We are Mitch Fortune, Cat Ford-Coates, and Mary Taylor, three long time friends with a passion for food, drinks, and general merriment. A little over a year ago we were enjoying our winter cooking club with a dozen of our friends. Mitch had prepared a delicious dinner of Asian cuisine, and our friends brought sake to drink. After several hours of enjoying the food, sake, each other’s company, we began a discussion of the history, origin, and the production of sake. We soon realized that the majority of our friends did not know much about sake, other than the fact that it is a drink that most of us enjoy. A friendly argument ensued about whether sake is considered a beer or a wine. To settle the argument we broke out “the google” and went on a search for answers.
We learned a lot about the origin and process of making sake, and were surprised by what we found. First off, sake is more like beer in the process of brewing, but more like wine in the alcohol content of the finished product. The most surprising thing to us was that sake is gluten and sulfite free, vegan, and kosher. Sake is also one of the purest drinks on earth, consisting of only water, rice, yeast, and a magic little mold called koji. Sake is the only alcoholic beverage on earth that is brewed using two simultaneous processes during fermentation. Even more interesting is that sake, unlike wine, should be consumed FRESH! It should not be aged.
Fact: All of the premium sake sold in the U.S. is imported, and therefore, not very fresh. In transport to the U.S., sake is typically stored incorrectly, destroying the subtle and delicate flavors.
What a tragedy.
So, we asked ourselves, “where in the US can we buy fresh sake?” Being long time bartenders, we like to know our products. We wanted to try truly fresh sake to see just how good it could be. Turns out there are only six, massive, Japanese owned companies which produce 99 percent of the sake consumed in the United States. Most of this sake is consumed hot, in sushi bars across the country. (sake is generally served hot if it is of poor quality, to mask the imperfections). These macro-breweries are large scale brewing operations focused on quantity over quality, much like American domestic beer companies.
Once we found out all of this, we decided to take a leap and try brewing our own sake. Luckily, Mary has worked in breweries and distilleries over the years, and Mitch has been avidly home brewing beer for over 10 years, and making homemade wine for several years on top of that. Mitch had all the equipment we needed, so we just had to find the right ingredients and obtain a little know how. We went back to “the google” and we did some research and got a hold of a few recipes, books, and videos about sake brewing. After more than a few misadventures, we finally made our first palatable (and delicious) batch of sake. We have been brewing ever since! It is a wild ride for sure and we are more than glad to be a part of it!!