Suehiro Sake Brewery and the birth of Yamahai Sake

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I’m going to write about the Suehiro Sake Brewery which is located in the mountainous part of western Fukushima. When I first noticed Suehiro was from Fukushima, Mr. Shinjo the owner and president whom I met at the Sake Expo, immediately presented test results indicating that there was no trace of radioactive iodine or cesium in his sake.

I’d been reading some of the reports explaining the up-to-date test results for the sake breweries around the Fukushima power plant so I wasn’t concerned. However, I saw how this has been a big worry for Mr. Shinjo. He is a very energetic man, probably in his early 60s, and he told me to spread the word. So here I am writing and pledging that I will continue to drink sake from Fukushima. There’s no reason to be afraid to drink a glass or even a bottle of their sake.

These days I’ve been favoring Kimoto categorized sake over Daiginjo. Daiginjo sake uses highly polished rice to make smooth sake.  It got very popular after sake started being served as a cold drink which has only been over the past 30 years.
Kimoto is an old school sake making method and it takes a few weeks longer to make sake this way. If you would like to learn more about Kimoto categorized sake please read about it here:

Yamahai is a method derived from the Kimoto method and therefore categorized under Kimoto. The Yamahai method was developed by a team led by Kagi Kenichiro, a sake researcher, to reduce the labor intensive work that the Kimoto method requires.

Mr. Shinjo claimed that the Yamahai method was established during 1913 to 1915 at his brewery by wasting 30,000 big sake bottles each year. That was a big waste! 90,000 bottle x 1.8 liters = 162,000 liters. According to other historical sources, the Yamahai method was supposedly established in 1909.  It is a close call and it could be the case that after refining the Yamahai method, Mr. Kagi needed to take another 3 or 4 years to fully stabilize the production flow.

The Kimoto and Yamahai methods produce sake that are more full-bodied and have a complex balance of acidity and sweetness. If you think Daiginjo is too smooth and light bodied, there is a good chance you might like Kimoto or Yamahai sake. I liked Suehiro’s Daiginjo as well.

This Sake Expo definitely reignited my passion for sake and I’m looking forward to exploring more varieties of sake in the future.

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