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Seasonal Brews – The Perfect Confluence   of Winter & Spring Namas

Seasonal Brews – The Perfect Confluence of Winter & Spring Namas

Yay! It’s the season known as "overlap" in the seasonal unpasteurized sake offerings. You see it’s the time when sake breweries crank out their Winter Namas, and then their Spring Namas, and because of shipping routes, we get both together and on their own depending on the importer. The good news is that both Winter and Spring offerings generally drink the same and there are more Genshu aka undiluted brews available. Of course, they are specifically made for local seasonal cuisines like the fatty fish of cold winter waters, and the crisp fresh mountain spring vegetables that are often pulled out of the snow. The key word is fresh! And the second key word is flavorful, as both seasons drink with more impact.

This “overlap” season we selected some new breweries and offerings, and of course we went with some old faithfuls. It’s up to you to try them and remind us which ones you like for future seasons to come. Don’t forget how lucky we are to have an abundant selection of seasonal unpasteurized brews, because this wasn’t the case 20 years ago, and nor is it the case for our friends in the southern hemisphere. Count your seasonal sake blessings! 

From Nara Prefecture. Junmai Ginjo Nama. SMV: -1 Acidity: 1.4
The nose on this extremely fan-friendly seasonally released unpasteurized brew is a wonderful collection of pear, honeydew, grape, white flower, mango, powdered sugar, and mineral aromas. When you see the Deer never fear as Harushika has become one of the most recognized and desired Junmai Ginjo in Japan, and their Nama version is even in higher demand. Smooth, light, bright, and fresh this sake drinks with a little tingle amongst its fruity, full, and crisp flavors. Look for pear, apple, strawberry, honeydew, mango, lemon, rock sugar, and cupcake frosting flavors that dance across the palate with an umami step and a balanced and quick finish. This is a constantly delicious Nama that drinks fruity and fun. WORD: Fruity WINE: Bright Reds/Fruity Whites BEER: Fruity Ales FOODS: Sushi, sashimi, oysters, sautéed salmon, fruit and cheese plates, seasonal crab, lobster, sweet shrimp, grilled chicken and white fish.
From  Okayama Prefecture. Junmai Ginjo Muroka Nama. SMV: -3 Acidity: 1.5
The nose on this seasonally released unpasteurized sake is a slick collection of raspberry, cranberry, red apple, peach, mochi, yogurt, and lemon curd aromas. Say hello to raw and living sake in a 300ml bottle! This little Nama is big in feeling and flavor, and is a good reminder of drinking sake right from the vat. Fresh, crisp, brisk, and a tad zesty there are layers of rich and watery feelings that drink smooth and brash. Look for lively flavors such as black berries, watermelon, unripe pear, raisin, green apple, a touch of caramel, with cantaloupe and cocoa hints and a very confident umami splash. A fun and crisp fresh sake that tingles the senses. WORD: Crisp WINE: Brash Reds/Crisp Whites BEER: Crisp Ales FOODS: Sushi, sashimi, soy sauce dishes, ponzu fare, citrus sauces, tempura and grilled anything.
From Nagano Prefecture. Junmai Ginjo Nama Genshu. SMV: -7 Acidity: 1.7
The nose on this first time in the store seasonally released unpasteurized sake is a wicked collection of melon, pear, tangerine, lemon, peach, papaya, green apple, licorice,  blueberry, and snowmelt aromas. Want to taste some fresh Nagano brew? Silky, slick, light, juicy, and a little watery in feeling, this sake drinks spritzy and lively with a very cool buoyant feeling and a quick finish (Kire). Semi-dry with some jumpy astringency (Shibumi) this brew is like pulling cask strength brew right from the tank. Look for pineapple, watermelon, lemonade, pear, pandan, grapefruit, mango, rye bread, pound cake, and grassy flavors that are lively and slightly spritzy. Time for you and your brew to get fresh! WORD: Fresh WINE: Beaujolais BEER: Sweet Ales FOODS: Sushi, sashimi, seasonal crab and lobster, cheese and fruit plates, meat and potatoes, nabe, sukiyaki, tuna, avocado, and white fish Carpaccio.

Kisoji Shiboritate 2024
From Nagano Prefecture. Junmai Ginjo Nama Genshu. SMV: ±0 Acidity: 1.4
The nose on this seasonally released, unpasteurized (nama), and undiluted (genshu) sake is a very interesting collection of peach, blueberry muffin, berries, fig, peach, Muscat, seaweed, and grassy aromas. Talk about sticking your face down in a freshly made vat of sake and taking a big ol sip. This is fresh and vivid sake that is spritzy, crisp, zesty, bright, mid-bodied and has a silkiness to it that is odd for such fresh brash brew. Imagine the temperature at zero, shiver, and then drink liquid Nagano that is made with Hitogokochi rice and uses two bright yeast types. Look for peach, persimmon, Concord grape, nectarine compote, herbs, banana bread, strawberry, molasses, blueberry yogurt, and some lively umami flavors that drink with a little tannin-like dryness (So red wine fans take note). A vivid brew with a quick and clean snow melt finish. WORD: Refreshing WINE: Crisp Reds/Herbal Whites BEER: Herbal Pilsners FOODS: Sushi, sashimi, Chinese stir-fry, roast pork, butter sautéed mushrooms, spinach, chicken cream stew, and thick cut bacon cutlet.

Hanahato Hatsushibori "Colombe" 2024
From Hiroshima Prefecture. Junmai Ginjo Nama Genshu. SMV: +4 Acidity: 1.6
The nose on this seasonally released unpasteurized “Nama” and undiluted “Genshu” sake made with local Hiroshima rice is a vast collection of cornbread, cereal, oatmeal, marshmallow, raisin, Asian pear, grape popsicle, and whipping cream aromas. Lively, full-bodied, silky, round, and smooth, this raw sake drinks with a semi-spritz and has a cool green apple finish. Look for pear, persimmon, ginger, cinnamon, powdered sugar, green fig, mild peach, saline, with a touch of pastry dough flavors that jump with a little astringency (shibumi) as it warms. WORD: Raw WINE: Deep Reds/Spritzy whites BEER: Pilsners FOODS: Sashimi, sushi, tempura, chicken karaage, fried and grilled fish, marinated pork, Shabu Shabu hot pot, and grilled oysters.
From Hokkaido Prefecture. Tokubetsu Junmai Nama Genshu. SMV: +2 Acidity: 1.7
The nose on this ultra popular seasonally released unpasteurized sake made with the very famous Ginpu rice varietal from Hokkaido is a cool collection of cotton, melon, blueberry, lemon-lime, daikon, and mineral water aromas. If you like your Namas ricey then this brew will speak to you. Dry, clean, round, velvety, medium bodied, and very smooth this sake drinks like a Junmai brew. There are layers of flavors such as rice cracker, rice noodle, sourdough crouton, dried apple, melon, Asian pear, and a touch of ocean water. As the fluid warms rich flavors such as vanilla and cream round out the sip with a very quick finish (Kire) and a touch of shibumi, which this raw sake drinks all the more lively! It is very fresh after all! WORD: Dry WINE: Dry Reds/Mineral Whites BEER: Crisp Ales FOODS: Sashimi, sushi, white fish carpaccio, oysters, scallops, Tempura, Fried Octopus, squid and chicken, and warm tofu.
From Okayama Prefecture. Junmai Ginjo Nama Genshu. SMV: -6 Acidity: 1.6
The nose on Mei’s favorite Spring Nama that is undiluted (Genshu) and uses a peach yeast (Kobo) is an impressive collection of grape, lavender, peach, honey, vanilla, veggie, pear, powdered sugar, and mineral water aromas. Soft, silky, rich, round, fluffy, and with a medium body this special sake drinks lively and comfortable. Look for applesauce, ripe peach, sweet rice, cream puff, powdered sugar, sweet tomato, pear candy flavors that dance with a very slick umami vein that opens up as the sake warms in the glass. This is one of those Namas that you can isolate and taste the water in each sip, and it is definitely a fan favorite. WORD: Silky WINE: Soft Reds/Fruity Whites BEER: Creamy Ales FOODS: American Sushi, clam chowder, stews, cooked crab, sautéed sole and flounder, grilled miso marinated bonito, scallops in cream sauce, and seafood omelet. 
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