Sunday, December 27, 2009

11/28/09: Day 9 in Japan, Part I - Visiting Tenzan Brewery

The hotel breakfast was a buffet, and it included, among others, a non-traditional breakfast item such as tako-yaki.

After that, I was on my way to a town of Ogi to visit Tenzan Brewery aboard Karatsu line. Incidentally, this was to be my only brewery visit of this vacation.

Tenzan is available in the U.S., famous for their junmai genshu wrapped in bamboo leaf packaging.

The brewery is located at the foot of Mount Tenzan, along the Gion River. During summer months, the river is said to be illuminated by swarm of fireflies.

The property is surrounded by rice paddies and orange groves.

The kura itself is comprised of 3 buildings that are named after recent Emperors: Showa Kura, Meiji Kura, and Taisho Kura.

Here are some of the rice used by Tenzan: locally grown Yamadanishiki, Yamadanishiki from Hyogo, Omachi from Okayama, and locally grown Saga No Mai.

Here is their machine to wash and soak rice.

Conveyer to cool down steamed rice.

Stacks of rice in the process of being converted to koji.

Fermentation tank to make shubo mash.

Active fermentation.

Looking into storage tanks from above.

Looking at the storage tanks from the ground level.

Tenzan uses yabuta for pressing.

As luck would have it, yabuta was on, meaning freshly pressed saké.

Shichida-san poured me a glass, a very rare treat. The saké was very crisp, vibrant, and intensely juicy, which is not unexpected when it is unfiltered and unpasteurized.

After the saké is bottled, they are packaged. For the aforementioned junmai genshu, the bamboo leaves are carefully wrapped by hand. The purpose of the bamboo leaves, imported from China, is not only for appearance - it also serves to protect saké from light.

The sakés are refrigerated until shipping.

One of the things I enjoy about visiting breweries is their architecture. Looking up, you can see intricate structure of the beams supporting the kura.


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