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Sake Brewery – SF’s Sequoia Sake Is Rocking and Ricing!

Sake Brewery – SF’s Sequoia Sake Is Rocking and Ricing!

Have you ever had the feeling that you’ve ignored a good friend? Life is a busy thing and sometimes you neglect touching base with friends and even family. Well Jake and Noriko from SF’s Sequoia Sake are both friends and family to True Sake, and we’ve both been so busy that our ships haven’t even crossed in the night.


If you’re reading this Newsletter then you know we have featured Sequoia Sake a lot, and have tried our best to keep abreast of what’s going on in the craft sake segment. Jake and Noriko are true pioneers in the Craft Sake Industry and they’ve been at it for a long long time – in fact they are the grandparents in sake making in the US. (Please take that the right way!)


I personally have so much respect for these two that I never reviewed their brews that we sell, because they supplied us their own reviews and quite frankly I always thought they were too cool for my efforts. And that is high praise indeed. Recently I spoke to Jake when he came to the store, hand carrying his latest effort in brewing – the Shizuku which you will soon read about. Jake wanted to try something new, and said that we could have a case or two of sake that they specially made for their Sake Club Members. Cool beans! We are totally stoked to have this sneak peek for our customers, but it’s also a way for Jake to potentially expand his Sake Club. We said we would be honored to feature the Shizuku in hopes that many of you readers would jump into their Sake Club.

Now back to the reviews. In our brief meeting I mentioned to Jake that it’s been an honor selling his products and that we love using his words in the process. I mentioned being intimidated about writing reviews for their products, and he smiled and said that he really wished that I had. What? Yes! So, I gathered the True Sake Crew and we did a team tasting of all things Sequoia and herewith are the reviews for the brews that we sell.


But before the reviews I asked Jake to write an update piece on Sequoia on what’s going on with the Grandfather of Craft Sake Brewing in the US, and here is his update in his words:

If you have not watched the PBS documentary on Sequoia Sake you might not know that Jake, one of the founders of Sequoia Sake has been working with UC Davis and local rice farmers for many years, to improve the quality of rice grown for sake production. Jake has also successfully revived one of the original rice brought from Japan to California back in 1906. Two years before opening Sequoia Sake in 2012 Warren, the third partner and Jake were lucky enough to find 250 grams of this seed. Jake then worked for more than 7 years with UC Davis, the USDA, and the California rice Commission to gain approval to grow this rice commercially. 2020 marks the first time this rice was grown anywhere in the world since 1948. And this time it is specifically grown for making sake.
This Sequoia Sake rice is different from Calrose or any other rice grown here in North America. When talking about rice for sake production, one of the most important characteristics is the amount of starch and how it is stored in the grain. Good sake rice has more starch than your typical eating rice, which turns into alcohol in the end. It also has less protein, which in excess becomes off flavors. It is also key that the starch core, or shinpaku, is concentrated in the center of the grain. This is important because sake rice gets milled down and you don’t want to lose any of the core. Having a starch core is also extremely important in making good quality koji-rice, which greatly impacts the overall flavor and aroma of the sake. You can see the difference between Sequoia Sake rice, Sequoia’s organic Calrose rice, and an example of table rice grown here in California in the diagram below.

Another little-known fact about Sequoia is their sake club. In May of 2018 Sequoia shipped its first sake club package. It has been a rather exclusive club with only 100 slots, and they seldom become available. What makes the club exclusive is that Sequoia produces special sake just for its club members. One of these bottles in the package is Pure Drip sake “Shizuku” style. Jake has kindly allowed True Sake to get 2 cases in celebration of their success in grown Sequoia Sake rice.


Pure Drip Junmai Ginjo Pure Drip is produced through the natural, unforced style of separating sake from the fermenting rice mash. This is attained by putting sake into special bags and allowing the clear liquid to drip out overnight by gravity (as in contrast to pressing on them).

Only 20% of the purest sake escapes, while the remaining 80% must be disregarded. This delicate process creates the most precious sake.

SERVE CHILLED or ROOM Temperature / Alc.: 14-15% / SMV: +3

We are happy to announce in this newsletter Sequoia is about to double their sake club membership slots. The official announcement won’t be for another week, so you guys get the first shot at this. And if you have never tried Shizuku style sake here is your chance as well.

Click this link to sign up to become a Sequoia Sake Club Member.

Sequoia Ginjo

From San Francisco Prefecture. 

Junmai Ginjo Nama.

SMV: +1 ~ +2 Acidity: N/A

The nose on this unpasteurized sake made right here in San Francisco is a great collection of melon, green apple, strawberry, sugar, citrus, vanilla, fresh cut grasses, and mountain potato. Say hello to the freshest sake that you will taste, as it is produced 3 miles from this store. Layered, bright, chewy, semi-sweet, smooth, and very balanced, this brew is velvety and lush, and works very well in your wine glass. Look for apple pie, melon, sweet rice, young pear, grapefruit, lemon custard, and sweet veggies on a playful fluid that is plush. Deep with a very pleasant astringency that is more pronounced as the fluid warms. This is living Junmai Ginjo at its best that is lively and spirited with a very confident and balanced dry finish. Dig deep for grape and berry tones that create a mouth watering refreshing drinking experience, and think locally while you sip globally. WORD: Lively WINE: Rich Reds/Lush Whites BEER: Creamy Ales FOODS: Salty and savory fare, grilled anything, seafood galore, and veggie dishes.

 Shop Sequoia Sake!

Sequoia Genshu

From San Francisco, California. 

Junmai Ginjo Genshu Nama. 

SMV: +6 ~ +7 Acidity: N/A

The nose on this locally produced hand crafted unpasteurized and undiluted; Genshu, sake has a terrific nose filled with grape, pineapple, sugar, ginger, apple, cereal, banana, and mint aromas. Get your wild sake side going with this brew that is raw, brash and speaks to those who like a lot of activity in their palate. Tingly, bright, effervescent, edgy, crisp, and spicy, this sake drinks with a cocky confidence that appeals to those who like big feeling, big flavor, and big fun. Look for a myriad of flavors such as young pear, mango, oatmeal, Asian pear, lemon, cantaloupe, and sparkling water liveliness. There is a lot of shibumi action and the flavors open up as the fluid warms in the glass with a gentle and tickly white pepper goodbye finish. This Genshu is a great example of living and very active sake that is solid and stout. WORD: Brash WINE: Huge Reds/Zesty Whites BEER: Zesty Ales FOODS: The kitchen sink, grilled everything, International spice, soups, pastas, stews, meats and game.

 Shop Sequoia Sake!

Sequoia Nigori

From San Francisco, California. 

Nigori Nama. 

SMV: -11 ~ -12 Acidity: N/A

The nose on this locally made craft Nigori; Coarsely Filtered, sake is a vast collection of vanilla, cream, peach, red apple, raisin, and cream soda aromas. Say hello to a super smooth, round, and flavorful cloudy sake that epitomizes the foggy San Francisco weather. This “foggy” sake has a very large array of flavors such as young pear, crisp apple, sweet rice pudding, orange cream soda, peach, and juicy fruity tones that are bright and lively in the palate because they are not pasteurized – they are living and breathing in your glass. Which means lively, spritzy and tingly sensations abound. Sequoia makes a cut-above Nigori that should not be missed, especially if you like the fog. WORD: Bright WINE: Fruity Reds/Rich Whites BEER: Fruity Creamy Ales FOODS: Pizza, International Spice, Tacos, grilled anything, cheese and fruit plates.

Shop Sequoia Sake!

Sequoia Shizuku "Pure Drip"

From San Francisco, California. 

Junmai Ginjo Genshu Shizuku. 

SMV: +3 Acidity: N/A

The nose on this sake, that is made in the most labor-intensive style of sake making, is a fantastic collection of tropical mango, papaya, pineapple, bamboo, mountain potato, nuts, grains, and steamed rice aromas. Talk about an elegant sake! This Shizuku is all that and then some with a very gentle and sophisticated elegance that borders on smooth and daring. Light, round, velvety, and clean. It drinks like a gentle dream while on a hammock in a light breeze. Silky and soft, there is a very subtle layer of tannin-like qualities that tease the palate and rewards with a whisper finish. Look for hints of Asian Pear, cucumber, sweet tomato, peach, grapefruit, and shiso on a lush and watery silky flow. There is a very nice dry water duality that makes each sip a velvety rush of quietness. And that is all technique driven. High-End Craft sake at it’s best. WORD: Elegant WINE: Silky Reds/Dry Whites BEER: Light Ales FOODS: Gentle and soft cuisines, grilled and steamed fish, tofu, sushi, sashimi.

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