Considered to be the “drink of the Gods,” sake has for generations been the drink of choice in Japan, spreading its span to other parts of the world for years. Initially, sake was fermented on a small scale for families or townships, but eventually the practice grew so ubiquitous it spurred a countrywide agriculture of rice growing.
Now, sake brewing has reached other countries, with breweries popping up from Australia to the United States. Some variation in technique and local flavor mean that each brewery has its own unique flavor and touch. As a symbol of family and culture, sake continues to bring people together over a shared custom centuries since its first appearance.
What are the different types of sake and what are their unique histories? We explore a few here, offered by PURE Sushi Colony in rotation at our sushi bar in Phoenix, AZ:
- Premium sake: If a sake is classified as special-designation, it means it has a certain rice polishing ratio (a process pre-fermentation that removes protein and oil from the outside of a grain of rice) as well as a certain percentage of Koji rice. Usually, these are the only two ingredients in sake besides some added distilled alcohol in some cases, a practice introduced during and after World War II when rice shortages caused brewers to be more creative in order to continue to produce a high yield.
- Namazake: This type of sake is not pasteurized, which means that because it has not been treated with mild heat, its shelf life will be much shorter. It must be chilled and requires refrigerated storage. Try this at your next sushi happy hour in Phoenix, AZ at PURE Sushi Colony.
- Seishu: This is the clearest, cleanest sake variation, hyper-strained for a crisp taste and appearance. The process of straining is what makes this sake the literal Japanese legal definition of the drink.
- Koshu: Most drinks benefit from increased fermentation time, but sake is not one of them. The one notable exception is koshu, which has a longer fermentation that creates a yellow-honey color and taste in the sake.
- Teiseihaku-shu: A modernistic approach taken up around 2005, this sake processing includes a very high ratio of rice polishing, which means a higher and purer flavor of rice in each sip. It’s more natural tasting, and closer to the earthy flavor of the rice plant and grain.
Sake can be served chilled, at room temperature or hot, and each temperature brings a different note and highlights the sake taste differently. Traditionally sake is served in a small saucer or glass, and when the pourer is showing generosity, they will overflow the cup.
The PURE Sushi Colony sushi bar in Phoenix, AZ offers a wide selection and will carry different varietals. Of course, this list is non-exhaustive, and you can always find more (and ever-growing) types of sake, like Jizake, a locally brewed sake, or Kuroshu, a sake-style Chinese wine made from purposefully unpolished rice. Rooted in tradition and history, sake is anything but ordinary. Come sample some at PURE Sushi Colony!