November is continuing just as busy as the month has started, with a few unexpected surprises.
Sake spring Kyoto
Sake Spring “秋” (autumn) was back in Kyoto and although a little smaller than the event in spring, it was not less brilliant! Big surprise, this time not just Kyoto breweries joined and I did spot one or two of my favourite makers right from the start.
It is no secret that I love Hachinohe-based Mutsu Hassen’s sake, so I was excited to see their booth and what a surprise to meet Yoji Adachi, who has been previously brewing with them showcasing his own sake here!
What is special about his sake is that he harvests rice from abandoned rice fields and brews his sake from it. And yes, the finished sake is amazing! It is called “Koyoi” and is super limited due to the nature of his concept. However, he did let me know, that he wants to open a sake brewery in Switzerland in the next few years, what a coincidence! I am very much looking forward to that, as it will make my trips home so much sweeter
What would Sake Spring in Kyoto be without locally based Matsui Shuzo!? With the brewery literally a 30min walk from the venue near Heian Shrine, it was great to see them and in such good form. Aside from their popular Kagura label, they also brought their first batch of rum! Along with a special homemade cola to mix it with (recipe). To be honest, I am not a big spirits drinker but this was delicious.
I was also really excited to see Mamiya-san from Miyoshikiku and his sake, especially as he had another great sake collaboration out! 🍶🎼🥁
Using Onkyo sound vibration technology, this time he has played traditional Japanese taiko drumming to his sake! A special song was created by Nao Chihiro and via a QR code printed on the bottle you can listen to the same song that the sake was fermented with while drinking it at home - pretty cool isn’t it?!
What’s in the bottle? It’s a Junmai Ginjo sake (sparkling) or if it’s a one Cup sake it is non-sparkling.
Vietnam Sake Tasting
Always excited about tasting sake from outside of Japan I jumped on the opportunity to join an event organised in Kyoto by Hue Foods, who are a Vietnamese sake brewery.
The sake was surprisingly traditional and went well with the Japanese food that it was paired with. They also brought a range of theirs Shochu as well as a coffee liqueur call Cafeko, which I thought was delicious.
We were told, they will have a new and local Toji from next year, which will be interesting, as that will certainly have an effect on the sake that they make.
I got another chance to learning more about my new favourite beverage with the team behind Doburoku Lovers and what a great afternoon!!!
Trying more than 20 different Doburoku from various makers and various styles, plus pairing them with some of the amazing food was such a treat. There is so much variety and especially have a few small dishes with them and see what works and what does not was really eye-opening.
Nikko Sake Brewery Monitor Tour
With tourism returning to Japan, we have been trying to find ways to make our "Sake Voyage" sake breweries more accessible and so we were happy to arrange a special monitor tour for our friends at Arigato Japan.
Kicking it off with a two day trip to Nikko, featuring Watanabeisahei and Katayama brewery, these days were also jam-packed with other activities including temples, waterfalls and of course plenty of food and sake. Highlight was certainly the special sake pairing on site at Watanabesahei as well as everyone coming together for dinner including local guides.
You can of course already head up and visit the breweries by yourself, but also new tours including them coming up soon 😉
Tokyo Weekender and Kubota Sake Pairing
Had the chance to join yet another wonderful event organised by Tokyo Weekender and Kubota (Asahi Shuzo in Niigata) in Tokyo a few weeks ago. And as always they did not disappoint. With a tasting menu matching Kubota sake and a variety of western dishes, I especially loved the these two:
•Spicy black pepper beef steak paired with Kubota Junmai Daiginjo
•Mexican Quesadilla and the Kubota Senjyu Junmai Ginjo
But in fact, everything was pretty delicious and I do love the idea behind these tasting events, showcasing sake and different cuisines to help people understand its potential and hopefully drink more sake when at home or out.
Expat Expo Tokyo
Expat Expo is there to connect foreigners living in Japan with expat friendly services. It is a mix of local businesses, but also prefectures who showcase what they do and who they are from all over Japan.
And yes, there has also been a few representatives on the sake front. Great to see Kubota, again and it was interesting to talk to Daishichi Brewery (which has been on my list to visit for a while), as well as, of course, show some support to Giulia from Jiji Sake (actually she was the person who invited me in the first place).
Great to see many people being really interested in learning about sake, so although I might have been a little sceptical about the event at first, in after-though I thought it was great and I am sure many of the visitors will drink more sake if they get the chance.
COMIC CON 2022
Not sake, but well worth mentioning! With the list of amazing courses offered by naro.tv growing, they invited me along to take some photos for they debut of "Akari"!
In this up-coming course you can join Takeshi Yagi, the director of ULTRAMAN (among others) on an adventure into the world of “tokusatsu”. A movie genre featuring giant monster and hero's in miniature sets. He will demonstrates the process and also talk about his life as a director. And yes, I got to hang out with him and PYTHAGODON the monster!
A very cool day out, if you want to learn more about have a look here.
Niizawa Brewery Visit
Thanks to Arline Lyons from Taste Translations I got a chance to visit Niizawa Brewery in Miyagi and what a surprise to find out that they just won the World Sakagura Ranking! So huge congratulations from me!
I was really impressed with their data driven approach, something I have not experienced in that sense before, as well as Niizawa-san's focus on work-life-balance. Which we also all know, is a difficult thing to keep once brewery seasons starts.
I also got a chance to taste their "Absolute 0", a sake made with rice milled down to zero %. Ok is is not technically zero, but brewers are allowed to round down to the next full number. As the sake is milled to 0.85 they are allowed to called it zero.
Gimmicky - yes. Tasty - absolutely! Unexpected and I am not sure how they do it with so little rice left, but they managed to create a very well rounded sake that has complexity too.
The Month Ahead
I am already looking forward to another Fam Trip to showcase more Tochigi Breweries, along with spending a few weeks in Kyoto over the Holidays. And I am sure there will be a few surprise events along the way....