Sake Nation “Noto Peninsula Earthquake and Sake Breweries ③”

By Kosuke Kuji

Every sake brewery prepares sake mash in January, the best season to brew sake. Unfortunately, sake breweries destroyed by a shindo (seismic intensity) 7 (MJMA7.6, Mw7.5) earthquake on the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) Seismic Intensity Scale were left with no means to preserve their sake mash. 
Sake mash contains live microorganisms. Shata Shuzo Co., Ltd. (Shiraishi city, Ishikawa prefecture), producer of “Tengumai” sake, was also evacuated due to the earthquake, yet led a mission to recover sake mash in Noto Peninsula to preserve and squeeze the sake mash in another brewery of Ishikawa prefecture. Shata Shuzo was also evacuated, although the damage sustained was not as serious compared to the destruction in Noto Peninsula. Still, the conviction and willingness of one sake brewery to help another sake brewery in times of distress, and the tight bond shared between sake breweries in the Hokuriku region were deeply moving to witness and filled my heart with enormous respect for everyone involved in the recovery effort.     
Despite the serious risks associated with entering a destroyed brewery, such risks were disregarded to recover as much sake mash as possible, relocate the mash to a brewery with minor damage, and squeeze the sake mash to brew sake. 
Special tax provisions for natural disasters were filed immediately with both public and private support to recover as much sake mash as possible from Noto Peninsula. 
The miracle sake mash that survived the earthquake and the miracle sake brewed from this miraculously saved sake mash will no doubt play a vital role in future reconstruction efforts.    

#alljapannews #earthquake #japanesefood #japanesesake #moromi #noto #sake


Sake is brewed from yellow koji. 

The most important part of brewing sake is the brewing methods used – first koji, second yeast, and three-step method. 
1:Process the ingredients: Polish, wash, and soak the rice. 
2:Prepare koji: Prepare the koji. 
3:Yeast starter: Prepare by cultivating quality yeast using steamed rice, koji, and water to brew sake. 
4:Prepare fermentation-mash: Apply the three-step fermentation method to divide the water, steam the rice, and prepare malted rice in three steps. 
5:Fermentation (aged fermentation mash)
6:Press the mash: Press the aged fermentation mash to leave the sake lees. 
7:Precipitate the sediments (in fresh new sake): Precipitate the sediments to the bottom and extract the clear sake. 
8:Filter and pasteurize the sake (heat the sake to sterilize and prevent deterioration in quality)
9:Store, mix, and dilute the sake with water (add the mother water and mix with sake)
10:Bottle the sake
Sake brewing is a biotechnology that utilizes the functions of microorganisms, maximized by the skills and experiences of brewery workers. 
造りかたは、 最重要点、一麹、二元(酒母)、三造り
1:原料処理 玄米を精米し、寝かし、洗米、浸漬
2:製麹  麹(こうじ)をつくること。
3:酒母 (しゅぼ)日本酒の醸造のために、蒸した米・麹・水を用いて優良な酵母を培養したもの
4:醪(もろみ)造り、 水・蒸米・麹米を、三段に分けて仕込む(3段仕込み)
6:上槽(じょうそう) 熟成したもろみを搾る。酒粕が残る

#alljapannews #japanese #japanesesake #koji #sake #sakebrewing


Tokyo Jizake Strolling (restaurant Jinsei Sakaba inside the New Shinbashi Building) 

By Ryuji Takahashi

Shinbashi is a renowned business district where many shops line the streets, reminiscent of the Showa era (1926-1989). One venue familiar to many is the New Shinbashi Building, a large multi-tenant shopping mall on the Hibiyaguchi side of Shinbashi Station, occupied from the first basement floor to the fourth floor by many restaurants, a ticket broker, massage parlors, and shops targeting businessmen. Some call it a mall for old men. The Shinbashi Station west exit started as a black market after World War II and evolved until the current New Shinbashi Building was constructed in 1971.             
The interior of the retro, chaotic mall is long cherished as a mecca for businessmen. Many new commercial buildings were constructed recently to lease retail space to swanky shops featured on TV. The New Shinbashi Building built over fifty years ago offers a heartwarming nostalgic ambiance of the Showa Era, not felt in new stylish buildings. The basement of the New Shinbashi Building is home to many restaurants that serve alcohol during business hours on weekdays. Since I had a day off during the week with nowhere to go on my day off, I walked many rounds inside the basement floor of the New Shinbashi Building like a migratory fish.    
I saw “fans of alcoholic beverages” here and there partaking early in the day. I started to ponder ordering a glass of beer when a female restaurant worker greeted me and said, “We’re serving alcohol right now.” I quickly accepted the invitation and entered the restaurant “Jinsei Sakaba.” What a suitable restaurant name for me, I thought. The worker said, “If you want to enjoy more than one drink, all-you-can-drink is a better deal.” I quickly agreed and selected the 1 hour all-you-can-drink option for 980 JPY. First, I ordered draft beer. 
The cold beer was delicious after walking around inside the mall.       
The food menu listed Chinese style izakaya menu items. I ordered a chilled wakame seaweed salad. My appetite switched on as soon as I took the first bite. I ordered another glass of draft beer, then fried gyoza, Japanese-style omelet with spicy Pollack roe, and fried rice. All menu items were delicious, and the food was served quickly. I got into a lively conversation with the restaurant staff as I ate, and the first hour passed quickly. Of course, I exceeded my time limit and ordered several green tea highballs and shochu highballs. 
Two hours of fun passed quickly before I realized it. The food was delicious, the restaurant was comfortable, and the price was economical at this wonderful restaurant. The New Shinbashi Building is home to this excellent restaurant, currently under consideration for redevelopment due to deterioration. Although it would be sad to see this retro and chaotic ambiance close their doors, changes in the local landscape are inevitable in any era, surely, “all that remains of a warriors’ dream.”  

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


Rice suitable for sake-brewing determines the fundamental flavor of sake 

Non-glutinous Japonica rice is used to brew sake, also consumed as a staple. Many rice varieties are grown in Japan, all suitable to brew sake. Rice most suitable to brew sake is referred to as “rice suitable for sake-brewing.” 
The variety of rice suitable for sake-brewing must satisfy three conditions: Large grain size, white core, and low protein content.  
The most representative brands of “rice suitable for sake-brewing” are “Yamadanishiki,” “Gohyakumangoku,” “Miyamanishiki,” “Omachi,” etc. However, the production volume is nowhere close to the volume in demand to brew sake. Rice suitable for sake-brewing is difficult to grow compared to common rice. For example, “Omachi” rice is large in grain size and an excellent variety of rice large in grain size. However, long rice stalks fall over while harvesting, making it difficult to harvest by machine. Therefore, the crop acreage does not increase, with some varieties like Omachi rice decreasing in production volume year by year, which raises the cost. Thus, a significant volume of common rice is also used as sake rice.   
The grain size of brown rice varies by variety. The grain weight of 1,000 grains of brown rice uniform in grain size is referred to as “1,000 grain weight.” Rice with grain weight of 25 g or greater is notably referred to as “large grain size” compared to common brown rice with grain weight between 20~22 g. While rice, large in grain size, with a white core in the center and a moist appearance is referred to as “large white core rice.” The white core consists of coarse grains of starch. If this core is large, koji mold propagates easily, which grows koji easily in the white core, an important aspect of koji preparation.  
Also, water penetrates easily into the core of large white rice grains. Steaming rice hardens the outer grain and softens the inside, which makes the preparation of yeast starter and fermenting-mash easier.     
Also, rice contains protein and fat. These components are required to brew sake (for example, umami flavor unique to sake is derived from amino acids created by koji mold breaking down protein). However, an excess amount of these components will compromise the flavor and aroma. Many of these components are contained in the surface layer of rice grains that get polished to brew sake.    

 代表的な品種は、「山田錦」、「五百万石」、「美山錦」、「雄町」などだが、その生産量はすべての酒造需要をまかなうにはとても及ばない。酒造好適米は、一般の飯米に比べて栽培がむずかしいということもある。たとえば、大粒米のなかでも「雄町」は米粒が大きく優秀な品種だが、茎が長いため結実期に倒伏し、機械での刈り取りがしにくいという欠点がある。したが って、作付け面積はなかなか増えず、雄町のように年々減少している品種もあり、価格も高い。そのため、一般の飯米もかなりの量が酒米として使われているのが現状といわれる。 
玄米の粒の大きさは品種によって違う。粒の揃った玄米1000粒の重量を千粒重というが、 一般の飯米の玄米が20~22gであるのに対して、25g以上のものを特に「大粒米」または「大粒種」と呼ぶ。そして、 大粒種のなかでも、粒の中心部(心白)が白くうるんで見えるものを「大粒心白米」という。心白はでんぶん粒が粗い部分で、これが大きいと麹カビが繁殖しやすく、麹造りの重要なポイントの1つである破精込みが容易になる。酒造好適米の検査基準では、心白の発現率は80%以上である。
また、米にはたんぱく質や脂質、灰分が含まれている。これらの成分は酒造りに必要(たとえば、日本酒独特の旨みは、麹カビがたんぱく質を分解してつくるアミノ酸に由来する)だが、多すぎるとかえって、味や香りを損なってしまう。これらの成分の多くは米の表層部に含まれているため、 酒造りでは必ず米を精白するわけだが、米の内部にも少ないほうが酒の質への影響がより小さくなるわけである。 
#alljapannews #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #junmai #sake #sakebrewing


Sake Nation  “Noto Peninsula Earthquake and Sake Breweries ②”

By Kosuke Kuji

The damage became apparent as the morning dawned on January 2. A tsunami hit Suzu city, Noto Peninsula. The morning market in Wajima, a renowned tourist spot, burned up in flames.
The footage showed fire damage, eerily reminiscent of fires in the coastal region of Miyagi prefecture, hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. 
Noto Peninsula is home to eleven sake breweries, all “partially or completely destroyed.”    
The sake brewery of a junior classmate from college was “partially destroyed.” Nearly eighty percent of the facility was destroyed, far worse than “partially destroyed.” However, the “completely destroyed” sake breweries had hardly anything left. 
Water was cut off with no electricity or gas. 
The frigid winter in the Hokuriku region in January hit the evacuees hard.     
Further, many people had returned home to celebrate the New Year on January 1, which means the capacity of the evacuation center could be exceeded. 
Sake distilleries store both mash and koji mold on site during the best time of the year to prepare for sake-brewing. All the damage to the mash and koji mold could not be prevented in this situation.  


#alljapannews #earthquake #japanese #japanesesake #sake #sakebreweries


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