Do all these eccentric ways of drinking sake fly? We asked the brewer

Welcome to the first of a new series where we ask the brewer for their opinion on various different topics of the day.

First up is the current eccentricity of the way people are enjoying sake today.

You may not know it, you may not believe it, you may not entirely agree but we are said to be: “in the midst of a sake boom”. At least here in Japan, that’s what they’re calling it. A time when it’s not so much about whether you drink sake, but how you drink sake — with so many eccentric styles being recommended within the industry: drunk on the rocks, mixed with other beverages as a cocktail…. the modality has been well and truly diversified.

What do the breweries think of the current eccentric nature of the industry? And, when they get a moment to actually sit down and enjoy their painstakingly crafted sake, what floats their boat? To find the answers to these questions and more we decided that it was time to ask the breweries themselves for their opinion. We asked a number of brewers to fill in a short questionnaire, read on for the results.

Q1: At What Temperature Do You Drink Your Own Sake?

At what temperature do brewers drink their own sake? We tried to find out which of the three standard temperature ranges was the most popular among our brewers: was it room temperature (hiya)? refrigerated at 5-10 degrees? (reishu) or warm?

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‘Does the Idea That HIYA (Unheated) = JOUON (Room Temp) Still Hold Water?’

17 partner breweries were interviewed.

Hiya:12, Reishu:3, Kan: 2
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The results of the questionnaire speaks for itself. However, a lot of brewers told us that they would adjust their preference depending on the type of sake — and because a simple change in temperature can make such a difference, they would often divide their tastings by temperature for research purposes.

Q2: Do You Ever Structure the Way You Drink Sake Any Differently?

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17 partner breweries were interviewed.

Yes:13, No:4

Next we asked our brewers whether they enjoyed any other methods of drinking sake other than the accepted norm. One way of drinking that seems to be quite popular is to add a block of ice in the hot summer months. As you might expect, we witnessed a reluctancy to mix other products with their own brews.

Q3: What Kind of Things Will You Add To Sake?

On the other hand, while our brewers were in agreement that the idea that rich sakes and or sakes with higher alcohol are better served on the rocks, some of the answers to this question came as a bit of a surprise. For example, it’s not as far-fetched as you might think to “mix cloudy sake with a sweet soda to make it easier to palate”. In fact, some of our breweries said they would even recommend this to their customers.

Q4: Give An Example of An Eccentric Way of Drinking Sake

This is where we share with you some rather more eccentric ways of drinking sake straight from the brewers themselves. We heard a lot of cool ideas, a lot of which will already be quite well known to the regular sake drinker.

Maximum Palatability! Mix With Soda

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A number of brewers told us that they would mix with soda, or even coca cola because doing so increased the sakes palatability and made it taste more refreshing.

Japanese Imbiber’s Red Eye: Sake x Tomato Juice

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You will no doubt be familiar with the red eye, a cocktail of beer and tomato juice. But what you probably didn’t know is that it has an Asian cousin. Already very much on the menu at most cocktails bars this cocktail can also be made at home: simply mix tomato juice with sake to the ratio of 1:1.

Poured Over Vanilla Ice Cream For A Shocking Revelation

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Out of all the answers we received this one left the biggest impression on us. We are of course talking about pouring sake over ice cream. Apparently, the key to this arrangement is the body that the sake lends to the creaminess of the ice cream.

One For The Heavy Drinker!Sake x Shochu

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One combination that we were told: “brings out the aroma of sake” was the pairing of sake with shochu. it has to be said though that the high alcohol level puts this one squarely in a minority category.

For a Refreshing Beverage – Citrus Fruits x Sake

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When it comes to pairing fruit with sake, there was an unanimous recommendation of citrus fruits. Some brewers squeeze the acidity from fruits like lemon and grapefruit into sake to give it a more refreshing edge.

Deliciousness Guaranteed ! Fruit Liqueurs x Sake

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“Mixing plum wine with sake 1:1″… The blend of liqueurs and sake was also suggested. Some brewers told us that they like to mix sake with a fruit based liqueur. This will come as no surprise when you consider that most breweries have their own fruit liqueur side business.

You could try this for yourself at our sister branch SHUGAR MARKET or at our sake branches where we stock a good selection of different liqueurs and plum wines.

As You Were, Or With a Twist

So there you have it. We thought that the current sake industry was eccentric but it turns out that it is just catching up with the brewers themselves who are already very much in with the times.

Stay tuned for more ‘ask the brewer’ articles.