Sake Nation “Seasonal Sake ④: Cloudy sake released in spring”

By Kosuke Kuji
In this series that introduces seasonal sake, this report features “cloudy sake” released in the spring. 
The beautiful spring season of Japan is represented by blooming cherry blossoms. The sighs of plants and animals that survived the cold winter season are sensed during one of the most beautiful seasons in Japan.   
Spring is also a season of partings in the sake industry. The Master sake brewer and brewery workers who lived and worked at the brewery throughout the winter season return home in the spring to plant rice.    
“Nigori sake” is a category of sake sold by many sake breweries year-round. Freshly squeezed sake is slightly cloudy in the beautiful spring season. Recently, cherry blossom petals float on the surface of some nigori sake products released in the spring.  
Nigori sake is not thick and slightly cloudy. The Japanese also enjoy viewing cherry blossoms during the spring. Slightly cloudy nigori sake enjoyed while viewing the pink cherry blossoms create an elegant ambiance, the epitome of beauty. 
Please enjoy nigori sake while viewing cherry blossoms to experience the beautiful spring season in Japan.

#alljapannews #cherryblossom #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #nigori #sake #sakura


Best ways to store and enjoy sake

Please enjoy sake with an appropriate amount of food over time, rather than chugging down sake at once. The appropriate amount of sake that prevents stress to the liver is one to two cups. Please keep this guideline in mind and do not drink alcohol one to two days a week to rest the liver. 
Please do not consume sake with medication, during pregnancy, or during the weaning period. 
Also, please do not take a hot bath or engage in heavy exercise after sake consumption, nor pressure others to consume sake. 
The Japanese have a limited ability to breakdown alcohol, while Northern European nationals in Finland and Sweden tend to be highly tolerant of alcohol. Although there is an individual difference, two cups of sake is typically broken down between six to seven hours. 
Sake does not cause obesity. The calorie content of sake is 185 kcal per 100 ml. Obesity from sake consumption is caused by snacks enjoyed with sake, not sake itself. Also, while alcohol typically cools the body, this is not the case with sake (according to Health and Medicine of Alcohol Association).



日本酒を飲んでも太らない。日本酒のカロリーは100 mlで185 kcalで太るのはお酒と一緒に食べるおつまみが原因。また、アルコール体を冷やすが、日本酒は違う。(アルコール健康医学協会)
#alljapannews #japanese #japanesesake #sake


Tokyo Jizake Strolling (the very hectic month of December)

By Ryuji Takahashi
I continue to push myself despite feeling exhausted during the month of December, a busy and hectic month with no chance to rest until the new year. First on the schedule is the in-store sales event for Kondo Brewery (Kondo Shuzo Co., Ltd.) in Gunma prefecture. I happened to have new freshly squeezed sake, so I held the in-store sales event to sell the new sake and Junmai Ginjo “Kurobi” brewed using a centrifugal separator, winner of the Gold prize during the New York World Wine & Spirits Convention, over two days in the bitter cold weather.       
Kondo Brewery is the producer of the sake brand “Akagiyama.” Their flagship product is the Honjozo “Akagiyama Dry,” seemingly available in convenience stores, drug stores, and many stores that sell daily necessities. Seventy to eighty percent of this sake is consumed locally in Gunma prefecture, while seasonal and special sake are often not released in other prefectures. In Tokyo, only two stores including my own store deal directly with the brewery. At our store, customers from Gunma prefecture buy this sake product in bulk. 
The first day of the sales event concluded with an evening banquet at the brewery with lively discussions about sake, audio, and vehicles. The following week, I attended “An evening of Italian cuisine with sake” at the Italian restaurant “Karibe-tei.” Surprisingly, the event was attended by a record number of guests who feasted on luxury food ingredients such as lobster, shirako (soft roe), calf, and fresh oysters with eighteen sake bottles - nine different sake brands of two bottles each - the highest number of bottles consumed to date. The concluding dish was the bubbling Champagne Risotto. Guests took photos and videos of the bubbling Champagne Risotto.        
 The last collaborative event of the year featuring Italian cuisine ended successfully. I hosted the year-end hot pot dinner event with unrestricted time and appetizers brought by guests the following week. The final week consisted of three in-store sales events at Kanemasu Brewery in Niigata prefecture on the 28th, Hakuro Sake Brewery Co., Ltd. in Niigata prefecture on the 29th, and Nihonsakari Co., Ltd. in Hyogo prefecture on the 30th, leading into the New Year’s Eve sales event, the busiest event of the year.   
I was writing this article mid-December without encountering any major issue. I felt rushed to finish all my work before the end of the year, as I have many events and business trips scheduled in 2024. I feel deeply grateful for this past year that ended without any major injury or illness affecting my business, and for all the many customers who supported my business this year. I look forward to another year of sake fans consuming a lot of sake in 2024. 

#alljapannews #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #jizake #sake #tokyo


Sake production process

Sake production process 

Sake production cleverly uses the microbial functions of koji mold, yeast, etc. in various tasks. The sake production method was mostly established by the early Edo period (1603-1868) with basically no major change to date. Sake production generally consists of the following five processes.    

1. Raw material preparation process
Three steps are required to prepare steam rice: “rice milling,” “washing and soaking,” and “steaming.” 
Steamed rice is used in each of the following three processes: Koji making, yeast starter and mash preparation. 

2. Koji preparation process 
The process to inoculate steamed rice with seed malt to prepare koji requires both traditional manual labor and mechanical production. Koji breaks down starch in steamed rice, and yeast generates sugar required to ferment alcohol.  

3. Yeast starter preparation process 
Culture sake yeast only in large volumes to ferment alcohol as purely as possible inside a mixture of steamed rice, koji, and water. The sake yeast starter is also referred to as “moto.” Purely cultured sake yeast is generally used, while sake yeast strains that inhabit the sake brewery are also used in some cases. Lactic acid used to prevent bacterial contamination is most important in preparing sake yeast, placed by naturally increasing lactic acid bacteria (Kimoto-type sake yeast starter) or adding lactic acid during the preparation (Sokujo-type sake yeast starter).    

4. Mash preparation process  
“Mash” is prepared by mixing steamed rice, koji mold, and water into the sake yeast starter in which alcohol ferments. One characteristic of sake production is not to add the ingredients (steamed rice, koji mold, and water) into the mash, but to add the ingredients in several stages to propagate the sake yeast while gradually increasing the volume, referred to as “stage preparation.” Generally, the “three-stage preparation” is used to divide the preparation into three stages, while the “two-stage preparation” and “four-stage preparation” are also used in some cases. 
After fermentation, the mash is squeezed after a certain time, then divided into sake and sake lees. At this stage, unprocessed sake is high in alcohol content, approximately twenty percent in some cases. Distilled alcohol is added to sake other than Junmai sake before squeezing.    

5. Filtration, pasteurization, and aging 
Refined sake is still cloudy after squeezing. After the sediments settle, cloudy sake is filtered and pasteurized, then stored. Storing the sake harmonizes the aroma and generates a unique sake flavor. Sake is finely filtered using activated carbon before adding some water to adjust the alcohol concentration (generally fifteen to sixteen percent), then bottled prior to shipment.
蒸米に種麹を接種して麹を造る工程で、昔ながらの手作業と機械製造とがある。麹は、蒸米のでんぶんを分解して、酵母がアルコー ル発酵するために必要な糖分を生成する。 
アルコール発酵を行なう清酒酵母だけを、蒸米と麹、水の混合物の中で、できるだけ純粋に近い状態で大量培養する。酒母は「酛」とも呼ばれる。 一般には純粋培養された酵母が用いられるが、 酒蔵に住み着いている酵母を使う場合もある。乳酸を存在させて雑菌の汚染をいかに防ぐかが酒母造りの最大のポイントで、乳酸菌を自然増殖させる伝統的な方法(生酛系酒母)と、仕込み時に乳酸を添加する方法(速醸系酒母)とがある。一般には安全で操作も簡単な速醸系酒母が用いられている。
酒母に、蒸米、麹、水を混合したものが「もろみ」であり、この中でアルコール発酵が行なわれる。日本酒造りの特徴のーつは、 もろみ造りで原料(蒸米、麹、水)を一度に加えずに、何度かに分けて加え酵母を増殖させながら徐々に量を増やしていくことで、これを「酘仕込み」、「段仕込み」または「段掛け法」という。一般には3回に分けて仕込む「三段仕込み」が採られているが、「二段仕込み」や「四段仕込み」で造られる場合もある。発酵後、一定の期間をおいてからもろみを搾り、清酒と酒粕とに分ける。この原酒の段階でのアルコール度数は、高いものでは20%前後になる。純米酒以外は、搾る直前に醸造アルコールが添加される。
#alljapannews #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #makingsake #sake


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