Hideyoshi (Suzuki Sake Brewery)
One of the Oldest Sake Breweries in Akita
Hideyoshi Suzuki Sake Brewery is a local sake brewery in the small town of Daisen, in the heart of Akita prefecture in northern Japan. Hideyoshi is a sake renowned in the area and produced since 1689. Giving a warm welcome to the public, the old brewhouse can be visited upon reservation and offers a tasting of its best rice alcohols.
The building sheltering Suzuki Sake 🍶 Brewery dates to the Meiji era (1868 – 1912). Its proud traditional wooden front is ornamented with a sakabayashi, the sphere of pine tree leaves typical of a sake brewery. Inside, visitors discover a small and beautiful Japanese garden whose tree is as old as the place, and a few interesting archeological artefacts to illustrate the origins of the establishment.
The story began in 1689 when a young man settled here to produce sake, as he liked the quality of water and rice in Akita. Much later, in 1848, the lord ruling over the region organized a contest to decide on the province’s best sake. He was amazed by Suzuki Shuzo’s beverage and would exclaim "Hidette-Yoshi!", which means “extremely good!”. Ever since, the brewery has been selling its sake under the name Hideyoshi.
Inside the sake making process
An English-speaking employee gladly guides around the brewery and explains the making process of the famous Hideyoshi sake. The artisanal production chain is described as such:
- First, rice kernels are polished to get rid of their outer layers that would spoil the aromas of the alcohol,
- Then they are washed and steam-cooked in large containers,
- After letting it cool down, the cooked rice is spread on a table in a room heated at 34°C,
- A specific enzyme, named koji and obtained by the cultivation of a specific fungus, is added for fermentation,
- After three days, the fermented rice has produced enough sugar to make sake.
The rooms for fermentation are off-limits but one can have a glimpse of the large casks containing the rice from the entrance. Storage barrels are also impressive as they can contain up to 8,000 liters of sake each, which gives an insight on the production scale.
The pleasure of learning by tasting
This rather soft Japanese alcohol is often compared to wine but not necessarily to the taste of everyone. However, at Suzuki Brewery visitors can try to learn some of the subtleties of this traditional drink, thanks to a tasting session of several types and categories of sake. From the ordinary sake, that is already quite good, to a vintage sake, the guide gives the hints to teach our palates how to better enjoy the various flavors.
With the advice of the workshop’s boutique staff, it is possible to purchase, directly on site, a few bottles to offer or to bring back as a souvenir. The brewery produces a varied range of sake, including a sparkling one. The sake Hideyoshi is also sold in shops, bars, and restaurants of the area.
Excessive drinking put your health at risk. Alcoholic beverages should be consumed in moderation.
Important: for those who would like to visit Suzuki-Hideyoshi by car 🚙, we must remind that even the slightest consumption of alcohol before driving is to be avoided in Japan. Indeed, the alcohol blood accepted for drivers is …0,0%. Therefore, the driver will not be able to participate in the tasting, even for a small sake glass.
The Tohoku area is home to many artisanal sake breweries and Suzuki Brewery takes part in the excellence of the production, with a lot of work to export it in the world, as a message of hope after March 2011 events.