Greetings sake lovers!
Here at KURAND SAKE MARKET, starting from March, each of our bars will dedicate a corner of their fridge to a different brewery every month to allow you to taste not one, but a total of 6 carefully selected sakes from that brewery’s lineup (we normally don’t include more than one type from any brewery to give all the breweries equal representation). Allow us to introduce the cast that take centre stage in this month’s “Feature Brewery Corner”. In the Ikebukuro branch corner we have Ishii Brewery from Saitama Prefecture, in the Shibuya Branch corner we have Takeno Brewery from Kyoto Prefecture.
And finally, at our Asakusa Branch, it is the turn of the subject of this article, Hasegawa Brewery from Niigata Prefecture.
So, without further ado, we give you the specially selected 6 bottle lineup from Hasegawa Brewery.
A Brewery Run by Women Crafting Sake by Hand
Established in 1842, Hasegawa Brewery has carved out over 170 years of brewing in Settaya — Niigata Prefecture’s Nagaoka City. Settaya is a charming town with a popular miso, sake and soy sauce production that dates as far back as the Edo Period, and counts 5 breweries that are registered as tangible cultural properties. As one of the breweries that were built in the Edo and Taisei Periods, they brew the sake by hand, in the traditional way using properly maintained antique tools and small Daiginjo purpose tanks to produce a savoury flavour that extracts the best from the rice. A sake that compliments food and brings the whole table to life.
The Chosen 6
Echigo Sekkoubai Ginjo Hatsugoe (first voice)
Along with the product “Hatsu Hi Masamune” this is the oldest product in the lineup, with a history that goes all the way back to the latter half of the Meiji period (1868-1912). After a bit of an interval, the brand was revived in all its glory in 2000. Made with 100% contract-farmed Echigo Tanrei brewing rice. A deft dry palate that opens up to reveal a plump ginjo aroma.
A Word From the Brewer
We arrived at a flavour that shares the same nuance as the brand name: ‘the new year call of the bush warbler’, through a process of trial and error. For the sake rice we went from Ipponjime to Gohyaku Mangoku and then to Echigo Tanrei which is what we use now.
Sashimi, Nanohana Hitashi, clams steamed in sake, foil-steamed white fish, carpaccio.
Hatsu Hi Masamune Junmai Ginjo
A Word From the Brewer
The inside of our brewery was once a treasure trove. One of the storehouses, which housed buddhist statues and antiques that previous generations had collected as a hobby, was once my playground. In the Chuetsu Earthquake this building along with nearly everything in it was reduced to rubble. We did manage to carry out one item. That was the label which had been used for one of our products in the Taisei Era (1912-1926). Hatsu Hi Masamune Junmai Ginjo is the rebirth of that product.
The brand is a motif of the auspicious image of the sunrise on new year’s day. No sooner has the sake made its entrance, it spreads out and releases tons of savoury ricey notes. It has a soft mouth-feel and tickles you with its melody on its way down.
Nikujaga (meat and potato stew), Sansai Tempura (wild vegetable Tempura), Aigamo course, sashimi (tuna etc).
Echigo Sekkoubai Super Dry (+13)
This product is only 2 years old. Back then there were sakes with +8 SMV dryness — this is what our Toji apparently suddenly came up with one day, after uttering something like, “+8 is characterless; +13 is the only way to go”. One frantic rush to commercialise it later, it is now a signature product.
A dry sake that measures +13 on the SMV scale of dryness, yet with a neat finish. A very easy-to-pair sake to pair with your evening meal.
Chop Suey, raw brats, sauteed scallops, steamed chicken and green onion in sauce.
Sekkoubai Junmai Ginjo Nama
This year’s new offering! Since, up until now, our products had been based around the concept of sake that you can drink at the table with some nibbles, the lineup has been mainly a dry one. This is a sake that takes its inspiration from a backdrop of increasing diversity.
Although the SMV is -11, the acidity is very high. As a result, the sake is sweet but never cloying. The type that you can sip slowly. A refreshing aroma and sweetness coupled with a crisp finish make this sake perfect for sake novices. We reckon this’ll be the one that hooks you. The label is currently still in production; the current one is just temporary.
Chicken in orange sauce, scallops in a balsamic vinegar reduction, carpaccio, seafood and avocado salad.
Echigo Sekkoubai Honjozo Muroka Nama Genshu
The power of a 19% alcohol Genshu sake and the refreshing finish of an unpasteurised sake all rolled into one.
Compared to the Junmai Muroka Nama Genshu, this is drier and has more of a finish.
Cheese, parma ham, Shutou, all meat dishes.
Echigo Sekkoubai Hatsushibori (first pressed) Junmai Muroka Nama Genshu
As a result of bottling new sake in its fresh untouched form,
This is the sake that best conveys the authentic sweetness and umami of the rice.
You could enjoy it chilled to enjoy its umami and body or if it feels a little too aggressive, you could try it on the rocks!! — It is much milder and easier to palate that way.
Buta Kakuni, Karei boiled in soy sauce, grilled eel.
The Origin of the Brand, “Echigo Sekkoubai”
The brand was apparently christened by the late Mr. Endo Minoru.
Winner of the national award of honour: a symbolic singer / song writer of the Showa Era
His signature works include ‘3rd Year High School Student’, ‘Starlight Waltz’, ‘Teacher’, ‘Spring in the North Pole’, ‘Troubled’.
It is thought that the late Endo Minoru who shares a connection with Niigata was friends with the previous generation of the brewery, the late Hasegawa Nobu. He was said to have made several visit to the brewery. During one of his visits he dedicated a poem entitled: “Sekkoubai- taste of benevolence”. It is currently the brand that drives the brewery forwards.
And that wraps up the introduction of Hasegawa Brewery’s showcase.
Why not come and try the entire 6 sake selection.
More introductions coming soon!!!