On a beautiful cold day on Friday, February 29th, I met Matthew (Matt) Ryan, an Australian resident in Hamamatsu City with my student, Mika Sakurai, at the JR Station to honour an invitation by Mr. Yasuo Nakamura to visit his Brewery.
An extraordinarily affable gentleman, he is the 6th generation-owner of Hamamtsu Brewery founded in 1871 by his ancestor Goroshichi (the name of one of extravagant rice shochu) Nakamura.
Actually Nakamura was the original name of the Brewery until they absorbed other breweries in 1953 and changed their name to Hamamatsu Brewery (under Government orders).
Mr. Nakamura’s father, who opened a beer hall some 20 years ago, finally was allowed thanks to a change of law to create a beer brewery on the same premises in 1998. His son started producing kome/rice shochu in 2003, and umeshu 1n 2005. This year saw the brewing of their first « yamahai » sake, a brand of very traditional sake hard to find anywhere (only 3 more breweries presently produce it in Shizuoka Prefecture), and quite a labour of love.
Another first, and in this case for the whole Shizuoka Sake World, a 28-years old lady, Ms. Miwa Masui, is in charge of the brewing from this very year! (I don’t really know how to call her as there is no femnine form for Master Brewer!) Although I’m extremely proud of my male gender, I do think this is great news, proving that some establishments are willing to work along the times!
I can hear Melinda and Etsuko rejoicing! (Why don’t you come down to Hamamatsu? It will a great pleasure to accompany you!)
We were granted the « real » visit ( a very personal one indeed, as « tourists » are certainly not allowed within the « heart » of the brewery!) and my two friends assailed poor Mr. Nakamura who had just enough time to explain along with my interpreting.
We were lucky to be shown the process for the last batch of « yamahai » (after that, they will start brewing beer while continuing producing shochu, umeshu and other liqueurs) and appreciate the texture and flavour of the rice before a peek into the « koji muro » (fermenting chamber).
When we took a peek at the sake fermenting in one of the vats, Mr. Nakamura had to point out to enthusiastic Matt not to fall inside as he was eagerly looking into its entrails, or that would the his end on this world (it did happen in Japan recently to an unfortunate individual who met his final demise by accidentally falling inside such a vat!)!
Hamamatsu Brewery is a very well organized company at everylevel. Not only they produce sake, shochu, liqueurs and beer, but you can even use their event space for private enterprises from weding to private rock concerts!
Now, their kome/rice shochu are an extravagant affair!
They are exclusively made from « sake kasu »/white lees distilled as soon as produced.
I know a lot of people in Kyushu who will have to revise some of their views if hey are given the chance to taste them!
And not only they are great, but comparitively rare as only 1,200 litres are distilled every year.
Their shop is a must in itself, and I can assure you that you will be embarrassed by the choice of goods on display, that incidentally you can pay with a credit card, a very rare occurence in this very traditional world!
Tenjingura/Hamamatsu Brewery Co. Ltd.
430-463-3851 Hamamatsu City, Naka Ku, Tenjin Machi, 3-57
Business hours: 10:30~21:00
Closed on Tuesdays
Catering: Lunch & Dinner (dinner course on reservation)
Visits: Sake and beer breweries visits on reservation.