Jun 25, 2012

Hakata Nerizake

Amazake is a sweet beverage, which is often made by preparing mixture of water, sugar, and sakekasu (sake lees) and then heating it. Another method of making amazake, traditional method, is to use mixture of rice koji, rice, and water, and amazake made in this method has mild sweetness deriving from rice koji.  

People tend to think this beverage is something to be drunk in winter, but people in old times drank it in summer because it was considered to be very nutritious and to be a good cure for summer weariness. Actually, the beverage, being rich in vitamins B1, B2, and B6, folic acid, dietary fiber, oligosaccharide, amino acid such as cystein, arginine, and glutamine, and a large amount of glucose, is often referred to as "drinking drip infusion."  

By the way, I recently found some interesting beverage being sold in a nearby liquor shop. It is called "Hakata Nerizake." Hakata is the name of a place in Fukuoka Prefecture, Kyushu, and Nerizake can be interpreted as sake made by grinding or kneading something. According to the description on the packaging carton, Nerizake is made in the following way: Prepare mixture of rice and glutinous rice, and make lactic acid fermentation occur in the mixture. Add rice, rice koji, and water to the fermented lactic acid mixture, and further ferment it. Then, grind the fermented mixture with a mortar and strain it with silk cloth. The made beverage has 3% of alcohol. It tastes very nice with a sweet and sour flavor.

Amazake is something made by fermenting (saccharifying) rice and rice koji while sake is made by fermenting (saccharifying) rice and rice koji, and generating alcoholic fermentation with help of yeast. So, this Nerizake, having sweetness and acidity with a low alcohol content, can probably be placed somewhere between amazake and sake.

Incidentally, the label on the bottle bears an indication of "清酒" (sake), telling that this beverage is classified as sake according to the Japan's Liquor and Tax Law.

I hardly feel alcohol in this sake because of an alcohol content as low as 3%, and enjoyed it like soft drink. However, this is priced at 1575 yen for 500-ml bottle, which means over 2200 yen if it bottled in a 720-ml bottle. So, this can be said to be quite expensive sake. If this was less expensive, I could probably drink it quite often.

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