Sunday, December 14, 2008

11/5/08: Day 6 in Japan Part I - Visiting Také No Tsuyu Brewery

After a nice morning dip in the onsen hot spring, I was on my way to Akita Station to board Shinkansen. On my agenda today is visiting Také No Tsuyu Brewery, located in Haguro Village in the city of Tsuruoka in Yamagata Prefecture. Welcoming me at Tsuruoka Station was Aisawa-san.


First thing we did after arriving at the brewery was to go out for lunch. Aisawa-san chose a local restaurant located amidst rice paddies, known for their hand-made soba. "Yama No Sobaya" specializes in thick and coarse "inaka-style" soba. We ordered the hot version, with its generous topping of roast pork and fried tofu. The combination of flavorful soup and firm texture of the soba was simply out of this world.

Mr. and Mrs. Aisawa in front of the entrance to the brewery.

My first impression about Také No Tsuyu is extremely clean. That is not to say that other breweries are filthy, but at Také No Tsuyu, nothing seemed out of place.

The first place Aisawa-san showed me was the tank where they keep well water. (The next entry will be dedicated to the water and rice of Také No Tsuyu.) Needless to say, Aisawa-san takes great pride in his water.

This machine steams then cools the rice.

Tank for the yeast starter. The aroma is quite something.

Nestled in the back of the brewery are fermentation tanks.

Right outside this room is a bamboo forest that inspired the name of the brewery (loosely translated as, "Bamboo Dew.") The shade offered by bamboo forest and cool draft descending Mt. Gassan provide ideal environment for aging and storing saké, even over the summer.

This machine manages cultivation of koji mold. Their data management is very meticulous.

Daiginjo-grade koji mold is manually managed by brewers in koji room in the 2nd floor.

After the tour, I went to onsen hot spring, then Aisawa-san took us for sushi dinner. Také No Tsuyu sakés went exceptionally well with the finely prepared sashimi by the sushi master of Happo Sushi. As we came straight from the hot springs, we don't have pictures for obvious reasons. After returning to brewery, we prepared for some evening work. Of course, preparation involved indulging in Hakuro Suishu sakés...

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