Octopi isn't the only contract brewer
in the Midwest — or Wisconsin, for that
matter — but Showaki said that it is the
first facility of its kind in the region.
The company focuses primarily on
craft beer — which is growing rapidly
despite overall sluggishness in the
domestic beer industry — and seeks to
accommodate even the most difficult or
unusual demands of its brewers.
Showaki said that his company offers
a "right-size approach" for smaller
brewers due to lessons he learned
firsthand in his initial foray into the craft
"We are 100 percent flexible with
what the client wants," Showaki said.
The typical image of a craft brewer
is the at-home tinkerer — a beer lover
with a straight job working on recipes in
a basement or garage in his free time.
Eventually, after sharing his creations
with friends and neighbors, he starts his
own company and, with luck, finds his
beer on sale in nearby taverns or stores.
Showaki, however, noted that he first
learned the business side of the industry
rather than the brewing side.
He got his start in consulting at
Bain & Company in Chicago, where
he worked on a project in Panama for
Dutch beer giant Heineken.
"After that, I became the 'beer
expert,'" Showaki joked on a snowy
January morning in Octopi's taproom in
the sleepy suburb of Waunakee.
He fell in love with the industry and,
after stints in New York and Mexico City,
returned to the Windy City some five
years ago to fulfill his dream of starting
His first company turned to contract
breweries to make its beer.
"That turned out to be a complete
nightmare," Showaki said.
He said that the young company
faced problems with ingredients,
packaging specifications and, most
importantly, the quality of the beer itself.
Two years ago, Showaki left to start
his second brewery and looked to fill the
void that plagued the first.
Octopi Brewing's sophisticated
equipment and ambitious goals are
poised to make it a major player in
the burgeoning craft beer industry.
By Andy Szal, Reporter
Wisconsin wouldn't ordinarily be confused for a state lacking in beer. But Isaac Showaki saw a missing link in the
regional brewing industry when he decided to start his next
venture in the Madison area.
Showaki is the president of Octopi Brewing, which began
brewing and bottling beer on behalf of clients in October.