Water from heaven
Unlike many breweries located in secluded countryside spots, Kumazawa Brewing Company lies not far beyond the urban labyrinth of Tokyo. Located in Kanagawa Prefecture, Kumazawa can be found in an area better known for being a bedroom community for the Tokyo Metropolis than for its sake. It is a relatively young brewery by most standards, yet its focus on crafting premium sake and beer makes it deliciously worthy of attention and appreciation.
Sake that’s fresh from the mountain springs
Kanagawa may not spring to mind for many when considering the top sake-producing regions of Japan. However, like with all sake breweries, the accessibility of a quality and abundant water source must be taken into consideration. For the founders of Kumazawa, it was the nearby Tanzawa Mountains, which provide a crisp, clean source of water that contributes to the fresh and buoyant flavour of Tensei Junmai Ginjo, Kumazawa’s flagship sake brand. The name Tensei, taken from a Chinese legend, means “rain over heaven”—a reference to the purity and the crisp, refreshing flavour of Tensei Junmai Ginjo.
Founded 133 years ago, Kumazawa has evolved from a premium sake brewery to include other areas of brewing, making fruit beers and dab- bling in pilsners and IPAs. The brewery site is also now home to a restaurant, named for the brewery’s Tensei sake label, where visitors can enjoy the various brews that Kumazawa has to offer while appreciating the natural scenery around the premises. Perhaps the most fascinating feature of Kumazawa Brewing Company is that some of its sake is aged in a former bomb shelter, which provides an environment that maintains subtle seasonal changes—resulting in a flavour that can be enjoyed warm or chilled.
The process of creating a pure sake like Tensei involves the careful selection of rice and koji to create the perfect balance of flavours and quality, without using any additives. A Junmai Ginjo like Tensei involves creating a sake from pure rice (with no distilled alcohol added), and grains that have been polished down to at least 50%. The presence of Ginjo in the name also denotes the careful selection process that goes into choosing the rice for Kumazawa’s signature sake.
Tensei Junmai Ginjo is the perfect potable for those whose palates prefer a lighter, fruitier flavour. The nose on this sake is a meeting of melon, green apple and peach scents with floral hints. The flavour is smooth and full, with each sip embracing the tongue and wrapping it in hints of mango, pear and apple. Tensei Junmai Ginjo’s lighter flavour and sense of refreshment make this sake perfect for a late summer evening—try it served chilled and paired with steamed seafood or accompanied by the abundance of fruit that’s currently in season.
- Sake is not the only brew that the Kumazawa Brewing Company produces. Besides their line of sake, which includes the delectable Tensei Junmai Ginjo, the company produces a line of beer that is as crisp and refreshing as their signature brew.
- Kumazawa’s line of beers includes a number of styles, including a pilsner that balances hoppy bitterness with a hint of sweetness, a black brew which emphasizes a malty aroma and taste, and an “American-style” golden ale: a smooth beer with notes of citrus.
- These brews and more of Kumazawa Brewing Company’s beverages can be sampled at the restaurant located at the brewery—a place established as the perfect setting for people to enjoy and discover their new favourite drinks.