søndag 18. september 2011

Norwegian Sake in Vinland.

In August I had the opportunity to return to my home town, Vancouver, and of course I brought back as much of our Hidaka Jima (Nøgne Ø) Sake as I could pack into my suitcase. I was able to present our fine Yamahai Sake for tasting on two evenings at two different Japanese Restaurants. The first was an intimate meeting of former alumni of John Gauntner’s Level II Sake Professional Course. Lori Katakoa hosted the event at Shuraku Restaurant.

She’s the manager of this upscale Izakaya, that has a good showing of different types of Sake and an innovative menu of Japanese delicacies and Sushi. She is a strong local supporter in  raising the profile of Sake in Vancouver. This was a group of experienced discerning Sake tasters and they were duly impressed with Hidaka Jima Sake.

I was also able to piggyback a tasting of our Sake onto a Ginjo Sake/ Food pairing event at the first of a new monthly event, called Sake Sessions, to be held at Hapa Umi Restaurant.

 Our Nøgne Ø Sake is not Ginjo (made with Sake rice polished down to at least 60%) but we made it in with our good name and credentials such as we’re a Yamahai Junmai made with a more uncommon Ginpu rice from Hokkaido. The food pairings were outstanding and this less experienced but very enthusiastic crowd thoroughly enjoyed our Sake.

The popularity of Sake in Canada is steadily growing. There is a ground swell of people looking for the new tastes and nuances of Sake and the way it pairs so well with so many types of food. Sake lovers in Canada have heard rumours about this Hidaka Jima and now a few have even tried it. Who knows, maybe someday soon it will make it across the Atlantic to be enjoyed in Canadian Izakayas, restaurants, and homes!

lørdag 18. juni 2011

Sake division

Our great friend, Beau Timken of True Sake in San Francisco, is a player on the world stage spreading the beauty and joy of Sake. And in the spirit of giving back he is auctioning our Sake with 100 % of the proceeds going to the Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Effort (www.jcccnc.org). We salute his untiring efforts and vision!
In the latest newsletter (www.truesake.com) you can find out all about this as well as read about Kjetil, our Sake, and a short piece written by me about being a kurabito in Norway.

torsdag 7. april 2011

Norwegian Sake in Seattle and San Francisco

Sake Nomi
Sako Nomi

It is a privilege to have good friends. 

We have good friends all over the world. 

Which is a good thing when we want to pass on the message about the great things we do.

Last month we served Norwegian nihon-shu at Sake Nomi in Seattle (Thanks, Johnnie!) and True Sake in San Francisco (Thanks, Beau!).

Reaching out like this is incredible and the feed back was phenomenal! 

True Sake
True Sake

søndag 6. mars 2011

Sake Sabbatical

Reflections of Nøgne Ø’s Kurabito (Sake Brewer)
Sake is a wonderful drink and brewing it is so rewarding, there is always something new to be inspired by, experience, and savour. I consider myself very fortunate to be a kurabito at Nøgne Ø. Our Head Brewer/Toji, Kjetil, is a Sake purist and is always encouraging refinement and improvement in our Sake brewing. 

My first brewing season at Nøgne Ø was full of challenges and extremely rewarding. It is great to be working at Kjetil’s new brewery to see how his vision has become a reality. And this was my first opportunity to be working with the Yamahai method, an older more traditional way to prepare the moto. The moto is the starter, or the mother, for a batch of Sake and is one of the key parts of Sake brewing.
At the end of our brewing season as fortune would have it I was able to intern as a kurabito at the Daimon shuzo (brewery) in Osaka Prefecture, Japan. I had planned a trip to Japan to take John Gaunter’s Level II Sake Professional Course and Daimon-san generously offered me the chance to do an internship during my stay as well. Yasutaka Daimon (Daimon-san) is the Kura-moto (owner) and Toji (Head Brewer) of Daimon shuzo (English language website http://mukune.com/). Not only does he make great Sake but he also shares his passion with the world at large. 

With a generous spirit he champions its culture, enjoyment, philosophy and brewing. In fact Kjetil and I first met at Daimon-san’s brewery as members of the very first Mukune International Sake Brewing Internship in February, 2009. For the lucky few who were accepted into the program it was an opportunity of a lifetime. 
I was able to work through a full five day brewing cycle (Tuesday through Saturday) and then returned to work another two and a half days after I completed the Sake Pro course. Another Canadian kurabito, Greg Newton, now living in Japan also came to intern during my visit. It was really interesting for us two novices to compare notes about Sake brewing. 

Greg worked for  a whole brewing season at a Sake Brewery in Nagano Prefecture last year and shared many interesting insights. His blog is at http://thesakechronicles.wordpress.com/
I have learned so much at Daimon shuzo. He has a great deal of respect for Kjetil and what he has accomplished in the Sake world......the successful start up of Europe’s first Sake Brewery! This respect for what we are doing in Norway, and a desire to further the enjoyment of Sake throughout the world in part explains Daimon-san’s great generosity. But I think also he is pleased on a personal level that two of his former students have gone on to be Sake brewers.
I brought samples of  Nøgne Ø Sake to Japan and had the opportunity to conduct some tastings. The fact that the latest issue of Dancyu (a high end, high circulation Japanese food and lifestyle magazine) had an article about our Sake only added to the interest in our products. 

Two tastings of a more formal nature were arranged by Daimon-san. Mr. Ueda, current Chief Advisor of the Osaka Division of Technical Support for Sake Brewing (Kanteikan Office) and Takahara Sensei, retired former Chief Advisor from the Kateikan Office and Daimon-san’s Technical Advisor conducted these tastings. We received a lot of praise and positive feedback for our Sake at all the tastings. And when I mentioned that all our Sake are Yamahai, I invariably got the response…..Sugoi!

Informal Nøgne Ø Sake tasting; from left to right Ue-san (Head Brewer), myself, 
Makine-san (kurabito), Yasutaka Daimon (Toji, Kura-moto), Greg Newton 

What it's all about......tasting the freshly pressed genshu!

Inside the Kura (Brewery); at left - old wooden Fune (Sake press), 
background adjoining room - Koshiki (Rice Steamer)

tirsdag 15. februar 2011

Dancyu magazine

There is an article in the latest edition of Dancyu magazine, mentioning us.  
This is a lot of fun, as Dancyu is regularly read by millions!
Perhaps the Japanese understand us better than the Norewegians.............?

torsdag 13. januar 2011

The Old Baker

We are frequently asked how our sake project is going.  

Frankly we are proud to tell that we are very happy about our products and its quality.

However, our wonderful sake(which we have a lot of!) goes nowhere, as turnover is extremely slow.

So how to explain our feelings about this? 
Poet and writer, Ingrid Hagerups’ children’s song (at least the first two verses) about the old baker really reflects our emotions.

Maybe this contemporary video is not what Ingrid Hagerup had in mind when she wrote this, but it is kind of descriptive anyway: