The 3 stages of the sake miracle

Greetings sake lovers!

Welcome to another little article from the series that throws little nuggets of sake information your way. Today we look at the miraculous technique used to make sake called the 3-stage fermentation process.

You might have seen the phrase danjikomi on sake labels or as a part of sake names before, but will have no doubt been oblivious to its meaning. Danjikomi is Japanese for ‘stage fermentation process’; it tells us over how many stages the ingredients were added. The standard sake fermentation process is made in 3 stages.

Why is sake made in stages?

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The main fermentation stage of sake which takes place after ingredient preparation is called the mash or Moromi. The Moromi is basically the sum of all the ingredients mixed together in a 6000L tank. This is the bubbling cauldron where both alcohol conversion and sugar conversion take place together in the miracle of sake called multiple-parallel-fermentation. It is this miracle that makes it possible to produce such a high alcohol content: in the case of beer and wine, sugar conversion is only done once which means that there is a limited supply of nutrition that the yeast can convert into alcohol to begin with.

Just as a quick reminder, the main ingredients of sake are rice, koji (malted rice), yeast and of course water.

Instead of adding all these ingredients in one go, they are added in stages, normally 3. Why? you ask. Well, if all the ingredients were added at once, things would get a little out of control which in the past in some cases made brewing unsafe. This was a mistake that was quickly learned from. In actual fact, adding in 3 stages is a practice that begun around the mid 1800s in Japan. Brewers learned that gradual addition achieved a better balance of flavour; it’s easier to control the acidity levels of the yeast and more importantly prevents wild bacteria from proliferating in the mash.

The 3 stages of the 3-stage-fermentation process

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Sandanjikomi or 3-stage-fermentation process — san is Japanese for 3 — is the standard way to brew sake in use by most breweries today. The 3 stages each have different names: stage 1 is referred to as Hatsuzoe, stage 2 is Nakazoe and stage 3 is Tomezoe.

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Hatsuzoe

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The yeast starter is moved to the large fermentation tanks where it is joined by a small portion of steamed rice, koji and some water. The amount of steamed rice added in this stage is normally around 20% of the total prepared in the earlier stages of production. At this stage, because the primary aim is to increase the number of yeast cells to drive fermentation and produce glucose for the yeast to consume, more koji is needed than rice.

Nakazoe

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In this second stage, roughly twice the amount of rice and koji is added to the mix. Fermentation starts to gather pace during this stage. Incidentally, between the first and second stages there is a day where no ingredients are added; instead, the yeast is left to do its thing. In Japanese, they call this day of rest: Odori. Adding too many ingredients too quickly risks overwhelming the yeast. The environment inside the tank may change too quickly for the yeast to adapt.

Tomezoe

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In this, the final stage, the amount of steamed rice and koji added is twice that of the second stage. After fermentation has bubbled away for about a day the volume in the tank will have increased by up to 20-25%. From this point onwards, temperature control measures are needed to stop the fermentation from getting too hot. After about 3-4 weeks the fermentation will be complete.

Beyond 3 stage fermentation

Not content with 3 additions of rice, some brewers just keep adding. 4-stage-fermentation or Yondanjikomi (Yon is Japanese for 4) is probably the most famous. However, unlike the stages in the traditional 3-stage-fermentation method, the purpose is not to drive fermentation but to make the sake sweeter. A super sweet type of sake that sometimes comes alcohol free called Amazake is made this way. Within the industry, it is thought that beyond 4 stages, the additional additions do very little to the flavour and quality of the end product. However, while that may be true, the meer shock and awe that seeing the words 10-stage-fermentation on the bottle causes the drinker is worth it.

Here at KURAND, we are proud to showcase a great example of sake made with the 4-stage method.

Three Entirely Different Takes on Summer Sake

Greetings sake lovers,

As the clouds wring out the last few drops of the rainy season here in Tokyo, the second leg of summer cannot be that far away. It will soon be time to break out the summer sake again.

Sake has its own answer to the suffocating heat of the Japanese summer in the form of aged Nama Sakes. Nama is Japanese for unpasteurised. Normally sake is pasteurised twice, once before storage and bottling — to kill all remaining microbes / enzymes and stop the fermentation. Nama is the exception. Summer Namas are unpasteurised sakes aged at low temperatures — in their Nama state — throughout the winter and spring months. It’s a Nama with added seasonal verve.

In today’s article we bring you a trilogy of sakes from the 12 summer sakes that we are showcasing this year at KURAND.

1. Summer Carp

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First up is Ikioimasamune Summer Carp from Nagano Prefecture’s Maruse Shuzo.

Pressed from the 14th tank of 2016’s batch of sake made using the brewery’s trademark 4-stage fermentation process, an old brewing method where steamed rice is added to sweeten the finished product in an additional fourth stage at the end of the standard 3-stage process. The brewery is one of the few to use glutinous rice (Mochigome) in the fourth stage in place of the more commonly used non-glutinous type (Uruchimai). This modern tweak combined with the low acidity type yeast M10 produces a special savoury flavour and soft pillow-like texture that all adds up to a Junmai with a twist perfect for summer.

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Maruse Brewery was established in 1870.

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Tasting Notes

■ Appearance
Clear with a golden hue.

■ Aroma
Slightly sweet, marshmallow-like fragrance.

■ Flavour
Well-rounded with a gentle hint of sweetness.

A gentle, relaxing, soft sweet sake makes a great accompaniment to the soothing sound of wind chimes.
You can almost picture yourself lazing out in the garden on a deck chair with this one.

2. Mid-cut of Summer

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Made with the eating rice variety, “Sai no Kagayaki”, fermented to extract all the Umami from within. It’s a rich Junmai Nama Genshu with plenty of flavour. With its pronounced profile, it breaks out of the relaxed summer sake mould with a vengeance. As a chilled drink, it’s so smooth the glass will be empty before you know it. When it comes to food pairing, there’s plenty of depth to play with. The brewer recommends you try a well seasoned dish of eel.

Sake Trivia

The mid-cut (Nakagumi / Nakadori) is the second pressing of a batch of sake. The contents are sourced from the middle of the tank where everything is in perfect balance; a harmony between aroma and flavour. This is the prime-cut of sake.

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Tasting Notes

■ Appearance
Opaque

■ Aroma
Highly fragrant

■ Flavour
Full flavoured with savoury notes of spice, freshly cut grass and cashew nuts.
Although the initial palate suggests a long finish, it is surprisingly nimble and fades away just nicely. All in all, the sort of fresh robust profile that you would expect from a Nama Genshu.

3. Summer with a women’s touch

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A light blue-bottle and label adorned with flowers and plums suggests a sake that is going to appeal more to a female drinker, but how does it taste?

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Established in 1842, Hasegawa Brewery has carved over 170 years of brewing in Settaya, in 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 registered as tangible cultural properties. As one of the breweries 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.

Tasting Notes

■ Appearance
A clear, somewhat strong yellow

■ Aroma
Sweet, fruity, quite fragrant.

■ Flavour

From the very first sip, this sake exudes a mild sweetness that covers the entire surface of the mouth, but it’s a sweetness that is never cloying.

It’s the sort of sake that would taste great chilled, perhaps paired with some smoking hot red meat during a summer BBQ.

Whatever the occasion, enjoy your summer with sake.
There are plenty more to choose from at KURAND.

What’s the obsession with putting turtles on sake labels?

Greetings sake lovers,

Have you ever come across a sake label featuring a turtle? The fact is that believe it or not, turtles have always been a popular animal with sake brewers for some reason. But why? We decided to research a bit more and interview one or two of our turtle loving partner breweries for the answer.

How many brands are there with a ‘turtle’ in the name?

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After just a spot of research, we found a total of 25-30 brand names featuring the little amphibious green critter by name. We wanted to find out more about what the appeal of the turtle was. We would half expect most breweries to tell us that “their founding forefather was very fond of them” or something along those lines. But perhaps their answer would surprise us. We decided to put the question to two breweries to find out.

Ask the breweries

Ehime Prefecture, Chiyo no Kame Shuzo, Mr.Kimura

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First up was Chiyo no kame Shuzo (Kame = Turtle in Japanese).Established in 1716, Chiyonokame has carved out 300 years of history in Uchiko Town, Ehime Prefecture.The brewers each help with the rice sowing to deepen their understanding of the rice which in keeping with local farming practices is free of pesticides. Their product development is bold and challenging and their Ginga Tetsudo (galaxy railroad) brand which is aged below freezing continues to have just as many fans outside the prefecture as inside. Additionally, Chiyonokame is the first brewery to use a centrifuge. It is a brewery that cheerfully brews sake that can’t be made anywhere else: Charming sake that puts a smile on thousands of faces. We interviewed Mr. Kimura

Q1. Why is there a turtle in your brand name?

[taidan img=”http://kurand.jp/en/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/kimura.png” alt=”なとみ様” width=”300″ height=”300″ class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-13704″] Well first, the first word ‘Chiyo’ (millennia) has the same meaning to that in the line from the Japanese national anthem: “chiyo ni yachiyo” (to continue, to prosper for millennia and millenia).  In other words, an eternity. Just as the crane is associated with a life-span of 1000 years, the turtle is associated with a life-span of 10,000 years. If for nothing else, we chose this name for its auspicious connotations.   [/taidan]

Q2. Why are there so many turtle themed sake brands in Japan?
[taidan img=”http://kurand.jp/en/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/kimura.png” alt=”なとみ様” width=”300″ height=”300″ class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-13704″] It’s not just turtles, cranes also pop up a lot in sake nameology because they both carry the meaning of “eternity”. Incidentally, quite a lot of these brands use the word Chiyo as well.   [/taidan]

So both the turtle and the Japanese word Chiyo carry the meaning of “lasting for an eternity”. Well, this brewery has already carved out 300 years of history so they must be aiming for at least another 1000.

Nagano Prefecture, Syouki Shuzo, Mr. Maruyama

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Another brewery that uses the turtle directly in their brewery name. In 1883, first generation Maruyama Monichiro established a brewing business in the alps facing Shinshu Shiojiri Yado, the remains of a manor house, and started brewing the brand Syouki Masamune. 133 years since the production brewery got its big roof, the brand has changed names but still retains the traditional flavour of Shiojiri. Last year, in the brewery’s 131st year, master brewer Morikawa Takashi who recorded a string of gold awards in his previous brewery turns a new page in history with his passion to brew sake in the place where he was born. Sake that moves people is born from the skills and passion of the brewer.

Q1. Why is there a turtle in your brand name?
[taidan img=”http://kurand.jp/en/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/maruyama.png” alt=”なとみ様” width=”300″ height=”300″ class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-13704″] sadly, the meaning was never passed down from previous generations. [/taidan]

Q2. Why are there so many turtle themed sake brands in Japan?

[taidan img=”http://kurand.jp/en/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/maruyama.png” alt=”なとみ様” width=”300″ height=”300″ class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-13704″] The turtle is particularly popular because of its auspicious connotations and because it signifies eternity.   [/taidan]

Over time they simply forgot the reason. But when we first saw this brand name we felt a real affinity towards it; the turtle often looks as if it’s smiling. Perhaps one of the earlier generations kept one as a pet…?

Conclusion

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It seems there may be various theories out there for the turtle on the label. Above all, it seems that most breweries use it as a good omen. And if the long histories of those that do are anything to go by, it’s certainly a powerful totem that lives up to its name.

Just as the definition of eternity suggests, turtles are nothing short of living legends of both sea and land. The average pet turtle can live up to 20-30 years, while the elephant turtle outlive humans at 150 years.

The turtle also makes an appearance in various famous tales such as the tale of Urashima Taro as an envoy of the Ryukyu Castle; in ancient China, it was believed to be an envoy of Horaisan, the land believed to be the dwelling place of  perpetual youth inhabited by immortals — its always been a very propitious being.

It is even suggested that the shape of the shell on the turtle’s back is in itself a symbol of good fortune.

It’s not difficult to see why the turtle has found its way into the hearts of brewers everywhere.

And the moral of the story? Drink sake adorned with a turtle and you too may live for a thousand years….

Event Report – Sake SET VOL 10: Summer Sake Bonanza

Written by Chris Hughes

Date: 17/07/16
Venue: Kurand Sake Market Asakusa Branch
Participants: 53
Duration: 4 hours
Theme: Summer Sake + Food Pairing

On Sunday 17th July, people from all nationalities came out of the merciless Tokyo summer heat and into our nice fully air-conditioned Asakusa branch for another bout of international exchanges through sake imbibing in the form of Sake Exchange Tokyo.

The Theme

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Greetings Sake Lovers, is that the sound of Cicadas in the trees? It means summer is almost upon us here in Tokyo. And when the mercury starts to rise, chilled sake is the only way to go.

Sake has its own answer to the rising heat of the summer in the form of aged Nama Sakes. Nama is Japanese for unpasteurised. Normally sake is pasteurised twice, once before storage and bottling — to kill all remaining microbes / enzymes and stop the fermentation. Nama is the exception. Summer Namas are unpasteurised sakes that have been aged at low temperatures — in their Nama state — throughout the winter months. It’s a Nama with added seasonal verve.

In this edition of SET, as part of the 100 sake line-up participants were able to sample over 12 different summer themed products.

Picking your Glass

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Once through reception, each participant was invited to choose a drinking vessel from a selection of 3-4 different types: plastic masu (square box), ochoko, ginjo glass (2 types) and one type of ceramic guinomi.

The flavour of sake changes dramatically depending on the type of vessel that you drink it out of. This is not a feature unique to sake. Have you ever wondered why the sides / rim of some wine glasses bend inwards slightly? Well the glasses are designed this way to better allow you to appreciate the aromas. Vessels that are narrower and shaped in this way trap the aromas as opposed to allowing them to escape.

Summer sake tends to err more on the aromatic side, so a trumpet shaped glass where the sides curve outwards, like the one in the photo below is perfect for trapping the aromas; this way you can enjoy the aroma before it disappears. A glass with a deep bottom is even better.

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The Welcome Drink

We toasted the start of this event in style with KURAND original craft sparkling sake.

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“CRAFT SPARKLING SAKE” is an authentic sparkling sake made by a small local brewery. Every part of the production process is carried out by hand; the gas itself is a natural bi-product of a second fermentation and is produced by the yeast (this is the same technique used to make Champagne). In addition, the leftover sediment called Ori (a mixture of rice, yeast, koji and other particles, learn more about Ori and the filtration process called Oribiki in this article) is left in to give it an authentic feel on an aesthetic level: a slightly milky white appearance. For all its classic/ modern nuances, it still retains all the charms of a traditional-craft born through conventional production methods, polished to bring them up to date.

Even though sparkling sake has been in production at some breweries since before the second world war, it is not until recently that it started to attract any real attention; traits like lower alcohol, a pleasant aroma and mouth-feel are attracting a less-seasoned, and in some cases female drinker.

 

The Lecture

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● Sake in a nutshell
● Rice polishing – super premium sake grades
●   Makeup of Sake
● Summer sake – Styles
● Sake production closeup: Nama Sake (unpasteurised)
● Sake & food matching
● What is umami?
● Basic food pairing
●  Advanced pairing
●  Food pairing map

Food Pairing

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For this special edition of Sake Exchange Tokyo, participants were each asked to bring along a dish of something to try and pair with sake and share with everyone else. Chosen at random, some participants were offered the chance to challenge our British sake master to find a suitable sake for the food which they had brought. Some participants had even gone to the trouble of preparing some delicious home cooked dishes.

International Exchange with a Sake in Hand

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Participants were then free to work their way through the sakes in the fridge, comparing as many as they like, while making new international friends in the process.

Video Preview:

Eyes Down! It’s Bingo Time !

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What internatonal exchange event would be complete without a round or two of bingo?
But not just any Bingo! Oh noooo, sake bingo — with an added twist or two: sake bingo!

How to play SET BINGO

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This version of bingo comes with an extra special rule.

Normally bingo is played with 24 numbers.

Well, this version of bingo is no different. However, participants are given the opportunity to collect an additional two numbers with which to play with. They do so, by going around the room asking other people for their sake recommendations. You may be thinking: how on earth does getting a sake recommendation from someone give you extra numbers to play bingo. Well in actual fact each of the sakes in our fridge is allocated a number. The number is display on a tag around the bottle neck.

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Each participant notes down the number of the sake in the fridge they have been recommended followed by the name of the person who recommended it to them. A maxium of two recommendations can be collected. The two numbers collected become jokers or spares which can be used in the bingo game to increase a person’s chances of winning.

Look at the examples below. In the example A, the person is waiting for two numbers, ‘4’ and ’11’ to complete the first vertical line. Those numbers don’t get called. However, the two spares, ‘2’ and ’44’ do. The person can now claim a line using the spares as substitutes for the numbers they are waiting for.

In example 2, the person needs just one number to complete a line. That doesn’t get called. However, one of their spares does. They can use the spare that got called to claim a line.

In each of these two examples bingo has been achieved.

It might take a while sometimes to realise that you have won, but that’s part of the fun.

The best part about this extra rule is yet to come….

In the event that a spare helps you to win, the person who recommended you that number sake wins a prize also.

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How to Ask For a Recommendation in Japanese

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Part of the reason for adding this extra rule is to offer more opportunities for participants to interact and break the ice. It also makes a great excuse to practice your Japanese. We provided a little script that explains how to ask for a recommendation in Japanese to help you along the way.

Osusume wo onegai shimasu
(oh-sue-sue-may owe o-nay-guy she-mass)

How to Give a recommendation in Japanese

___?____ wo susume shimasu.
(___?___oh-sue-sue-may she-mass)

For the lucky winners there were prizes.

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Pretending to be a Brewer!

Ever wanted to pretend to work in a brewery? I promise you it is much harder work in reality. Still getting a feel for the tools of the trade makes you appreciate the end product even more. The tools you see in the photograph have all been very kindly donated by our participating breweries.

Our participants certainly look the part! A great photo opportunity wouldn’t you agree?

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If this event report has tickled your taste buds, there are two more events just around the corner and plenty more to come in August and September. Please check out the schedule via the link below.
SET 10 PARTY No.2 Click here for more information
SET 10 ONE COIN PARTY Click here for more information

I look forward to seeing you all there!!

 

A lecturer lets us in on the trick to selecting a sake to suit personal preference – Episode 2

Hello there, sake lecturer Hideto Kitayama here, with another episode in the series that teaches various tricks to selecting sake to suit personal preference. In the last two episodes, I showed you how best to select sake in one of two scenarios: ordering at an Izakaya and buying sake at a sake shop. This is episode 2 of the Izakaya guide. While this episode is not a direct continuation of the previous episode, reading both episodes together will offer a more complete picture of what I am driving at.

As usual, I am just going to switch to autopilot and type as thoughts come into my head. I hope you will forgive this slightly haphazard style of writing but that’s the way I roll.
The Izakaya is a place where you go to dine as well as drink. So with that in mind let’s try with some methods to selecting sake as a delicious accompaniment to food. I will explain how to do this below.

When Ordering at an Izakaya, First Consult your Server

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As I advised in Episode 1, if in doubt, consult the most knowledgeable person in the room —which at an Izakaya is the server — and engage in leisurely conversation to make the ordering process more fun. A place with a decent sized sake menu may already have list of different pairings that they are just itching to recommend to you.

It certainly doesn’t hurt to give their recommendation a try to see if it fits in with your own personal preferences. More often than not this method of selection unearths wonderous hidden gems.

And then you could always just try picking something off the food menu and asking your server to select sake to pair with it. This method asks the server to take on the effectual role of ‘wine sommelier’. There is nothing the Izakaya server loves more than to be told: “I will leave it up to you! Impress me!”. In the life of an Izakaya server, there is no bigger thrill — even if a tad unnerving.

But having said that, even places serving sake have started to hire people who don’t drink or know very little. If you do come across such a place, how do you find that tasty flavour combination by yourself? What can you use as a reference point?

The answer is the method of food preparation. Selecting food based on how it has been prepared and matching it accordingly is another little trick that really works.

1. Deep Fried

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Sake to wash away all the oil like a glass of beer.

Deep-fried dishes have a very high compatibility with most sake. If you are looking for something to emulate a glass of beer in washing away all that oil, err towards more fizzy sake because it tends to be very good at refreshing the palate afterwards. The ideal choice would be dry sparkling sake which should completely cleanse your palate of all that grease.

Sake to mitigate the grease like a drop of lemon juice.

If you are looking for sake’s answer to the lemon, try something with lots of acidity. Highly acidic sakes work well with all types of cuisine cooked in oil, deep-fried or otherwise.

Swap that bowl of rice for sake

In Japan, deep-fried dishes are normally served with rice. The rice helps to create a more fuller flavour experience. Simply swap the bowl of rice for sake where rice is the centre piece of the whole flavour profile such as a Junmai type.

2. Simmered

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Because simmered dishes tend to have very well-defined flavours, the best match is going to be sake with lots of Umami. Now that presents a very broad spectrum of choice but in general I am talking about Muroka (unfiltered), Nama (unpasteurised), Genshu (undiluted) types and the older Kimoto styles. In other words, rich, complex, nuanced sakes.

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The combination of raw seafood — sushi & sashimi — and sake is one that is as old as the history of sake itself and needs no introduction. But as obvious as it might seem, starting with this flavour combination is like trying to learn to ride a bike with the stabilisers attached. You simply cannot go wrong.  Of course, like everything, there is a right way and a wrong way to pair sushi with sake. It’s really all about the timing. Pair sake and sushi like you would wasabi and soy sauce. If you mix the wasabi completely in the soy sauce it loses its pungency.

Sake will often overpower the flavours of lighter white fish. The trick to get around this problem is to put the fish in the mouth before the sake.

Japanese food culture is built around the concept of mixing different flavours together in the mouth to create multi-dimensional palates. However, in the case of sashimi and fresh dishes like it, it is actually better to try and avoid this mixing; keeping everything separate instead. It’s not easy, but it’s the key to experiencing the subtle qualities of the ingredients unhindered.

I have deviated slightly, so allow me to get back on course.

When pairing sashimi, it is important to analyse the fat content of the fish. Lean fish pair with voluptuous, light sakes —traits that we commonly associate with most Ginjo types for example. On the other hand, fatty fish pair with the more ricey types, especially if they are warmed up a little to say between 40-50 degrees.

In Conclusion

Well, I think that’s enough rambling for another article. I will save all the other thoughts floating around in my head for the next episode.

Finally, allow me to leave you with the reminder that everyone’s tastes are different and so there can be no perfect guide. Of course, I would be delighted if you find this to be of any use, but, let your taste buds be your ultimate guide and above all remember to have fun!

Balance of Flavour: Warimizu

Greetings sake lovers,

Welcome to another little article from the series that throws little nuggets of sake information your way. Today, we look at the stage in the production process called Warimizu.

What is warimizu?

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Warimizu literally translates to ‘diluting with water’. It is a stage at the end of the sake process where water is added. But why the addition of water in the first place? you may ask.

By the end of fermentation, sake will have an average alcohol content of around 18-20%. However, this is a little too strong to be shipping to the end customer for consumption as a fermented beverage to be sipped and enjoyed at the dinner table — especially considering the average alcohol tolerance of most Japanese people. Therefore, water is added to dilute and lower this alcohol level and to make the sake easier to palate. Hence, sake on the shelf clock in at a much friendlier 15-16%.  However, dilution of alcohol is not the only purpose of adding water. This gift from mother nature is in fact the key to balancing out the flavour of sake; sweet sake can be made less so and dry sake less dry; slightly edgy sake can be made softer and easier to palate.

The water is normally added after removal from the ageing tanks where sake is stored for a little while after completion to allow flavours to settle. Incidentally, sake that has been shipped in its undiluted form is called Genshu. In the case of Shochu (Japan’s indigineous distilled libation), the process has a different name in Japanese: Wasui.

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There is a train of thought that dilution is effectively the same as thinning out sake. Indeed, the English word dilution carries that exact definition and it’s hard to argue with this because adding water to another liquid has that exact effect in practice. Some breweries have even taken this a step further and started to brew their sake with a lower alcohol level to begin with so as to remove the need for dilution: a so-called low-alcohol undiluted sake, which is already trending.

The water used for the entire production process is normally separated into two separate lines. In some breweries it may even come from a different source altogether; it depends on the brewery. The line that supplies the water for dilution is referred to in Japanese as Binzume Yosui (LIT: bottling water).

The amount of water required to lower the alcohol to a certain level is calculated using the formula below.

Original Sake Volume (ml) x Original Sake Alcohol Content (%) / Target Alcohol Content – Original Sake Volume (ml) = Amount of water required.

Example: Calculation to reduce 1800ml of alcohol from 19% to 15%.

19% / 15% = 1.266667

1800 x 1.26667 = 2280

2280 – 1800 = 480ml

480ml of water should be added.

A type of sake that is undiluted, unfiltered (Muroka) and unpasteurised (Nama) is particularly popular here in Japan right now.
That is because the demand has switched to sake that is as close in flavour as possible to that which has just exited the brewing process and thus retains all its complexities; a so-called idiosyncratic ‘fresh from the tank brew’.

Our lineup at KURAND contains a number of these  so-called Muroka Nama Genshu for you to try.

If you like your sake with punch and kick, go for Genshu.

If you prefer an less boisterous brew which is easier to palate avoid sake labelled as Genshu.

It doesn’t hurt to experiment every now and then.

Izakaya hopping in shinjuku

Come and Join the Summer Izakaya Hop!

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Following on from the roaring success of our massive spring sake festival held in Shibuya attended by over 2800 people, we bring you a slightly smaller version in the form of a hopping crazy pub crawl with sake around Shinjuku Sanchome’s most popular Izakayas. It’s a celebration of both sake and food and serves as a great way to get to know Shinjuku a little better while making new friends in the process. It’s the second time we have held this event and every years just gets wilder and wilder.

Allow us to introduce the event in a little more detail.

100 sakes and a multitude of different delicious dishes

Leisurely meander your way around the centre of Tokyo’s world-famous entertainment district, popping in the designated pit-stops along the way to quench your thirst and cool down with a selection of over 100 different sake and a range of dishes expertly prepared by some of the best specialist Izakaya (pub) in Shinjuku covering a range of different cuisine. There really is no better way to experience sake than this. It’s no wonder the locals proudly refer to this area of Shinjuku Sanchome as one of Tokyo’s hidden gourmet watering holes.

* Separate payment is required for the food.
A food order is not required to enter any of the participating Izakayas.

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3 key features of this event

Over 100 types of Sake!

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Beat the heat of the Japanese summer with an ice-cold glass of sake.

Over 10 different styles of summer sake!

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Relaxing aromas and fresh, vivacious sake; the summer is here and so is the sake. With over 10 different styles of limited edition summer sake to compare, you can beat the summer heat in style. If your new to sake, summer sake is a great seasonal sake to start with.

Experience the hidden drinking mecca of Tokyo!

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Participating Izakayas

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Event Map

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FAQ

Q Please explain how it works!
On the day, in exchange for your ticket, we will hand you a trendy little wristband. Until you receive the wristband you cannot enter any of the Izakayas. There will be a limited number of tickets available for sale on the day on a first come first serve basis. The event is very popular, so we recommend getting there early to avoid disappointment.

Q: Will you be asking for ID?
A: yes. It is an event that involves the consumption of alcohol, so we are obligated by law to check for ID. Please bring a form of ID that displays a photograph and your age: driver’s license, passport, residence card, etc.

Q: What if the weather is bad?
A: The event will go ahead as planned regardless of the weather. In the case of a typhoon or storm, we will announce that the event is being cancelled ahead of time and offer full refunds via PASSMARKET.  We regret that we will not be able to compensate for an event that is cancelled part way through.

Q: Will any of the sake be available for purchase on the day?
Yes, but only a small selection.

Q: Is smoking permitted in any of the izakayas?
A: Please use the specially designated smoking areas only.

Q: Where is lost property located?
A: Found and lost items should be reported to the reception.

 

FURTHER DETAILS

Event Name Shinjuku Sake Festival 2016
Date / Time 30th July 2016 / 12:00 – 16:00
Venue Shinjuku Sanchome
Nearest Station Shinjuku Sanchome Underground
Fee Advanced Ticket: 3000 Yen (Limited) / Same-Day: 3500 Yen
Payment Method PASS MARKET

12 ingredients to spruce up sake / 12 Simple Cocktail Recipes for Summer

Greetings sake lovers! To coincide with the opening of our new sister brand “HAVESPI” which provides shochu fans and casual imbibers with the space, ingredients and tools to concoct as many cocktails as they like for one set fee, without time limits. Today we bring you a list of 16 ingredients that put a bit of an eclectic spin on otherwise orthodox ways of drinking sake. Perhaps you have that bottle of sake that has sat in your cupboard since you received it as a Christmas present last December, perhaps you have just come into sake that is not to your taste, or maybe you are looking for a way to add a bit of seasonality, whatever the reason, there might come a time when you need to spruce it up a bit. Cocktails that require just one or two ingredients to make them work are a simple, cost-effective way of doing this.

(Perfect for Summer!) For a change of mood or as a food-pairing option!

1. Sake + Soda

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Mix Ratio: 50:50

Why not mix with soda and make a Japanese style highball. Doing so makes for a more exhilarating, more affable sake experience. Add a squeeze of lemon or lime to taste for a more chilled-out finish.

2. Sake + Ginger Ale

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Mix Ratio: 50:50

Whether it’s a dry one or sweet one, just by mixing with ginger ale, you can make your own Japanese spin on the Ginger High Ball.

3. Sake + Tomato Juice

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Mix Ratio: 50:50

This cocktail is essentially just a tame ‘Bloody Mary’ (you could add a little tabasco if you miss the tanginess and the kick). Actually, this version is known as the ‘Red Sun’, with an equally brilliant colour to match that would make a bold statement at any table.

4. Sake + Fresh Lemon

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Considering the versatility of lemon as a cocktail ingredient, this one should come as no surprise. A squeeze of lemon with a bit of TLC brings out the aromas and fruity qualities of most sake. The palate is super refreshing and laid back. TIP: Our favourite way of drinking sake with lemon is to heat the sake first.

5. Sake + Wasabi

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Pop as little or as much grated Wasabi as you like into your favourite sake for a more adult tipple. The result is a Japanese take on the Horseradish Black Pepper Gibson. East meets East. It’s a taste you will want to try with a bite of sushi.

6. Sake + Lime Juice

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Mix Ratio: (Sake) 45ml : (Lime Juice) 15ml

Acidity from a lime helps stubborn sake go down a bit easier. It also helps thin out strong aroma and fragrances so if the nose is getting in your way you can simply shove it to one side. This cocktail is none other than the notorious “Samurai Rock”. Add as much or as little lime juice as your taste buds desire.

7. Sake + Fresh Ginger Keeps the Doctor Away!

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Pop a little grated ginger into hot sake to release its medicinal properties among which include prevention and cure of colds and better blood circulation.

8. Sake + Garlic

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After an exhausting day at work, there is no better way to unwind and recover that lost energy than hot sake with a little grated garlic (also works against vampire bosses). If you are not too keen on the stench of garlic, steam it first.

(Sweet Tooth!) Also recommended for the unseasoned sake drinker!

9. Sake + Egg

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Scrambled egg and a little sugar added to hot sake is one recipe for a cold cure handed down through the generations with a guarantee that it actually works. The warmth and well-rounded flavour of the egg helps bring a sense of relief.

10. Sake + Pineapple Juice

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Mix Ratio: 50:50

Combine with fruity sake for a smoothie-like finish. Pineapple juice could be replaced with Mango Juice or Passion Fruits Juice,etc. Add a little fresh fruit for an even more uplifting and aesthetically pleasing cocktail.

11. Sake + Orange Juice + Tonic Water

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Mix Ratio: 45ml(sake):60ml(orange juice): 75ml (Tonic Water)

Sake’s take on the screwdriver, simply mix for the perfect short cocktail for summer. The tonic water ensures that this cocktail isn’t too verbose.

12. Sake + Yogurt

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Mix Ratio: 90ml (sake): 1 spoonful of Yogurt

Tastes a bit like amazake (sweet low-alcohol sake). Gets rid of any peculiar, uninviting aromas, so we highly recommend this one for the sake-newbie.

So there you have it, 12 ways to spruce up sake! Proof of the versatility of sake. Now go and raid your cupboards for leftover sake and let the experiments begin!

 

If you stumbled across a sake that wasn’t to your taste, would you suffer it gladly!?

Greetings sake lovers! Whether you’re a regular sake imbiber or just an occasional Joe, you are bound to eventually stumble across a sake that doesn’t quite tick all the boxes — such is life… So when this happens, what do you do with the sake you have just poured into your favourite glass, the bottle you have just opened (if it was a purchased sake)…? We surveyed a total of 140 people — 130 customers and 10 brewers — to find out how the general sake-drinking populace solves this conundrum. The results were very interesting, if not encouraging. Not least, the majority that told us they would actually suffer it gladly.

A Survey of 130 Customers!

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The survey was conducted live at our branches, answers being collected by a show of hands.

Q. What would you do if you stumbled across a sake that was not to your taste?

3rd most popular option: leave it

To be honest we expected more people to go for the 3rd option. But true to their word, there was not a drop of sake left in anyone’s Ochoko at the end.

2nd most popular option:give it to someone else

We were left with the impression that very few men would choose this option. The reluctance to waste, regardless of whether it was to taste or not, was a really encouraging result! Of course, in effect you are passing the responsibility on together with the sake….

1st most popular option:suffer it gladly

This was by far the most popular option with some people raising their hands even before we had finished answering the question. The results are probably a tad biased as you would expect from KURAND sake lovers who could never bring themselves to waste such precious sake. Nevertheless the sense of responsibility resonated.

Other

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We asked the people who answered ‘other’ to give us more details.

1. Warm it
Just as some aged sakes can be a bit of challenge for the unseasoned sake drinker, warming up a sake that doesn’t quite slide down the throat as you would like it to can make it a much more agreeable customer.

2. Mix with juice and make a cocktail
We particularly liked this one! You can even use this one at home: mixing with whatever fruit juice you have stored in the fridge at the time; and at KURAND, soft drinks can be brought onto the premises.

3. Use in cooking

Another one that works at home. You are lumbered with a sake that isn’t your cup of tea but noone to pass it on to. The answer is much more simple than you might think. One very common use for sake that has passed its best is as a cooking ingredient. You might think that this is another form of wastage, but nothing could be further from the truth. One very popular dish made with sake is something called Bishu Nabe, particularly popular in Hiroshima Prefecture.

And the brewers?

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Next we asked 10 brewers for their opinion to get a more balanced view.

Q. What would you do if you stumbled across a sake that was not to your taste?

5th: Leave it

As you would expect from the architect of this wonderful beverage, not a single brewer chose this option, the overall feeling being that every drop should be savoured.

4th: Give it to someone else

Sake is a luxury libation with as many different tastes as their are people in the world. Even though a sake may not match your own personal preference, there could be someone out there for who it is love at first sight. Many brewers told us that they would definitely consider this option — and in the brewing circle there is no lack of willing parties.

Joint 2nd: Use in cooking

It might be a bit of an extravagant option but it is better than wasting good sake, agreed the majority of the brewers we asked. In fact, it seems that brewers can’t help but wonder how there own sake would influence the flavour of food if used as a cooking ingredient.

Joint 2nd: Find a suitable food match

Although it seems like easiest option, find the right food to match is not as easy as it sounds. Nevertheless, it is worth a try. We have included some helpful ways from the brewer to make unfavourable sakes more agreeable at the end of this article.

1st: Suffer it

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Without a doubt, this is the most popular solution among brewers to said conundrum. To the brewers in question it is nothing short of the ideal. We asked the brewers who told us why they would suffer it so gladly.

“Even when a sake is not to your taste, it is much more productive to try and find out why? It is one good way of training your palate” 

“When I buy sake for myself, I do so out of a desire to research, so there is no way I would leave a drop in the glass. Sometimes, I invite similarly like-minded (studious) brewers to join me.”

“I like to think about how the sake was made. It’s a great way to research lots of brewing styles”

4 tricks from the brewer to make that sake more agreeable

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Alter the temperature

By warming or chilling sake you can alter the way it opens up on the tongue thus making it more agreeable for your palate. Try lots of different temperatures to find the best balance.

Dilute

While it’s not a spirit, dilution is worth a try. After all, sake is diluted with water after completion anyway. If it is the richness of the sake that is not agreeing with you, dilution may just help thin it out a bit. Highly alcoholic sakes definitely benefit from a bit of dilution sometimes.

Blend

The trump card if you will, blending sake with sake is one clever way to alter the flavour to be more to your liking. You might even discover something interesting in the process.

Attempt to marry it

We are not actually suggesting that you call a priest and arrange a wedding just yet. What we refer to as marrying is basically just find a good match between food and sake in the same way that a married couple are compatible with each other. Why not consult our earlier article on the subject for more pointers.

A big thank you to all our surveyees for their help!

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And after the survey everyone partied the night away with glass of sake in hand and not a drop was wasted.

That folks is the mark of a true sake lover!

Trying sake on the rocks

Greetings sake lovers! As the days get more and more sultry here in Tokyo, ice cooled drinks become something of a necessity.
 
You might feel the need to switch your choice of drink to accommodate the seasons but wait! Who said you can’t just pop a cube of ice or two into your sake. It is actually a really great way to enjoy the beverage. Learn more about the so-called ‘sake on the rocks” and which types of sake are best suited to this style. We guarantee that today’s article will leave you wanting to try it out right away!

Sake Drinking Styles Aplenty, But in Summer ‘On the Rocks’ is the Only Way to Go

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One of the many charms of sake are the different flavours that you can experience at different temperatures. Chilling or warming sake can make the same sake multifaceted.
 
A cube of ice in a glass of sake might, at first glance, scream heresy, but this way has always been a favourite among connoisseurs who will advocate that a glass of sake in the summer is nowhere near as refreshing without.

The Flavour Characteristics of Sake on the Rocks

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And now for the answer to that burning question: how does a cube of ice effect the flavour?
First, because the ice lowers the temperature of the sake in the glass, you get a much cleaner finish. When you drink sake on the rocks, depending on the type of vessel you use and the type of sake you are drinking, this cooling effect may also make the aroma more reserved and the sake easier to palate — as well as enhancing any savoury notes. But it does all this without drumming down the original tone of the sake.

Furthermore, the ice will of course eventually thaw, thus diluting the sake and taking the edge away. You might be tempted to think that sake on the rocks will not get you as drunk as quickly… and you would be right. That is why we would recommend this style of drinking for those who with a slightly lower alcohol tolerance. It’s also a great way ease yourself gently into the beverage.

What Types Work on the Rocks?

Now that you know why this style of drinking comes recommended, why don’t we look at some of the types that are suitable for drinking this way.

Nama Sake

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The first one probably comes as no surprise, but Nama Sake, in particular summer Nama sakes — the subject of Monday’s article — are more than game. In general this sake’s constitution and the fact that it has to be consumed soon after opening makes it a little easy to grow tired of. When you want to try something a little different, on the rocks is a good place to start. Style that work particularly well are the richer more full bodies ones.

Genshu

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Sake that has not been diluted with water is called Genshu. This type of sake tends to have a much stronger aroma and richer flavour; traits that make it perfect for drinking on the rocks. Compared to other types of sake, the alcohol content is much higher, but as explained above a cube or two of ice can take the edge off. For those of you who have tried Genshu but been put off by its powerful nose of alcohol, try it again with ice. All in all, Genshu with ice is milder and much more amicable.

Cloudy Sake

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Just like ice-cold milk, cloudy sake on the rocks is an absolute definite must-try. This is the unequivocal taste of summer.

KURAND Must-Try!

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If we had to pick one sake out of the current KURAND line-up to try on the rocks, it would have to be Doro Doro from Funasaka Shuzo, Gifu Prefecture. Its mellow flavour and sharp aftertaste are unmistakably good flavours for this syle of drinking.

The PRO’s Sake on the Rocks

Just like every other way of drinking sake, there is of course a right way to drink sake on the rocks. There are at least 2 important points to consider..

Choice of Ice

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Your first concern should be the choice of ice. Our first choice would be the special on-the-rocks type ice that is sold over-the-counters at most supermarkets, convenience stores. However, you could always just make your own using the ice-cube maker in your freezer. The best type of water for this is mineral water.

Above all, you should pay attention to the size of the ice cubes. Smaller cubes will thaw faster diluting the sake too quickly. Therefore, bigger ones are better. That way you can still have the same refreshing experience but will all the flavours still intact.

The Vessel

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The final thing you should be particular over is the vessel.

If you want to enjoy the transition of flavour as the ice slowly melts away, a shorter vessel with a larger aperture is recommended. To enjoy the tangy flavours of cloudy sake, a taller glass works best.

Whatever your choice, for instant heat-relief, put your next sake on the rocks !