Isaac Showaki, the founder of Octopi Brewing, understands the challenges involved in building a successful business from scratch. With his background as a management consultant specializing in breweries and a passion for beer, he embarked on a journey to create his own brewery. After working on various projects, including one with Heineken in Panama, Showaki’s dream came to fruition in 2011 when he launched 5 Rabbit Cervecería in Chicago, IL. Teaming up with partner Andrés Araya and investor Randy Mosher, who developed the beer recipes, Showaki initially brewed his beer through a contract with Argus Brewery.
As the brand grew, Showaki faced obstacles related to the limitations of contract brewing. None of the breweries he worked with could fully meet his vision for the brand or produce the high-quality product he desired for his business. Determined to overcome these challenges, Showaki founded Octopi Brewing with a clear goal in mind: to set the standard for contract brewing and beverage co-packing.
The name “Octopi” was chosen to reflect the dynamic nature of the beverage industry, which constantly evolves and adapts. Similar to an octopus, Octopi Brewing is agile and responsive to market demands and trends, serving as an extension of its clients’ capabilities to help them grow their businesses.
Octopi Brewing decided to establish its brewing operations in Wisconsin due to the proximity of many of its suppliers. Key partners, such as Briess for malt, Quad Graphics for bottles, Quality Tank Solutions in Oconomowoc, and German companies Krones and KHS for packaging lines and machinery, are all located in Wisconsin.
Octopi Brewing was purpose-built to meet the needs of modern beverage clients and produce technically superior beverages. It officially opened its doors on October 24, 2015, with its first client, One Barrel Brewing from Madison. Initially, around 15 percent of the production was dedicated to Octopi’s own label, 3rd Sign Brewery, named after Gemini, the third sign of the Zodiac symbolizing duality. Although 3rd Sign beers were later discontinued, Octopi Brewing introduced three new offerings: Untitled Art, a high-end brand showcasing different brewing styles worldwide; an Octopi brand in cans; and Dachs, meaning “badger” in German, which serves as Octopi’s value brand.
Since its inception, Octopi Brewing has undergone multiple expansions to meet the growing demands of its customers. The brewery’s versatile brewing system can handle a wide range of beer styles, from classic Czech-style Pilsners to cold-pressed coffee-infused brews. Equipped with state-of-the-art German equipment, including a 50-barrel, 3-vessel brewhouse from Esau & Hueber, a GEA centrifuge for beer quality, and a KHS bottling line, Octopi Brewing ensures maximum flexibility in packaging, accommodating various bottle and can styles and sizes.
Presently, Octopi Brewing primarily operates as a contract brewer for craft brewers like MobCraft and Eagle Park. They also produce beers for supermarket chains, such as Hopping Nomad IPA, Brecken Bock, and Ryder No. 8, available at Aldi stores. Due to confidentiality agreements, many of Octopi’s clients cannot be named. While beer accounts for roughly 50 percent of their business, Octopi also produces other beverages, including wine, cider, soda, seltzers, and CBD products.
In 2016, Octopi Brewing opened a taproom at its facility. The 17,000-square-foot space features ample natural light and a spacious interior adorned with reclaimed wood, including wood from the old Navy Pier in Chicago used to encase the cooler area behind the bar. The taproom’s design incorporates communal tables, encouraging larger groups and fostering conversation.
As of 2022, Octopi Brewing is undergoing further expansion with the construction of two additional facilities, including a three-acre expansion. These expansions will enable them to produce 350,000 barrels annually, with a total capacity of 500,000 barrels.
In 2016, Levi Funk, the founder of Funk Factory Geuzeria, and Isaac Showaki from Octopi Brewing joined forces to establish Untitled Art. Levi Funk takes charge of the creative direction of the beers, crafting recipes and sourcing high-quality ingredients, while Isaac Showaki contributes his expertise in production and beer marketing. Untitled Art’s beers are produced in batches of 50 barrels (equivalent to 100 kegs) by the skilled staff at Octopi. The inspiration for this brewery arose from their desire to introduce beer styles that pushed the boundaries of modern brewing, which were not widely available in the Midwest.
Madison eagerly welcomed Untitled Art, a collaborative beer label that brought hazy/juicy/milkshake IPAs from New England, pastry stouts from Florida, and German-style sour ales that were previously unfamiliar to Wisconsinites. Isaac Showaki of Octopi Brewing and Levi Funk of Funk Factory Geuzeria, as co-owners, partnered with some of the most popular breweries across the nation to create limited-edition beers that have taken the Wisconsin beer scene by storm. Showaki, who launched Untitled Art with Funk in December 2016, mentions the tremendous growth of the brand, stating, “We started with a batch of 500 cases. Now we can produce up to 3,000 cases of a single beer style.”
To brew new Untitled Art beers multiple times a year, Showaki and Funk assemble a brewing team at the Waunakee brewery. Within a few weeks, an exciting beer is released without any flashy name, as its contents are captivating enough. Previous beer styles have included a mango milkshake IPA, a waffle stout, a barrel-aged hazelnut imperial stout, and an over-fruited Berliner weisse. One beer even featured an unexpected ingredient: nearly 1,000 pounds of Tang.
Notable collaborations for Showaki and Funk include partnering with breweries such as Mikerphone Brewing outside of Chicago, Angry Chair Brewing from Tampa, Florida, and Bottle Logic Brewing in Anaheim, California. Showaki proudly notes, “We’re bringing in beer styles that are incredibly popular elsewhere and reintroducing them to Wisconsin.” Untitled Art was the pioneer of hazy IPAs in Wisconsin three years ago, and now it has become a widespread trend, as Showaki acknowledges.
Levi Funk, who leads the only lambic-style, beer-focused brewery in the state, proposed the name “Untitled Art” to let the beer itself be the focus. The credit for the unique labels goes to two talented women: Stephenie Hamen of The Vintage Prairie creates the exceptional artwork, while Christina King transforms Hamen’s art into captivating beer labels.
Currently, Untitled Art is distributed throughout Wisconsin and more than 15 other states in the US. Breweries eagerly embrace the opportunity to collaborate with Showaki and Funk due to the label’s success. Octopi Brewing, the fifth-largest craft brewery in Wisconsin, has experienced significant growth and is now investing in expanding its contract brewery facility. Showaki expresses his surprise at the speed of the label’s growth, saying, “I knew there was potential, but I didn’t expect it to happen this quickly.”
Untitled Art Brewing (Octopi) offers a diverse range of beer styles, including both full-strength and non-alcoholic options, as well as hard seltzers and CBD-infused beverages. It can be seen as a brewing art collective, bringing together “liquid artists” and “visual artists” to create both the beer and the can designs. Each beer is simply named after its respective style, allowing the “untitled art” to speak for itself. According to their Untappd profile, they have crafted over 250 unique beers to date.
Stout – Imperial / Double Milk
Collaboration with Angry Chair Brewing. Collaboration with Angry Chair. Aged in bourbon barrels for 15 months, then berated with an onslaught of cacao nibs, this rich and decadent collab is filled to the brim with cookies and cream vibes. Contains lactose.
Collaboration with Pulpit Rock Brewing Company. Untitled Art’s first ‘official’ pastry seltzer & we did it with our ole time friends in Iowa Pulpit Rock. Imperial Seltzer brewed with strawberry concentrate, strawberry purée, and vanilla beans.
The brainchild of an in-house competition to see who could blow the biggest bubble gum bubble. Exploding pink spheres and loud smacks harkened us back to the days of our youth chomping on wads of gum… and we wanted to replicate that nostalgia in beverage form!
IPA – American
IPA/Wine brewed in Collaboration with Modist Brewing. An IPA brewed with Hallertau Blanc & Nelson Sauvin hops to complement the over 1000 Gallons Sauvignon Blanc Wine Juice that is added at the last minute of the brewing process to blur the lines of where beer ends and wines starts.
Stout – Pastry
Collaboration with Neon Raptor Brewing Co. Smoothie Stout brewed with our friend’s across the pond: Neon Raptor. This bad boy uses a boat load of banana puree and we top it off with cinnamon, vanilla and milk sugar, all brewed on an open flame to incorporate the true foster’s experience.