Episode 105 Show Notes

Episode 105. This week we interview and get to know Wes Konishi the President of the Sake Brewer’s Association of North America. Wes gives us the lowdown on the SBANA and their mission to help with establishing North American sake breweries and advocating for legislative form for the U.S. sake industry. Most of us sake lovers remember a special “A-ha” moment where we discovered the joys of premium sake for the first time, but Wes comes prepared with no less than two “a-has” that cemented his love for sake. Listen in as we discuss the path forward for sake education and sake literacy in the States. You won’t want to miss it! #sakerevolution

Skip to: 00:19 Show Opening
Welcome to the show from John and Timothy

Skip to: 01:15 Interview: Weston Konishi, President Sake Brewers Association of North America

Weston Konishi
Weston Konishi is President of the Sake Brewers Association of North America. He has over 20 years of experience in the field of U.S.-Japan relations, with a focus on the political and diplomatic ties between the two nations. As Director of Partnerships and Development at the U.S.-Japan Council, Wes worked closely with a broad range of Japanese and U.S.-based companies on development strategies and expanding the organization’s corporate membership base. His appreciation for sake evolved during his eight years living in Tokyo, Japan as a graduate student and researcher. In 2014, he completed the Sake Professional Course with John Gauntner. He has subsequently written about sake and the challenges and opportunities for the industry in the United States. He is a member of the Japan Commerce Association of Washington, DC and the Mansfield Foundation’s U.S.-Japan Network for the Future. A Native New Yorker, he lives in Baltimore, MD with his wife and cat.


Sake Brewers Association of North America

Sake Brewers Association of North America
Founded by North American sake brewers in early 2019, the Sake Brewers Association of North America (SBANA) is a 501(c)(6) non-profit focused on promoting and protecting North America’s sake brewers, their sake, and the community of sake enthusiasts. The Association has Three Core Areas of Focus:

Consumer Development
The majority of consumers are still unfamiliar with sake as a category. To address this the Association engages in broad external communication initiatives.

Brewery Development
We are the ‘voice’ for the North American sake industry. We focus on a wide spectrum of initiatives

Legislative Reform
At this time the legislative landscape is extremely confusing for the sake industry. At the federal level, under the Internal Revenue Code, for matters relating to production and tax, sake is treated as beer. However, under the Federal Alcohol Administration Act, for labeling and advertising, sake is treated as wine. This confusion only deepens at the state level.

Web: https://sakeassociation.org/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SakeAssociation
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sakeassociation
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sakeassn

Skip to: 15:38 Upcoming Event: American Craft Sake Festival
American Craft Sake Festival
Get Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/american-craft-sake-festival-tickets-298790288797

On Saturday, May 28th, 2022, Ben’s Tune Up in Asheville, NC will host the joyous return of American Craft Sake Fest. Tickets will be available for presell on April 1st 2022. Early Bird tickets are $40. If available, tickets will be sold at the door for $50 during the event. Attendees will enjoy sake tastings from sake breweries in North America (while supplies last), seminars from sake industry professionals, live music, and drink specials from 2-6pm.

Date and time:
Sat, May 28, 2022
2:00 PM – 6:00 PM EDT

Ben’s Tune-Up
195 Hilliard Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801

Get Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/american-craft-sake-festival-tickets-298790288797

Skip to: 17:34 Sake Introduction and Tasting : Brooklyn Kura “Blue Door” Junmai Nama Genshu

Brooklyn Kura “Blue Door” Junmai Nama Genshu

Brewery: Brooklyn Kura
Alcohol: 17.0%
Classification: Junmai Nama Genshu
Prefecture: US – New York
Rice: U.S. Yamadanishiki, U.S. Calrose
Brand: Brooklyn Kura
Seimaibuai: 60%
SMV: +3.0

Where to buy?

Skip to: 30:56 Show Closing

This is it! Join us next time for another episode of Sake Revolution!

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Episode 105 Transcript

John Puma: 0:21
Hello everybody. And welcome to Sake Revolution. This is America’s first sake podcast, and I am one of your hosts, John Puma from the Sake Notes, also administrator at our friendly neighborhood, internet sake discord. And on this show, I’m the average everyday sake nerd.

Timothy Sullivan: 0:43
And I am your host, Timothy Sullivan. I’m a Sake Samurai, 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. Yes. Now, John, today we have a very special guest that I’m super excited to talk to. And if you let me, I’m going to go ahead and introduce him.

John Puma: 1:12
This is great. I love guests

Timothy Sullivan: 1:15
Yes, me too. So welcome today to our special guest weston Konishi Wes has over 20 years of experience in the field of US Japan relations with a special focus on the political and diplomatic ties between the two nations. Wes spent eight years in Tokyo as a graduate student and researcher and later worked as the director of partnerships and development for the US Japan Council. He’s a published author as well as a member of the Japan commerce association of Washington DC and the Manfield Foundations, U S Japan Network for the Future. Since February, 2021 Wes took on the role of President of the Sake Brewers Association of North America. We’re excited to welcome Wes to the show and talk to him today. So welcome Wes. Thanks for joining us.

Weston Konishi: 2:03
Thank you for having me today. This is great. So glad to join you. name.

John Puma: 2:07
This is a lot of fun. We’ve had a lot of uh, North American brewers on the show before. And so it’s really kind of a, a nice little bit of excitement for us to have you on here representing those brewers, going to be a lot of fun, I think.

Weston Konishi: 2:20
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you again for having me. It’s wonderful.

John Puma: 2:23
All right. Now I want to get right to it. There’s a, There’s a question we love to ask our guests. I personally, it’s my favorite question. I love it. Personally, how’d you discover sake? Did you have your aha moment?

Weston Konishi: 2:36
Yes, I did have an aha moment. Although I have to say, I grew up with sake in the background. I mean I’m half Japanese, so I grew up in New York city. And my parents would have a sake around and, take it out for special occasions. Oshogatsu and things like that. This is back in the early seventies and what you could get at that time, especially in New York, wasn’t all that fantastic. but it was always in the background. And then when I went to Japan as an exchange student, I was exposed to more of it and drank it as most Japanese college students do, which is a lot. So by volume will think I’m, I might not be the most expert in sake, but by volume I’m up there. That’s those that’s my real, it comes to sake. sake.

John Puma: 3:20
That’s really interesting. I never realized that students over there would dabble into sake. I always figured it would be more of like the beer thing.

Weston Konishi: 3:27
Beer is certainly is a big part of the drinking repertoire there, if you’re a college student, but but sake was there too. and atsukan and just, futsushu, nothing special. but then in grad school, I did have this aha moment. and I remember the whole scenario very clearly. it was a, a huge snow storm hit Tokyo and the entire city shut down and there are very few things running. A lot of things were closed, but, I had dinner plans that night with some friends of mine in a neighboring town. And luckily enough, I was able to get a bus, to that location. So I got there, but it was just, this beautiful idyllic, Tokyo when it’s snowing actually turns into a really beautiful city. and I got, yeah.

John Puma: 4:16
Turns into.

Weston Konishi: 4:20
It covers up the soot that’s normally visible. But so I got to this restaurant is one of my favorite places. It’s a seafood specialty restaurant and and it was just so cozy in there and the food was spectacular and I ordered. I ordered sake and it was kokuryu. And a line called that they may call ichorai which I haven’t seen here on the shelves in the States, but obviously you can get Kokuryu more and more here, which is spectacular, but this particular. One was called Ichorai and I think it’s a Junmai I don’t think they make much junmai to my and I was just, it was one of those aha love at first sight moments, it just was so delicious and the ambience and the food just combined to make this incredible experience that I’ll never forget. And so I then subsequently became. A devotee of kokuryu and Ichorai in particular to the point where people would like, automatically associate me with Ichorai. I and if I went out to an Izakaya or something like that, or if it were my birthday, people just give me bottles of Ichorai and that would be, so That’s my a-ha story.

Timothy Sullivan: 5:31
That’s awesome.

Weston Konishi: 5:31
It’s really great.

Timothy Sullivan: 5:32
You are here as the president of the Sake Brewers Association of North America, and we would love to start out by asking you to please tell us about the association and what’s the mission of your group.

Weston Konishi: 5:48
The Association was really the brainchild of Andrew Centafonte if North American Sake Brewery and in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Bernie Baskin on my predecessor. And Bernie was an ex-pat lawyer in Singapore years ago and got into book publishing and published a book about sake, a really gorgeous book on sake and it features 75 different sake breweries around Japan. So that kind of got him into the industry, into the sake world. And then when he came back to the states, he met up with Andrew and they started talking more broadly uh, about the sake industry here in North America. And they realized that there really wasn’t at the time an Association representing and advocating for this budding new industry here. And so they decided to actually start it up and they did. And so in 2019 they formally established the Association. And then. the, And the mission really is threefold. One is to help Sake breweries and brewers develop their operations and and, help them grow their their businesses. The pillar of the mission is to help raise sake awareness amongst consumers in north America. And then the third is to lobby for laws and regulations that are conducive to growing the industry even further. So those are the three main pillars of our mission.

John Puma: 7:09
Now that I don’t imagine that’s going to be. An easy task. What are the biggest challenges for American sake brewers? I imagine that sourcing is sometimes very difficult, not only just for raw materials, but I would imagine that getting a hardware is going to be difficult, a getting a press, things like that. what have you guys come across.

Weston Konishi: 7:31
Yeah. All of those issues are obstacles and challenges for brewers. And as you know, I mean, sake equipment is very expensive. And so I think for most folks here they’re unable to afford. Cutting edge technologies that are available in Japan and Japanese brewers. And so what they wind up doing is repurposing brewing equipment that comes from beer, the beer world, or the other wine making world. And so I think that’s what the vast majority of our members wind up doing. So that’s certainly one one huge challenge and. Yeah. There’s issues with obtaining yeasts and different strains of yeast. That’s certainly something that’s up there. The rules and regulations are also, as the three tier system has few advocates and it’s very complicated. And then. It gets exponentially more complicated when, there are municipal or even, small local rules and regulations that, that determine, what kind of operations you can have. So all of that I think combines to make for some pretty large obstacles for a lot of folks. And then I think just more broadly, and I think you probably can relate to this. It’s just sake literacy amongst American consumers is still relatively low, and it’s still largely an unknown commodity here. And then I think there are. Adding to that, or maybe amplifying that is, is the fact that I think there are kind of cultural barriers between what American consumers understand about sake, what it really is. That’s a major issue.

John Puma: 9:07
I imagine.

Timothy Sullivan: 9:07
Yeah. And diving into the regulations just a little bit, I’ve heard from some brewers or people I know who want to start a brewery. They’re like to the state government, I’m a beer and to the federal government, I’m a wine and there’s all these contradictions what’s the state of the laws and regulations as far as recognizing sake as its own thing. And do you think there’s hope for the future as far as getting a nationwide standard of what sake is?

Weston Konishi: 9:32
you know, I think that the, there is that sort of dual approach to, to the regulation of sake, which I think, It does make things a little bit complicated in terms of applying for licenses and things like that. But to some degree, there’s an advantage there in that it is regulated as a beer. And I think in tax, therefore is a beer that’s really to our advantage because we don’t want it to be considered a wine. And the, the TTB does have a definition of sake. That’s something that we’re asking. Working on ourselves as an association is our own association driven. Member-driven actually definition of what sake is in our context that will help inform what we want to do next with with regulations.

Timothy Sullivan: 10:17
So you’re working on as a association, you’re working on a definition of what a sake is. And I think having that and being able to provide that to regulators is probably a big help for them.

Weston Konishi: 10:29
Exactly. Yeah. I mean, I think it’s really important, if, when we go about lobbying for change that we have As close to a consensus understanding of what sake is with within our community, so that we can better advocate the product with regulators. So that’s part of the reason why we’re undertaking this and it’s been a slow process to be frank and that’s because we really wanted it to be a ground up process, not something where. the board of directors of our Association basically comes up with the definition on their own, but something in which we really get solicit feedback and encourage feedback from our members to help us to reach a point where we can all agree on something that’s a working definition. And, And so that takes time and. Our differences of opinion and things like that which, we’re doing our best to incorporate. I’d say, one of the big questions is or considerations I should say is we don’t want to be constrictive in our interpretation of what sake is that it chokes off innovations that are happening here. So that’s a big part of what we’re deliberating over.

Timothy Sullivan: 11:34

John Puma: 11:35
it’s funny. We talk a lot about sake education needed to be out there. And we usually think about the customer or the consumer. You’re, as you brought up, it’s even legislature needs to be knowledgeable about what sake is. Governed it. Which clearly isn’t the case yet.

Weston Konishi: 11:48
right. Exactly. There’s, There’s a long way to go before lawmakers really understand what sake is and are able to better regulate it.

Timothy Sullivan: 11:57
Yeah. And it’s a real opportunity to, as you mentioned, because we don’t want to take the Japanese definition of what sake is and drop it on our government, because there’s such a chance here to create something new and allow for a more dynamic definition of sake. And I think that’s awesome.

Weston Konishi: 12:13
Exactly. Yeah. I think that’s exactly what we’re trying to do. So I think we’re close at this point where we’re getting to the point where we’re ready to announce a a provisional definition. We’ll see how that flies with our community, and then we’ll take it from there.

John Puma: 12:27
Nice. I think that can actually make for a good amount of change if it works out, as, as well as it could. we also need to get the, the industry here. Continuing to grow, get bigger, get, obviously, for both us domestic sake and imported sake, what’s the, what is the best way to get sake into people’s hands and subsequently uh,

Weston Konishi: 12:48
I’m a big advocate and maybe this just comes from the fact that I represent craft brewers around the country, but I just think that if you really want consumers to get to fall in love and to have for them to have an aha moment, it’s great. If you have. People in your community actually making that product. It’s great. If that’s, if this stuff is available to local communities and consumers that to me is a really important step. And that, to me can make some inroads. I mean, It’ll take time obviously, but I do think that can be an effective avenue for gaining more interest and more of a sake kind of savvy consumer base that’s been lacking so far. So it helps, if there’s a brewery in Nashville, Tennessee, and then Tennesseeans, can learn more about sake. It’s great if there’s a brewery in Los Angeles making sake for for folks there too. And just replicate that across the country. And that’s a really good thing, and it’s very exciting to watch.

John Puma: 13:51

Timothy Sullivan: 13:51
Yeah, as we’ve all experienced, one sip can really change your life. Like once you get the chance to do. You can really have a very deep experience with sake. And the more breweries there are, as you’re saying, the more chance people have to drink local, fresh sake, and it’s a real visceral experience when you have something handmade by the person who made it standing in front of you. What an awesome way to get introduced to sake.

Weston Konishi: 14:15
And so one, one example of this. So we, there was recently the Sakura Matsuri, the cherry blossom festival in DC. And we had a tent at the event. And it was a two day two day events this year. Some 40,000 people visitors from around the country, in the world we’re there. And we had this tent for the first time ever. We’d never had done something like this and I had no idea how it would go. Like it was either going to be. Like a trickle of people are curious about sake and, or we might get overwhelmed by people really dying to try it. Cause and so we had, we we’re featuring six sakes and we had some of our brewers there with us helping to pour and it turns out it was the latter scenario. We were just swamped with people and it was great. It was so great to see the reactions and the response. And I think that the fact that our sakes are from for a lot of peoples, home states was a great ice breaker of sorts, like it’s really exciting if you’re from, Kentucky and sake from the void from Lexington, Kentucky, and you’re able to taste it and you really like it. I mean, that’s creates an incredibly exciting. Feeling and so I think if we can do things like that, we’re, as an Association, we’re not going to be doing those kinds of pouring events all the time, but I think on occasion it’s, it’s good to do that. And it’s good to get the word out that we exist in that our brewers are scattered across the country.

Timothy Sullivan: 15:38
Yeah. Yeah. Speaking of exciting events, you guys actually have an event coming up at the end of may. It’s the American craft sake festival. The second time you’ve done this, and this is kind of a come together moment for any brewers that can make it. And I just wanted to mention this to our listeners as well. It’s going to be on Saturday, May 28th. 2022 from 2:00 to 6:00 PM. And it’s at Ben’s tune-up, which is in Asheville, North Carolina. And you can visit the sake revolution, websites, show notes for link to tickets, and you can also visit the sake brewers association of north America’s website to get information on tickets. And that sounds like an amazing event. That’s going to be coming up.

Weston Konishi: 16:20
Yeah. So as you said, we did, this is the second one that we’ve done. The last one was at the same location at Ben’s American sake. And so the last one was in 2019. And by all accounts, I wasn’t there, but it it was a fantastic event. People really enjoyed it. And this time around, our membership has grown. And so we have many more sake brewers who are participating this time around, over a dozen and with some about 20 different sakes that are going to be poured at this. So it’s going to be really. Fun. And I think interesting, we’re going to do have some educational seminars throughout the day. Some that are more geared toward our brewers that are more technical in nature than others that are going to be for a sake newcomer so that they can understand more about what sake is. That’s going to be phenomenal. And we invited the. Japanese consulate consul general, who represents the south to attend the event as well. So console general Takeuchi will come in from Atlanta and join us for that event and provide opening remarks. So we’re really excited about that as well.

Timothy Sullivan: 17:21
Sounds fabulous. So if you’re anywhere near Asheville, North Carolina, you have to get yourself there and try all this American sake. And speaking of trying American sake,

John Puma: 17:31

Timothy Sullivan: 17:31

John Puma: 17:31
of segues, Tim,

Timothy Sullivan: 17:34
we actually arranged to do a little tasting with Wes as well. John, do you want to introduce us to the sake we’ll be tasting today?

John Puma: 17:41
Certainly uh, we we’ve obtained some sakes. Local craft brewer that you might’ve heard of listening to our show Brooklyn, kura, and are going to be tasting their blue door. Junmai genshu n ama. The rice here is a combination of U.S. Grown Calrose and U.S. Grown Yamahai nishiki those rices are milled down to 60% of their original size. The alcohol percentage is 17. Oh, a little up there guys. And the sake meter value that measure of. Dryness, a sweetness that we talk about every week on the show is plus three. So a touch on the dry side, but don’t expect anything too karakuchi.

Timothy Sullivan: 18:25
Yes. All right let’s get this open.

Weston Konishi: 18:27

Timothy Sullivan: 18:32
And into the glass now, west Brooklyn Kura of course, is one of your members of your association. How many brewers approximately are you representing now in the association?

Weston Konishi: 18:50
So we have close to 20 now, and there’s about two dozen breweries across north America from Mexico to Canada. So we’re really representing. The majority of them. And it’s been great. And so it’s wonderful to be trying and tasting Brooklyn kura because actually Brooklyn Kura was the first north American sake that I ever tried. There I live in bulk. Yeah. Yeah. So this is very auspicious and I live in Baltimore now and there’s a bar near me called Faddensonnen. And I went there about three or four years ago. And they had Brooklyn Kura on tap. And that was the first time I tried north American sake and I was totally blown away. I was like, oh my God, this is so good. I can’t believe this is made in America. And so it’s just great to, to come full circle and have it with you guys tonight.

John Puma: 19:39
So this was your north American sake aha moment

Weston Konishi: 19:41
That’s Yeah, exactly.

Timothy Sullivan: 19:45

Weston Konishi: 19:46
It might sound like I have aha moments every day. I don’t. So

Timothy Sullivan: 19:51
All right let’s give this a smell and see what we pick up on. This is the blue door Junmai from Brooklyn Kura. To me, it definitely smells like Nama that fresh juicy right out of the press smell is very evident here for me, that smell that indicates fresh pressed on pasteurized really gets muted when the sake goes through the heat treatment. But here it’s like really vibrant and pouring out of the glasses.

Weston Konishi: 20:15

John Puma: 20:17
I agree. I agree. I’m getting a lot of. tropical fruit notes, a little bit on that. A little bit. Pineapple ish. Right?

Weston Konishi: 20:26
Yeah, I’m getting pineapple, tropical fruits and some banana, and just the hint of grass.

Timothy Sullivan: 20:34
Something herbaceous. Yeah. Yeah. There’s John and I have talked about this before on the show. There’s like fruit, tropical, fruity sakes that are like a fruit bomb exploding. And they taste like almost comically fruity, and then there’s other fruity namas that have a bit of balance or a counterpoint in the aroma. And this is one of those where there’s that herbaceous note to balance out the fruity expression. So it’s not just fruity explosion, you’ve got a nuance in some depth there to dig into, which is really exciting for us.

Weston Konishi: 21:07

Timothy Sullivan: 21:08
All right. Let’s give it a taste.

Weston Konishi: 21:10
Okay. it’s just all well structured. That’s what I really like about this. And, even though it’s supposed to be sort of on the dry side, I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t come across fully that way. And there’s a nice sweetness to not overly sweet. But just something that I think mirrors the sort of tropical fruitiness of the nose and nice way.

Timothy Sullivan: 21:36
Yeah, that’s a great, that’s a great point Wes that, that SMV number plus three is just a jumping off point. There’s other things that are going to influence our perception of how sweet or dry it seems. And I agree with you that there’s more of a, especially on the initial attack of the sake, the first, when it hits your Palate, there’s this kind of rush of a little bit of sweetness there. So it doesn’t come off as a fully dry sake at all. Yeah. I’d also like to call your attention to the acidity here. So when I sip this sake, there was a brightness. Are you picking up on a fresh brightness? That’s really the acidity coming through. And that brings balance to this higher alcohol percentage and the sweetness that’s there. So it’s, again, you need three, three legs for every stool and there’s a to find that balance. So you don’t fall off the stool. There’s a great connection between the acidity, the alcohol. And the residual sugar.

Weston Konishi: 22:27
And I’m glad you brought that up because I got some cheese at the market a little a few moments ago. And so I want to try it with this cheese. I got two different cheeses. One is a holler Hawker Swiss cows milk, cheese. So it’s an Alpine Swiss cheese. And then I got a Stilton blue from England. And so I’ll try them. I’m sorry, you can’t be here too. Can you sit as well, but I’ll let you know what I think.

John Puma: 22:54
Uh, tim, I have a feeling, this is how I’m going to feel during our cheese episode. Very confused. I don’t know any of the terminology. I can’t relate to the flavors.

Weston Konishi: 23:02
my wife is a cheese expert so I’d bring the sake side to things. And she brings the cheese side and this is illustrative of what we’re also trying to do is really try to, and I think you’re in the same vein with this is really trying to promote sake outside of the sushi and Japanese culinary context, I think that’s really important. And the more we can emphasize that, I think the more sake will take hold in the American market so,

John Puma: 23:28
I feel like the dream is to get sucked into non-Japanese places. And then once that happens, the sky’s the limit.

Weston Konishi: 23:35
right. Yep.

Timothy Sullivan: 23:37
So how’s that cheese hitting you, Wes?.

Weston Konishi: 23:39
It’s great. And I think it’s the acidity that you mentioned Timothy is really what works well with these two cheeses so that the holler Hawker is it’s nutty and it has some sort of crystalling granular. That extra to it. Which really pairs nicely with this sake game. The fruit contrast with that, with the nuts, it’s just killer. It’s a one, two punch there. And then the blue is so nice. It’s not overly pungent. It’s a little bit salty creamy. So again, that plays off of the acidity in the sake really nicely. I think this is a great combo. I wish you were here.

John Puma: 24:17
You guys are really making me wish I cheese. sounds great. Oh man.

Weston Konishi: 24:22

John Puma: 24:24
No, no, it’s all good. Uh, Anyway I, I do want to circle back for a moment here. We talked about the importance of consumer education. But what have you found to be the most effective ways to get the consumers educated about sake? sake?

Timothy Sullivan: 24:38
I think everyone agrees that, you said a really good term before the sake literacy. So what are the practical ways to implement that? What do you recommend?

Weston Konishi: 24:47
Well, it’s hard to say. What’s a home run. methodology right now. Cause I think we still just have, it’s such an uphill battle. It’s hard to say what the there’s no real silver bullet. It seems to me. But I do think that we need more people like you folks who are sake ambassadors, people that are really knowledgeable about it. People that can talk knowledgeably to distributors and others, key people in the industry. That link is really important. But I also think that there’s so much opportunity to do what we’re just doing right now, which is to promote. Not as a singular product, but thinking of it in a broader context as, and particularly as a great beverage to pair with food and in particular American food and Western food. So I think that’s, we all know that it pairs well with Western cuisine. But consumers don’t yet. Uh, And I think that we need to just keep pounding home that message. And we need to keep trying to shape our events around that. And so one of the things that I really want to do, I want to get to the point where let’s just say, hypothetically, the Wisconsin cheese manufacturers association of America has their annual conference and they no longer think, oh, we need to, you know, what, what wines are we going to pair? And what beers insiders are going to pair with our cheeses? I want them to get to the point where they’re thinking automatically what sake is, are we going to be pairing with our cheeses? And so I think that if we can think at that bigger sort of more strategic level that, that will also make great inroads. We need to sort of mainstream-ize sake in some way. I think there’s some ways to do it. And again I’ll just say that, having locally. craft sake producers scattered across the country, I think is is really a key development for the sake industry, because these people do have their fingers on the pulse of, people in their circles of merit, normal Americans, who live across the country. And who’ve never really tried sake before. Maybe they did. That experiences cause they were drinking crap. Now they can actually go in and they can see the passion that goes into producing sake craft, American sake and I stress the word passion because as you both know, You cannot make sake unless you’re passionate about it. You cannot have fast sake at all. And so I’m really proud to say that our members are all super dedicated to the craft. And that translates to people. People understand that people get that. And especially when they see it firsthand, they walk through a brewery and beat in Brooklyn or Lexington, Kentucky, or Louisville. They will see all the effort that goes into making that product. And I think that people really respond well to that. So I hope that message gets further and further broadcast.

Timothy Sullivan: 27:33
That’s awesome. Yeah. One thing, one thing I took away from what you said that I wasn’t thinking about before is that it really does take a village like it, we have to work with the cheese association and the pizza makers association and all these different groups that naturally work with wine and beer and cider, sake has to connect with these groups and elevate the profile that’s like a real aha moment for me today. That’s all. Fantastic. So thanks for that. Before we wind up, I wanted to ask you if there’s any other message about your association, you want it to get out there. And of course, we want to give you a chance to let people know how can they get in touch with you and the association, if they’re interested in membership or have any questions for you, what’s the best way to get into.

Weston Konishi: 28:15
So the best way is to visit our website, www.sakeassociation.org, and one of the best kept secrets I think of, of the sake world is that it’s actually a really rich site. Bernie Baskin in my predecessor was. Very much involved in developing our website. And it’s, it’s a treasure trove of information. We have postings about sake events. Throughout the year we have articles by renowned sakeexperts Nancy Matsumoto, who’s a sake expert. Recently. Became a member of ours and is kindly reposting her art, her articles on our website as well. And we just have a wealth of information there for members. There’s a sort of passcode protected part of the website that sort of uh, a Wiki site that has all kinds of sake resources, things about the equipment and regulations. We have an incredible. Survey of sake regulations as they pertain from state to state that’s really useful for brewers. So that’s just a great way to to learn more about us. And my email’s on there. We have a membership applications on there as well, and we have basically two different kinds of memberships. One is for for brewers and the other is for everything from sakeing enthusiasts to people that are in allied trade. And so we’re proud to have some of the major rice producers here in the states as members. And we’re very pleased to see that three very distinguished and prestigious Koji manufacturers in Japan have joined our association as well. So, This all relates to your point about it takes a village. We really do see the sake industry in all its dimensions. And we want All of these different actors come together in order to grow the industry further. So that’s what we’re all about. We’re not just about, and we’re not just about North American brewers. We really want to help Japanese producers as well. Our ethos, if you will is a rising tide, lifts, all ships. And we really mean that sincerely. And so we just want to help whoever, whoever wants to whoever’s serious about the sake industry and wants it to grow. We want to be there with them every step of the way.

Timothy Sullivan: 30:20
Awesome. That’s so great. We’re so happy to have tasted with you today. I feel like I learned a lot, some great insight into what the challenges and what the successes. In the north American space for the sake brewers that are coming up and producing some great sake as we just tasted here from Brooklyn, Kura Wes. I really want to thank you so much for joining us today, and I hope you’ll come back for another session. We have a lot more questions for you, and it was such a great discussion today.

Weston Konishi: 30:47
Thank you so much. I’d love to. So looking forward to that.

Timothy Sullivan: 30:52
Awesome, John, great to taste with you as.

John Puma: 30:55
as. always.

Weston Konishi: 30:56

Timothy Sullivan: 30:56
And I want to thank our listeners so much for tuning in a special shout out to all of our patrons who make it possible for us to bring you a, Sake Revolution episode each and every week. If you would like to become a patron, please visit Patreon.com/SakeRevolution

John Puma: 31:14
And if you would like to get at us with your personal questions about sake questions about the sake brewers association of north America. You can get at us at [email protected]. So please grab a glass or, and until next time, please remember to keep drinking sake and Kanpai

Timothy Sullivan: 31:34