After Mutemuka Shuzo, we made our way to Kochi City (about 90 minutes away) and had a very authentic Kochi night (aka had LOTS of sake). We had gone to three spots the night before with people from Hamakawa Shoten and Suigei Brewing Co. The last spot was just a hazy memory involving eihire (dried fish) and bottles upon bottles of Bijofu by Hamakawa Shoten. Despite the night being a blur, I do remember the general camaraderie and warmth that all the breweries have for each other.
I felt like this guy, Tosa No Okyaku (Tosa Customer) which was fitting as he is the mascot of Tosa, where Kameizumi is located.
I have to say it was a huge struggle (even more so for my husband) to get up at 8am at our cramped business hotel in Kochi City and make the two hour commute to Kameizumi Shuzo in Tosa City on a bumpy and slow streetcar, and then a taxi. In fact, we were about 15 minutes late to the appointment, and I hate being late. But when we got there, brewer Yasumasa Ogasawara and owner Kazuhito Saibara welcomed us with open arms.
The brewery is located in the middle of some farm fields in Tosa. The taxi driver pulled up into a small street where the brewery takes up both sides.
I tried Kameizumi's CEL-24 Junmai Ginjo back in 2019 for the first time. It makes a statement with its in-your-face aromas of strawberry, cherry, and pineapple. Even though it's undiluted, it's lower in alcohol at 14% ABV. It's got viscosity that works wonders in a big red wine glass. If you want something fruity, Kameizumi is answering the call. It is always a hit when we put it on our by-the-glass list at our bar.
I am featuring Kameizumi's CEL-24 Junmai Ginjo for February's Sake Gumi selection this year as part of the theme Discovering Kochi. Discussing Kameizumi Shuzo is especially relevant to this theme because I quickly learned that it is the only brewery (out of 18 in the entire prefecture) that uses all of the sake rice types native to Kochi Prefecture: Tosa-Nishiki, Gin No Yume, Kaze Naruko, and Tosa Urara.
I asked Ogasawara-san what kind of considerations he has to make when using CEL-24 yeast. He explained that the yeast requires a shorter fermentation (about nine days instead of the typical 14) at a higher temperature that ranges anywhere between 25-26˚C.
Maintaining a higher temperature creates a healthy mash with less bacteria. The resulting sake is weighty and fruity, just the opposite of traditional Kochi sakes that are more food friendly and dry.
He took us around the brewery, showing us where the magic happens.
The different yeasts including CEL-24.
Their Yabuta press is in a refrigerated space. With global warming resulting in rising temperatures all over Shikoku, all of the breweries in and around Kochi City had refrigerated spaces for their presses.
They sell their sake kasu (lees) to local pickle shops.
When we visited, they were bottling their honjozo with is made with Matsuyama Mii (a rice from neighboring Ehime Prefecture).
Because the front label on the CEL-24 has specs that changes with every batch, they have all the different combinations on different spools of stickers.
Saibara-san offers us tastes upon tastes!
One standout was the Space 2005. This is a juicy junmai daiginjo using Tosa Urara rice and local yeast that was sent into space. I am not quite sure what this did to the resulting sake, but the texture was notably clean. Saibara-san thinks that sending it to space applied lot of pressure onto the yeast, making the resulting sake tighter.
Ogasawara-san shows us the brewery's motto on his sleeve "Delicious, Fun, and Interesting." With the different combinations of yeasts and rice types used for the seemingly infinite seasonal brews we tried, I'd say they are abiding by the motto.
Thank you Ogasawara-san and Saibara-san for hosting us! Learning about different yeasts and local rice was the best hangover cure to get me alert and ready for the next one.