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2019 Sake News

With knowledge and passion in abundance, Brooklyn Kura brings 'American craft sake' to New York in considerable style

Lisa Davidson, We Heart  |  September 20, 2019

Located in Industry City—a city-within-a-city, home to Brooklyn‘s many media types, creatives and entrepreneurs—Brooklyn Kura is a craft sake brewery, New York‘s first; set over 2,500 square feet. In a nod to the functionality of Japanese breweries, the modern yet comfortable space combines clean lines and stark aesthetics with industrial exposed brick walls which are toned down and warmed up by just the right amount of foliage lighting reminiscent of floating lanterns…

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Milled-to-Order Rice Has Arrived in New York

Charles Passy, Wall Street Journal  |  September 19, 2019

New Yorkers may need little in the way of introduction to sushi or other facets of Japanese food. But a local business now aims to bring newfound attention to what is arguably the building block of the cuisine. Namely, rice…

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Sake brewers bring a taste of Japan 
to Industry City

Telisha Bryan, Crain’s New York Business  |  September 19, 2019

During a trip to Japan for a wedding in 2013, Brandon Doughan and Brian Polen bonded over the experience of drinking high-quality sake in its native country. In America, the fermented rice wine is often drunk warm and taken as a shot or “bombed” into beer. Sipping it fresh and chilled from a wineglass was a whole new ballgame. “It’s not easy to get good-quality sake outside of Japan, so we were tasting something that was amazing to us,” Doughan said…

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Cooking Up A Storm: Colorado Sake

Colorado 9News  |  August 31, 2019

Sake isn’t easy to make, but a local company is perfecting the art in Colorado. Colorado Sake Co. worked to change laws to get their rice-based boozy beverage on store shelves.

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Wine Enthusiast 40 Under 40 Honors Sake Professionals

Ben Bell  |  August 24, 2019

Wine Enthusiast magazine included two New York-based sake professionals in their recently released 40 Under 40 Tastemakers list for 2019.  Included is Brian Polen, co-owner of Brooklyn Kura, who recently joined the Board of Directors for the Sake Brewers Association for North America.  See Brian’s article in Wine Enthusiast HERE.

Also recognized is Jamie Graves, Japanese Portfolio Manager for importer/distributor Skurnik Wines & Spirits.  Jamie will be on the panel for SBANA’s upcoming webinar “Selling Sake in Your Bar or Restaurant.”  See Jamie’s article in Wine Enthusiast HERE.

Making the Wine Enthusiast list brings more visibility to sake in wine world and beyond.

Tons of sake plus experiments in snacking at Mutsuko Soma’s new Hannyatou

Bethany Jean Clement, Seattle Times  |  August 10, 2019

Hannyatou is the smaller sibling to big-deal Seattle chef Mutsuko Soma’s Kamonegi, two doors up. That place, with its lucky duck-carrying-a-leek-logo, is known and loved for chef Soma’s handmade soba noodles, which are marvelous — she studied their methodology in Japan and started making them at her erstwhile Miyabi 45th. She’s also been nominated for a James Beard award and named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs 2019…

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Carpenter + Mason fuses Japanese and industrial elements for Brooklyn Kura sake bar

Bridget Cogley, Dezeen  |  July 13, 2019

A colourful geometric wall provides a strong contrast to this otherwise stark sake bar and brewery in Brooklyn’s Industry City, designed by local studio Carpenter + Mason.

Brooklyn Kura is the brainchild of Brian Polen and Brandon Doughan, and marks New York’s first bar and brewery for sake – the traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice…

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Virginia’s first craft sake brewery is a mix of ancient tradition and good old-fashioned fun

Matthew Korfhage, VA Growler  |  July 12, 2019

In IX Art Park, a self-consciously hip enclave in Charlottesville with a wee end farmer’s market and more wall art than a New York subway, young couples stream into a sunny, knotted-wood taproom to taste Virginia barbecue and sample flights of inventive craft brews. An hour after the brewery doors opened, you’d struggle to find a seat. Tables filled up with spicy poke bowls, kimchi-topped pastrami sandwiches and six-deep sampler flights of hazy or fruity house brews. If this scene took place at popular Three Notch’d Brewing Co. next door, it’d be about as surprising as pecan pie. But this place isn’t making beer. Instead, the packed 6-month-old taproom at the North American Sake Brewery is serving a distinctively Virginian take on something made in only a handful of places in America and nowhere else in this state: Japanese-style sake, a thousand-year-old tradition of rice “wine” that’s brewed a little bit like beer…

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Introducing Sparkling Sake to Austin

Jessika Roth, The Austin Chronicle  |  July 12, 2019

During a predictably unpredictable Thursday evening downpour, the crowd at Texas Sake Company’s taproom, located in an obscure warehouse on North Lamar, fills the tiny bar while eagerly awaiting the weekly brewery tour and post-tour tastings. The little company-that-could is now canning sake and even infusing some varieties with CBD, but the scene was not the same four years ago when Texas Sake Co. was up for sale…

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Move over ‘ginaissance’ — it’s sake’s time in the sun

Sindhuri Nandhakumar, The Hindu  |  June 28, 2019

Today though, it’s not just legacy Japanese brewers making their mark in the US. It is evident that the microbrewing treatment given to beer and cider has been extended to the rice-based drink. In the US, there are around 20 sake brewers, most of them dotting the Western and North-Eastern coasts. Earlier this year, the rising number of commercial brewers led to the creation of The Sake Brewers Association of North America, the beverage’s first trade association formed outside of Japan…

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There Can Only Be SakéOne

Eduardo Dingler, The Somm Journal  |  June/July, 2019

Located on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon, in the town of Forest Grove, America’s first craft saké brewery has been quietly innovating for more than two decades: Established as an importer in 1992, SakéOne built its kura (saké brewery) in 1997. The brewery’s most recent release is a refreshingly crisp, fruity, floral, and crowd pleasing new brand called Yomi; retailing for about $5 per 250-mL can, it aims to capture the attention of new saké drinkers across the U.S. and features a captivating label designed by a Japanese graphic designer based in Portland…

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What Is Sake and How Should You Be Drinking It?

Christopher Osburn, Ask Men  |  June 21, 2019

You’ve probably heard of sake, but like a lot of people, you might not actually know what it is. Today, that’s all set to change. We’re going to take a closer look at the national beverage of Japan. Sake is a nuanced, complex beverage that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways and it deserves a little time in the spotlight. You’ll come to see it’s more than just one half of a sake bomb (although combining it with beer can make for a delicious drink)…

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Brewing Sake

Jodi Henke, Successful Farming  |  June 17, 2019

There is a growing demand for sake in the United States, evident by the near-doubling of Japan’s sake exports over the past decade. American craft brewers have noticed and are producing the fermented rice alcoholic beverage with their own unique style. It’s often called rice wine, but is brewed like beer. Jeremy Goldstein is the founder and co-owner of North American Sake Brewery in Charlottesville, Virginia. He says the trajectory of the sake business is going straight up…

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Changes brewing in the world of sake

NHK World Japan  |  June 13, 2019

Exports of sake have been rocketing in recent years, as foreign drinkers develop a taste for the rice brew. But as one recent tasting competition showed, it’s not just the Japanese stuff that’s impressing: a new wave of international brewers is picking up plaudits and winning over palates. Earlier this month, more than 400 brewers gathered in central Tokyo, hoping to pick up medals in the country’s biggest sake competition. And in amongst the usual candidates were some new faces. Alongside the Japanese producers were brewers from Spain, Mexico, the United States and several other countries, all vying for the newest of the awards: Best Sake Brewed Overseas. In the end, it was California’s Sequoia Sake Company that came out top, beating 12 other breweries with a fruity bottling called “Coastal Ginjo.”..

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London Gets Its First Sake Tap

Lucy Shaw, The Drinks Business  |  June 12, 2019

As reported by the Evening Standard, the private members’ club in London’s affluent Mayfair district is the first place in the UK to serve saké on tap. The rice wine is served from an Imari porcelain ceramic tap, sitting on the bar at The Arts Club’s new 80-seater Japanese restaurant, Kyubi.  The club’s saké sommelier, Sayaka Watanabe, is behind the idea, and has imported a still unpasteurised saké in kegs from Japan to be served from the tap.  The saké will be served in 150ml cups matching the tap’s intricate design. A single cup will cost £7.50.  “I was fortunate to be at the beginning of a saké trend in London 15 years ago, and I wanted to explore the idea of doing something new with saké…

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Mutsuko Soma Opens Hannyatou, a Sake Bar in Fremont

Lester Black, The Stranger  |  June 5, 2019

It was after drinking a glass of aged sake that tasted like Spanish wine and right around when chef Mutsuko Soma handed me the fermented remnants of a jalapeño cheddar-cheese bagel that I started to think calling her latest Fremont venture a sake bar didn’t quite work. A laboratory of weirdly delicious ideas? A church to eccentric fermentation? “Sake bar” just seemed too reductive for Soma’s follow-up to Kamonegi, her wildly popular soba restaurant next door. Hannyatou has the trappings of a sake bar—a long list of expertly curated sakes, a 20-seat dining room that’s 21 and over, an apropos name (“hannyatou” translates to “wisdom water,” an old euphemism that Japanese monks supposedly used for sake). But food intentionally plays as big a role as sake…

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This Trailblazer Wants to Bring a Sake Trail to Arkansas

Billy Lyons  |  June 1, 2019

While Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail and Napa Wine Country are two regions beloved by travelers in search of America’s tastiest drinks, driving through Arkansas in search of sake hasn’t caught on quite yet. However, Ben Bell is hoping America’s growing interest in craft sake will eventually lead to an official trail in his home state. “For years I have dreamed about a sake trail in Arkansas that can be also be a gateway to our Delta region, where most U.S. rice is produced,” says Bell, director of content for the Sake Brewers Association of North America…

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Echo Park's New Sake Bar, Ototo

Julie Wolfson, Cool Hunting  |  May 27, 2019

Ototo is a venture for chef Charles Namba and sommelier Courtney Kaplan (of Tsubaki next door) to share their joint passion for sake and food. While Namba helms the kitchen, Kaplan is sharing her extensive knowledge of sake—telling vivid stories of breweries throughout Japan—and recommending sakes to bar-goers, who range from rookies to experts…

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Ototo, the new sake bar from the Tsubaki team, opens in Echo Park

Erica Zora Wrightson, LA Times  |  May 22, 2019

The menu at Ototo, the new Echo Park bar from Courtney Kaplan and Charles Namba of the izakaya Tsubaki, aims to capture your sake aura. Are you into “fruit and flowers” or “earth and umami”? Do you tend toward “rice and minerals,” or, be honest, “delicious weirdos”? A glass of Tengumai Junmai Yamahai is described as “old-school mushroomy funk machine.” If that’s not your thing, maybe “a flavor bomb of cocoa and earth,” or something tart and sweet, like “if German Riesling had a Japanese cousin.”…

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Denver Sake Company to Expand Into Wine & Whey Space

Mark Antonation, Westword  |  May 13, 2019

William Stuart and his partners launched Colorado Sake Co. last summer, making the Japanese fermented rice beverage in an 850-square-foot space at the back of Wine & Whey, a wine and cheese shop at 3559 Larimer Street. But the shop’s owners, Pamela and Ron Zorn, are closing their six-year-old business in June, and Stuart says he’ll be expanding sake production and adding a bigger tasting room at the address…

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Is this sake’s breakout year? A big-name chef opens Hannyatou, a sake bar in Fremont

Tan Vinh, Seattle Times  |  May 10, 2019

Is this sake’s breakout year? We’re getting two sake bars run by high-profile chefs. Later this year, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto will debut Momosan Ramen & Sake in the Chinatown International District. But first up, Hannyatou in Fremont, which is run by chef Mutsuko Soma, who has gotten a lot of ink, including being featured as one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs 2019…

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We Are Very, Very Ready for Mutsuko Soma's New Seattle Sake Bar

Naomi Tomky, Food & Wine  |  May 6, 2019

“Kamonegi introduced Seattle to small piece of Japanese culture,” says chef Mutsuko Soma of her acclaimed Seattle soba restaurant. But when a second space opened up in the Fremont building where she rolls out the buckwheat noodles each day, she decided to teach the city about another aspect of Japanese culture: sake drinking. The tiny space that will be Hannyatou, which opens on May 7, isn’t big enough for a restaurant—there are only 20 seats, total, inside: seven at the bar and 13 at tables—so Soma modeled it after Japanese liquor stores, specifically those from the Edo period…

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For tradition's sake: Canadian brewer mastering Edo period techniques in Shikoku

Norihisa Ueda, The Mainichi  |  May 5, 2019

Intoxicated by the secrets of traditional sake brewing techniques harnessing the power of natural lactic acid bacteria, Brock Bennett threw himself into the role of kurabito, a sake maker, at Tosa Brewing Co., brewer of the “Keigetsu” brand of sake, in autumn 2018. Bennett had experience brewing sake in Norway, but it was his dream to do it in Japan. Having recently turned 60, he resolved to take on a new challenge. “I wanted to be a part of Japan’s sake brewing culture. I love the good brewing land here in Kochi, too.”…

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American-based breweries are creating their own brand of sake

Ko Hirano, Japan Times  |  May 4, 2019

With the growing demand for sake in the United States, American craft brewers are also getting in on the act — and giving Japan’s “drink of the gods” their own twist. North American Sake Brewery in Charlottesville, Virginia, is the latest in a wave of craft sake producers in the U.S., the world’s largest sake consumer outside Japan…

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Genre-busting craft sake at Oakland’s James Beard-nominated Den Sake

Jessica Yadegaran, Mercury News   |  April 24, 2019

Inside an industrial eco-park in West Oakland, Den Sake brewer Yoshihiro Sako is standing in the fermentation room of his tiny sake brewery, checking on the moromi, or sake mash, in the wooden press. It’s 42 degrees and we’re shivering in our puffy jackets, but Sako, 48, is unfazed in a long-sleeved tee. He’s focused on the mash…

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Sake brewery comes to the Virginia mountains

Matthew Korfhage, The Virginian-Pilot  |  April 21, 2019

In IX Art Park, a self-consciously hip enclave in Charlottesville with a weekend farmer’s market and more wall art than a New York subway, young couples stream into a sunny, knotted-wood taproom to taste Virginia barbecue and sample flights of inventive craft brews. An hour after the brewery doors opened, you’d struggle to find a seat. Tables filled up with spicy poke bowls, kimchi-topped pastrami sandwiches and six-deep sampler flights of hazy or fruity house brews…

Read the full article

How Sake Is Making Its Way into Non-Japanese Drinks Programs

Hope Ewing, SevenFifty Daily  |  April 19, 2019

Premium sake has been gaining traction in the U.S. over the past decade, a trend that’s been fueled—at least in part—by growing consumer interest in artisanal products and new flavor profiles. As a result, sake has been transcending its standard placement on Japanese menus and finding new potential in an array of non-Japanese beverage programs. “These days, sake is very commonly found by the glass and as part of tasting menus at high-end restaurants,” says Monica Samuels, the New York City–based director of sake and spirits for Vine Connections, an import company based in Sausalito, California…

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The little-known California sake you didn't know you needed

Emily Timberlake, LA Times |  April 17, 2019

When I ask Yoshihiro Sako of Den Sake Brewery whether his first love was wine or sake, he answers slowly, as if it were a trick question. “Sake.” Then, with a smile: “Of course, that’s what I should say.” It’s not a trick question, though. Sako, who is Den’s head brewer (and, apart from his business partner, its only employee), often uses the language of wine to describe his sake…

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Proper Sake, a taste of Japan in Middle Tennessee

Mike Osborne, WMOT Roots Radio  |  April 12, 2019

You might be surprised to learn that Nashville is now brewing its very own Sake, the traditional Japanese rice wine. The Proper Sake brewery and taproom are located on Ewing Ave near Music City Center. Brewmaster Master Bryon Stithem was steaming a special Japanese rice on the loading dock the day WMOT visited…

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Japanese sake goes global, intoxicating many

Hisao Kodachi, Nikkei Asian Review |  April 7, 2019

Sake, also called nihonshu, is rapidly going global, much as sushi has, with the value of Japan’s annual exports doubling in the past five years to a record-high 22.2 billion yen ($200 million) in 2018. The number of sake drinkers is rising sharply around the world, partly on the strength of recommendations by sommeliers at high-end restaurants overseas. After getting a taste of sake in their own countries, many people come to Japan for a deeper dive…

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The rice wine known as sake is moving past the sushi bar and onto the dinner table

Helen Freund, New Orleans Gambit  |  April 1, 2019

Sake, the Japanese beverage made from fermented rice, is having a moment. For years, Americans drinking sake likely sipped it warm from tiny ceramic cups at sushi restaurants. But that’s changing as it has become more common on drink and cocktail menus elsewhere. “A lot of American exposure to sake has been grain alcohol-produced sake from America served hot, maybe dropped in a beer,” says Kristin Breshears, a Certified Sake Professional who sells the spirit to restaurants and wine shops across the South as a regional sales manager for Austin, Texas-based importer and distributor Vine Connections. “This is actually a really beautiful beverage that should be served chilled and hopefully out of a wine glass so you can smell the aromas.”…

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Umami Mart to open new sake and shochu tasting room in Oakland

Janelle Bitker, San Francisco Chronicle  |  March 21, 2019

For Kayoko Akabori and Yoko Kumano, something has always been missing from their downtown Oakland shop, Umami Mart. The space is gorgeous in its Danish-designed minimalist style of white walls and pale wood, all showcasing an obsessively curated selection of imported Japanese glassware, bar tools, kitchen wares, food and drinks. But guests often want to sample Umami Mart’s Japanese beer, sake and shochu before purchasing a bottle, and permits would never allow it…

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Sake quickly becoming the toast of Calgary

Chris Nelson, Calgary Herald |  March 21, 2019

The first thing to understand is that it isn’t to be drunk like a shot of booze. The thimble-sized glasses that the ancient Japanese drink of sake is so often served in is likely what first caused such confusion among Canadians. But these days, more and more people — especially here in Calgary — are becoming accustomed to what was, until recently, often looked upon as a tipple only to be imbibed in rare visits to Japanese restaurants…

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Ease yourself into the singular joy of sake

Jeff Cioletti, The Takeout  |  March 19, 2019

The lowdown: Let’s get this out of the way: Sake is not a spirit. Sure, many varieties may be as clear and colorless as vodka or white rum, but there’s no distillation involved. Another thing it’s not is wine. I know, people frequently refer to it as “rice wine,” its ABV is typically within a few percentage points of wine’s, and the government taxes it like wine. But in fact, you’d be less wrong if you called it beer, as it’s fermented from a grain base and the companies that produce it are called breweries. But really, sake is its own thing…

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Sake’s Super Secret

Jeff Cioletti, Beverage Media Group  |  March 6, 2019

Wine and spirits are notorious for long-held beliefs that deserve debunking—some of them seemingly over and over. Here is one that does not get enough exposure: Sake is “rice wine.” No, no, no. Let’s set the record straight: Sake is not in any way, shape or form a wine—most glaringly because it’s made from grain, not fruit. And in the case of the “sake = rice wine” myth, it is not just a semantic argument. The distinction underlines a fundamental difference in how the product can be stored and served. In short, sake lasts longer. Way longer…

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Dunne on Wine: Sake grows in favor in the U.S.

Mike Dunne, The Sacramento Bee  |  March 3, 2019

Sake is neither wine nor beer but stands alone as a distinctive beverage. Nevertheless, the wine community embraces sake as one of its own. For example, sake alone was the featured beverage in a seminar on wa-shoku – traditional Japanese cuisine – at the Napa Valley Wine Academy in Napa. The nine dishes in the bento box were intended to be paired with four sakes. Not a single glass of chardonnay or merlot was in sight…

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Ben’s American Sake Announces Kiyoshi Premium Sake Limited Release

Bevnet  |  March 1, 2019

On March 8, Ben’s American Sake will release a new premium sake, Kiyoshi, traditional sake classification featuring White Labs yeast 709. This style is a first for Ben’s and only two batches were brewed, making it a very limited release. The release event will include live music, food pairing and sake tasting from 7-10 p.m…

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Kampai: Ben's Tune Up's brews up new take on sake traditions on South Slope

Mackensy Lunsford, Asheville Citizen-Times  |  February 27, 2019

Japan benefits from more than a thousand of years of sake-making tradition. The United States? Not so much. But even as domestic sake sales have declined in Japan, Americans are buying Japanese sake at a record clip. And while they aren’t likely to outstrip craft beer makers, U.S. kuras, or sake breweries, are beginning to take root…

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A unique way to learn about sake

Michael Apstein, Boston Globe  |  February 25, 2019

When I taught the introductory wine course at The Boston Center for Adult Education, I suggested, as “homework,” for the students that they drink one type of wine exclusively for a month. It made no difference which kind of wine — California Chardonnay, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux, or Muscadet — they just needed to immerse themselves in it to see the theme and variations…

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Sake Exports Sparkle, Setting New Record in 2018

Nippon.com  |  February 20, 2019

The popularity of nihonshu, Japanese sake, has been growing against the backdrop of increased global interest in Japanese cuisine. A new record for annual exports has been set in each of the past nine years. In 2018, overseas sales totaled ¥22.2 billion, exceeding ¥20 billion for the first time. Export quantity also reached a new high last year, at 25,700 kiloliters (approximately 14 million 1.8-liter bottles)…

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Husband-wife trading duo bets big on sake's future in U.S.

Kate Krader, Bloomberg  |  February 4, 2019

When Yumiko Munekyo was a vice president at Nomura Holdings Inc. in 2011, she would take clients to upscale sushi spots around Manhattan. They’d invariably order junmai daiginjō, the highest grade of sake and also usually the priciest, but not always the most interesting or appropriate…

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Brewing In The Desert: Sake Finds An Unlikely Home In Arizona

Aaron Granillo, NPR  |  January 27, 2019

Holbrook, Ariz., wasn’t the ideal place for Atsuo Sakurai to set up a sake brewery. The town of 5,000 is like a snapshot of a bygone era; kitschy diners, vintage motels and mostly mom-and-pop shops line the main drag. It has zero Japanese restaurants…

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Craft sake takes experimental turn in U.S. as popularity grows

Ko Hirano, Kyodo News  |  January 26, 2019

With growing demand for sake in the United States, evidenced by a near doubling of Japan’s sake exports to the country over the past decade, American craft brewers are also getting in on the act — and giving Japan’s “drink of the gods” their own twist…

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Valley Select

Ry Beville, Sake Today  |  January 18, 2019

The billowing sea of white stretching for miles proclaims a lush vitality in disjunction with the seemingly dusty landscape of the surrounding countryside. Eastward beyond this expanse of blooming almond trees rise the Sutter Buttes, a series of eroded volcanic lava domes jutting in isolation from the plains of the Sacramento Valley…

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An Ex-Wall Streeter’s Big Bet on Sake

Kate Krader, Bloomberg  |  January 15, 2019

When Yumiko Munekyo was a vice president at Nomura Holdings Inc. in 2011, she would take clients to upscale sushi spots around Manhattan. They’d invariably order junmai daiginjo, the highest grade of sake and also usually the priciest, but not always the most interesting or appropriate…

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2018 Sake News

Tippsy Sake Launches To Connect Premium Sake And Consumers Directly

Akiko Katayama, Forbes  |  December 28, 2018

The number of Japanese restaurants reached approximately 118,000 outside of Japan in 2017, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan. As a result, Japanese sake has been gaining in popularity too. However, it is hard to find high-quality sake outside restaurants. To fill the void in the market, Tippsy Sake launched a new online service to sell premium sake directly to consumers on November 11, 2018…

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An American Sake Sommelier's Dream Came True: Making A Super-Premium Daiginjo Sake

Akiko Katayama, Forbes  |  December 23, 2018

“Sake has always been my greatest passion, but I never imagined that I could turn it into a profession,” said Stuart Morris. He is the sake sommelier at PABU in San Francisco, the modern izakaya and sushi bar by chef Ken Tominaga and the Mina Group, which operates nearly 50 restaurants in the US and abroad…

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American craft brewers are putting a new twist on sake

Jim Clarke, NBC News  |  December 22, 2018

Blue Hill, a farm-to-table restaurant in New York’s Greenwich Village, is known for serving local produce, cheese and beer. Now the restaurant has local sake, too, from Brooklyn Kura, a brewery that opened this year and is part of a wave of craft sake producers who are finding new homes for sake outside the world of sushi and ramen. “Sake’s been trying to come to the U.S. for a long time,” said Brooklyn Kura co-founder Brian Polen, who left his finance job at American Express to found the brewery with head brewer Brandon Doughan. “I think restaurants, beer bars with hamburgers, and things like that — that’s how we’re going to introduce people to sake.”…

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Sequoia Sake: Leaving the Tech World to Brew Sake

Nancy Matsumoto, KCET  |  November 15, 2018

Before launching their latest start-up, serial entrepreneur Jake Myrick and his wife Noriko Kamei, two IT specialists, began tinkering in their San Francisco garage in 2010. They bankrolled their small operation from their tech industry savings, and Myrick began knocking on doors to sell their product. This year, they’re adding both hardware and personnel to keep up with growing demand…

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Japanese brewer of Dassai sake breaks ground for Hyde Park brewery

Mid-Hudson News Network  |  November 13, 2018

Asahishuzo, the Japanese brewer of Dassai brand sake, has broken ground here for its first sake brewery in the United States…

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New York’s First Sake Brewery Considers the Art of American Rice Wine

Wei Tchou, Vogue  |  October 24, 2018 

“We’re not trying to pretend that we’re making traditional Japanese sake,” Brandon Doughan, the co-founder of Brooklyn Kura, the first sake brewery in New York, told me on a recent Friday morning, as soft light diffused through the elegant tasting room. “We’re using American ingredients. We’re using Brooklyn water. We want to do our own thing here, and just see what arises out of what we’ve got.” Entering the space dispels one’s notions about sake bars, which in New York City tend toward the clandestine: low lit, snug, difficult to locate. Instead, Kura exudes openness: the space is airy and bright, the decor more Memphis than Kyoto

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Arizona Sake Brewer Discovers Perfect Formula For Desert-Made Drink

Casey Kuhn, KJZZ  |  October 24, 2018 

Arizona’s low humidity makes for good hair days, good preservation qualities and, as it turns out, good sake. An uprooted entrepreneur has found a perfect formula for making an award-winning, Arizona brew. It’s usually dry in Arizona, except for the rainy August day I met Atsuo Sakurai up in Holbrook, 90 miles east of Flagstaff. It’s here the Japanese-native has made his home with his wife, Heather Sakurai, and their three children…

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Sake Sommeliers Aren't Just Offering Drink Recommendations, They're Spreading A Movement

Abigail Abesamis, Forbes  |  October 18, 2018 

If you’re like me, your first taste of sake was probably a house sake (aka the only one on the menu); served warm and not particularly pleasant to drink. It was was likely futsu, a domestically produced product that’s typically served warm to mask the impurities of an inferior product, and perhaps not the best introduction to the traditional Japanese rice wine, of which there are many premium varieties to be enjoyed and appreciated. This is where sake sommeliers come in…

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American Sake Takes Flight

Sarah Karnasiewicz, Imbibe  |  September 24, 2018

In its homeland of Japan, a river of saké has been flowing for near on 12 centuries, through uncountable millions of funerals, festivals and weddings—not to mention late-night benders and workaday suppers. And tojis, the artisan brewmasters who devoted their lives to the craft and culture of saké, passing traditions and recipes through the generations, are revered accordingly. But on American shores, the drink’s history has been briefer and considerably more ignominious…

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A New Oakland Brewery Makes Sake for Wine Drinkers

Janelle Bitker, Eater SF  |  August 28, 2018

In an industrial eco-park in West Oakland, Yoshihiro Sako is brewing genre-defying sake. His target? Wine drinkers.

About a year ago, Sako moved into O2 Artisans Aggregate, Ippuku co-owner Paul Discoe’s maker complex that also houses Soba Ichi and The Perennial’s aquaponics farm. In March, he started brewing under the name Den Sake Brewery. And a couple of weeks ago, he started peddling his first batch — and he’s already almost sold out…

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The World's Best Sake Outside of Japan Is Made in Arizona

Chris Malloy, Phoenix New Times  |  July 13, 2018

Last month, the results of Tokyo’s 2018 Sake Competition were released. According to the capital of the sake world, after two rounds of judging and a gauntlet that spanned a season, the world’s best sake made outside Japan is made right here in Arizona. If you have tried Arizona Sake, this won’t surprise you…

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Japanese Sake Maker May Buy U.S. Firms to Set Sales Records

Aya Takada and Hiromi Horie, Bloomberg  |  July 31, 2018

The new boss of Takara Holdings Inc., Japan’s biggest sake supplier to overseas markets, wants to make the rice-based alcohol as popular as wine…

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Rice growers named Farm Family of the Year

Mark Buffalo, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette  |  July 1, 2018

Isbell Family Farms is the 2018 Lonoke County Farm Family of the Year. The farm is headed by Chris Isbell and his wife of 43 years, Judy. The farm, known as Zero Grade Farm, plants only rice on its 3,000 acres in south Lonoke County…

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Get a taste of Japan in Nashville with some Southern-brewed sake

Trisha Ping, Lonely Planet  |  June 14, 2018

Like many US cities, Nashville has seen an explosion of craft brewers and distillers in the last five years – the city is now home to at least a dozen beer breweries, a half-dozen distilleries and a cidery. But the newest addition to the craft beverage scene in town is one you might not expect: craft sake, the traditional Japanese drink made from fermented rice…

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Texas Sake Co. is the State's only sake producer

Megan Kimble, Austin Monthly  |  April 23, 2018

Walk into the beige warehouse tucked behind BookWoman on North Lamar Boulevard,  and you’ll run into a wall of sweet-smelling air as head brewer Jeff Bell stirs a steel tank full of fermenting rice. Founded in 2011, Texas Saké Co. is the only sake producer in Texas and one of only 20 in the United States. Sake is brewed like beer, but at 14 to 23 percent ABV, the sweet rice brew is sipped like wine. Using Calrose rice—a short-grain rice grown in California—Texas Saké Co. brews three junmai sakes (junmai identifies sakes made without added alcohol)…

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Brooklyn startup says Japanese sake fits New York 'terroir'

Ken Moriyasu, Nikkei Asian Review   |  April 22, 2018

It is made from all-American ingredients. It uses Brooklyn water. The head brewer watched lots of YouTube videos of Japanese sake masters. Yet the finished product of Brooklyn Kura, the new sake brewery and taproom in Brooklyn, New York, is a thing of wonder…

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American Duo Brings Sake Brewing to Brooklyn

Sake Times  |  March 29, 2018

Co-founder and Head Brewer, Brandon Doughan and President, Brian Polen travelled an unlikely path to founding New York’s first sake brewery, Brooklyn Kura, this January. When the two Americans met at a wedding party in Japan in 2013, Mr. Polen, 36, was working as a tech analyst for American Express, and Mr. Doughan, 47, was a biochemist at Oregon Health and Science University. Not the typical resume for future sake brewers…

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Born in Japan, and Now Made in Brooklyn: Sake

Rachel Wharton, New York Times  |  March 2, 2018

At first glance, Brandon Doughan certainly fits the mold of the professional brewer in Brooklyn: The Portland, Ore., transplant has a tidy beard, a penchant for plaid button-downs, and is a former home-brewer well-versed in advanced fermentation. Yet Mr. Doughan — who opened Brooklyn Kura in January with his business partner, Brian Polen — doesn’t produce beer or cider. His calling is sake, the fermented rice beverage that is the foundation of drinking culture in Japan, where it is called nihonshu…

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As Japan falls out of love with sake, brewers look to the West

Daniel Hurst, NBC News   |  February 21, 2018

Sake runs in Tokubee Masuda’s blood. He’s the 14th generation of his family to operate one of the many sake breweries in Fushimi, a small district in Japan’s old capital of Kyoto…

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Finding a Niche for American Craft Sake

Jeff Cioletti, SevenFiftyDaily  |  February 1, 2018

Stateside sake makers are building an audience for their increasingly high-quality products. Trevor Wight is the marketing and sales manager at Texas Sake Company, and his email signature—which is Kanpai, y’all!—gives a good indication of where sake is headed stateside. At Texas Sake Company, the beverage has Japanese origins but a distinctly American profile. “We’re run by Americans,” Wight says, “we use American ingredients, and [we’re] definitely paying homage to American traditions—but with a beverage that’s not uniquely American.”…

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It’s hard to open a sake taproom in Colorado, but new legislation could change that

Adrian D. Garcia, Denverite  |  January 31, 2018

Colorado alcohol producers are allowed to have taprooms for beer, tasting rooms for wine and speakeasies for spirits. But state rules don’t make it easy to create spaces exclusively for sake. The Colorado Sake Co. hopes state legislators will tweak alcohol laws to allow sake to be elevated from its supporting spot in sushi restaurants. The Denver-based company already has a space lined up near 36th and Larimer streets in the River North section of Five Points…

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2017 Sake News

What To Drink At Thanksgiving? Start Pouring Sake, Say The Experts

Melissa Kravitz, Forbes  |  November 16, 2017

Put the Beaujolais Nouveau back in the fridge and step away from the cocktail shaker filled with saccharine cranberry juice — this Thanksgiving, your beverage menu needs only one type of booze: Sake. Rich in flavor, high in alcohol (about 5-10% higher in ABV than most wines), low in acid and sulfite-free, sake helps the feast slide down your stomach and should leave imbibers without a hangover come Black Friday morning. Skeptical about serving Japanese rice wine with the most important annual meal in America? Let the experts convince you…

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Sake Soars

MarketWatch  |  September 6, 2017

As U.S. consumers have steadily become more selective in their food and beverage choices, premium products have grown exponentially. Sake has been somewhat slow to catch on to this trend, but the past few years have proven that the tide has shifted significantly in the Japanese wine’s favor. Domestic and imported sake consumption in the U.S. market reached an all-time high in 2016, according to Impact Databank, growing 3 percent in 2016 to 2.3 million nine-liter cases…

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Sake Is Having a Moment: Here’s the Right Way to Drink It

Christina Pérez, Vogue  |  April 30, 2017

Sake, the fermented rice alcohol from Japan, has been popular outside of Tokyo for the last few decades, but recently its presence in the U.S.—in high-end liquor stores, on modern restaurant menus, and at chic parties—has grown. In New York, America’s rekindled love affair with fine sake is especially apparent. Not only have a host of cool, sake-focused bars opened in recent months (like Bar Moga, which opened just last week), but the libation is appearing on the menus at some pretty unexpected places as well: Lure Fishbar in Soho, Ducked Up at the Ludlow House, and even Le Bernardin, chef Eric Ripert’s famed French seafood restaurant in Midtown…

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U.S. Sake Sales Soar As Brewers Around The World Defy Ancient Japanese Traditions

Tara Nurin, Forbes  |  February 28, 2017

In the back of a corrugated metal building in Austin, Texas, behind a knitting shop and an indie bookstore, there is a small brewery. If you go during open Friday or Saturday night hours, you’ll see patrons sipping samples, lounging on lawn chairs and maybe grooving to a DJ. If brewmaster Jeff Bell is brewing anything up that night, you may even smell the pungent hops or smoked pecan, oak or alderwood chips on which he ages some of his batches…

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