In Topics, we will deliver not only the taste of sake but also the story and thoughts behind it through interviews with the sake producers handled by the sake select shop Mirai Nihonshuten .
Continuing from last time , we would like to ask Mr. Yuta Abe, the 6th generation owner of Abe Sake Brewery in Niigata, a rice-growing region.
Commitment to sake brewing
-Could you tell us about your commitment to rice?
The obsession with rice is not necessarily big. I want to brew sake using local rice and local water. That's it.
If you go to Hyogo Prefecture, you may be able to find graded rice or rice that is suitable for sake brewing, but rather than buying good rice, I want to stick to local products.
-What kind of rice is it?
The basics are 5 million stones.
Right now, I'm looking at rice such as Koshihikari rice. Koshihikari is already a well-established brand, and I would like to make Koshihikari sake.
I don't know what will happen if we talk about subsidies, but I think there is a possibility that the country will not grow sake rice. For example, Yamada Nishiki is a very popular brewer's rice, so large warehouses are buying it in large quantities, so the price is skyrocketing. I don't think so, but if such a brewery goes bankrupt, the price of Yamada Nishiki will plummet, and demand and supply will not match.
With so much bread coming in and people not eating rice, I thought it wouldn't be strange to make rice instead of making sake rice. I would like to find possibilities other than sake rice. I don't think it's a bad idea to prepare the skill of brewing sake with the rice you eat, and because of the location of Niigata, rice is more well-known than other prefectures, so if I can make it with edible rice, I'd like to make it.
-Regarding the compatibility with food, I think that if there is something recommended as a maker, it will expand the options for drinkers as well.
The hiragana character "Abe" is well-written and rich, so it is a dish with a strong taste. To put it in detail, it's cream-based dishes, Japanese miso, and soy sauce with a slightly sweet base from Kyushu. Even fish is boiled instead of sashimi. It is made to match dishes with a strong taste.
But there is something I really want to create. My hometown Niigata Prefecture faces the sea, so it has a sashimi culture. Therefore, I would like to make local sake that goes well with sashimi someday.
-Although it is dark, there is a possibility that there will be sake that does not stand out in the forefront and is close to you.
I agree. I think that what kind of sake you want to make comes with cooking.
My previous job was my previous job, so I want to think about marriage. After all, Niigata is still said to be a sake-producing region, so I would like to make something that goes well with local products.
-The current line-up is so-called sake during meals.
Right now. Ultimately , I want to reach a place called "Abe World" where you can go to a restaurant and complete everything from start to finish. I think it is necessary to make foam and dry ones as well. Kijoshu or something.
-Are you planning to do sparkling? What about the prospects for sparkling, such as degrees, if any?
I definitely want to do sparkling.
Although it is the exact opposite of Abeno sake, champagne is dry, and I think it goes well with the elegant dry sake that is common in Niigata breweries. I want to do that kind of thing in the next-generation brewery.
-How about Masuizumi-san?
My personal sparkling goal is Mizubasho. It is dry and has a strong effervescence. I've been able to make sake that's foamy even though it doesn't have a cage, so I definitely want to do that in my generation.
It's easy to stop halfway through the so-called turbidity or secondary in the bottle to make it foam with a low alcohol content. But I personally like to keep it dry.
-Do you really understand old incense?
For professionals, is so-called aging an absolute bad thing?
*Hineka: A unique scent that develops over time. It is not the original scent of Japanese sake.
I'm not that strong in my ability to sniff out old people. The nose is a good field and a weak field, but the raw knee is a weak field. I think that there is no mistake in this part as a structure, and it is indispensable.
But the extreme theory is that I don't care if I'm alive or old. I wonder if the drinker isn't asking for it, rather than honestly not knowing. Especially for my generation. I know it because I made it.
More important than that is the musty smell . I hope that even drinkers will be able to recognize mold. From the point of view of the sake industry, aging is only a negative point, but the drinkers don't know. I want you to enjoy it as alcohol simply without noticing it. If it tastes good to your taste, you think it's "delicious", and if you think it's "bad", don't drink it. This is what I want from future sake drinkers.
-So does acid. It used to be a miscellaneous taste, but now it is no longer so.
That's a good example.
In the sake industry, I know that milky sake is full of persimmon tannin. At a competition, it's so big that people say they have to redo it, but from the point of view of the drinker, it doesn't make the taste worse. It goes perfectly with cheese or blue cheese. I think it would be nice if there was a storehouse that would be open to the public.
-You can't be reluctant.
Kakishibu is a liquid that emits a strong smell like cheese, but if you add it to sake before filtering it, the cloudy part will separate from the non-turbid part. It is a process called lees pulling. Of course, there are breweries that use methods other than kakishibu. Our predecessors used the wisdom of our predecessors to add persimmon tannin, but if you make a mistake in the amount, it will leave a milky smell.
Nowadays, there are many different methods, and I think that the only breweries that use persimmon tannin are traditional breweries, but it used to be common. I'd like you to try the 23BY or 24BY that my father made, but it's persimmon tannin bread bread (laughs).
There are almost no storehouses that smell of persimmon astringency now. It's different from Smokey, isn't it? It's different from 4VG in the sake industry. It's a scent that comes out when you use wine yeast. It should go well with smoked dishes, but it's a scent that I don't want to put out as a producer.
Toward the challenges of the future
-Where are you going after this, Mr. Abe?
Do you want to grow Abe Brewery, or do you want to become an evangelist? What do you see as your career goals?
I want to do various things, but ultimately I want to make sake.
I'm not a big drinker myself, but I love alcohol. Rather than wanting to make sake, I want to make sake. I am interested in fermented liquor among sake. Beer, cider, wine, etc.
-Do you have a specific ideal sake or kokudaka?
People often ask me what I want to do in the future, but I try not to think too much about it.
If I had to force it, I would like the amount to be between 1,000 and 1,500 stones. The reason is that the amount of kura that I happened to know was distributed both overseas and domestically.
-Are you going to make both 1.8 liter and 4.0 liter bottles at that time?
A 1.8-liter bottle for restaurants.
Hmm. I thought about it in terms of quantity, but I honestly haven't thought about other future plans.
The speed of the surroundings is too fast, and the surrounding environment is changing with tremendous momentum. I don't know what will happen in 2 or 3 years, and an earthquake may hit Niigata. And if you think about it seriously, you won't be able to do anything. I think it's nonsense to look 20 or 30 years into the future when there's a sense of speed that you don't know what's going on. You need to be flexible enough to adapt to the times, and I think it's important to live with all your might, and that's what it means to do your best in sake brewing.
That being said, I don't really think about the future. I learned this at my previous job. The situation changed dramatically. I worked there for just under four years. As a new graduate, he made me feel a sense of speed, which I am very grateful for. Actually, there was something I wanted to do, but it was all gone when I returned to the brewery. There have been two earthquakes in Niigata so far, and if another big one hits, it would be cheaper to tear down the warehouse and build a new factory. I think it's better not to worry about it than worrying about when it will break.
In the end, I think that everything will change when the environment changes, so I try not to think about it too much.
-thank you very much.
Mr. Abe talked about his passion for sake brewing and the future prospects of the sake industry. I am sure that you will be active in various fields, not limited to sake.
From the next time onwards, we will approach the passion of sake makers. Please look forward to it.