In episode 66, Stephen chats with former professional skateboarder Jason Rogers, founder of Yabai Chuhai.
CHRISTOPHER PELLEGRINI Vermont born and bred, long-time Tokyo resident and author of The Shochu Handbook, Christopher learned about delicious fermentations as a beer brewer at Otter Creek (Middlebury, VT). He now spends most of his waking hours convincing strangers that shochu and awamori are unlike anything they’ve ever tried before.
STEPHEN LYMAN discovered Japan’s indigenous spirits at an izakaya in New York City. He was so enthralled that he now lives in Japan and works in a tiny craft shochu distillery every autumn. His first book, The Complete Guide to Japanese Drinks, was nominated for a 2020 James Beard Award.
Stephen and Christopher love talking with entrepeneurs with a passion.
If you have any comments or questions about this episode, please reach out to Stephen or Christopher via Twitter. We would love to hear from you.
Jason Rogers, Skater
Jason Rogers grew up in San Diego, California, the son of an American father and Japanese mother. His interest in computer design and architecture was permanently sidetracked when he became a profesional skateboarder at just 16 years old. This brought him to Japan as a young man when he first tried canned chuhai, which began a relationship that has lead to Yabai Chuhai today.
His pro skating career was over by age 22, but that’s when he transitioned to running a succcessful skateboard company, which prepared him well for a career in entrepeneurship. His wheel brand, Autobahn, in particular was quite successful.
Jason Rogers, Yabai Chuhai Brand Owner
A few years ago, Jason found himself drinking with a skater friend after a session and remininsicing about dirnking chuhai in Japan. They were shocked to find no chuhai available at local Asian markets in LA, which led to a last minute trip to Japan to explore the wonders of chuhai. By the time he’d returned to Japan, he was sold on the idea of starting his own chuhai brand and Yabai Chuhai was born.
Made with korui (multiply distilled) shochu from Nagoya, Japan, Yabai Chuhai is currently the only domestically produced Japanese chuhai in America. Currently available in 5% ABV offerings, a 9% strong Yabai Chuhai is on its way.
Using local distribution and viral marketing, Yabai Chuhai has seen slow and steady growth that now seems on the verge of exploding with a test market opening up over 150 Target stores throughout California and Hawaii.
We wish Jason and Yabai Chuhai all the best in theier efforts.