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2022 Sake News

The Future of Sake Is in Cans

Inside Hook  |  October 13, 2022

Like a winning season for the Knicks, die-hard sake fans have been waiting endlessly for this rice-based beverage’s big win on American shores. But sake here has been a hard sell — until the ubiquity of canned sake came along.

Before we get there, yes, there are outstanding sake beverage programs around the country and somms who are thoroughly dedicated to introducing more consumers to its delicate charms. There are annual sake-centric festivals, like New York’s The Joy of Sake, the American Craft Sake Fest in North Carolina and San Diego’s Sake Week. And there are even more than two dozen North American-based sake breweries popping up in spots all over the country in states like New York, Maine, Louisiana, Minnesota, Tennessee, Texas, California and Oregon — many of them even working with local rice growers for an extra locavore touch on their products, or sourcing from known Japanese rice producing companies like Sun Valley out of California or from Isbell Farms in Arkansas (which happens to be one of the major rice-producing regions in the world)….

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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  |  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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2021 Sake News

Saké 101 With Saké Expert Peyton Walston

Forbes  |  Nov 8, 2021

How would you rate your saké intelligence? Do you seek umami-forward honjozo or delicate, floral ginjos to pair with a multi-course Japanese meal? Do you point at the bamboo carafe at the table next to you and hope for the best? Or maybe you’re confused by exactly what it is. Is it a beer? A rice wine? Perhaps you release a sigh of relief when a friend orders a bottle, and you end up with a glass without having to dig too deep into the details. There’s no judgment here…

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Utah will be making sake soon

Utah Business  |  October 8, 2021

Utah residents have never had access to locally-brewed sake before. But in early 2020, three sake enthusiasts—Jillian Watanabe, Kirk Terashima, and Ty Eldridge—set out to change that and bring Tsuki Sake, Utah’s first sake brewery, to life. Watanabe, Terashima, and Eldridge all fell in love with sake independently. Watanabe, the head brewer at Tsuki Sake, is half Japanese and has always felt drawn to Japanese restaurants and cuisine. “At first, I got really into home-brewing,” Watanabe says. “I knew I wanted to be part of the sake industry and started the Sake Advisor Certification Course through the Sake School of America. I started selling my premium bottles off the shelves when I worked at Montage Deer Valley.”…

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The Sake Master Who Bucks Ancient Tradition—in America

Smithsonian Magazine  |  October, 2021

In the old Route 66 town of Holbrook, Arizona, close to the Navajo reservation and far from anywhere else, a 41-year-old man named Atsuo Sakurai is making the best sake produced outside Japan. When, by happenstance, I heard about this extraordinary achievement some months ago from a bartender in Los Angeles, I felt compelled to find out how it happened…

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Japan’s Ambassador to the US visits Charlottesville’s North American Sake Brewery

NBC29  |  September 28, 2021

Ambassador of Japan to the United States TOMITA Koji visited Virginia’s first and only sake brewery in Charlottesville’s IX Park. The ambassador was given a tour of the brewery, and got to check out the fermentation tanks up close. “We were able to coordinate this visit with the Embassy of Japan, and we’ve done some partnerships with them in the past, so it was great to have them come down,” said Andrew Centofante, the owner of the North American Sake Brewery. Then the ambassador and his group got to taste some of its award winning sakes. Centofante said he felt honored to have the ambassador try his craft. “It was nerve racking to have my product in the hands of the Japanese ambassador, but it was worth it to see his face when he like lit up tasting it, so it was great,” Centofante said. Centofante says this is only one out of about 20 sake spots in the US. “We’re pretty small, but we’re growing and there’s more and more sake breweries coming online every year,” Centofante said. He hopes to expand his brewery in the future. “We produce our sake here, as well as distributed throughout Virginia. We’re hopefully opening up some more states soon, so we’re going to kind of grow our reach as much as we can,” Centofante said.

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How Master Brewer James Jin Brought Premium Sake Back to California

Eater  |  September 8, 2021

Using rice sourced entirely from farms in Northern California, Nova Brewing Co. has been producing premium sake using traditional methods at their Los Angeles brewery since 2019. In this episode of Handmade, co-founder James Jin showcases the complex process of Nova’s sake production, from making their own koji all the way through fermentation and bottling.

Why American Sake Producers Are on the Rise

Thrillist  |  August 18, 2021

In Japan, sake simply means “alcohol.” It has a rich, storied history in the country, where it’s been produced for thousands of years after making its way over from ancient China. Now, the technique of fermenting rice into alcohol has started to inch its way into American brewing culture. The first legal American sake brewery opened in 1992—a stateside outpost of Momokawa Brewing, which had already been brewing nihonshu (the more specific Japanese word for sake) for centuries.

But after nearly three decades, American sake is hitting its stride. At first described by experts as fairly “one note,” American sake makers are now developing depth, perfecting their formulas, and even playing around with added flavor notes in the same way you find in craft beer.

“Part of it is the great American quest for the next undiscovered thing that’s propelling the interest in sake,” says Weston Konishi, president of the Sake Brewers Association of North America. “When people become more experimental and savvy with Japanese food and sophisticated drinks, they realize what a tremendous product sake is.”…

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Across the U.S., Traditional Saké Gets a Craft Spin

Wine Enthusiast  |  July 26, 2021

Saké is known as distinctly Japanese, but American-made saké has existed since the 19th century. Until the early 2000s, when Japanese exports became readily available, saké that was sold in sushi bars and retail stores nationwide was predominantly made in the U.S. While historically, American saké was crafted by a handful of large companies, today there’s a new generation of domestic brewers in the spotlight. From just five breweries a decade ago, there are now more than 20 nationwide. Small in production, often hyperlocal and distinctly American, these craft breweries bring unique, well-made saké to Everytown, USA…

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This sake produced in Arizona will transport you to Japan

Arizona Daily Star  |  July 18, 2021

Just off historic Route 66, a sign with red capital letters outside a white wood building reads “Arizona Sake.” Here, in the small town of Holbrook, Atsuo Sakurai brews a high quality and hand crafted sake driven by his passion for the national drink of Japan and the pursuit of owning his own business. Alongside his traditional sake, Sakurai uses a plant known as Navajo tea that he sources from a nearby artisan to brew a specialty infused sake. His sake is available in shops around the state including Tucson’s Plaza Liquors, Westbound at the MSA Annex, and restaurants across Arizona including Sushi Zona in Tucson. Sushi Zona displays a framed exhibit of Arizona Sake on the walls in between the traditional paintings…

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Now You Can Own a Piece of Colorado Sake Co.

Westword  |  July 7, 2021

Sake is a traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage made by fermenting rice, and while it is extremely popular in Japan, there are fewer than twenty sake breweries in the United States, and only one in Colorado. After working in Japanese restaurants as well as breweries, Colorado Sake Co. co-founder William Stuart was inspired to create a fun, welcoming experience to introduce more people to the spirit. The business opened in September 2018 with an 850-square-foot brewery and taproom at 3559 Larimer Street. When the wine and cheese shop it shared the space with closed in 2019, the sake brewery was able to expand, and it has since added a 14,000 square-foot brewing and bottling facility near Colorado Boulevard and I-70…

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Nova Brewing in Covina Is Producing the First LA-Made Sake in Over 70 Years

Eater  |  May 13, 2021

When you arrive at the locked gate outside an industrial complex along West San Bernardino in Covina, you may get the sense that you’re the wrong place — until you see a sign with a phone number for Nova Brewing Co. The building, flanked by auto repair shops and a storage facility, is home to a small tasting room, located toward the end of the complex, where you will find people drinking beer and fresh sake in a barebones space that opens to a back alley with wooden benches and barrels. The sake, which Nova brews on-site, is some of the first produced in Los Angeles in more than 70 years…

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Hawaii's First Sake Brewery in 34 Years Nearly a COVID-19 Casualty

KITV4  |  May 5, 2021

The only of its kind in Hawaii, some would say Islander Sake Brewery is keeping sake alive in the state. Vice President Tama Hirose says the rice-based spirit is keeping him alive. “Sake saved me ten years ago,” Hirose told KITV4. He was living in Japan in 2011 when an earthquake and ensuing tsunami killed nearly 20,000 people. He said the nuclear accident cause by that earthquake gave him heart problems, and his doctors told him he needed open-heart surgery. “Instead I just started drinking sake… and it worked. After ten years, I’m fine I really thank the sake for making me better,” said Hirose…

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New Orleans-made Wetlands Sake hits local restaurants, bars and stores

Gambit  |  March 31, 2021

Rice may not be the first thing that comes to mind at the thought of south Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole food, but it’s everywhere — in jambalaya and boudin and served with red beans and a host of traditional dishes. Now local entrepreneurs are using Louisiana-grown rice to make Wetlands Sake. The Japanese spirit made from fermented rice is easiest to find in sushi restaurants, but sake lovers Nan Wallis and Lindsey Brower noticed it’s becoming more popular across the U.S. “We have traveled a lot and we were seeing sake in the U.S. starting to appear on menus in restaurants and bars that have nothing to do with Asian food,” Wallis says. “You’d go into a French restaurant in New York and they’d have sake on the menu. You go into a restaurant in Chicago, Nashville and other cities, and California for sure, you’d see sake.”…

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U.S.-Japan brewers' "Sake Dialogue" forging taste for collaboration

Kyodo News  |  March 30, 2021

A “Sake Dialogue” featuring long-established Japanese breweries and those emerging in the United States recently brought about discussions on cross-border information-sharing, cooperation and innovation to spread the word of Japan’s most famous alcoholic export. The nearly 90-minute talk, whose participants included three sake brewers on each side of the Pacific, was organized by the Sake Brewers Association of North America in Washington, and the Embassy of Japan in the United States, in late February…

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A Year Later, Islander Sake Brewery Is Serving Up Nine Sakes

Honolulu Magazine  |  March 17, 2021

Last year, Islander Sake Brewery opened the day shelter-in-place orders descended on O‘ahu. Weeks earlier, the Islands’ first sake brewery in three decades was supposed to have debuted its first batch of sake at the Honolulu Festival, but the event was cancelled as COVID-19 spread across the world. So it wasn’t exactly the launch Islander had expected. But a year later, the little sake brewery is still producing sake, including ones gently flavored with liliko‘i and pineapple, and is even talking about needing to expand to keep up with demand as restaurants reopen and word of Islander spreads…

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Setting Sun Sake cans an alternative to beer

San Diego Reader  |  March 5, 2021

This week, I cracked open a cold one. Pulled the tab of a 12-ounce can and heard that satisfying cshhht sound that usually presages enjoyment of an ale or lager. Except it wasn’t beer inside, rather a single serving of sake. San Diego’s own Setting Sun Sake Brewing Co. has introduced its first sakes in cans….

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Everything in Moderation: Asheville beverage experts explore the world of sake

Mountain XPress | January 2, 2021

There’s a lot more to sake than the clear, hot beverage served in sushi restaurants. While the ancient Japanese spirit is made in a manner similar to beer (it’s brewed), it can have an alcoholic content of 15%-20%, a level comparable to fortified wines. And there’s an impressive — almost bewildering — array of styles to explore…

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2020 Sake News

Charlottesville Brewery Wins 2 Major Awards

NBC | December 2, 2020

Charlottesville can raise a glass to another award winning brewery. North American Sake Brewery just won a pair of awards at the 2020 World Sake Challenge. Its premium junmai sake Real Magic took home a silver medal in the World Sake Championship. Serenity Now, an ultra premium junmai daiginjo sake, won a bronze medal there for the second year in a row…

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Morphing to the Masses

In Partnership With:

November 4, 2020

They have a saying in Texas, apparently, which goes: He’s so busy you’d think he was twins. And that aptly describes Adam Blumenshein’s existence these past months along with his team at Texas Sake. “Inspired by tradition, but not bound by it” — That’s the first thing you read when you log onto the Texas Sake website and it rapidly becomes clear to me as Adam and I talk that this isn’t just an idle corporate mantra…

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Why We're Heading to San Diego—For Sake

Conde Nast | October 21, 2020 by Ligaya Malones

The world of sake is far more vast and nuanced than the sake bomb, but aside from a few established communities like the one in Portland, Oregon, Americans don’t have many places to learn about it stateside. However, in San Diego—a destination travelers often associate with craft beer, sake’s reputation is evolving, and pointing to where the city’s beverage scene may be headed next…

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Oakland's Ever-Evolving Den Sake Brewery

Cool Hunting | October 8, 2020

While most of the sakes that line the shelves at Oakland’s Umami Mart are made in Japan, Den Sake Brewery produces just two miles away. Until recently, the company made just one small, numbered batch at a time, garnering attention from sake enthusiasts and experts (the brand has twice been a semi-finalist for the James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Producer). This year, as they plan to open a larger brewery, Den Sake debuts their newest creation: Den Blanc made with white koji.

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The Country's Best Sake Artisan Leans Into the Wilds of Arizona

Phoenix New Times | September 28, 2020

Atop Arizona’s craft beverage scene, you’ll find ambitious, rigorous artisans who craft beer, cider, and mead. You’ll also find Atsuo Sakurai, co-owner and brewer of Arizona Sake in Holbrook. Famously, in 2018, Atsuo was named the best sake craftsman in the world beyond Japan by a panel in Tokyo. Recently, Atsuo released his latest bottle. It travels to a somewhat surprising place: much deeper into Arizona.

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Kakaako's Islander Sake Brewery has opened its sake bar

Frolic Hawaii | July 7, 2020

Hawaii now has a place to drink fresh, locally made sake with homey food pairings. It’s 6 p.m. and brewer Chiaki Takahashi, her partner Tama Hirose and a volunteer helper have just wrapped up a full day of brewing and bottling their Islander Sake.

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Ben's American Sake Introduces 8 oz. Slim Cans Available Online

Brew Bound | May 15th, 2020

Asheville-based Ben’s American Sake will begin offering their signature infused sake in 8 oz cans featuring updated branding. The lineup includes year-round flavors Pineapple Jalapeno, Lemon Ginger, and Blueberry Lime- each with its own colorful label, offering consumers the ability to identify their favorite flavors at a glance.

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Sake brewed in U.S., elsewhere creating buzz among drinkers

The Asahi Shimbun | March 3, 2020

One day in early January, an elderly man was seen picking up a bottle labeled Gekkeikan Sake from a shelf lined with many sake products at a liquor shop. While selecting sake is a common sight at liquor stores in Japan, the setting was at a store in a suburb of Sacramento, California, which is well known for its quality wine production.

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Islander Sake Brewery, Hawai‘i’s Only Sake Brewery, Opens in March in Kaka‘ako

Honolulu Magazine  |  February 26, 2020

For the first time in three decades, since Hawai‘i’s last sake brewery shut down, sake is being brewed commercially in the islands once again. Get the first taste at the Honolulu festival.

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Brewers overseas look to create authentic sake

The Japan News  |  February 17, 2020

Sake brewing is not limited to Japan. Driven mainly by the increasing popularity overseas of washoku, it is currently spreading to various parts of the world involving locals who have brewing expertise. One such example is the Kanpai London Craft Sake brewery in the British capital. Tom Wilson and his wife, Lucy, started the sake brewing business in 2017…

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ANA launches new sake selection for first, business class

Business Traveller | 12 Feb 2020 by Seher Asaf

All Nippon Airways (ANA) has launched an updated sake menu for passengers travelling on international and domestic routes, as well as ANA’s suite lounges starting in March…

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Opening A Bottle of Sake Knowledge with Brooklyn Kura’s Brandon Doughan

Sam Slaughter, Manual Podcast  |  January 31, 2020

For this week’s episode of The Manual Podcast, Greg and Sam sit down with co-founder and head brewer of Brooklyn Kura sake brewery, Brandon Doughan…

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Young brewers, new sake and classic flavors

Patrick St. Michel, Japan Times  |  January 11, 2020

When Kensuke Shichida took over as the sixth-generation head of Tenzan Shuzo brewery in the 1990s, the sake industry was struggling with a major image problem. Sales had dropped sharply from their peak in the 1970s, with Japanese consumers increasingly turning to beer, wine and whisky. The once-beloved brew was widely viewed as an “old man’s drink,” and the old-fashioned imagery that was frequently used to market the beverage did little to appeal to younger drinkers…

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I tried Tippsy, an online marketplace that makes it easy to order and learn about sake

Connie Chen, Business Insider  |  January 7, 2020

When you eat at a Japanese restaurant, ordering sake along with your meal is practically a must. However, outside of the restaurant setting, sake can seem intimidating to explore. It’s not as widely available in the US as other types of alcohol, and there aren’t as many opportunities to learn about it compared to more mainstream drinks like beer and wine. Genki Ito, the founder of online sake marketplace Tippsy, saw these problems as an opportunity…

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The Elite Sake Brewer on Route 66

Abbie Gripman, Atlas Obscura  |  January 7, 2020

Only 5,049 people live in Holbrook, Arizona, and one of them, Atsuo Sakurai, reputedly makes the best sake brewed anywhere outside of Japan. That a tiny, quirky, high-desert town could be home to a world-class sake brewery is as unlikely as it is wonderful. I need to see for myself…

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Colorado Sake had to change Colorado law to open their business

Kylie Bearse, 9 News Colorado  |  January 7, 2020

There are just a handful of local Sake Breweries across the country and one is here in Colorado: The Colorado Sake Company. In order to start making sake, they first had to change Colorado law. Heather Dennis & William Stuart fell in love with Sake when they were both worked at Japanese restaurants in Denver. “It’s kind of the hidden gem in the alcohol industry,” said Dennis. “It’s all the good stuff, none of the bad stuff: no sulfates, no tannins, it’s gluten free, low in sugar, low in calories, all the things you kind of want in this day and age but you still get the 15%.”…

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2019 Sake News

The 5 Best Drinks Our Critic Drank in 2019

 | DECEMBER 11, 2019

Food tends to win the spotlight and column inches, but drink culture in metro Phoenix deserves just as much attention and praise. Craft beverages here can be fantastic. Maybe it’s a product of the summer heat, or of the shapes, colors, and energy of the desert, or the kinds of beverage artisans these have shaped.

Whatever the source, you can drink like a champ here. Beer. Mead. Wine. Cider. Sake…

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Shinobu Kato: Puncturing Sake’s Posh Image One Glass At a Time


You can take the boy out of Koenji, Tokyo, but you can’t take Koenji out of the boy.

The “boy” of which I speak is Shinobu Kato, a former IT man for the American automotive industry who is (fingers crossed) about a month away from opening, right here in Bushwick, what will be only the second sake brewery in New York City. His choice of neighborhood makes sense for a couple of reasons: Koenji is Tokyo’s answer to the world’s great “hipster” neighborhoods, places like The Mission District, Silverlake, Shoreditch and, yes, Bushwick. There is also the fact that Bushwick was, at one time, a major center, some say the center, of brewing in America…

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Eduardo Dingler, Wine to Sake: More discoveries in Japan


pon return from the majestic Nagano prefecture, I had the pleasure of visiting a great friend and wine director of the San Francisco-based Omakase Group, Brian Kulich.

Brian and his team were spending time in Tokyo opening the Ginza location of Dumpling Time, a must-visit Cal-Asian dumpling bistro that overlooks the busy crossing of this high-end district…

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The Return of Japan’s Female Sake Brewers


Pushed out of brewing more than a century ago, they’re making a comeback.

MIHO FUJITA WAS A HIGH-POWERED executive working at a Tokyo toy company. Miho Imada worked in traditional Noh theater. Chizuko Niikawa-Helton was in the fashion industry. But at some point in their careers, all three women had a realization: Their true passion was sake…

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Sparkling Sake Is Making Its Case as a Specialty, Food-Friendly Option

Ashlie Hughes, VinePair  |  December, 2019

Sparkling sake, once viewed as a sweet, low-alcohol, low-quality brew, is experiencing a small yet significant renaissance. Thanks to recent efforts by organizations like the Japan Awasake Association, which is introducing and encouraging methods and certifications similar to that of Champagne, as well as international retailers championing the sparkling trend, Japanese sake brewers are working to create a more premium version of the bubbly brew…

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Hawaiʻi Means Business: The Sake Shop Fills Local Void In Booming U.S. Sake Industry

Sarah Burchard, Forbes  |  November 22, 2019

It’s Saturday night in Kakaʻako, a former fishing village famous for its salt ponds on the island of Oʻahu that is emerging as the newest destination for trendy restaurants, luxury high-rise rentals, and shiny natural foods markets. Tucked off the beaten path in an unassuming office building, The Sake Shop hosts a group of jovial sake enthusiasts at its monthly tasting…

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Local brewery making craft American Texas sake

Dave Froehlich , Donny Wong and Matthew Quick, Fox7  |  November 21, 2019

“Inspired by tradition, but not bound by it.” It’s a motto that Texas Sake takes to heart as it closes in on a decade of making craft sake in the Lone Star State. The business was originally founded in 2011 but was put for sale in 2014 and that’s when current co-owners Tim Klatt and Adam Blumenshein stepped in. Klatt, who is also Head of Brewery Operations, admits he wasn’t event that big of a sake drinker at the time but they just loved the idea of it. “I knew there was no other sake brewery for thousands of miles,” Klatt says. “I had a feeling that there’s this burgeoning craft sake movement.” The two were not trained sake brewers but had a background in beer brewing and pickling…

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Cheers to rice: Arizona Sake proud to call Holbrook home

Abbie Gripman, Arizona Daily Sun  |  November 16, 2019

Of the roughly 5,000 people living in Holbrook, Arizona, one — Atsuo Sakurai — happens to make the best sake in the world brewed outside of Japan. That a tiny desert town, rich in sky and not much else, is home to a world-class sake brewery is as unlikely as it is wonderful…

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How is Sake made - Ask Decanter

Sylvia Wu, Decanter  |  November 15, 2019

Japanese rice wine is gaining popularity in the west as consumers discover its delicate charms and wonderful ability to pair with all manner of foods. We find out how is Sake made, how important is the quality of the rice and water to the process, and does it ferment in the same way as wine?…

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Passion project: Richmond brewery makes, bottles sake by hand

Kirsten Clarke, Richmond News   |  November 14, 2019

Entering the one-room sake brewery requires an act of ablution. It’s similar to venturing into a sacred space, to ensure that you aren’t carrying any contaminants in with you. You then change your shoes, so that no dirt crosses the threshold, and you cover your hair. But if you’ve eaten nattō, a type of fermented soybean, the brew master will deny you entry — no exceptions — and stands guard at the door as he inquires after your recent food history…

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How London's First Sake Brewery Is Hooking Craft Beer Drinkers

Kate Malczewski, Oct   |  November 7, 2019

At a glance, Kanpai taproom and brewery looks like just another London craft brewery. Its graffiti-covered facade, industrial aesthetic, and beanie-clad clientele would fit right in on the Bermondsey Beer Mile, the now-famous stretch of railway arches that’s home to the likes of Cloudwater Brew Co, The Kernel, and 15 other champions of the UK’s craft beer scene…

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Japan strengthens support for sake exports

Japan News  |  November 5, 2019

The Japanese government will strengthen its support for the expansion of sake exports, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday during his visit to a sake brewery in Sakaiminato, Tottori Prefecture, that is committed to exporting its products. Specifically, Suga said the government would support development of new products targeting overseas consumers; invite foreign buyers to Japan; and make use of the Geographical Indication system that regulates the intellectual property rights of agricultural products. “Sake has great potential as an agricultural export, and it’s necessary to promote high-value-added products, set prices accordingly and have a brand strategy,” Suga told reporters…

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Why This Award-Winning Champagne Maker Is Turning to Sake

Shana Clarke, Fortune  |  October 20, 2019

Although making sake may seem like an unusual career move for a heralded Champagne producer, this traditional Japanese beverage is the new focus for Régis Camus, chef de cave at Maison Rare Champagne. Instead of looking towards retirement, as one might expect this eight-time “Sparkling Winemaker of the Year” award winner to do at this point in his career, Camus has his sites set on a new, rice-focused endeavor called Heavensake…

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Kampaï Montreal and the rise of sake savoir faire

Amie Watson, Montreal Gazette  |  October 4, 2019

Ordering sake in Montreal restaurants used to mean a choice between “hot” or “cold.” It also often meant a hangover. Then came sake bombs … and more hangovers. But sake selection in Montreal has graduated to higher quality options, following trends in Toronto or Vancouver. More restaurants have started offering a broader range of options, many intended for sipping and enjoying like wine, on their own or paired with anything from ramen to beurre blanc scallops to duck confit….

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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  |  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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