Father's Day is June 16

Brooklyn is hot for sake. During our first visit to New York since the pandemic, Kayoko and I visited two breweries, two bottle shops specializing in Japanese drinks, and several Japanese bars and izakayas – all in Brooklyn. 

High on my list of places to visit this time was Kato Sake Works. I had heard great things about this new brewery since its opening on April 1, 2020. With a very limited amount of bottles produced, I knew I needed to go there in person to try all of their sakes. Founder and brewer, Shinobu Kato, was kind enough to open his tasting bar for Kayoko and me on a sunny Thursday afternoon in Brooklyn.

Kato-san greeted us into his quaint brewery with a roll up garage doors and colorful t-shirts with their logo hanging in the windows.

Once inside, he told us his story as he poured us a flight of his sakes.

Born and raised in Koenji in Tokyo, Kato-san, came to the U.S. in the early 2000s. He ended up in Nashville, Tennessee for school and yearned for good sake. 

Kato-san moved to Brooklyn in 2016. There, he set his mind to make sake that he'd like to drink at the end of the day with his friends. After many trials, he shared his sake with his friends, who kept asking him if they could bring a bottle home with them. And that was the seed that was planted to start Kato Sake Works.

During our visit to the brewery, we first tried a flight of three sakes: Junmai, Nigori, and Nama.

To streamline the production process in his limited production facility, Kato-san keeps it simple – he uses 60% polished Calrose rice for all of his brews. I loved this – as it really makes clear how the process can change the taste of sake. Kayoko's favorite was the Nigori "Hazy" which was lighter than most nigoris on the market. The texture was silky, yet had a nice freshness, akin to apple skins and cut grass. On that particularly hot spring day (for us northern Californians), I really enjoyed the Nama "Raw" with its juicy weight and aromas tropical fruit and apricot.

Kato-san's assistant brewer, Joanie Payne, was also there to show us around the brewery. She showed us the lively bubbling vats, steamed rice, and the koji room.

It was a marvel to know that they manage to make 200 bottles of sake every week. 

Kayoko and I really enjoyed our early afternoon visit to Kato Sake Works. The team there has a laid back vibe, and encourage you to enjoy their local brews at home or outside with friends at a picnic. With such a small output for production, we felt very lucky to be able to try an array of their sakes that day. 

Thank you to Kato-san and Joanie for the chat and showing us around your space!

At the time of writing, the bottle shop is open Friday through Sunday. Check their website for hours.

5 Central Ave Space B
Brooklyn, NY 11206