From late January to early February, we offer the Hatsushibori or early spring namazake at SAKAYA. What exactly is namazake? Namazake is unpasteurized sake, which means that the sake has been bottled without receiving the heat treatment of pasteurization. Most sake is pasteurized twice during its production process; first after pressing the fermented mash to extract the liquid sake, and then again after a period of maturation before bottling. Why is it pasteurized? For a couple of reasons. Pasteurization deactivates the enzymes still left frolicking about in the sake after fermentation and also kills off “riff raff” bacteria, thus stabilizing the brew for longer shelf life. Unpasteurized sake therefore must be kept refrigerated or it will become cloudy, yeasty, and cloying.
Kept under the proper conditions and consumed within a brief time after opening, namazake’s characteristically bold, fresh, and lively flavors are quite enjoyable. Think of it as freshly squeezed grapefruit juice instead of the made-from-concentrate version or draft versus bottled beer.
At SAKAYA we have several styles for you to try and compare (including one made with peach yeast) so please visit us by and give them a try to find your own favorite(s)!