Sunday, November 23, 2008

11/3/08: Day 4 in Japan Part IV: Drinking with Nanbu Bijin Brewers

After lunch, I made 2:45 trip to the city of Ninohé in the neighboring Iwaté Prefecture to visit Kuji-san from Nanbu Bijin Brewery. While the brewery tour will take place the following day, the night was reserved for socializing with the brewers.

After checking in at the nearby hotel, Kuji-san picked me up for the festivities.



Coincidentally, they were just starting to press their saké today. As luck would have it, this is the very first lot of the year. I had the honor of tasting first saké as it was being pressed. I have not tasted a saké that is more livelier.

After freshly squeezed saké, we toasted to Junmai Ginjo Hiyaoroshi. I also opened the bottle of Mansaku No Hana Junmai Daiginjo "Kamé No O" Hiyaoroshi I received from Sato-san for comparison. Nanbu Bijin was cleaner and drier, while Mansaku No Hana was softer and fruitier.
「しぼりたて」の後には純米吟醸の「ひやおろし」で乾杯。私も今朝に佐藤さんから頂いた「純米大吟醸 亀の尾 ひやおろし」を開け、「ひやおろし」の飲み比べを行った。南部美人はスッキリ感の辛口で、まんさくの花はフルーティーで優しい味だった。

At Nanbu Bijin, there is one gentleman who is responsible for serving saké warm. Sugahara-san stretches the limit of the concept of "kan," coming up with creative ideas. To convince me, he served junmai nigori warm (pictured) and even 2003 Koshu. The common thread between two sakés were that warmth rounds out acidity to make it more approachable. I must say that I was definitely enlightened!

Later on, Kuji-san brought out Aiyama Junmai Ginjo. It had gentle and round flavors of rice and straight forward and clean flavor. In NY, this saké is available exclusively at Sushi of Gari.
後で登場したのが「純米吟醸 愛山」。米のまろやかな香りと癖が無いきれいな味。これはNYではSushi of Gariだけしか飲めない限定品。

Some brewers of Nanbu Bijin. The staff is relatively young compared with other breweries. To the left is Matsumori-san, the Brewmaster.

Running into the room shouting, "I want some saké!" is none other than Kuji-san's son, Taiyo.

The dinner consisted of various sashimi and skewers. The highlight is the hand-made ramen delivered from local restaurant, a taste Kuji-san grew up with. Mild yet complex soup complemented by chewy noodles... ramen does not get much better than this!

At this time, my travel fatigue began to kick in. With an early work day ahead, I was off to bed...

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