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Masumi Sake Brewery visit - part 1

Bincho Soho manager and head sake sommelier Tencho Zac will now take you on a journey to a legendary sake brewery in the heart of Japan…

We serve a wide range of sake at Bincho, and I always try to give both old and new customers something special. Customers are always asking me about sake, in particular the brewing process and what exactly makes it such a unique and wonderful drink. I recently decided to push my passion for sake a bit further, and travelled to Japan to visit the 350-year-old Masumi Brewery in Suwa, nestled under the shadow of the Kirigamine mountains in the Nagano prefecture.

In Japan they say that every city, town and village has its own sake brewery, and the technique they use is directly related to the area’s raw materials and climate. Despite the almost limitless combinations this implies, every sake brewery will always have on display a sake barrel (taru) branded with the brewer’s name, and also a large ball of pine needles that starts off bright green at the beginning of the brewing season and slowly turn brown when the season ends.

Sake’s quality, and therefore price, is dictated by the choice of rice, water, yeast and the actual process devised by the Master Brewer. The Masumi Brewery not only grows a large proportion of its rice on nearby mountainsides, but also is responsible for discovering a particular strain of yeast called Yeast #7 during the 1940′s, which is now currently used by over 60% of Japan’s breweries.

In Part 2 we shall explore the actual brewing process, including rice polishing and of course more great photography from the brewery!

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