Sunday, November 16, 2008

11/3/08: Day 4 in Japan Part I - Visiting Asamai Shuzo (Ama No To)

Today is a full day, to a point where I anticipate having 4 entries. The first is the tour of Asamai Brewery (Ama No To) awaits.

As much as I try to ignore, it's hard to shake off the jet lag. I even caught a sunrise this morning.

This meant that I was awake for breakfast, an unusual occurance. Since hotel came with the breakfast, so I opted for Japanese-style. In the center is "natto," the fermented soy bean famous for its stickiness an stinkiness.

Natto has been my personal nemesis, one of three food I do not eat. In fact, I don't think I have successfully consumed it. In a fit of insanity, I felt the challenge to eat the darned thing. As you can see, I actually finished half. A small accomplishment, nonetheless.

Ama No To uses water, rice, and yeast grown exclusively in Akita, true to the spirit of "jizaké."

Right by the entrance is this stone structure that grace the label for Ama No To.

The first thing Kakizaki-san showed me was the natural well used to brew Ama No To. The water is very soft, and I was able to drink it straight from the well. (This photo courtesy of Asamai Brewery)
先ず見せてもらったのが天の戸に使われている自然に湧く井戸水。優しい軟水であり、そのまま飲める美味しい水。( 写真:浅舞酒造作)

Next, Kakizaki-san showed me the types of saké rice used by the brewery. They are all locally grown, and from left to right: Miyamanishiki, Misatonishiki, Akita Komachi, Kamé No O, and Gin No Sei.

Kamé No O is especially distinct, with it's "beard."

Koji Room, where natto is banned.

Fermentation Tanks

For Daiginjo-grade sakés, Thermal Tank is used for precise temperature control.

The strucutre around fermentation tank is notable for its enormous beams, which are necessary in order to compensate for the heavy snowfall.

Asamai uses Funé instead of an accordion-like Yabuta to press their saké.

Bottling machine, which was recently reinstalled.

The sakés are bottle aged to minimize chance of oxidization.

Ama No To portfolio. Kakizaki-san let me taste 3 sakés that were not available the night before: clean and fruity "Daiginjo 45" made from Gin No Sei, soft and deep "Daiginjo Akita Saké Komachi," and nutty and chocolaty koshu version of "Hakuun Yuu Yuu" Junmai Daiginjo that has been aged for 3 years at seasonal ambient temperature.
天の戸の商品ラインアップ。今日は昨夜飲んでない3品を試飲させて頂いた:吟の精で造られているスッキリ・フルーティーな「大吟醸45」、秋田酒こまちで造られているソフトでこくがある「大吟醸 秋田酒こまち」、ナッツとチョコレートの風味がある三年平温で熟成した「白雲悠々」純米大吟醸の古酒版。

Kakizaki-san and Moriya-san, thank you very much for your generosity the last two days. I am very grateful that each time I'll taste Ama No To, I will get to relive these valuable memories!

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