Mr. Kinnosuke Sugii has the reputation of a maverick inside the Shizuoka Sake Brewers world.
He is only a very opiniated toji who spends a lot of time and energy on personal research into new ways and products the industry should be thankful for!
Mr. Sugii (49) is the 6th generation of a purely local dynasty of master brewers dating back to 1843. The next generation is still at high school, but his staff of three fairly young men, all local, seemed to have been taught well as their « toji » takes the helm only when brewing ginjo. Otherwise , »I let them in charge! » he proferred as he is busy with his constant research.
Like every other brewery in Shizuoka Prefecture, Sugii Brewery uses the water from its own well fed by by the Oi River. It is reputedly the hardest and richest in minerals in the Prefecture. Mr. Sugii is quite happy with the fact as it allows him to concoct brews with a difference. He would like to increase the acidity as well, as he thinks our sake are a bit too soft. The annual output is 40,000 1,8 l, 30% of it ginjo. No futsusake/normal sake produced! I personally thanked him for that!
After some « private » talk about the politics, lack of consultation/teamwork inside the brewing community and the economy, he invited us on grand tour of his brewery with the help of of his staff who seemed to really enjoy demonstrating their craft.
We had to climb wooden stairs half worn by all the feet of the crowd of « kurabito » who used to toil there to have a peek at the fermenting and drying rice. We went into some very technical discussion about rice that I will spare you from. In any case, I had to leave early back to work, abandoning Mr. Nagashima of Nagashima Saketen and two of his « kikizake » friends.
Sugii Brewery also produces some very fine shochu from « imo/tuber » and « kome/rice ». His toji has tried his hand at making shochu with barley and buckwheat. But he was not convinced. This year, he wants to experiment with violet yams and fruits. Should be fun!
Before I hurried out, Mr. Sugii chose a couple of bottles according to my wishes, one of which will go to Melinda and her friends for blind tasting!
428-0033, Shizuoka Ken, Fujieda City, Koishigawa cho, 4 cho-me, 6-4