Ask Beau - "Were there really sulfites used in the sake making process?"
I'm very proud to say that one of the greatest men in sake is a "reader" of this rag. Too large of praise? Nope! Philip Harper is a visionary giant amongst men in this industry, and his pioneering accomplishments are second to none. I bow in his general direction! (If you have never read a Philip Harper book - I highly recommend that you do - we sell them at the store.) So I was very pleased and shocked when I got one of "those" emails from Philip last week. "Those" = an email where he sets things straight from a point of supreme confidence of flat out just knowing! Oh by the way Philip is the first "head brewer" in the history of sake who just so happens to be a white guy.
So I will share with you some further "edu-macation" on the topic of sulfites in the sake industry:
|"BTW, it says in your newsletter that the sake industry used to use sulfites, but I think you'll find this is wrong. They used salicylic acid, which my (admittedly arts-graduate pathetic) understanding of chemistry suggests is not a sulfite. If you want a bit of trivia on the subject, the use of salicylic acid as a preservative was suggested in the Meiji Period by one of the first overseas students of the chemistry of sake. That was when sake spoiling was an ever-present fact of life for breweries, and there was debate amongst the first overseas visitors to study the subject about the best preventative measures. A German guy suggested the salicylic acid: the British researcher Atinson recommended thorough sanitation with improvements in pasteurization technique. The sake industry adopted the use of salicylic acid, which was then outlawed in Europe and the USA a few years later, though it was another half- century before the sake industry caught up. The moral of the story being that you should always listen to the British guy.
Ha - I love getting schooled!
Please send your sake specific questions to askbeau2 @ truesake.com. (This address is not for general questions and I only review the questions once per month. All other correspondence should use info @ truesake.com.)