Shizuoka Breweries 12: Aoshima/Kikuyoi Brewery
When I first Mr. Takashi Aoshima, the fourthe generation owning the Aoshima Brewery (est. 1750′s) in Fujieda City, I was struck by the confident vitality of the gentleman.
Mr. Aoshima, a toji/master brewer in his own right, belongs to a new school of young brewery owners under the teachings of Denbei Nakumaura, the researcher who changed the fate of Shizuoka Sake. He is the third toji to receive an official bewer’s name, “Densaburo”, after those of Kokkou (Fukuroi City) and Shidaizumi (Fujieda City) Breweries.
Mr. Aoshima does possess many qualities and talents, but I was impressed to learn he had spent no less than 4 years in the U.S. to major in management before coming back to look after his father’s business.
His sjurn in the U.S. did influence the gentleman who is very fit as he regularly cycles and plays tennis during the two-month holiday he and all his staff take in summer, an unheard-of eccentricity in this country!
Otherwise, it is sheer hard work and relentless toil in season. Even so, many local young would-be brewers have been applying for jobs at his kura lately. Aoshima Brewery can certainly contemplate a bright future. The more for it when one discovers that futushu/normal sake, which makes up for 20% of the total production, is made from rice milled down to an extravagant 70%!
In his constant search for quality, Mr. Aoshima not only uses Hyogo Toku A Yamada Nishiki, Tokushima Yamada Nishiki and Iwate Giginga rices, but also organic rice grown locally for the last two years under the name of Matsusitamai for great absolutely local ginjo and dai ginjo.
We actually spent three hours (I came in the company of my good friend, Mr. Nagashima) talking, and visiting the brewery and the nearby Matsushita rice paddies.
The annual production of 700,000 (1,8l.) bottles comes out of a brewery where traditional equipment sits beside the master brewer’s own original devices. Mr. Aoshima is still using the 100-year plus old “kama” for steaming the rice for the simple reason the wrought iron itis made of would just fetch too much in present days for an equivalent quality.
As for the water, it bursts out of a well dug more than 70 metres into the Oigawa River waterbed and the rice is exclusively fermented with Shizuoka Yeast.
Our visit was topped with the tasting of three sake including a daiginjo (40%), all at room temperature, the way it should be done.
Talking of tasting, why do I have the impression I shall be very solicited in the near future (already got that incredible Matsushita Mai Daiginjo in the fridge!)
Oh, I almost forgot to mention taht Mr. Aoshima (39)is still a very eligible gentleman…
426-0036 Fujieda City, Kmai Aoshima, 246