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I had been wanting to visit Oomuraya Brewery in Shimada City for many reasons:
Known under the names of its main brews. Onigoroshi, Onna Nakase and Wakatake, it has exported to the United States for quite some time as well as smaller quantities in Asia and Europe.
Oomuraya Brewery is an establishment always happy to welcome visitors and conduct group tasting sessions and even one-day classes. Just calll them some time in advance and they will oblige.
As the « shikomi » had not started yet when I appeared at their head office on Tuesday, October 30th, the resident second Master-Brewer/Toji, Mr. Satoru Hibino, was on hand to greet me. An ever-smiling man aged 34, Mr. Hibino, originally from Aichi Prefecture, has worked for Oomuraya since 1997 after graduating from the Shizuoka University Agriculture Faculty. He presently works in the company of five other brewers under the orders of Nanbu Master Brewer Ginichi Sugawara (64) all from the Nanbu Brewers School in Iwate Prefecture.
The six of them spend 6 months working extremely hard every year in the Brewery owned by the sixth generation (since 1832), Mr. Keisaji Matsunaga, a jovial « young man of 70 » who regularly visits New York to introduce his brews.
The annual production of Wakatake (originally known under the name of Okisagi) amounts to 200,000 1.8l. bottles, 20% of which is exported.
The water comes from a well dug 50 metres deep into the Oi River (Oigawa)bed.
As for rice they use quite a few varieties:
Gohyakumangoku (Toyama, Shizuoka, Fukui, Niigata)
Yamada Nishiki (Hyogo)
Aichi no Kaori (Shizuoka)
Homare Fuji (Shizuoka)
Yeast is basically from Shizuoka Prefecture, including some obscure ones:
Shizuoka HD-1, NEW-5, CH-50, NO-2 and SY-103 as well as Number 14
Oomuraya Brewery also produces many private brands to help commemorate various cultural events and spread the popularity of sake in their own area, not always an easy task with the many « intruders » lurking around the corners. No wonder the figure of an Oni/Demon Guardian stands predominantly above their entrance!
427-0022 Shimada City, Hontoori, 1-1-8