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Housui Brewery
Tokushima Prefecture
http://www.housui.com

Vitals:
incorporated: 1913, 4th generation brewer
annual production: 145k L
varietals: ~20
employees: 15
distribution: 85% in Tokushima and neighboring Kagawa, 15% rest of Japan and elsewhere
breweries in same prefecture: 10 actively brewing

Located on the island of Shikoku off the southern coast of Japan, owner and proprietor of Housui Brewery, Mr. Yasuo Baba, introduces us to some uncommon foods and great sake, “most Japanese don’t even get to visit Shikoku,” he says.

We ducked in a little izakaya near the Awa Ikeda station off the JR Line and our conversation started over a customary glass of beer, a bowl of cockles and some downright hearty honjozo.

cockles and nama

a delicious snack, perfect with beer

Mr. Yasuo Baba, 51, listens to a lot of Sara Brightman nowadays, though is a punk rocker at heart. Some of his music favorites include the Stranglers, Yes (the early prog years), David Bowie, Elvis Costello, and like his taste for progressive rock bands Mr. Baba-san set to create an edge in his sakes, preferring even the softer styles to be hearty and full of character.

Only having had the tokubetsu junmai previously, the underlying characteristics of Housui sakes become apparent after sipping the warmed honjozo in front of us.

There’s a distinct taste that runs through his 20 or so sake varietals, which Baba-san says is much attributed to the water he uses. Spring water running down from the mountains surrounding the island meets the hard water from the adjacent Japan Sea creating a naturally balanced water base rich in minerality.

a view from behind the brewery

Mr. Baba-san is continually worried about water contamination as development encroaches the island. “Even the slightest advancements like hospitals and factories create the possibility,” he says, “but thankfully nothing noticeable has changed in the water so far.”

Apart from the water, Mr Baba-san says the integrity of his sakes also comes from the brew master’s focus and attention. “My job is to create the environment for a brew master to fully concentrate on his work,” says Baba-san.
As an employee who started on the bottling line, Mr. Yasuharu Takeuchi worked at the brewery for 4 years before delving into the brewing process. Now almost 20 years later Takeuchi-san is the head brew master at Housi making sure the koji gets cultivated and the yeast become able.

Takeuchi-san explaining the fermentation schedule

Takeuchi-san explains that since they want that heartier sake the yeast and koji need to be stronger and they do so by temperature control making the yeast work and struggle, building their muscles so to say for when they’re needed in the “moto” (rice mash) to start the fermentation process with that commanding edge throughout. Progressive and hard hitting, like the music he savors.

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Housui Brewery’s Tokubetsu Junmai is currently available for purchase at Sakaya in New York City.

Distributed in NYC by Craft Division at Paleewong Trading Co.

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Sam Sifton gives the newly opened LES Taiwanese eatery Xiao Ye a spankin in yesterday’s restaurant review, but we’ll only listen to that Taiwan Beer shout out at the end. Mr. Eddie Huang addresses the heat with a response from mom on his blog. We’re behind you too, Eddie.

Get ready for some dericious foods that’s surely coming our way!

Yep, you heard it here first. Taiwan Beer is available in NYC! Run over to the trusty Whole Foods Beer Room on Houston St, or hit up Xiao Ye in LES for the Taiwan goodness in a can, in a bottle and then in a bigger bottle! Contact us if you want the Taiwan in a retailer near you!

NEW YORK CITY, October 1, 2010 – With the popularity of Taiwanese cuisine on the rise, the availability of Taiwan’s national beer on the east coast is greeted with nostalgic cheer and curious palates.

Debuting at the Asian Feastival several weeks ago, over 800 New Yorkers tasted Taiwan Beer for the first time.

“I’ve never seen this anywhere outside of Taiwan,” one festival goer exclaims, “and it tastes just like I remembered it back home!”

Brewed with all local ingredients from the water to the native ponlai rice, Taiwan Beer yields a unique fresh flavor revered by the locals for over 80 years. Taiwan Beer has the characteristics of an easy drinking and accessible beer- a golden lager, light, crisp and goes down smooth with a flavorful meal.

The Taiwan Beer Festival is held every summer at the Taiwan Beer brewery near the Wujih station of the Taiwan High Speed Rail and has become an icon of Taiwanese culture. There’s also a Taiwan Beer Garden brewpub serving freshly brewed beer in Taipei, but if you can’t make it to the festival or Taipei for the fresh draft beer, finding it in a bottle or can abroad is the closest thing to it.

Taiwan Beer was first produced in 1922 and is currently brewed by the privately owned Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corporation (TTL). It is imported by SSC International, Inc. and is distributed in the eastern US by Paleewong Trading Co.

Taiwan Beer is available immediately at select retailers and restaurants in New York City, Virginia and North Carolina. Taiwan Beer will also soon be available in MA, CT, NJ, DC, MD, SC, and the rest of the eastern seaboard.

it’s that time of year again where beer brands from around the ‘hood and beyond team up for two nights of beer drinking bonanza.

Brewtopia Festival, aka the Great World Beer Fest at Pier 92 in NYC. In previous years past we’ve seen and gotten to know the people and faces behind the brews from Lagunitas to Original Sin to the hi-fiving pigs of Pork Slap Ale.

Singha Beer will be there again selling off some hard to find Singha memorbelia like Singha ashtrays, Singha peppermills, Singha tees and other logo studded stuff for the beer junk collector.

It begins on Halloween night on Friday 10-31-08 at 7 – 11 pm.

And continues on Saturday 11-01-08 from noon to 4 pm and the last session at 5pm – 9 pm.

Get tix at the Brewtopia website here. Now!

at Pier 92 (West Side Highway and 52nd St) in NYC

at Pier 92 (West Side Highway and 52nd St) in NYC