Wednesday, November 26, 2008

11/4/08: Day 5 in Japan Part I: Nanbu Bijin Experience

Today called for another early wake up, this time at 6:30 am. Today's agenda is to tour Nanbu Bijin Brewery. In addition, Kuji-san has arranged for me to participate in parts of the brewing process, something I've seen but never done before.

To see Nanbu Bijin's account of my visit, please click here.

朝も6:30の早起き。今日は南部美人の見学で、久慈さんが酒造にも手を触らしてくれる。今まででは酒造りは十分拝見しているが、手伝うのは初経験になる。

この件は南部美人さんのブログにも書き込まれましたので、ご参考下さい。

The first thing Matumori Brewmaster did was to check the tanks and gather data.
最初には松森杜氏が醗酵中のタンクをチェックし、データの取得。

The fermentation in this tank is very vibrant. To control the fermentation, they've added extra lip to the tank as well as machine that pops the bubbles to keep from overflowing.
このタンクは結構アクティブ。泡が溢れるのを抑える為、タンクには木のふちと泡を潰す機械が設備された。

Here, I find the tag for Tank #1 which we got to taste last night. It says, "October 8, Batch #1, Shiboritaté Nama."
昨夜搾って飲んだ第一号の札を発見。

Tank #7 is a Tokubetu Junmai Nama slated to be shipped to the US. Fermentation began 10 days after Batch #1.
アメリカ用のタンクは第7号。仕込みは1号から10日後に始まった。

My first assignment is to mix the mash.
最初の仕事はモロミを混ぜる作業。

Mixing the new batch is a very hard work, as it is mostly solid,.
仕込み始めたばかりのモロミは硬いので、かき混ぜるのには相当な体力が必要。

After the rice is steamed...
酒米は蒸してから...

it is shoveled into...
スコップで...

a machine where...
ある機械へ放り投げ込まれ...

it is cooled then separated by the brewers.
コンベヤーを通り冷やされ、蔵人に解される。

The rice is then packed into sacks, and sent upstairs to the Koji Room.
解された米は袋に詰められ、2階の麹室へ。

Nanbu Bijin uses silk sack instead of can when sprinkling Koji mold. This task is tougher than it looks. To sprinkle the mold, you must maintain the right rhythm. I was so focused and tight during my first attempt that I was actually told, “you know, you really ought to breathe.” To appreciate the difficulty, put three quarters in a dress sock, and shake it so that the quarters bounce and make sharp clinking sound each time.
南部美人は麹菌を蒔く時には缶ではなくシルクの袋を使う。これは見た目よりハードな仕事。振るタイミングが崩れると菌は出ない。振っている途中に“あなた、息した方が良いですよ”と言われるほど自分は緊張していた。実験としては、100円玉3個ソックスに入れ、しっかり「カチン!カチン!」と音が出る様、上下に振ってみよ。

Working in the Koji Room made the biggest impression. After sprinkling the koji mold, the job was to mix the rice and manage the temperature. We used digital thermometer to track temperature, and brewers made small adjustments by opening and closing the door. They really live in a world where a mere half a degree makes difference. When the koji rice is down to about 32.5C, then it is neatly wrapped for resting.
麹室の仕事の印象が深く残った。麹菌を蒔く作業の直後は米のかき混ぜと温度の調整。麹米は常にデジタル温度計で温度を測り、室のドアを開けたりしながら妙な温度調整を行う。この作業は0.5℃の勝負と言ってもおかしくない。32.5℃未満に下がった時、丁寧に包み、しばらく寝かせる。

Although I don’t have the photo, the next assignment was making boxes for shipping. This was low pressure job by comparison, but in the worst case, screwing up here can result in breakage and waste all the previous efforts. Thus, the importance of this job cannot be understated.
写真は撮ってないが、次の仕事は出品用の箱作り。これは比較的にはプレッシャーが低いけど、最悪な場合はビンが割れ酒が台無しになる。酒造りのプロセスとしては欠かせない重要な作業。

After boxing, we had lunch. Because last night’s ramen was a huge hit with the gang, Kuji-san asked the kitchen to make the Nanbu Bijin-style ramen. My first serving was the traditional soy ramen, while the second was miso. The soup was rich and balanced, and exactly what we needed.
箱作りの後は昼飯。実は、昨夜ラーメンで皆が相当盛り上がった為、久慈さんが蔵の厨房へ南部美人風のラーメンを申し込んだ。蔵人大感激。最初の一杯は醤油ラーメンで、二杯目は味噌ラーメン。汁もこくがありバランスが良く、最高の味。

After extended lunch break, I assisted in preparing rice for steaming the next day. As there are several layers in the steamer, my job was to make sure each layer was evenly distributed.
休みの後は翌日に蒸す米の準備。これは米を4~5枚のレイヤーにして蒸すため、丁寧に広げる作業。

Posing ith Kuji-san. My work day ended around 5:00 pm, as I had to go catch a train to Akita City.

As I am traveling from Ninohé to Akita City, I kept thinking of how people throughout the trip has been very generous in welcoming me into their domain and letting me participat in these rare experiences. I will forever be grateful to everyone.

久慈さんとポーズ。仕事は5時で上がり、秋田市へ向かう準備をした。

新幹線の中で振り返って見れば、私は非常にラッキーであると感じた。何所でも私を歓迎してくれ、更に普段には出来ないことを色々と経験させてもらった。皆様へのご恩は一生忘れませぬ。
 

1 comment:

Tony Alexander said...

Nice experience. Thanks for sharing.