Kimmer and I never miss an opportunity to partake of some Japanese food and we love sushi, but we’ve had very little sake. Despite the fact that it is often referred to it as “rice wine” by American’s, sake is actually brewed almost exactly like beer, and was first brewed nearly 1300 years ago in Japan.
When we realized that we had the unique opportunity to not only visit a Sake brewery in America, but also learn a little about the process and varietals, we were very excited. Sake One outside of Portland is one of the only sake breweries (known as a Kura) stateside, and they offer tours, tastings and will ship across the country.
When we arrived at the kura, we started with a tasting since we were 15 minutes early for the tour. We tasted several imports and local sakes including a plum and Asian pear inspiration as well as their G sake, a more traditional mix heightened by modern brewing techniques.
After the tasting, we immediately went into the tour of the brewery, and since there was no one else there at such an early hour, we got yet another private tour.
Our guide, Jon, walked us through the distillery explaining the process. Sake is made with rice but otherwise, the tour was pretty much the same as the dozen or so breweries we’ve visited. We were surprised how automated the process actually is. We assumed sake would require a good deal of hands on work, but the machines are so high tech that they require very little supervision. Only the cedar lined Koji room where the essential Koji mold spores are added to the grain by hand, requires hands on participation.
While sake still isn’t my favorite libation, I have definitely found a few I like and now I’ll be able to develop my taste buds alongside a little sushi. For more information.