A Community Announcement about the ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic

We continue to actively monitor the latest news about the coronavirus and are hearing from our sake community about the dramatic effects on you both personally and professionally. We have set up a group call for the entire sake industry to connect, offer support and ideas to each other – we hope you’ll join us. If you would like more information, please sign up for our emails by clicking the link below.

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About the Association

The Sake Brewers Association of North America (SBANA) is the oldest, largest sake trade association outside of Japan. We are headquartered in Washington DC and bring together sake breweries, distributors, retailers, rice farmers, governments, enthusiasts, and a wide array of the allied trade to form one of the strongest sake organizations in the world.

Upcoming Sake Events

August 24-26: NY World Wine & Spirits Competition (learn more)
September 30: Sake Day East, Boston (learn more)
October 1: Sake Day ’22, San Francisco (learn more)

 

See More  |  Submit an Event

About the Association

The Sake Brewers Association of North America (SBANA) is the oldest, largest sake trade association outside of Japan. We are headquartered in Washington DC and bring together sake breweries, distributors, retailers, rice farmers, governments, enthusiasts, and a wide array of the allied trade to form one of the strongest sake organizations in the world.

Upcoming Sake Events

August 24-26: NY World Wine & Spirits Competition (learn more)
September 30: Sake Day East, Boston (learn more)
October 1: Sake Day ’22, San Francisco (learn more)

 

See More  |  Submit an Event

North American Sake News

Sake Resources

SBANA Membership

We're Proud to Represent the Sake Industry and Our Partners

Latest Updates

Discussion with Josh Hembree of Setting Sun Sake Brewing Co.

Join us Monday February 15th at 8pm ET / 5pm PT for a live online conversation with Josh Hembree of Setting Sun Sake Brewing Company in San Diego, CA. Hear about how Josh was pulled in the world of sake, what he is focusing on now, and what he thinks about the future of sake. PLUS there will be a Q & A at the end of the webinar.⁠

Register for Free

Beauty of the Brew: A Sake Brewer's Journey

Watch our animated video on how one sake brewer came to discover sake. Discover sake in your own home today!

Our Mission

To promote and protect sake brewers, their sake, and the community of brewing enthusiasts.

We accomplish this through three tiers of services:

Consumer Education: broad external communication initiatives

Brewery Development: networking, access to brewing knowledge, techniques, materials, suppliers, and seminars; brewers-only forum

Legislative Support: building legal landscape study; drafting and proposing model legislations; working closely with lawmakers to improve regulations related to the sake industry

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Our Mission

To promote and protect sake brewers, their sake, and the community of brewing enthusiasts.

We accomplish this through three tiers of services:

1. Consumer Education: broad external communication initiatives
2. Brewery Development: networking, access to brewing knowledge, techniques, materials, suppliers, and seminars; brewers-only forum
3. Legislative Support: building legal landscape study; drafting and proposing model legislations; working closely with lawmakers to improve regulations related to the sake industry

Learn More >

If you would like to be added to our private mailing list, please fill out the subscription form here. We promise we don’t spam.

Latest North American Sake News

Booze Hound: Ginjo-ka at Rice Vice

Nashville Scene  |  August 4, 2022

Hidden away at the eastern edge of the East Side neighborhood known as Talbot’s Corner, Proper Saké Co. owner Byron Stithem’s brand-new Rice Vice is a vibey, low-key oasis. It’s nestled in among the myriad industrial spaces on Ambrose Avenue. Seek it out.

Nashville’s only sake distillery, Proper Saké began brewing the fermented rice drink in a location near downtown in 2017. That spot is closed now, but with Rice Vice, Stithem & Co. continue to brew a number of sakes on site. You’ll find those on the Rice Vice menu, along with an eclectic and well-curated selection of Japanese sakes you’re not likely to see elsewhere. Aficionados will absolutely want to sample everything Stithem has on the house-made and Japanese-import menus…

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Luxury Sake Brand Dassai Will Open a Sake Brewery in NYC This Winter

Robb Report  |  August 1, 2022

Sake consumption in Japan is falling, but one high-end purveyor is hoping that demand in the United States and elsewhere might make up for that downward trend.

Dassai—a premium sake brand known for its clean, floral taste and heavy rice polishing—is getting ready to open a brewery in New York this December, after almost three years of delays and at a cost six or seven times that of initial estimates, according to Bloomberg. The goal is that the new location will help magnify the brand in the global market, which the company’s CEO thinks will eventually be about 90 percent of Dassai’s business.

“Making the best possible product at a locally based sake brewery means we can create more opportunities for people to experience our sake,” Kazuhiro Sakurai, the CEO of Asahi Shuzo, the brewery that owns Dassai, told Bloomberg…

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Why sake is slowly gaining a foothold in bourbon country

KY Inno  |  August 1, 2022

Kentucky has made a name for itself in bourbon over the course of two centuries, but a new brewery is banking its future on a vastly older spirit — sake.

The Void Sake Co. celebrated its one year anniversary in June. Located at 949 National Ave. in Lexington, Kentucky, the beverage startup makes different styles of the traditional Japanese drink prepared from fermented rice.

Justin LeVaughn, one of Void’s three owners, said some people still have a hard time viewing sake as a Kentucky product.

“When we tell the general public about it, we get more of an intrigued look,” LeVaughn said. “They’re curious about why we would do something like it, but then we let them taste the sake and decide for themselves. It’s a delicious beverage and we really enjoy having the opportunity to share it with people and change people’s minds.”…

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Rice Vice opens in East Nashville

Nashville Post  |  July 15, 2022

Proper Saké Co. founder Byron Stithem has opened Rice Vice in East Nashville after a relatively brief run operating Proper Sake in downtown’s Pie Town district.

Post sister publication Nashville Scene reports Rice Vice is located at 3109 Ambrose Ave., near the intersection of Trinity Lane and Ellington Parkway near Inglewood. The Rice Vice interior aesthetic gives a nod to 1970s and 1980s Japan.

“I have a reverence for fermented endeavors,” Stithem told the Scene.

An expert in koji, the fungus used to make sake, Stithem worked in the hospitality industry in several cities, an experience that spurred him to open Proper Saké (owned by Proper Sake Co.) in Pie Town in 2017. The business was Nashville’s only sake distillery and also offered a beer popular in Japan‚ the rice-derived lager…

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At Farthest Star Sake, something new is brewing

Boston Globe  |  June 28, 2022

“I’m a huge sci-fi nerd,” says owner Todd Bellomy, who previously was the brewer at Waltham’s now-closed Dovetail Sake. “All of my favorite science fiction is futuristic but ancient at the same time: It was a long time ago, but they had spaceships! Sake is in the same place. It’s an ancient beverage, but it’s the next thing on the horizon, as far as I’m concerned.”

He’s not alone in this belief. While sake still constitutes just a sliver of overall alcohol sales in the United States, its presence in this country is growing. A report by research group the Insight Partners predicts that the global sake market, valued at more than $9 billion in 2019, will reach $13 billion by 2027…

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Jillian Watanabe of Tsuki Sake claims space in sake industry

Townlift  |  April 28, 2022

Jillian Watanabe, co-founder of Tsuki Sake, was scheduled to go to Japan three times since the pandemic started but was thwarted at every occasion. “Maybe the fourth time is the charm,” said Watanabe. “It’ll happen when it’s supposed to.” However, the pandemic did create the environment in which she founded Tsuki Sake. Its first batch of premium sake was released in April 2021, and sales have doubled since then.

“I feel like everyone had really big plans in 2020 that got completely derailed,” said Watanabe. “I was working in fine dining at Yama Sushi in Montage at the time, and I had plans to travel to Japan for a sake brewing internship. I was also exploring how to open a sake brewery. Those were my plans, and then we all know what happened next. All of a sudden, I had a lot of free time on my hands, and tried to make lemonade out of lemons and started attending a lot of virtual sake brewery tours and kept up on my studies.”…

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The Drinking Trend Taking Off in the South

StyleBlueprint  |  April 25, 2022

If your only experience with saké has been drinking it hot from a small carafe at a sushi bar (or even more regrettably, as part of a saké bomb on a dare), there is an undiscovered world of lively spirits waiting for you! Most Americans haven’t yet discovered the astounding breadth of varieties of sakés, mainly because Japanese producers do not export them to most of the United States.

Fortunately, there has been a bit of a recent boom in the production of the fermented rice beverage, and a surprisingly large proportion of that growth has come from artisan craft brewers around the South.

Saké has been an integral part of Japanese culture for centuries, appearing in the country’s first written history in 712 AD. Made by fermenting rice with water and mold-inoculated grains called koji, saké brewing is an intensely labor-intensive process … with delicious results…

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Sake makers aim to be on state shelves by ’23

Arkansas DemGaz  |  April 18, 2022

With its new sake brewery under construction, the principals behind Origami Sake intend to have its products on the shelves by the end of the year. The project to brew sake in Hot Springs has been a goal of Ben Bell’s for over a decade. While he stepped away from the project in 2018, Matt Bell, no relation, took up the idea and ran with it. Now CEO and owner of the company, Matt Bell persuaded Ben Bell to return to the project and made him the company’s vice president. “I hired [Ben] as a consultant at first and then asked him to partner with me,” Matt Bell said. Ben Bell had spent years learning how to brew sake, but Matt Bell comes from a different background, working in business and entrepreneurship…

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2 men take long road to build sake brewery

State4News  |  April 17, 2022

After years of effort, the dream of opening a sake brewery in Hot Springs will soon be a reality for two Arkansas men. Matt Bell, owner and CEO of Origami Sake, and Ben Bell, vice president of the company, recently gave The Sentinel-Record a tour of the brewing facility currently under construction at 2360 E. Grand Ave. “We will be Arkansas’ first sake brewery,” said Ben Bell, who is not related to Matt Bell. “I believe the second one in the Delta — Wetlands in New Orleans is the first one in the Delta — but we will definitely be the first one in Arkansas.” Ben Bell said he started working toward the idea in 2007 when he “started home-brewing with a friend of mine.” In 2012, he met Mary Zunick, executive director of the Hot Springs Sister City Foundation, but by then he had already been to Japan and trained at a sake brewery for a couple of weeks. “Because I went to high school at the Arkansas School for Math, Science and Arts, it was at an alumni meetup that somebody said, ‘Hey, did you know that we have this sister city in Japan?’ and I said, ‘No, you know, but that’s interesting,’” Ben Bell said…

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Brewer of Dassai sake becomes sponsor of New York Yankees

Asahi Shinbun  |  April 7, 2022

The brewer of the renowned sake brand Dassai is swinging for the fences as part of its efforts to promote the brand across the globe. Asahi Shuzo Co. announced on April 6 that it has signed a deal with the New York Yankees to become an official sponsor of the team from April. The brewery entered into a two-year sponsorship deal with the Yankees, the most storied franchise in Major League Baseball and one of the most popular sports team in the world. “New York keeps evolving by benefiting from being a melting pot of culture,” said Kazuhiro Sakurai, president of the brewery. “We want to promote Dassai there and to the rest of the world.” Asahi Shuzo will run an advertisement of the sake brand on a billboard at Yankee Stadium this season. Dassai is also consumed in the United States. The brewery, based in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, is building a sake brewery in New York to be completed this autumn…

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Bringing Sake Down to Earth - By Way of Bushwick

Brooklyn  |  March 23, 2022

Shinobu Kato is on a rice-spiked mission. “I can talk about sake for hours,” he says. “You don’t need to know about sake to enjoy sake. It won’t bite you.”

Short and energetic, with shaggy salt-and-pepper hair and a hair-trigger grin, Kato is a one-man sake drinker, brewer and evangelist. The founder of Kato Sake Works brewery, launched in the eye of the pandemic’s storm, Kato has weathered the worst that the past two years have thrown at him and is poised to move out of his cramped Bushwick taproom and into a much larger space later this year—and take his beverage of choice to an ever-expanding field of fanatics…

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'More like a Fine Wine': West Coast Makers Want You to be a Better Sake Drinker

Sunset  |  February 28, 2022

West Coast brewers are making sake more food-friendly than ever.

The traditional, rice-based alcoholic beverage has been brewed for thousands of years in Japan. But sake breweries are spawning on the West Coast, particularly across California and Oregon in recent years. In an attempt to simultaneously honor traditional sake-making and also introduce innovative methods, these brewers are creating their own spin by sourcing local ingredients and adding unique regional flavors.

“It’s been hard for the whole sake industry to grow in America,” says James Jin, head brewer and co-founder of Nova Brewing Co. in Southern California. “First of all, people have a misconception of what it is because a lot of cheaply made sake have been imported, most of which have a more alcoholic taste. Modern brewers, we’re trying to clarify what sake is and how we drink it more like a fine wine.”

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New to Brew: Wetlands Sake is Louisiana’s first sake brewery

Fox8  |  February 7, 2022

Wetlands Sake is New Orleans’ newest brewery, located in the Lower Garden District. The woman-owned brewery is going against the grain by using Louisiana-grown rice to make sake. Sake is an alcohol made from an intricate rice fermentation process. “Sake is definitely not a rice wine,” said Lindsey Beard, co-founder of Wetlands Sake. “It is a grain-based, fermented alcoholic beverage that is brewed.” Louisiana is one of the top producers of rice in the country. For Beard, it only made sense to start brewing sake in her home state. “Someone should open a sake brewery and it should be us,” Beard said. She and her business partner Nan Wallis began researching how to make sake. “We had some stuff that was very important to us from the very beginning. The first being we had to use Louisiana rice.” Sake requires rice that is heavy on starch and is a short-grain variety. So Beard and Wallis called the LSU Agriculture Rice Research Station, located in the rice capital of America: Crowley, La…

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The Sake Maker Brewing Award-Winning Drinks… In The Arizona Desert

Saveur  |  February 7, 2022

Growing up in Japan, Atsuo Sakurai had never heard of Holbrook, Arizona, nor did he know he would one day move to the United States. He was more focused on starting his own brewery, a dream he nurtured while working in sake factories. But fate intervened when he met and fell in love with an American woman named Heather who was living in Japan teaching English. After the two married in 2009, they decided to settle in the U.S…

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Fizzy cocktails and forgotten rice: a New Orleans sake brewery goes against the grain

NOLA.com  |  January 31, 2022

At the sushi bar, decisions around sake usually entail which Japanese brand to choose, if it should be cold or warm and whether to have another round. In the newly opened taproom at Wetlands Sake, however, much different questions come up. Should you order the traditional sake, dry, subtle and austere, or a bubbly sparkling sake, in flavors like blood orange and passion fruit, a lighter style in sync with the hard seltzer craze? Will it be one sake or a flight of four from the list of “cocktail-inspired sake infusions,” a menu of hybrid sakes flavored with espresso, spicy grapefruit or brewer’s hops? The blueberry lemon sake even has a swirling glint of edible glitter…

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Sake and A Question About Green Tomatoes

MyNewOrleans  |  January 27, 2022

Wetlands Sake is a local outfit that has been producing small-batch, locally-sourced rice wines for a year or so now, and they’ve put out some really good stuff. Over the years I’ve had a chance to try some really good wines, and some of those have been sake. I would not call myself an expert by any means, but I know what I like and I very much like Wetlands’ filtered sake. I specify that I liked the filtered variety because I like it better than the unfiltered. I am not a fan of unfiltered sake, generally, and if that makes me an apostate you have at least been warned. I had a chance to taste Wetlands’ initial offerings when they were just starting to get their products into wide distribution, and I’m very happy that they’ve made a success of it…

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