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On Tuesday July 29th, another blistering hot day, my good friend Takahiro Nagashima, who is planning his own Shizuoka Breweries Homepage graciously drove me to Yui Cho to visit the small but renown Eikun Brewery.
It certainly was very kind of my friend to drive me there as it is well away from the beaten tracks and going there even by bus would be problematic. For once cycling was simply out of question!
The fifth generation owner, Mr. Yusuke Mochizuki was waiting for us. A solid affable gentleman of 44, whose hobby is running every morning at 5:30 rain, snow or shine, he is the father of two daughters and one son who hopefully will follow his steps one day. Mr. Mochizuki told us he lost his father only four years ago and found himself having to learn a lot all of a sudden about accounting, taxes and all the usual red tape hassle. Fortunately his mother is still here to give him a welcome hand. It is a small brewery as I said with only a toji and his two aides from Iwate Prefecture (Nanbu School) and one full-time employee. I can imagine the work and responsibilities even if the actual brewing takes only 4 months!
Eikun Brewery was founded in 1881 in the midst of a rural community. When you visit the place, you realize quickly how old and traditional it is.
Even so, some important details will reveal the constant search for perfection in this modern world. For example Eikun brewery have acquired their own rice-milling machine as they prefer to mill all their rice which includes Gohyakumagoku from Fukui and Toyama Prefectures, Yamada Nishiki from Hyogo Prefecture and Bizen Ohmmachi from Okayama Prefecture.
They also show a lot of good sense and team work ethics as demonstrated by the water filtering tank (the local water contains a little unwanted iron) they have shared for the last ten years with two other unrelated companies using water collected three kilometres away up in the nearby mountains.
We went on a full tour of the brewery made easy by the fact no sake was being brewed.
For all its old age, the place is spotless clean and easy to move through.
A lot of money and effort are spent on proper storage. I can tell you it costs heaps to keep some storage rooms at a constant 5 degrees Celsius when it was more than 35 degrees outside!
We had a little peak at the « laboratory » where HD-101 (Shizuoka Prefecture) and M310 (No 1%) yeasts were stored. But we did not push our luck too far as we knew that some rooms could not be opened due to the excessive outside heat and humidity.
It was then down to the serious business of sake tasting!
The brewery has an annual output of 60,000 bootles (1.8l) including 2,600 l. of futsushu (the latter absolutely extaravagant, as it is made from rice milled down to 65%!).
Mr. Mochizuki confided us that he brews only sake he likes regardless of trends or orders. He is particularly keen on making brews fit for food, and his personal preference is honjozo style as opposed to junmai style. I have appreciated his sake for a long time as it has a lot of personality found in its refreshing green apples taste.
Visitors willing to come all the way to the brewery will be pleased to discover bottles there otherwise almost impossible to buy once out of Yui Cho!
Simply looking forward to my next visit!
421-101 Ihara Gun, Yui Cho (soon to become Shizuoka Shi, Shimizu Ku, Yui Cho), Iriyama, 2152