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The building housing a brewery affects the character of the sake produced there


Brewing sake is a subtle art. If the building in which the brewing is done is altered in even a small way, it can make a significant difference to the flavor of the sake made there.


Among brewers, there are some who believe in using an old, unrenovated building for making sake. That is because the character of the building housing a brewery affects the taste and quality of the sake produced there.


There is a reason why so many breweries are housed in old buildings.


Brewing sake is biotechnology
Sake brewing depends on the power of microorganisms. There is no sugar in the basic ingredient of sake, rice. Rice starch has to be converted to sugar. Kōji-kin (a mold) is used for this purpose.


After the starch is converted to sugar, it is fermented to produce alcohol. The microorganism that is important in this stage of the process is kōbo (yeast).


These microorganisms, kōji-kin and kōbo, along with others such as lactic acid bacteria, inhabit the brewery. If one of these microorganisms should suddenly mutate during the process of making sake, it can result in a flavor in the sake that is unique to that brewery.


For this reason, if the building is rebuilt because it has become decrepit, it will be difficult to once again produce sake with the same flavor.


Of course, if the roof leaks when it rains or the building becomes so unstable that it could collapse at any moment, repairs are done. But wholesale reconstruction is avoided in order to ensure that the traditional sake flavor associated with the brewery is maintained.


When a disasters hits, it alters the taste of the sake
Japan is a disaster-prone country. To begin with, there are a lot of earthquakes. Living in Japan, one experiences so many earthquakes in the course of a lifetime that one reaches the point where a moderate quake causes scarcely any surprise.


However, when a large earthquake strikes, the old buildings used for sake breweries tend to collapse. In fact, when an earthquake hit Niigata Prefecture some time ago, the breweries affected found that the flavor of their sake did indeed change.


Apart from earthquakes, Japan is subject to typhoons each summer. Dilapidated structures like old breweries are often damaged by these typhoons. It is not such a problem if the damage is limited to just one part of the building, but if the whole building collapses, it is found that after rebuilding, the sake does not taste the same.


It is often said that in sake brewing the person who makes the sake is important, but the building in which the sake is made is also important. Sake is made with the assistance of microorganisms, so apart from the ingredients and the person who makes the sake, there are many other factors that have an influence on how the sake turns out.


If you really want to learn about sake, you should also pay attention to brewery buildings. There are many old buildings in Japan that have been used for brewing sake for over 100 years.


These old breweries can produce sake with a flavor that cannot be reproduced in a modern building with state-of-the art machinery. In that sense, it can be said that the mysteries of sake are indeed profound.

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