Episode 156 Show Notes

Episode 156. Again this week, we revisit our field trip to the American Craft Sake Festival held this year in Charlottesville VA and bring you another U.S. sake brewer interview. This time, we get a two-for-one as we interview Blake Richardson and Nick Lowry of Moto-i Sake Brewery, which is based in Minneapolis, MN. Founded by Blake in 2008, Moto-i has been creating delicious sakes that are served locally and super fresh on tap. Blake works as Toji and Nick tells us how he graduated from customer to Lead Brewer, following his passion for making great sake. It’s a fun and friendly conversation culminating in a tasting of their delicious flagship Junmai Ginjo “Another Dalliance”. Listen in and be sure to visit the Moto-i Brewery, taproom and restaurant if you are anywhere near Minneapolis – it’s not to be missed! Special thanks to SBANA, the Sake Brewers Association of North America, for organizing the festival and to North American Sake Brewery for hosting the event location. Look for other interviews from the American Craft Sake Festival in coming weeks. #SakeRevolution

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

Skip to: 05:29 Interview: Blake Richardson & Nick Lowry, Moto-i

Interview with Blake Richardson & Nick Lowry, Moto-i

Blake Richardson, Toji and Founder of Moto-i Sake Brewery.
Nick Lowry, Lead Brewery at Moto-i Sake Brewery

Moto-i Sake Taproom, Minneapolis MN
About Moto-i
Welcome to moto-i, the premier izakaya restaurant located in the heart of the Lyn-Lake neighborhood in Minneapolis, MN. Our authentic Japanese restaurant is proud to be the first sake brew pub outside of Japan, and we take great pride in our hand-crafted, authentic sake. Moto-i is an izakaya restaurant featuring Tokyo-style ramen noodles, house-made steamed buns, and rotating seasonal specials. Our menu includes a wide selection of sake cocktails, sake flights, and a variety of Japanese whiskeys and beers. Come for the best ramen in Minneapolis, stay for the amazing atmosphere, friendly staff, and truly one-of-a-kind experience our authentic Japanese restaurant offers.

Another Dalliance Junmai Ginjo from Moto-i Sake Brewery

Discover more about Moto-i Sake Brewery:
Moto-i Website: https://www.moto-i.com/
Moto-i Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/motoisake/
Moto-i Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/motoisake/
Moto-i Twitter: https://twitter.com/motoisake/

Moto-i Taproom Location and Hours:
2940 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Sunday. 11:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Monday. 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
Tuesday. 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
Wednesday. 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
Thursday. 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
Friday. 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
Saturday. 11:00 AM – 12:00 AM

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

About North American Sake Brewery

The North American Sake Brewery was officially founded in 2016 by Jeremy Goldstein and Andrew Centofante, but their story begins many years prior to that. Andrew was working for Semester at Sea, which allowed him to travel all over the world. He had many stops in Japan and discovered an immediate reverence for Japanese culture. Jeremy was a film producer, and while filming a documentary in Asia, he grew very fond of Japanese people, their food, and the country’s incredibly rich history.

But it wasn’t until 2014, while on a trip for a film project in Los Angeles, Jeremy was exposed to truly great Japanese sake. In the past, he had experienced warmed sake at American sushi restaurants, but this was an altogether different and illuminating occasion. A professional Sake Sommelier guided a tasting with several fresh, cold sakes that would forever change his life. When Jeremy returned to Charlottesville, he ran into his friend Andrew and told him about his sake experience. Andrew jumped at the chance to find great sake again and the two began enjoying sake together, finding special bottles of delicious, umami-rich sakes.

One night after a few too many glasses (or bottles, really) of sake, Andrew asked the fateful question: Do you think we could try making a homebrew batch?

It wasn’t long after that night that Andrew fermented his first batch which led to converted his basement into a full-time sake brewing operation. He and Jeremy would travel to Japan and the USA, visiting other sake brewers, learning the craft, becoming certified as Sake Professionals, and bringing their sake to many private parties & tastings around their hometown of Charlottesville, VA.

A few years later on August 25th, 2018, the North American Sake Brewery would have its grand opening at their current space in the IX Art Park. Andrew continues his passion for sake as the Head Brewer, while Jeremy takes the leadership role on the business end. Together, they continue to spread the gospel of great craft sake, and look forward to many years of pushing the boundaries of their industry.

Skip to: 28:50 Show Closing

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

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Episode 156 Transcript

John Puma: 0:21
Hello, everybody, and welcome to Sake Revolution. this is America’s first sake podcast.. I’m your host, John Puma, from the Sake Notes. Also administrator over at the internet Sake Discord. And I also am in charge of Reddit’s r slash sake community.

Timothy Sullivan: 0:37
And I’m 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.

John Puma: 0:52
Welcome again, Tim. We’re back and we’re doing, the next in our series of episodes recorded at the American Craft Sake Festival in Charlottesville, Virginia. This is the third of in our series and on this episode. We’ve got one familiar voice as one of our guests on this one Blake Richardson From Moto-i joined us once again, he also brought his lead brewer, Nick Lowry, along and we had a nice little conversation about brew pubs in Minneapolis and, uh, and things of that nature. It was nice to have them over and be able to really kind of focus on, on what it’s like brewing sake over there, and again, I think as we said, when we’ve done these It was such a fun time being over there, having our little booth set up, having, brewers come over and chat with us a little bit about what, makes their sake special. Do you have any fond memories of that?

Timothy Sullivan: 1:48
Well, I I do think that the American Craft Sake Festival for our show is the gift that keeps on giving, right? It’s we’ve gotten so many shows out of attending this one event, and it was so much fun, as you said. I think that I will remember the heat the most, but looking past that, I think it was just so much fun to have people just wander by our booth. And say, Oh, you’re a sake revolution. Or have some of the brewers pass by and say, Oh, stop by our booth and try our XYZ sake. And just the minute by minute interactions we had with the people there. It’s just something you can’t do on zoom. You can’t do one on one. It was the group energy that I think was the best.

John Puma: 2:32
For me, I never had the opportunity to taste a lot of the sake that we had that weekend. And so that’s a lot of fun as well, because you, you know, I’m excited about the state of North American sake, but I don’t, I don’t travel domestically that much, so I don’t really get to try the stuff as much as I would want, so having this one place where they all come together, was great, was wonderful.

Timothy Sullivan: 2:56
Yeah, and I think that’s the very reason we decided to go to the effort to be there in person, set up our equipment and record this because it was such a once in a year chance to get so many brewers in one place, and that’s just so special. I’m really grateful to… the Sake Brewers Association of North America, who organized the whole thing. And then, of course, to North American Sake Brewery, who hosted the event in their front yard and allow us to set up those tents and arrange the tables and everything. It was just amazing. So special thanks to those guys as well. And as you mentioned, John, the conversation we’re going to focus on today is with Moto-i. And you and I have both visited Moto-i in Minneapolis,

John Puma: 3:38
Yes, yes, I’ve gone a couple of times, most recently I was in the neighborhood for a wedding. And so anytime that we weren’t doing wedding stuff, it was like, all right, well, we’re going to be over at the sake bar. And so we would sneak over there and, uh, and, and try whatever they had going on. It was a lot of fun. It was, uh, you know, it was shocking to me how, great the sake was over there the first time I tried it, I was so excited. And one thing that we talk a little bit about on the show is how, um, for us at least, how different it is to have sake from the tap. As opposed to, you know, cause you and I, you know, we’ve been at this for a little bit and most of the time we have sake comes over from Japan. It’s in a bottle, even when you’re in Japan, it’s, it’s still in a bottle. You’re not, the breweries aren’t putting tap lines out really. It’s not, it’s a very unusual situation.

Timothy Sullivan: 4:29
I agree with

John Puma: 4:30
that. Yeah. But I think that people who come from the beer world, that’s much more familiar. And so, a little bit more, easily accessible for them. And I think that that’s probably why these sake breweries do that, because it’s like very familiar. Oh, you, you, boom, you pull the tab and put the glass underneath. Boom, here you go. Draft sake.

Timothy Sullivan: 4:46
Yeah. It’s definitely a lot more common here. And we also, in this conversation with Moto-i, we talk about their particular setup and their rules and regulations in their state and how that kind of limits how they can distribute their sake. And that makes the taproom experience all that more special because it really is super fresh and something that you kind of have to go there to experience.

John Puma: 5:08
It is, it is, and I was very excited to be able to taste my favorite sake from Moto-i as part of this episode. So I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll wait until we get into it, but I have fond memories of tasting that at the show. So without any further ado, here we are with Nick Lowry and Blake Richardson from Moto-i. So we’re back and we’ve got some people. We’ve got some guests, Timothy, who have you went and wrangled and brought over to our table?

Timothy Sullivan: 5:34
Yes, we have some brewers from Moto-i in Minnesota, and we would love for you guys to introduce yourself to our listeners.

Blake Richardson: 5:42
My name is Blake Richardson. I’m the owner and the head brewer of, uh, the toji of, uh, Moto-i.

Nick Lowry: 5:47
My name is Nick Lowery. I’m the lead brewer. I am Blake’s understudy, his apprentice.

John Puma: 5:52
The apprentice. So there’s two of them. Okay. I

Nick Lowry: 5:54

Timothy Sullivan: 5:55
Now Blake, you are a well known personality in the world of sake. How long have you been in sake, and what kind of got you started down this path?

Blake Richardson: 6:02
Well, I started Moto-i in 2008. I originally was introduced to sake probably 2003 and was absolutely fascinated with the flavors and did a lot of research upon having my first glass of sake. And was very surprised to find out there was only five breweries in the United States at the time. And one thing led to another. And I searched out a sake brew pub thinking there’d be somewhere on the West Coast and it didn’t exist. And I thought, well, someone’s got to start the first one. And that’s what led me to create Moto-i.

Timothy Sullivan: 6:37
So ignorance is bliss, as they say.

Blake Richardson: 6:39
Naivete is a strong characteristic of every entrepreneur.

Timothy Sullivan: 6:45
And Nick, how did you get started in sake?

Nick Lowry: 6:48
Yeah, that’s, I backed into it. I did not, I was not the tip of the spear by any stretch of the imagination. So, my background is in food science, public health. In 2017, I had a job that I hated, sitting most of my time in front of a keyboard, but I was a regular at this fantastic local sake brew pub in my hometown of Minneapolis. And so, I, I,

John Puma: 7:12
Would it be Moto-i?

Nick Lowry: 7:15
I think, yeah, I think that was the one.

John Puma: 7:18
I did not,

Nick Lowry: 7:19
Memory’s a little foggy. I’ve drank a lot of sake between now and then, so I don’t remember things as well as I probably could. But, so I left that job really without a plan. I decided I would spend the summer working in the restaurant industry while I figured out the next phase of my life. So I applied at my regular local izakaya. And by the end of the summer, I decided it was such a great environment, such a great team, that I wanted to stay on. And by the end of that fall, there was an opportunity to help Blake in the brewery. Seven years later, here I am, still making sake. It’s a

John Puma: 7:49
That’s awesome.

Blake Richardson: 7:50
It really is. It is awesome.

Timothy Sullivan: 7:52
So Blake, what would you say for crafting sake? I know your sake is available through your brew pub, right? You don’t distribute to other states, is that correct?

Blake Richardson: 8:00
That’s correct

Timothy Sullivan: 8:01
Yeah, so it is a travesty.

Nick Lowry: 8:04

John Puma: 8:05
it makes me very sad.

Timothy Sullivan: 8:06
but if people are interested in tasting your sake, they can travel to Minneapolis and visit your brew pub and taste fresh sake there. Is that right?

Blake Richardson: 8:14
Absolutely, yes.

John Puma: 8:15

Timothy Sullivan: 8:15
what would you say is your signature style or what do you go for in your sake?

Blake Richardson: 8:21
So, throughout my travels to Japan, I spent most of my time in the northern regions when I would go over there. And I’m just heavily influenced by sake north of Tokyo. Lighter, drier, crisper, and not just Niigata style sake, but Akita style, you know, one of my favorite breweries is in Akita, Prefecture. And so that is primarily what I focus on, that sort of subdued, softer flavors, light on the palate, tend to be more dry, although with like Kimoto and Yamahai, we make those They might be a little sweeter, but with some high acidity, but definitely a more northern style sake is what I’d like to fashion our sake to be.

John Puma: 9:04
And so, like, when you were first experiencing sake, was that mostly what you were exposed to, or is that something that kind of came to you later?

Blake Richardson: 9:11
Oh, that’s a great question. I’ve never thought about it in those terms. I think exposure had a lot to do with it. Yeah. Yeah. I think exposure to, like I said, just by happenstance, I had visited more breweries in the north than the south and it had nothing to do with me. It was just whoever was curating the event I was on, like the Gauntner, class or, the, the world sa or the sake tours or whatnot. We just always spent time in the north, so I just came very affectionate to that, that region of, of Japan, for their sake.

John Puma: 9:40
Well, it’s a great region.

Blake Richardson: 9:41

Timothy Sullivan: 9:42
Yeah, I love it. Yeah. And Nick, for you, what type of sakes do you enjoy personally when you’re out enjoying? I know you probably learned your brewing skills from Blake. But when you discovered sake for yourself, what are your personal likes and…

Nick Lowry: 9:56
That’s a great question. I think… Well, for me, my sort of like, aha moment with sake… came at Moto-i and I remember distinctly we it was a Junmai Ginjo and that first That first time that that Ginjo ka came out of the glass and hit my nose that just that effusive Apple banana bubblegum flavors. I it was just a it was like coming from the beer world. It was like a saison Times ten. Like, just the, that fruity flavor that just took me away, that that could be in something fermented. And then, from there, it’s just been all over the map. So, I kind of go through phases where I want to try the most umami laden. I want, like, I want this to be basically mushroom broth in a glass. And then I’ll swing and I’ll be like, Okay, now I want it to be the most Tanrei Karakuchi I can find. And then next it’s… You know, I want that, I want this to be zebra striped gum, like, I want this incredible ginjo now, you know, so I,

Timothy Sullivan: 10:56
sake that you

Nick Lowry: 10:58
fixate on a style and then burn my taste buds out and then move on, move on to the next style, yeah.

John Puma: 11:04
That’s a good way to do you get, when, you know, when you explore all of the different things that sake has to offer, you’re kind of going to get a lot more, uh, you get a lot more out of it. And, and as a brewer, I think that’s probably going to help you a lot also. Help you kind of understand like, all right, well, if I want to do XYZ, this is where I need to lean, things like that. you guys find that when you explore, uh, different flavors in sake, you, you end up, you know, bringing those ideas back to what you guys make?

Nick Lowry: 11:28

Blake Richardson: 11:30

John Puma: 11:30

Blake Richardson: 11:31
How did they get here? What’s their water? What’s the milling rate? What’s the rice? Where, you know, where you really scratch your head is what was the technique that got this brewer to get to this flavor. And that, you know, obviously that’s a hard thing to find out. But it does cause a brewer, at least us, to think through the process and how we go down the road of creating sake. And luckily, we’ve been able to talk to a lot of brewers over the years to get those ideas and that feedback.

Nick Lowry: 11:57
I think another thing we do as well is we look internally at our portfolio of sake that we have and we try and identify where the gaps in that spectrum. Do we have that? Do we have that fruity flavor? Do we have that savory? Do we have that genshu that’s big and bold? Do we have the kimoto that we’ve let rest for a year to round out? And do we have the nama that’s sharp, green, and punching you in the face when it comes out of the glass? So, we also try and make sure that, you know, within the seven tap lines that we have in house, that something different is represented on each one.

John Puma: 12:32
Nice. That was actually gonna be my next question was how many different uh, how many different brews do you guys manage at a given time? So about seven right now?

Nick Lowry: 12:39
Yeah, seven is the most that we can, uh, comfortably serve without dipping into doing bottle service and something along those

Timothy Sullivan: 12:46
Yeah, yeah.

Nick Lowry: 12:47
typically one of those lines is reserved for nigori style sake, and then the rest is kind of free reign.

John Puma: 12:52
Nice. I think that a lot of people in America have had very few experiences where they get to go to a place and actually have sake from a tap. Like draft sake isn’t really much of a thing in Japan. Very few situations where you can experience something like that. But it’s something that I think in the West that we’ve kind of, we see a lot more. We see our, our brewers here. Going that way because I think that you know Maybe American consumers are a little more accustomed to that from beer and stuff like that Do you find that people kind of get excited when they see that kind of thing? They get a little surprised when they see it coming out of a tap.

Nick Lowry: 13:23
I don’t know, I think people seem pretty well adjusted to it. It’s, maybe it’s just that we’ve been around it so much now ourselves that it just seems normal. Seems old hat.

Blake Richardson: 13:34
that’s probably the case,

Nick Lowry: 13:35
But also our… Our restaurant is quite large, um, so,

John Puma: 13:39
Yes, it is

Nick Lowry: 13:40
yeah, I think max capacity we can probably have over 300 butts and seats at once. But, you know, only maybe 30 of those are in line with the, the tap handles. So, you know, if you’re up on the patio enjoying that Minneapolis summer, you might be none the wiser. But your, what’s in your globe came from a tap

Blake Richardson: 13:59

John Puma: 13:59
I think the first time I ever had sake come from a tap was at Moto-i That was probably the case. I’m pretty sure I was like, wait, where’s the bottle? I was like really confused. Just normally people come over and they all they pour whatever and this it broke. Nope, but there it is. I’m like, wait, and I saw the taps behind the bar. I’m like, no,

Blake Richardson: 14:15
Ha ha ha

John Puma: 14:16
it was like my tiny little mind. It’s a long time ago. My tiny little mind exploded and that was the thing.

Nick Lowry: 14:21

Timothy Sullivan: 14:22
Now, what, what have been some of the biggest challenges that you’ve had developing your sake program over the years? And serving fresh sake to Americans. Have there been any, anything that’s come along that’s, that’s been a little bit more difficult or challenging for you guys?

Nick Lowry: 14:37
that’s been a piece of cake. I don’t, not a, nope, not a single,

John Puma: 14:41

Nick Lowry: 14:41
ever gone wrong. Nope, mm hmm, yeah.

Blake Richardson: 14:44
The big one was the rice in the beginning. So when

Timothy Sullivan: 14:47
hear, let’s hear about that.

Blake Richardson: 14:48
so when we started, you could really only get Calrose 60. maybe Calrose 50, maybe Calrose 70.

Timothy Sullivan: 14:56
that refers to the rice milling rate, correct? Yeah, and Calrose, we featured on the podcast before, that’s an eating rice that is, has become like a default American sake rice. Is that fair to say?

Blake Richardson: 15:06
I think so, yeah, yeah. And so when Moto-i started, I really wanted to introduce the other higher end eating, table eating rices of Japan that were grown in California, like Akita Komachi, Koshiakari, and there’s several others, Sasanishki. And I also wanted them to be milled to different rates, so, you know, it was all about the variety. I mean, if there’s any truth to a brew pub, it should be about the variety of offerings. Because it’s so easy to get it to market, you just have to get it in front of your customer. There’s no labeling with the TTB, so on and so forth. So, but there was a moment in time where we couldn’t get milled rice, and that presented a huge challenge. And then one thing led to another, and a mill came up for sale, and we decided to go get that mill and started another company, which we only had one customer at the time, which was Moto-i.

John Puma: 16:01

Blake Richardson: 16:02
So it seemed kind of silly to have this giant mill and one customer, but anyway, that’s a, probably a longer story. But, uh, but that was a huge challenge at the time. And then education was always a challenge. It was a lot of research. Translate this phrase into Japanese, go to Google Japan, research it, find out that you’re way off target, and a bunch of cartoons come up in the image, and you’re like, okay, let’s try again. I did that for hours and hours and eventually would land on a science paper and get some information, but now it’s turned completely. Now information is more readily available. There are books you can buy, people you can talk to. So that, that, those are two challenges in the, in the beginning, but there’s still, there’s still challenges that are happening. Yeah. Yeah.

John Puma: 16:47
So you’re finding that though, like education wise, as far as like the knowledge to make sake here in North America, that coming across that information is becoming easier.

Blake Richardson: 16:55
Yeah. Definitely.

Nick Lowry: 16:56
Hundred percent,

Blake Richardson: 16:56

John Puma: 16:57
And I guess and I guess of higher quality too.

Blake Richardson: 17:00
yeah, absolutely. Mm-hmm.

Nick Lowry: 17:01
yeah, there’s, I mean, there’s still a lot of questionable decisions being shared out on the internet. I mean, you can

John Puma: 17:06
Well, it is the internet.

Nick Lowry: 17:07
you can, I mean, you

John Puma: 17:08
They excel at that.

Nick Lowry: 17:10
Plenty of forums where people are trying some wacky stuff. But yeah, I mean, especially now that there’s more of a home brewer presence, that’s where, like, I think the West really shines in the ingenuity and the willingness to experiment, that grassroots sort of collective and that information sharing is so prevalent in that community. So there’s really a groundswell now of people sharing their knowledge and improving their products.

Blake Richardson: 17:39

Timothy Sullivan: 17:41
And today we’re at the American Craft Sake Festival in Charlottesville. What’s your impression of this event and what have you been experiencing so far here today?

Nick Lowry: 17:50
So far it’s been great. We’ve had a chance to meet a lot of people that we have never served sake to. A lot of old friends, yourselves included, that we’ve, you know, met over the years. Because we can’t distribute our sake, coming to events like this are really important to us, to be part of this community, not only to get exposure for ourselves, but also to maintain those relationships with sake drinkers and other sake makers.

Blake Richardson: 18:11

Nick Lowry: 18:12
So it’s, we tend to think of these less as like marketing events and more of like goodwill tours. Where we’re sort of out here and keeping that network strong, you know.

Timothy Sullivan: 18:22
And I bet it gives you a chance to get reactions to your sake from people from other parts of the country, other backgrounds. And that must be really exciting for you guys.

Blake Richardson: 18:32
Indeed. It’s great to share the love of the product with people and then get feedback in real time. I mean, just having that moment with a customer is so valuable. It’s irreplaceable. You know, we’re serving sake right now at Moto-i, but we don’t know what’s happening, we don’t know who’s enjoying it, you know, what the feedback is, but this is such an opportune time.

Timothy Sullivan: 18:54

Nick Lowry: 18:54
It can also be intimidating though, cause we’re not bartenders, we’re brewers. We’re used to being in coolers and koji rooms, not, not sweating in front of people out in the, you know, Charlottesville heat. Yeah,

Blake Richardson: 19:06

Timothy Sullivan: 19:06
Yeah, you’re normally sweating in the Koji room.

Blake Richardson: 19:08
That’s right. That’s right.

John Puma: 19:09
Yeah, and for people listening on at home, it is hot out here today. As of right now, we’ve got a nice little breeze, but it’s not gonna last. We’ve had it come by a couple of times, but oof.

Timothy Sullivan: 19:18
Yeah, it’s that Virginia heat.

John Puma: 19:20
That Virginia heat, but you know what’s, you know what cuts into that Virginia heat, Timothy?

Timothy Sullivan: 19:24
What’s that?

John Puma: 19:25

Timothy Sullivan: 19:26

John Puma: 19:27
That’s something to cool us off a little bit.

Timothy Sullivan: 19:28
So since we have some brewers at the table with us, how about we taste some of their sake together?

John Puma: 19:35
I think that’s an excellent idea.

Timothy Sullivan: 19:37
Okay, so… Blake and Nick, you were generous enough to bring a bottle for us to taste today. Can you give us the stats or some intro to the sake you’re going to be tasting with us?

Blake Richardson: 19:47
Yeah, absolutely. So this is one of our oldest branded sakes, arguably our first branded sake. It’s called Another Dalliance. It’s made with Yamada nishiki, 57 percent milling rate. We use a yeast strain from Akita Prefecture, we actually call it AK 21, because it’s from Akita Kono, and so it’s a nice, I think, example of what I was describing earlier as a lighter, northern style sake, to be sort of very general about it.

John Puma: 20:13
Hmm, nice.

Timothy Sullivan: 20:15
Alright, well, let’s get this sake in the glass and taste it together.

John Puma: 20:19

Timothy Sullivan: 20:21
Alright, so there is nothing better than being poured a sake from the toji himself.

John Puma: 20:26
Yes, that’s a nice thing.

Timothy Sullivan: 20:27
It’s a very nice thing. Right. So we’ve got another dalliance. And is this a Junmai ginjo?

Blake Richardson: 20:34
Junmai Ginjo.

Timothy Sullivan: 20:35
Junmai ginjo grade sake. All right. Well, let’s, let’s look at the aroma first.

John Puma: 20:41
Mmm. And this is, this is a nama, is it not? Namazume. Namazume, okay.

Timothy Sullivan: 20:46
Namazume. All right.

John Puma: 20:49
Mmm. What do you think, Timothy?

Timothy Sullivan: 20:50
Mmm. So on the aroma, this… You, you mentioned, Blake, about that cleaner, lighter style. This almost reminds me of a Niigata style sake, which is right up my alley. That’s a style of sake that I love. There’s a hint, just a hint of steamed rice, a little bit of a rice note, and it’s also very overall clean on, on the aroma. Yeah.

John Puma: 21:11
Mm hmm. Yeah, a clean touch of fruit. Not all, you know, just not bowling over. It’s, it’s restrained. Yes.

Timothy Sullivan: 21:18
I love my restrained elegance

John Puma: 21:20
You do, you do.

Timothy Sullivan: 21:22
my zone.

John Puma: 21:23
Let’s have a sip.

Timothy Sullivan: 21:25
Mmm. Really clean, crisp.

John Puma: 21:29
Clean, crisp, and that fruit, that fruit is there, and it’s, again, it’s not overwhelming. This is, this is definitely not the fruit bomb that we occasionally talk about. But, you know, nice and crisp, and um, and I think the, that crispness is in the mouthfeel as

Timothy Sullivan: 21:44

John Puma: 21:45
It has that, it tastes a little bit more, uh, a little bit more raw, in a way. Mmm.

Timothy Sullivan: 21:51
For me, there’s a lovely hint of apple and, uh, really clean finish. Blake, how do you describe this sake to your visitors that come to your brewpub?

Blake Richardson: 21:59
Like today, I was, we have this contrasted with another sake made with omachi, and this is much lighter, much softer, delicate. You want to enjoy this with some lighter fare, nothing too oily, nothing that will suppress the flavor from hitting the palate.

John Puma: 22:19

Timothy Sullivan: 22:22
That’s wonderful. And I think if people could join us here today at this American Craft Sake Festival, I think people who had American made sake 15 years ago, 20 years ago, would probably be bowled over with the, all the improvements in quality. Can you speak, can you guys speak to that at all? What do you think has brought about this great improvement in quality across the board?

Nick Lowry: 22:46
Well, from my perspective, I mean, I’m literally standing on the shoulder of giants. Like, any of my success comes from, comes from Blake and the people before me that have paved the way. So I think, you know, going back to that community aspect, I think that’s growing so strong. That, um, we’re always entertaining visitors from future breweries, from established breweries. And… Using those opportunities to share that knowledge and I think the, I think it’s becoming more difficult now to simply open a brewery based on the novelty aspect of sake. I think the consumer is more educated and has higher expectations. I think it’s, you can’t quite pull off that beer brew pub with the folding card table and like. You know, bag snacks anymore. You have to hit the ground running. Um, you know, and there’s a lot of new breweries here at this event that, you know, have been open within the last two years, and they’re doing just that. I think the, the consumer demands it, and I think the expectations are just higher now than they used to

Blake Richardson: 23:52
We’ve also been lucky to, to have more rice varieties, that’s a huge piece of the puzzle. milling rates, obviously we talked about that already. And then just the, the knowledge of, I mean, quite honestly, I didn’t even know how to find a Koji, another Koji manufacturer in Japan. Because it was just wasn’t something I talked to someone down the street or across the country, you know, it was a, like, where do you find, where can you find carbon to, if you wanted a carbon filter, a sake? I mean, that was, that’s a mystery that in 2009, 2010, that I was never going to crack easily. But now just everything’s readily available. There’s someone who knows, they know somebody who does know. Times have changed so much with regard to access of knowledge. And people, the brewers in Japan, I think, are so generous with their knowledge, as opposed to, who are you again? What are you? Where do you come from? You know, they just were, I mean, it’s like confusing to think in different, those terms at those times, but yeah,

Timothy Sullivan: 24:55

Nick Lowry: 24:55
and I think, to that point, I think the education sharing internationally has grown by leaps and bounds and not just in a willingness but also an actual outsized effort of sharing that knowledge and bringing that knowledge to the West. I mean even just here today the Iida group is represented, Kyoto Electronic Manufacturing, an equipment maker, is here as well. There’s so much more outreach and investment from Japan in this This environment,

John Puma: 25:28
That’s great.

Timothy Sullivan: 25:29
yeah. I think that the point you mentioned about community growing is really key, and I’ve seen that as well on the education side as well as the brewing side. And I think the hosts of today’s event here, the Sake Brewers Association of North America, are playing a really strong role in giving people a place to go to find how to get koji, or if they want to learn something, or they want to connect with other brewers. So I think community is really one of the key things that is helping the quality of sake to grow over time, for sure.

Nick Lowry: 26:02

Blake Richardson: 26:03

John Puma: 26:04
And I do think it’s a testament to you guys that like, you know, it’s like Moto-i was one of the first and still Going and still keeping up and in a lot of ways innovating and making great sake that that you know People love people really enjoy going over to your brewpub and and tasting your sake. It’s

Blake Richardson: 26:21
thank you,

John Puma: 26:22
great thing

Blake Richardson: 26:23

Timothy Sullivan: 26:24
Now, if people want to visit you in Minneapolis, Can you tell us where they should go and where can they find you online if they want to learn more?

Blake Richardson: 26:34
You can find us at Moto-i. com, M O T O hyphen I dot com, and then all of our social media is Moto-i Sake, M O T O I S A K E, and we are located at 2940 Lindo Avenue South, Minneapolis, 55408.

Timothy Sullivan: 26:51
Well, I hope that will be a destination for all the sake revolution loving listeners who hopefully will visit you in person and taste your sake fresh from the tap.

Nick Lowry: 27:02

John Puma: 27:02
It is certainly an experience, and I would love for people to go over there and have the same experience that I had when I visited. Kind of by accident many years ago, but it really opened my eyes to what was possible from North American brewers, and it’s been a touchstone for me ever since.

Blake Richardson: 27:19
Thank you.

Timothy Sullivan: 27:20
yeah, you guys make great sake and it was an absolute pleasure to have both of you on the podcast

Blake Richardson: 27:26
Thank you.

Nick Lowry: 27:27
Yeah, likewise, yeah, you, you guys are doing great things in helping build that community. It’s, uh, yeah, it’s a pleasure to, to listen to your podcast and to hear you guys, uh, speak to others, uh, about their experience and their sake and, yeah, it’s wonderful.

John Puma: 27:43
Thank you.

Timothy Sullivan: 27:44
thank you guys so much.

John Puma: 27:45

Blake Richardson: 27:46
Yeah, that was awesome.

John Puma: 27:48
Another dalliance, Tim. I do like that

Timothy Sullivan: 27:51
That was so nice. That’s so good.

John Puma: 27:54
Yeah, yeah That was a good time. That was a that was fun. I really enjoyed hearing their stories. I really enjoyed how How both Nick and Blake got into sake. I think that Nick’s story, especially, is a lot of fun. The idea that he was a, just a, he was a customer and he fell in love with sake. He’d never had sake before. I think that’s, that’s awesome. I, that’s, I think that says a lot about how North American sake is gonna grow. You don’t need to have, you don’t need to have people like us who have been drinking sake for years to get into it. You can just have somebody that strolled into a North American brewery and, got blown away and wanted to make sake.

Timothy Sullivan: 28:32
Yeah, that is really special And I think it’s gonna take a lot more stories like that to build out the industry and it’s just so heartening to hear how it’s happening there and in their brewery and how they’re growing their team and It’s just was such a such a fun conversation really loved it

John Puma: 28:48
Absolutely, absolutely.

Timothy Sullivan: 28:50
Well Before we close, I just want to say one more time a special thank you to our guests Nick Lowry and Blake Richardson of Moto-i in Minneapolis. We had so much fun talking to them and thank them so much for taking the time to come on Sake Revolution. We want to thank you, our listener, as well. Thanks so much for tuning in again today. We hope you’re enjoying this series from the American Craft Sake Festival. And as a final thanks, one more time, we just want to say a special thank you to the Sake Brewers Association of North America for organizing the Craft Sake Festival each year, and to North American Sake Brewery for hosting us in their front yard. It was a lot of work to put this together and we appreciate them so much. If you’re enjoying these podcasts, there’s a great way to support Sake Revolution. Go on over to Patreon.com/SakeRevolution and there you can sign up to become a patron. A special hello and thank you to all of our existing patrons. Thank you all so much for supporting the show.

John Puma: 29:54
don’t forget to, uh, make your way over to Moto-i if you do find yourself in Minneapolis, Minnesota. also very important. Tell your friends about our show. Get out there. When you go to Minneapolis, tell your friends about Sake Revolution. It’s

Timothy Sullivan: 30:09
Tell anyone you’re sitting

John Puma: 30:10
yeah, tell the person in the bar next to you. I’m sure they’ll be happy to hear about it. And while you’re at it, go ahead and leave us a review on your podcast platform of choice, your, your iTunes or your, is it still iTunes? No. Your Apple podcasts, your Spotify’s, all that other fun stuff. It lets, um, the algorithm know that we exist and it will suggest us to other people who are interested in sake. So without any further ado, please grab a glass. remember to keep drinking sake and Kanpai!!