Nestled in the heart of Shizuoka prefecture, along Japan's Pacific coast, stands the Sugii Sake Brewery, a testament to the enduring legacy of traditional sake brewing. For over 170 years, this family-run brewery, guided by Kinnosuke Sugii, its proprietor and master brewer, has been crafting sake with a dedication to quality and authenticity.
The Sugii Brewery specializes in Kimoto and Yamahai, time-honored brewing methods that rely on natural lactic acid fermentation. This approach, used in most of their Suginishiki sake, sets them apart in an industry where about 90% of sake is now produced using the modern Sokujomoto method. This newer method, introduced around 110 years ago, accelerates the brewing process by adding liquid lactic acid to the fermentation starter, ensuring a quicker and more controlled fermentation.
Historically, refined sake was created using methods like Kimoto, Yamahai, or Bodaimoto. These methods harness the natural occurrence of lactic-acid bacilli in the initial brewing stage. By allowing these bacilli to initiate lactic fermentation, they create an environment that curbs unwanted microbial growth. While these traditional techniques demand more time and labor, they yield sake with a richer and more complex flavor profile. Aging further enhances these qualities, adding layers of depth and character to the sake.
In contrast, the Sokujomoto method, with its two-week brewing cycle, offers efficiency and consistency, producing a clean, nuanced sake ideal for ginjo varieties. This method's popularity stems from its ability to produce sake with lower acidity and a fresher taste, a characteristic preferred in the modern market.
At Sugii Sake Brewery, they embrace the heritage of sake brewing. By adhering to the Kimoto and Yamahai methods, they aim to offer sake with a robust body, mature character, and a depth of flavor that echoes the rich history of this traditional craft.