New and old stories about Japanese Crafts.
It still feels like summer out, but those days will soon be fleeting as fall makes it’s arrival. While we love and will miss summer, autumn has many charms that we embrace. The leaves change colors as nature weaves it beautiful magic, late season fruits and vegetables are in markets and stores — and being the sake lovers we are, it also makes us excited for the arrival of the Fall sakes, including one of our favorite kinds, Hiyaoroshi.
Sake brewing traditionally finishes in spring of each year, and a six month aging process helps smooth out the flavors, which is why the new batches of sake are usually released in the fall. Typically sake is pasteurized twice to ward off any unwanted enzymes that can spoil the taste. Remember, sake brewing goes back many centuries before the advent of refrigeration, so the extra measures to protect it were vital to a great brew. However, once it began to get cooler in the season, brewers would release a version that is only pasteurized once — this is known as Hiyaoroshi. Sake lovers eagerly awaited its arrival every fall. So do we!
In Japan, some prefectures like Nagano and Saga have set September 9 as their official day for releasing each year’s Hiyaoroshi.
Hiyaoroshi has a lively, clean flavor to it — very vibrant with wonderful aroma and a nice, smooth finish. We can’t wait to try some of this year’s versions and will be heading to one of our favorite sake stores in New York City — Sakaya in East Village — to enjoy some when they arrive in the U.S. next month. We're excited to find out what this year's winners will be.
We encourage and invite you to try this seasonal delight. But don’t wait too long. Hiyaoroshi is typically released in small batches, so the supply can go quickly. Kanpai!
Seasonal recommendation from Sakaya
Wakatake Onikoroshi Akino Ki-ippon Tokubetsu Junmai Namazume
若竹 秋の生一本 ひやおろし 特別純米生詰め
Uraksasumi Tokubetsu Junmai Namazume
浦霞 特別純米 ひやおろし 生詰め
We’ve been enjoying our summer and many of the traditions that make summer so special – grilling, growing, late night walks, fresh food – and of course indulging in some of our favorite cold beverages. One of our top choices for a refreshing summer drink is sake. Okay, it’s one of our favorite drinks all year, but on a warm summer evening, a glass (or two…) of chilled summer sake is a wondrous thing to savor and enjoy. Sake has a depth of flavors and types probably unlike any other beverage. So, we wanted to spend some time talking about sake. After all, it is a craft made by artisans and one we appreciate wholeheartedly.
Consider this an homage to sake delivered in a few parts and, most importantly, we’d love to hear your thoughts on sake, so we encourage everybody to tell us what you think and join in the discussion.
There is a wide range of sake varieties and brands, each with it’s own characteristics depending on type of rice, where that rice was grown, the water, etc...These result in each batch having it’s own personality, flavor and aromas. It shares many similarities with both wine and craft beer.
Westerners often think of sake as rice wine, but that is not really accurate and also unfair to this unique beverage. In fact, sake is brewed from grain – yes, just like beer is, and there are certainly similarities to the process that takes place using fermentation to convert grains into an enjoyable alcoholic beverage. As a home brewer (of beer), I recognize and appreciate this. But I won’t go into science here other than to say yeast eats sugar, extracted from the grains, and the meeting of the two produces alcohol in various strengths and, more importantly, a multitude of tastes in various ranges and bouquets emerge. Okay, science lesson over. Sake is sake. It is not a wine or a beer.
Sake is typically classified in four types depending on the process of their creation. We will talk more about that in another post.
Sake is unlike most other alcoholic beverages in that it is served in a wide range of temperatures – from 40F to 140F (5-60C). Personally, we enjoy it chilled more than heated, but it depends on individual preferences. Most brands are pasteurized, which results in a clearer beverage. Unpasteurized sake is called namazake, and it must be stored chilled. It has a very fresh taste and is one of our favorite sakes, especially on a warm summer evening.
Interested? We will write more in our next post, but until then, let’s get the discussion going. We want to hear from you. We encourage you to tell us your feelings and ideas about sake. We look very forward to hearing from you and talking about this wondrous elixir – sake