When it rains sake, it pours sake. Two local, seasoned beer brewers have moved into the world of the traditional Japanese fermented-rice beverage. The Cedar River Brewing Company was the first sake brewery to set up shop in Seattle and premiered its wares at Sake Nomi on October 1, which also happens to be national sake day. And following close behind is Tahoma Fuji Sake, to be brewed in Ballard and up and running early next year.
Let's meet the makers of the first Seattle sakes.
Cedar River Brewing Company
About five years ago, Cedar River Brewing owner Jeff James had a realization about sake; he says it was like “a door opening to an alternate universe.” This epiphany came in the form of a chilled Nigori sake he sampled one day. James was amazed at the difference from the usual hot, house sake.
A seasoned home brewer of beer, James started researching sake and found that it’s not dissimilar to the beer-making process. The biggest difference: with sake, the brewer has to grow a mold enzyme that converts starch to sugar. Beer is all about the malted grain turning to sugar.
James found a small space on Greenwood Avenue to house his sake brewery and the Cedar River Brewery was born—the first sake brewing company in Seattle. His first sake is called Nama. It’s unpasteurized, and made in small batches with four ingredients: water, rice, koji, and yeast. You can find Nama sake at the Beer Junction in West Seattle and Bloom Restaurant in Ballard, and coming to more shelves and menus soon, with the possiblity of a tasting room at his Greenwood space in the future. Follow updates on Facebook.
Tahoma Fuji Sake—coming soon
Andy Neyens is no stranger to the beer-brewing world in Seattle, having worked for several years at both Maritime Pacific and Georgetown Brewing. Before that, he brewed sake in Japan. He’s built a brew space on his property in Ballard, has his federal licensing, and hopes to be up and running in the next four months. He say’s he should have the ability to brew large amount, but plans to start with one sake style that's unpasteurized and served cold. From Neyens's resume, we know he can rock the hops, it'll be exciting to see what he can do with rice. Follow Tahoma Fuji Sake on Facebook to keep tabs on the progress, here.