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Sake Day 2011 - Rewind "A Toast To Recovery!"

True Sake

Well what can we say? It was a heck of an event. I don't want to do the ol' rub it in your face, especially to those folks who aren't in the Bay Area, but rub rub rub rub rub rub! (Next year make a vacation of it! Oct 1st will be on a Monday, but we may hold the event on Saturday again.)

True Sake The largest. The most. The best. The fun(est). The - well you get the idea. We had more Sake Day drinkers, more vendors pouring amazing sakes, more brewers bringing their special brews, more representatives of breweries, more musicians (yes our favorite Okinawa band swelled to 10), and more chow than ever before. Add to that the first silent auction, which raised an extra $4,000, and yes, it was a wonderful afternoon/evening.

True Sake But best of all 100% of all the proceeds went to the JCCCNC earthquake relief effort that has a new website.

Here were some of the highlights:


  • The Welcome Sake for the second year in a row was a resounding success!

  • This year we paid homage to a Tohoku area brewery in the form of Ichinokura from Miyagi Prefecture by showing photos of some of the destruction that occurred at the brewery during the earthquake. This kura is well known for their "taru" or cedar sake so we decided to pour this brew to kick off the afternoon. Usually I like this guy room temperature but decided to go chilled, as it was the first taste of sake for the attendees. People loved the woody hints and overall complexity. Let's just say many folks came back several times for their "welcome" sake.


  • The Silent Auction was a ton of fun. We had so many wonderful sakes and sake related items to choose from. And yes - I got aced out of the three items that I bid on. (Memo to self - Make certain that I write my bid right before I declare the auction over!) Next year we will definitely do this again and I may even include some of my own "aged" sakes.


  • We had dignitaries in the house! The Consulate General of Japan paid a visit and gave a very warm toast.


  • The 4pm start was amazing! At first we were nervous that folks wouldn't show up at the beginning of the event. Then we weren't as the lobby filled up so quickly. It was great watching people taste fantastic sakes in the daylight hours.


  • The Okinawa band rocked. These guys are so much fun! Wesley, Nao, and Co. do a brilliant job representing the soul, groove, and sound of that "other" island. And this year they had 10 band members. 10! The singers went above and beyond. And of course we always close the event with a tremendous drum exhibition that left all wanting more.


  • The tasting stations were fun!

    • True Sake The first was a perfect experiment station that was based on the fact that many folks who enter True Sake ask the same question. "How long does sake last once you open it?" Well to prove the durability of sake we opened the same sake at three different times. The first bottle was opened 4 weeks before the event. And I didn't just open the top - I poured half the bottle into another bottle to maximize the oxidation.

      The next sake was opened two weeks before the event, and the last was opened on October 1st at the event. True Sake The guests were amazed and most could not tell the "fresh" sake from the damaged or oxidized sakes. I enjoyed the sake that was in the fridge for two weeks. A very large portion of guests preferred the 4 week open brew. It was just a great station.
    • The second station had four sakes from the same brewery and it was up to the tasters to pick which was the Junmai Daiginjo, the Junmai Ginjo, the Junmai, or the Honjozo. Of course the sakes were covered. The point was to prove that folks who think that they like a certain category "I'm a Daiginjo drinker!" may actually prefer a different sake class. It also was a way to show that maybe it's not worth paying more for higher milled sakes if you enjoy the less milled as much. When I was at the station, 4 out of 5 drinkers thought the Junmai was the Junmai Daiginjo. It opened a lot of eyes.
    • The third station had three "blind" sakes that were all a part of the International Wine Challenge competition in London earlier this year. One of the sakes was a Gold Medal winner and won the trophy for the Junmai class. The other two did not place. The point of the station was that perhaps one cannot drink a gold medal or to each their own. And in fact that was the case - many guests did not pick the gold medal winner and they preferred one of the other sakes. Again - we are all the champions of our own pallet and it's up to our own personal taste buds to determine what is gold and what is not.
    • The fourth and final station was a first and it was a lot of fun. Often we hear guests of both Sake Day and True Sake utter the words, "I like sake but never know how to describe it!" And we always say, "Of course you do, just say what you think." This station had one sake that the guests tasted and there was a steel board with magnetic words, adjectives, etc. that the guest would use to describe the brew. Think of the old magnetic fridge words that can make a poem. It was great watching people pull up words and attach them to the stand. Some used one or two and others up to fifteen or sixteen. There were also blank ones for people to make up their own words. When they were done they used their camera phones to capture their "words."


  • All in all it was a brilliant event and I was extremely pleased when several brewers and owners of breweries who flew in specifically for the event said that our Sake Day was probably the best Nihonshu no hi event in the world - Japan included! That's awesome!


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