said. The brewery launched an online fundraiser to help finance the brewpub, but ended the fundraiser in May after failing to meet its goal.

Though craft beer distribution has become intensely competitive during the last decade, Araya said retail sales at the 5 Rabbit taproom, attached to its Bedford Park brewery, have been “strong.”

After beginning as a brand made under contract, 5 Rabbit opened the Bedford Park operation in 2012.

Araya said 5 Rabbit was working to scale down before the emergence of COVID-19, but plans were slowed by the pandemic. The brewery is exploring options to continue producing beer for distribution, he said.

5 Rabbit may best be known for Chinga Tu Pelo, a golden ale whose name is a salty reference to Donald Trump’s hair.

Founded by immigrants from Costa Rica and Mexico, 5 Rabbit initially brewed the golden ale for Chicago’s Trump International Hotel. The brewery ended the arrangement weeks later when Trump said racist things about Mexican immigrants while announcing his presidential bid in June 2015.

A documentary film, F*** Your Hair, which is the translation of Chinga Tu Pelo, was released in 2019 about 5 Rabbit and the beer.

Even in the waning days of operating its Bedford Park taproom, 5 Rabbit has continued to wear its politics on its sleeve, hosting two organizations — Poor People’s Campaign and Mujeres Latinas en Accion — that are focused on getting Latinas to vote.

And, Araya said, Chinga Tu Pelo will be available for Election Day on Nov. 3, Araya said.

“We have a fresh batch in the tanks right now,” he said.

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