Author Archives: hakkaiedit

Hakkaisan is Joining the Live Broadcast “The New Japan Islands 2020” via YouTube Live

The South by Southwest festival was cancelled this year, but it was decided that the exhibition of “The New Japan Islands 2020” will now be broadcast live from Tokyo this weekend. The New Japan Islands executive committee is a project team which consists of the Ministry of Economy, private entities, scientists, artists, and intellectuals who got together to explore the intersection of Japanese traditional crafts, industries, and culture.

We at Hakkaisan Brewery have cooperated with this project, which was supposed to be delivered at South by Southwest, but we will now support it by joining the live broadcast this weekend. The live interview session will connect our brand ambassador Timothy Sullivan in NYC and our master brewer Shigemitsu Nagumo in Niigata in a live discussion of Hakkaisan’s sake making philosophy, as well as explore the point of view an American Sake Educator’s thoughts of sake’s current situation in the world. Please join us to explore the connection of culture and sake with this special live broadcast.

Broadcast Details:
Title: Invitation to Japan’s Sake Heartland: Uonuma
Live Interview with Hakkaisan’s Master Sake Brewer

Live Streaming URL:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qgn-TnDJGwQ

Event Time:
New York EST: Sat. March 21, 8:45pm – 9:15pm
Tokyo JST: Sun. March 22, 9:45am – 10:15am

Hakkaisan sake receives gold in the TEXSOM 2020 International Wine Awards

On March 6th, 2020, the TEXSOM International Wine Awards announced the winners for 2020. We are pleased to share that Hakkaisan received two Gold Medal awards. One gold for Hakkaisan Clear Sparkling AWA Sake and a second gold award for Hakkaisan Tokubetsu Honjozo Sake.

Of all the entries received only 12% received a gold medal award. We are delighted to have Hakkaisan recognized by this prestigious award again in 2020.

Hakkaisan Week at Mimi Japanese Restaurant in NYC

New Sake Event in New York City!

Visit Mimi Japanese Restaurant in NYC to try your choice of Hakkaisan sake and delicious appetizer at a special price. You can mix and match to find your perfect sake pairing! Check out the details below.

Hakkaisan Restaurant Week at Mimi Japanese in NYC
January 22 – Feb 3rd
at Mimi Japanese Restaurant, 566 Amsterdam Ave at 87th ST in New York City
https://www.miminyc.net/
open 5-10pm Tuesday- Sunday closed on Mondays.

AWA Clear Sparkling Sake Launches in the US!

Sparkling Sake is nothing new, but Hakkaisan has challenedged itself to raise the bar and create a premium sparkling sake of note. The result is Hakkaisan’s AWA clear Sparkling Junmai Ginjo sake, which made it’s debut in the US market on June 5th. AWA means bubble, and that is the starting point that explains why this sake is different. Hakkaisan uses an in-bottle secondary fermentation to create CO2 through natural fermentation. This produces a fine and elegant bubble that can best be achieved in this way. The sake is lightly sweet up front with a clean finish and an overall light impression. Perfectly refreshing!

Hakkaisan Arrives in the USA
Hakkaisan AWA arrived in the USA with a special guest – Mr. Shigemitsu Nagumo, the Toji or Master Brewer at Hakkaisan Brewery. Mr. Nagumo came to New York to introduce the locals to Hakkaisan’s new and premium sparking sake. The launch event was held on the St. Cloud rooftop bar of the Knickerbocker hotel in Times Square. In his short remarks to the guests, Mr. Nagumo told everyone that this event in New York was one of the most fun events he has attended in his career and with a sincere thank you, he got the event off to a great start with a hearty “Kanpai!” (cheers!). It was a beautiful summer’s evening at sunset as guests gathered to try AWA served chilled and crisp into flutes which helped all to enjoy the aroma, taste and presentation of this new premium sparkling sake. Guests commented on the light taste and balance of this new premium sparkling.

How can you serve and pair AWA? Hakkaisan’s AWA clear sparkling sake can be served as you would a sparkling wine, but also in new ways as well. Enjoy AWA as an aperitif before dinner to enliven the palate and wake up the taste buds. AWA also pairs beautifully with appetizers and light salads as well as seafood and shellfish with a special recommendation for oysters. Given the light sweetness on the palate, you can also try AWA with desserts, a favorite match up being a light-as-air chocolate or matcha macaron.

AWA will be available in both 360ml (12 oz) and 720ml (24 oz) sizes. If you are a fan of sparkling wine, AWA will give you an entrance into the world of sake! Welcome and kanpai!

Hakkaisan Week at Sake Bar Method in NYC: May 15-20, 2018


May 15-20th, 2018, come to dinner at Sake Bar METHOD in Hell’s Kitchen. We are offering a one week special on Hakkaisan 3 Year Snow-Aged Junmai Ginjo. This is an aged sake unlike any other you have tried! Matured in stainless steel for 3 years in our frosty snow storage cellar (Yuki Muro), you have to experience this sake!

Order this sake by the glass, carafe or bottle. Try it warm or cold. Customers who order a bottle of the Hakkaisan 3 Year Snow Aged Sake get a special gift from the brewery while supplies last!

Sake Bar Method: 746 10th ave. New York

https://kitchensakebarmethod.nyc/hours

Hakkaisan at Ginza Six!

I think it is fair to say there is no shortage of places to go shopping in Tokyo. You can drop big bucks on electronics in the Akihabara district or shop for cutting edge, mismatched outfits in Harajuku. However the epicenter of serious retail therapy is without a doubt in Ginza. The Ginza district is famous the world over for high end boutiques, Towering department stores, and an endless parade of Ladies Who Lunch.

The latest addition to Ginza’s retail arena is known as Ginza Six which opened to much fanfare in April 2017. If the rest of Ginza is cool, Ginza Six was built to impress even more. With 421 stores in over 500,000 square feet of space, Ginza Six is one of the biggest shopping complexes in Ginza. Entering, you’ll see the central atrium outfitted with a stunning polka dot sculpture designed by arguably Japan’s most famous living artist, Yayoi Kusama.

Ginza Six Atrium

Ginza Six Atrium

Almost Every Japanese department store has an over-the-top food court on the basement level, this is known as a “depachika” (a mix of “depato“, which means department store, and “chika“, which means basement). Most visitors to Japan will easily remember their first visit to a depatchika as the vast selection and stunning presentation of foods is hard to forget. Ginza Six also has a basement food floor on the B2 level, but they really kick it up a notch.

My recent visit to Ginza Six was to check out their basement food floor to enjoy Hakkaisan’s new Ginza Sennenkoujiya shop.

Hakkaisan's Ginza Sennen Koujiya.

Hakkaisan’s Ginza Sennen Koujiya.

Sennen Koujiya is Hakkaisan’s retail shop that sells all of the Hakkaisan sake, but also food and other fermented items from Niigata. The Ginza Six branch is the latest to open.

I visited for the first time on a rainy Saturday. My first impression of Ginza Six was how popular it was. Shoppers were everywhere, even on a rainy day. Lots of people are curious about this new shopping complex and it seemed that every shop was busy. I headed down to the B2 level and took a look around for Sennen Koujiya.

Lots of Hakkaisan Sake for sale at Sennen Koujiya

Lots of Hakkaisan Sake for sale at Sennen Koujiya

Hakkaisan Ginjo Funaguchi

Hakkaisan Ginjo Funaguchi

The shop has a beautiful open wood panel design. Along the left wall, there is a full range of Hakkaisan Sakes, but the refrigerator in the corner contained something special. This shops sells some limited sake that is not for sale anywhere else! These include rare Hakkaisan ‘Funaguchi sakes’ – that is sakes right from the sake press! Fully unpasteurized and non-charcoal filtered. Each bottle is labeled by hand.

Another rare sake that you can only find at Ginza Six is Hakkaisan Ultra Premium Kouwagura 25% Junmai Daiginjo. This is an outstanding sake that has the rice milled to 25% remaining and is aged for 2 years at 0˚C. Super rare and delicious!

Hakkaisan Fermentation goods including Amasake.

Hakkaisan Fermentation goods including Amasake.

The back wall of the shop contains space for all of the perishable fermentation goods including Amazake (a sweet, no alcohol koji rice drink), as well as koji, shio koji as well as koji marinated meats and veggies.

ginza-6-6

Along the right side wall is a small tasting counter. Guests can order a limited menu of bites and small appetizers and a sake pairing. I was excited to try, and I was able to enjoy a unique and wonderful pairing! I tried the Snow Aged Junmai Ginjo 3 Years served in a beautiful antique glass along with the recommended pairing of Fukinoto (spring mountain vegetable) Miso paste along with sour cream and a drip of lemon. It was a beautiful savory and rich pairing with the Snow aged Junmai Ginjo.

Tasting bar and Ginza Sennen Koujiya.

Tasting bar and Ginza Sennen Koujiya.

If you get a chance to visit Tokyo, don’t miss the chance to stop into Ginza Six! A delicious sake and snack is waiting for you at Sennen Koujiya. Pick up some sakes and niigata foods while you are there. You’re friends back home will have depatchika envy!

Ginza Six is popular even in the rain!

Ginza Six is popular even in the rain!

Ice Ice Baby! Tasting Hakkaisan’s Super-Chilled Summer Sake

junmai-genshu3OK, so this is my first summer in Japan. I knew it would be hot, but I didn’t realize it would be h-o-t. And humid. And uncomfortable. Although the summer weather is shoganai (a wonderful Japanese word that means “it can’t be helped”), one thing we can do to cool down is drink some chilled sake. Chilled sake is delicious, but Hakkaisan raises the bar with their limited summer sake release.

It is only for a limited time – from June to August only – that Hakkaisan begins selling their Tokubetsu Junmai Namazume Genshu. Unique to this sake is that Hakkaisan recommends serving it at an ice-cold temperature in a small glass right from the freezer.

This near freezing creates a super crisp and refreshingly brisk sip of sake, with a texture that can border on a sake slushie. It is a perfectly delicious antidote to any summer heat wave.

junmai-genshuIf you chose to serve this sake gently chilled and not ice cold, you’ll enjoy other flavors. I find the taste to have a clean and lightly dry rice flavor with a bright freshness. A crisp finish leaves you wanting another sip.

This sake is a “tokubestu Junmai”. Junmai is “pure rice style” meaning no added alcohol. Tokubetsu means special, and this sake has a luxurious rice milling rate of 55% – much lower and more premium than other Junmai-grade sakes. This sake is also namazume. That means the sake was pasteurized just once after pressing, not twice as is usual with most sakes. This single pasteurization gives the sake a fresh and buoyant edge. Finally this sake is also a genshu – undiluted with water weighing in at 17.5% alcohol. Genshu sakes have more body on the palate and generally can stand up to richer foods. Hakkaisan is known for clean and crisp sakes, so this genshu is gentle and approachable.

Restaurant carafe service of Hakkaisan's Ice chilled Tokubetsu Junmai

Restaurant carafe service of Hakkaisan’s Ice chilled Tokubetsu Junmai

Let’s take a look at the stats for this sake:
Alcohol 17.5%
sake meter value ±0.0
acidity 1.5
amino acid 1.4
koji rice used Gohyakumangoku
brewing rice used Yukinosei, Yamadanishiki, Todorokiwase
rice-polishing ratio 55%
yeast Kyokai No. 1001, Kyokai No. 1801

Hakkaisan Tokubestu Junmai Namazume Genshu is not for sale in the States, but if you do visit Japan in the steamy summer months, I hope you get a chance to try it ice cold. Let’s stay cool this summer!

junmai-genshu2

Los Angeles International Wine Competition 2017

The Los Angeles International Wine Competition has been awarding the finest wines from all over the world since 1939, and the finest Japanese Sake since 2009. We are proud to announce our sake awards from 2017, the 78th year of the Los Angeles International Wine competition.

GOLD Medal : Snow Aged Junmai Ginjo 3 years
SILVER Medal : Hakkaisan Junmai Ginjo
BRONZE Medal : Junmai Daiginjo (45) Kouwagura

IMG_4571

Los Angeles International Wine Competition is the platform for an extensive wine education program available to the nearly 1.3 million visitors at the annual Los Angeles County Fair. The Fair’s wine education center features consumer-driven classes, tastings and displays of the award-winning wines. With the Los Angeles International Wine Competition committed to educating the public about wine, the Fair’s wine education program features industry experts with extensive knowledge about wine growing and selection, wine tasting as well as wine and food pairings.

http://www.lawinecomp.com/wos/wine_competition/index.asp

Climb Every Mountain… for Sansai!

Freshly picked Zenmai fern leaf buds.

Freshly picked Zenmai fern leaf buds.

Since I arrived in Niigata last year, I have been eating a lot of sansai (山菜) which means simply “mountain vegetables”. They are a staple food here and the product of foraging by hand in the mountain-side forests. In this snow bound and mountainous area, these vegetables are eaten soon after they are collected, but also preserved and enjoyed all year round. Sansai are famous for having a bitter taste. Their natural bitterness is actually a defense mechanism against animals nibbling on them.

The locals here have developed a taste for the bitter greens and they are served in many ways, the most popular being flash fried as tempura, blanched and serve with a soy sauce and also preserved as pickles. The taste is indeed bitter, but I’ve come to love sansai. Believe it or not, the bitterness is actually a perfect compliment to sake, too!

The Mountain is getting steep!

The Mountain is getting steep!

I was surprised when I received an invitation to go Sansai picking myself. A local guide heard about my love of Niigata mountain vegetables and offered to take me to his favorite spot for picking mountain vegetables. My only instruction was to wear boots and gloves. As we were driving to the mountain, my guide told me we would be picking only one kind of plant that day, zenmai (薇) known in english as cinnamon fern or by it’s scientific name Osmunda Japonica. I had never heard of this plant before, so I was wondering how I would recognize it in the wild.

When we arrived on the mountain, we began climbing up and within three minutes we saw our first zenmai. I quickly learned that they were the first growth of a moisture and shade loving wild fern and they look very much like an extra large fiddlehead fern covered in a kind of mossy spiderweb. It doesn’t sound appetizing, but I’m assured they are delicious. I was outfitted with an apron with a deep pocket and a backpack and away we went.

After about 20 minutes or so we  stopped and wrapped up our Zenmai haul to put in our backpacks.

After about 20 minutes or so we stopped and wrapped up our Zenmai haul to put in our backpacks.

As we started to climb up my guide would expertly spot the Zenmai from far away. We would snap the stems about 2/3rds of the way down and I would collect the stems in my pouch. There were also some guidelines on what not to pick. If the zenmai were too small, we left them alone to grow for next year. I also learned that the Zenmai are only edible when they are in the fiddlehead fern shape. If they had begun to open and spread their fern leaves, I was to leave them alone.

Getting Tired!  Is the air thinner up here? ;-)

Getting Tired! Is the air thinner up here? 😉

As we marched up the mountain side, the slope got gradually steeper and steeper. When my apron’s pouch was full of Zenmai, I would wrap them in a cloth and load them into my backpack. This foraging became a fun game and spotting the ferns on the mountainside became easier and easier.

After climbing up for 90 minutes, we decided to make our way back down. My backpack was loaded full of zenmai. I learned that my guide usually hikes to the top of the mountain when foraging… that would have been 3 hours up and 3 hours back down! Even though I was wiped out, I was just given the beginner’s course! I’ll need to do some training if I’m going to mountain climbing again.

When the day was over I was impressed with our haul. If you know what to look for the mountain can really provide bounty. The zenmai that I collected will be cooked and preserved for eating next year – can’t wait to try them! Think sansai foraging might be a brand new hobby!

If you don't pick the tender buds, Zenmai turns into an inedible fern like this one.

If you don’t pick the buds, Zenmai turns into a fern like this one.

TEXSOM International Wine Awards

TEXSOM is a leader in bevarege education, and hold an International Wine Competition annually in TEXAS, USA.
Judge sommeliers travels from over 60 countries and judge fairly. TEXSOM is one of important and widely known competition in the world.

This year, Hakkaisan products awarded Silver and Bronze medals.
Silver – Hakkaisan Sparkling Nigori
Bronze – Hakkaisan Snow Aged 3 year Junmai Ginjo
Bronze – Hakkaisan Kouwa Gura (45) Junmai Daiginjo

IMG_1192