Episode 164 Show Notes

Episode 164. On New Year’s Day, 2024, the Noto Peninsula of Ishikawa Prefecture was the epicenter of a major earthquake measuring a 7.6 on the Richter scale. The affected areas are especially well known for sake brewing and in Ishikawa in particular, 24 out of 33 Ishikawa Sake Brewery Association member breweries suffered damage, with 8 suffering complete destruction. While the news of the earthquake and the recovery efforts have fallen out of the headlines, we wanted to offer our support and good wishes to the affected breweries inside Ishikawa and the surrounding prefectures as well, as they continue their road to recovery and rebuilding. One thing we can all do to support the sake industry is easy – ordering more sake from the affected regions and keeping an eye out for Noto sakes when they make their return to the market. We profile one such sake in this episode – Hakuto Tokubetsu Junmai. We look forward to supporting this brand and many others whenever they are able to restart brewing in their repaired facilities. Look for updates on this in future episodes! #SakeRevolution

Skip to: 00:19 Hosts Welcome and Introduction
Welcome to the show from John and Timothy

Skip to: 01;24 Supporting Ishikawa Brewers

If you wish to donate money to the affected brewers, there are two groups accepting donations by bank transfer.

1) Japan Sake & Shochu Makers Association
Bank Account Information for donations:
Bank: Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Hibiya Branch
SWIFT code: SMBCJPJT (8 characters) / SMBCJPJTXXX (11 characters)
Beneficiary Account Number: 8646691
(Nihonshuzou Kumiai Chuoukai, Gienkin-kuchi)
ADDRESS: 1-6-15 Nishishimbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0003 JAPAN

More Details here:

2) Ishikawa Prefecture Sake Brewers Association
(BENE’S ADDRESS) 2-13-33, Motomachi, Kanazawa-shi,Ishikawa-ken, 920-0842, JAPAN

More Details Here:

Skip to: 09:16 Sake Introduction and Tasting: Hakuto Tokubetsu Junmai

Hakuto Tokubetsu Junmai

Alcohol: 15.0%
Brewery: Hakuto Shuzo
Classification: Tokubetsu Junmai
Prefecture: Ishikawa
Rice Type: Yamadanishiki, Gohyakumangoku
Seimaibuai: 55%
Sake Name English: Deep Faith
SMV: +2

Skip to: 23:19 Show Closing

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Episode 164 Transcript

John Puma: 0:21
Hello, everybody, and welcome to Sake Revolution. This podcast, and I’m one of your hosts. My name is John Puma. I’m from the Sake Notes. I’m also the guy who, manages the internet’s sake discord as well as Reddit’s r slash sake community.

Timothy Sullivan: 0:37
And I’m your host, Timothy Sullivan. I’m a sake samurai. I’m a sake educator, as well as the founder of the Urban Sake website. And every week, John and I will be here tasting and chatting about all things sake and doing our best to make it fun and easy to understand.

John Puma: 0:52
Hello, Tim. How are you today? I’m good. I’m good.

Timothy Sullivan: 0:54
Hello, John. We always try to make things fun, don’t we? But our topic for this week is not especially fun.

John Puma: 1:01
It’s not fun unfortunately. But I do think that sometimes you do need to take a step back and and I think we need to, we have a voice and we have people who tune into our show every week. in times of concern need to use your voice to draw attention to to bad things that happen and and give people the power to help make them better

Timothy Sullivan: 1:24
Yeah. today, we’re going to be talking about the earthquake that happened in Japan on New Year’s day. And that was all over the news on New Year’s day. But one thing that concerns me is that it’s really fallen off the radar of, the States. And we just wanted to do an episode that was focused on the severe impact of this earthquake on the sake brewing industry, especially in Ishikawa. And it’s just not getting enough coverage in my book.

John Puma: 1:56
Now I think that for a lot of people. After the 2011 earthquake it’s anything that’s not with potentially exploiting nuclear reactors and tsunamis, they don’t, it doesn’t get the press, it doesn’t get, it’s not as exciting to talk about. But the destruction is still is still real and the people’s lives are still affected And, and obviously in the case of these breweries the livelihood of a lot of people has been has been, uh, endangered.

Timothy Sullivan: 2:22
Yeah. And this is a region of Japan that you and I have talked about many times. It’s a very well known sake brewing region that was the actual epicenter of this earthquake. And we wanted to devote this episode to Informing people out there about what happened the extent of the damage to the sake industry. We also want to profile a sake and one of the particular breweries that was very damaged, and we want to let people know how they can help.

John Puma: 2:52
Yeah. I guess what we should start with with the particulars this is the 2024 Noto Peninsula earthquake and it’s, as you’ve pointed out, it was like New Year’s Day. So it’s freshly minted 2024 at that. A quake struck that was 7. 5 on the Richter scale. That is as you guys may or may not know, the Richter scale is actually, again, exponential scale. It’s not a seven isn’t one more than six. It’s actually Several orders of magnitude more than six. It’s a lot. And struck about seven kilometers. That’s a 4. 3 miles for our American listeners. That’s most of us north, northwest of Suzu, which is on the Noto peninsula of Ishikawa Prefecture.

Timothy Sullivan: 3:37
Yeah. And there were a few towns in particular that were affected by this. Wajima, Suzu, and Anamizu those three towns were affected by, the earthquake in particular. Wajima is really well known for lacquerware and it’s really well known for sake breweries and the sake we’re going to taste today is actually one from Wajima. So they’re really in the crosshairs of this horrible earthquake. There have been about 238 fatalities reported so far in Ishikawa and over 1300 people were injured so far. And it is every few years, it seems like there’s an earthquake that reaches up to this magnitude in Japan. They’re incredibly well prepared to deal with this, but even the best countermeasures still result in fatalities and destruction of buildings every few years. So it’s a fact of reality in Japan.

John Puma: 4:34
Yeah. I think this is the worst quake since the 2016 earthquake over in Kumamoto That was insane. I was actually in Japan during that. I was in Tokyo, so quite far away, but it was all over the news and a lot of people were, very stunned and shocked seeing it all happening in real time. It was very crazy.

Timothy Sullivan: 4:50
And I looked up online some information about, for the sake industry in particular, for the regions surrounding Ishikawa, how many. Breweries were affected out of the total number of breweries. So why don’t we go through some of those regions and we can talk about what the damage level is for those particular regions. This is information that I got from the Taste Translation website, which is a project of Arlene Lyons in Switzerland, and she does a great job translating Japanese sake news into English for the rest of us. So we’re always so grateful to Arlene for her support. So this information comes from her website. And why don’t we start with ground zero? Why don’t we start with Ishikawa?

John Puma: 5:36
Yeah. Um, this language is purely about the breweries, right?

Timothy Sullivan: 5:40
Yeah. This is about the

John Puma: 5:41
So it looks out of the 33 Breweries over in Ishikawa, 24 of them reported damage. That’s a lot. And eight cases of destruction. Which they’re showing us like breweries or offices, homes, stores, et cetera. Two cases of severe damage, no human casualties at the breweries, which is is a mercy. The 10 sake breweries that are actually on the peninsula will not be able to produce or distribute sake for a while. They need to rebuild quite a bit considerably. To note about all this though, is that one really, like the full assessment of knowing how bad the damage is, is actually hindered because there’s, evacuations there’s, there’s the roads that are destroyed that people can’t get to, places to find out how bad they are, you know, this is something that even, even a month out is gonna start, we’re still gonna be hearing things and. Peeling back the onion, so to speak.

Timothy Sullivan: 6:35
Yeah. And if you remember my story about going to the Noto Peninsula when I visited Sogen Brewery, I did hear that Sogen was it actually had landslide damage. So it wasn’t destroyed by the earthquake itself, but there was landslides that affected several of the brewery buildings. So they’re also out of commission for this brewing year for sure. Getting there, it’s a narrow peninsula that juts out into the Sea of Japan. And if several roads are disrupted or broken apart, getting aid further into the peninsula is very difficult. So I think the full extent of the damage is just now slowly being reported and being uncovered even several weeks later. Um, yeah, so that’s a quick overview of what happened in Ishikawa.

John Puma: 7:27
But it doesn’t stop there. There’s also breweries in Toyama that were damaged breweries in Fukui. And and in Niigata, Niigata has a lot of breweries, Tim, if I’m not mistaken, something like almost 90, if I’m not, if I’m remembering right, 29 suffered damage. So people forget that Niigata’s right over there also. And it’s just it’s a lot. It’s a lot to to take in, for this is an industry that has been going through some hard times and that is near and dear to all of our hearts here listening. And and here we are with with a lot of setbacks for a lot of breweries.

Timothy Sullivan: 8:04
Yeah. And there’s also one report from Nagano Prefecture of one brewery out of the 80 has reported damage, but the one saving grace in all of this is that none of the sake breweries reported any loss of life from the destruction. So that is, is a blessing for sure. but yeah. But. With even the breweries that their building survived relatively intact or didn’t collapse completely in the Ishikawa region, their existing store of bottles was often destroyed, and then their ability to finish any type of brewing this year is not possible. So, We really have our thoughts with all the brewing. community, all the industry people in Ishikawa and the surrounding prefectures that were affected.

John Puma: 9:01
So we’re gonna take a moment now and we’re gonna Introduce the sake we’re gonna be sipping today and Tim as you mentioned earlier. This is from the region and You want to go ahead and introduce this one? Mm

Timothy Sullivan: 9:16
Yeah. We wanted to find a sake to taste on the show today to honor one of the breweries that is undergoing a big struggle. They’re not going to be able to brew this year and maybe even not next year as they work towards rebuilding. But there are a number of breweries that have products on the market now in The states, and we wanted to pick one and focus on one brewery in particular as a representative for the breweries that are all struggling with producing this year. And the brewery we came up with was Hakuto Shuzo. They are located in Wajima, Ishikawa, and their brand is Hakuto, which is translated as deep faith. Which is something we all need right now to deal with this horrible situation with the earthquake aftermath. This brewery was founded in 1722. And it is a family run business. The current owners are husband and wife team, Kiichi and Akiko Hakuto. They actually met at the Tokyo University of Agriculture, where they were both studying fermentation science. And Kiichi is the ninth generation of his family to carry on the tradition of brewing sake. So this is a family run business many, many generations. And This couple was well known for their dedication to promoting sake, and they are relatively young and vibrant, and I think they will be up to the challenge to rebuilding. It’s a long road ahead, and of course we want to send them our best wishes and any support we can but let’s look at the sake that they’ve been exporting. The exporter is Jo to sake and let’s take a look at the stats for the sake we’re gonna taste today.

John Puma: 11:15
thing, Tim. We’ve got Hakuto’s Tokubetsu Junmai as you mentioned, the Hakuto name Deep Faith is the English translation they’re using the rice variety on this sake is both Yamadanishiki Gohyakumangoku the rice has been polished down to 55% of its original size. The yeast that’s in effect today is number 14, which is apparently a Kanazawa yeast association. Number 14, I should specify the sake meter value from that measure. Dry too sweet is plus two. The acidity is 1. 6 and the alcohol percentage is 15 even

Timothy Sullivan: 11:53
So this is their Tokubestu Junmai, and it’s a well-known sake, and Jo to, has been distributing this. They’re a well-known distributor from small family Run. breweries, and they put a message up on Instagram that this was a few days after the earthquake, and they were just acknowledging that Hakuto, and another brand that Hakuto makes is called Shiragiku. So the Instagram handle for this brewery is hakuto underscore Shiragiku, and the Brewers have actually posted a few short videos to their Instagram showing the damage, showing them recovering the sign that was, had their brand name on it from the front of their building. And Joto was happy to report that the family and staff are all safe and physically well. But the brewery building itself suffered substantial damage and uncertain water and power supply, which of course makes it impossible to get back to brewing. You know, one Thing that I’ve known from a lot of the distributors is that they have deep personal relationships with the families that make the sake that they sell. Uh, This isn’t just a contractual relationship where they ship back and forth and they don’t know each other. They visit each other often. They work together to promote their sake. And I know the people at Joto are close, personally close to the Hakuto family. It is just great to see them, their concern for them and their support for them. And I know that for any of the breweries that they distribute that they’ll be there to do whatever they can to help them get back on their feet.

John Puma: 13:52
Oh, yes. Yes. I hope so. so additionally, there is a message here from Hakuto as well, from the brewery themselves., according to their messaging, it looks like the, their store, their office the residential area. So there’s housing around these around these brewers very often.

Timothy Sullivan: 14:09
Yeah. Their house is actually, their house is actually attached

John Puma: 14:11
Their house is that, no, I actually live there, wow. Their warehouse for stores, their commercial refrigeration buildings where they store sake as well. They have all Collapsed. The walls are fully fully damaged. They’re saying major damage to the equipment, major damage to the tanks, the washing machines, the pouring machines, everything, everything that they use to make sake on a day to day basis has been damaged. They didn’t have water at the time of this post, they have a a partial power outage and no word on when it’s going to be restored keep in mind everybody that in situations like this with an earthquake, you also have a danger of aftershocks, so you can’t always You know the emergency services can’t always jump right in and bring Services fully back online because it could cause more damage during aftershocks Brewing for this year has been cancelled they end it by saying kind of rest assured that they will be okay little by little they’re gonna move forward and and they’re gonna and they’re gonna be safe. And that’s, the gist of what they had posted. And it’s really, it gives you an idea of what’s going on over there. It’s just that it, that this is an incredible amount of damage and and that, the livelihood that these people depend on every year is gone for the years is that no, they will not sell any sake.

Timothy Sullivan: 15:20

John Puma: 15:21
And that’s terrifying. If that’s, if that’s what you do to to survive, to make money and you have a family and and employees that depend on you and it’s hard.

Timothy Sullivan: 15:30
Yeah. And John, I think it’s just a little bit overwhelming if you stop and think about This particular case multiplied not only across the sake industry, but across all industries. If you run a dog kennel or a dentist’s office or whatever in this region, your industries have been affected too. So it’s literally overwhelming to think about all these different industries that are affected. But one thing that. Helps me to take action and get focus is to look at the industry that, directly affects something we care about so deeply and try to help in any way we can there versus just feeling overwhelmed and becoming incapacitated.

John Puma: 16:12
Tim, that’s a really great way to put it. I’ve been like, I’ve been like trying to digest this and thinking about how we’re presenting this and obviously our focus is on is on this industry, as you pointed out, this is something that’s happening across everything over there. But it just happens that we are focused on sake cause that’s what we do. So that is that’s why our focus is there. So with that said we’re going to have a sip of the, of that Hakuto Tokubetsu Junmai that we spoke about like we normally do. Cause you know, this is still sake revolution

Timothy Sullivan: 16:45
Yeah. And we want to honor the sake that they’ve made. We won’t be able to get it. We won’t be able to get it for one or maybe two years. So while it’s still available here, we want to make sure that we’re supporting them. And so we were able to get our hands on Hakuto Tokubetsu Junmai. So let’s get this in the glass and we can give it a taste and give it a description.

John Puma: 17:08
It sounds great. All right. So we’ve got that in the glass and it is. Clear and just a touch off off white, I want to say. And I don’t know about you, but I see tiny bits of particulate, or bubbles, I’m not sure, in mine. What are you seeing?

Timothy Sullivan: 17:31
Hmm. I see like a hint of yellow color. This is a Tokubetsu Junmai and yeah this, um, looks interesting. So let’s bring it to the nose and give it a smell.

John Puma: 17:41
Mm. So that’s, what is that almost almost like licorice, almost, on the nose?

Timothy Sullivan: 17:46
Bit like baking spices. And the, there’s a aroma note on the bottle here. It says smells like maple syrup a little bit. But

John Puma: 18:00
I could see where they’re coming from, but I’m going to agree to disagree on that a little bit.

Timothy Sullivan: 18:03
Yeah there’s I like the kind of the idea of baking spices. If you think about cinnamon or allspice, there’s a warming, if you smell an apple pie or something like that, you get that baking spice aroma. There’s a little bit of that.

John Puma: 18:18
Let’s have a sip then.

Timothy Sullivan: 18:19

John Puma: 18:20
Ooh, that’s nice.

Timothy Sullivan: 18:25
There’s a real depth here. There’s a little bit of. Creaminess, a little bit of rice, and overall dry but soft. yeah, and still warming.

John Puma: 18:40
you immediately pointed out that there’s a lot of depth and the English translation for the name is deep faith.

Timothy Sullivan: 18:46

John Puma: 18:47
know what they’re doing.

Timothy Sullivan: 18:49
they sure do.

John Puma: 18:51
Yeah, this is nice. And it is, yeah, there is that. My favorite thing about tasting is, is the creaminess that you pointed out. That’s that the way it it feels in the mouth and on the palate is is lovely.

Timothy Sullivan: 19:03
It’s definitely Junmai, it has that, a little bit of like a rice pudding character to it, but it has that warming sensation again, not that it tastes like overtly like cinnamon, but there’s just that baked apple pie, warm, cozy feeling to it.

John Puma: 19:22
Yeah. Yeah. That’s nice. That’s a good way to put it. I like that. It does take cozy. It is cozy. It’s comforting. Also, it’s very I think that this would actually be really This would have a nice time being, I don’t know about warmed up a little bit, but perhaps, but definitely room temperature. I want to have this a little bit. It’s a touch warmer.

Timothy Sullivan: 19:45
I vote for warm. Why

John Puma: 19:47
You fall for it, you want to go all in, all I’m very I’m very trepidatious about my sake warming. But I am warming up to the concept of room temperature as a normal thing to do at home. So

Timothy Sullivan: 20:00
Thanks for bringing a dad joke to this serious episode, John.

John Puma: 20:05
you haven’t done a pun in a while. So I had to do something. I had to bring it.

Timothy Sullivan: 20:11
This is a delicious sake. It’s something that I would want to drink, especially in the wintertime. I think warmed up would be great, as I just said, and I’d also love to have this with warm dishes like a stew, like if I had a winter stew, chicken stew, and this would, I think, would be off the charts delicious. It does have when you say it’s Warm and creamy and Junmai. I also want to emphasize that this is also like. uses a very light touch. So it’s not heavy at all. It’s very light and almost a little bit airy, but it has that warming sensation, a little bit of that creamy texture, and it really brings the rice characteristic forward. So if you’re a lover of rice forward Sakes, but like things a little on the lighter side, not too heavy or overbearing. I think this would be right up your alley.

John Puma: 21:10
Yeah, this is definitely not in the realm of crazy style

Timothy Sullivan: 21:14

John Puma: 21:15
No, it is, it is it what you point out. It’s it tastes very Junmai

Timothy Sullivan: 21:21

John Puma: 21:22
with a hundred percent there.

Timothy Sullivan: 21:24
Do you have any thoughts on what you might pair with the sake like this?

John Puma: 21:27
I can’t get the stew idea in my head now Uh, however I think that I did have some some not spicy at all, but more of a earthy like a chicken chili recently. And that’s giving me, I’m getting some thoughts about that. I think that would go pretty well here. And now I’m hungry. You see how this goes? Absolutely.

Timothy Sullivan: 21:51
you can taste in this sake that for me, it feels like something that’s handcrafted and it has the nuance and the attention to detail that you can tell that the brewers, labored over this and made something special. So our thoughts and. Really good wishes go out to the Hakuto family and we’re so happy to be able to taste their sake and we will have another episode when their next batch from their rebuilt brewery comes back on the market. And um,

John Puma: 22:29

Timothy Sullivan: 22:29

John Puma: 22:31
I bet if you are listening and hearing about all this, you might be wondering what you can do to help and believe it or not, there are things you can do.

Timothy Sullivan: 22:40
yes, we mentioned before, it can be overwhelming if you think about damage across the entire prefecture and how this story has fallen out of the news. But if you’ve listened to this if you’re watching this episode and you’re looking for a way to support Ishikawa, support these brewers, So our, Suggestion here is to visit our website, sakerevolution. com. Look at the show notes for this episode, and we’ll list several options for sending support to Japan.

John Puma: 23:10
yes we often say you should check the show notes, but this one, this is really where the meat is on this one. Definitely go there and check the show notes and find out what you can do to help.

Timothy Sullivan: 23:19
John, this has been a little bit more of a serious episode for us, not our usual laugh fest, but we just knew we had to talk about the situation for the sake industry in Ishikawa and the surrounding prefectures. We hope that any listener who’s interested in helping will visit our show notes and look at the different options for supporting the brewers. Anything that you can contribute will. Be greatly appreciated. And as we get more information, we will continue to report and let you know how the recovery efforts are going. I’m sure we’ll get updates in the future down the line and bring you whatever good news we can John, it was so wonderful to connect with you again. Always so nice to record with you. And I really enjoyed tasting this Hakuto together. It was very special to enjoy this sake together while we’re thinking about And sending our best wishes to all the brewers in Ishikawa. I want to thank our listeners, of course, for tuning in thank you in advance for all the support that you give to Ishikawa, and I want to thank our patrons as well, as always, for your support of our show. Without your support, we couldn’t bring you Sake Revolution. So much appreciated. Kanpai!

John Puma: 24:38
And one last time, as Tim mentioned, if you go over to the show notes at our website, sakerevolution. com you’ll find information about various fundraising efforts to help support the breweries in the Noto Peninsula. On that note please raise a glass, and remember to keep drinking sake, and kanpai.