What makes Fukushima the perfect place for a sake brewery to thrive? Whether they stick with traditional methods or play with innovation, the brewers who base themselves in this vast Tohoku prefecture are blessed with a cool climate and an abundance of water – both of which are essential for the cultivation of delicious rice and, consequently, top quality sake that’s known for being some of the best in Japan.
Fukushima brewers are revered for their diligence and passion for their art, and only use carefully selected ingredients to provide the cleanest and tastiest beverage enjoyed by enthusiasts all over the world. Below, we introduce three of the top recommended breweries to visit while traveling around the region.
Their sake pairs perfectly with the glorious, unique cuisine of Fukushima, which makes the most of delicious local ingredients – making a a self-led brewery tour around the area the perfect adventure for foodies and adventurers alike. Before you leave, be sure to pick up a bottle or two of sake to take home as a gift or a souvenir – empty bottles make beautiful kitchen decorations, too!
Suehiro Sake Brewery
Opened for business in 1850, Suehiro Sake is an authentic brewery located in the heart of Aizu-Wakamatsu, the first city in the prefecture to employ toji — sake masters or head brewers. Today, the city is a convenient stop for travelers and a café run by the brewery allows for a quick pit stop for tasting sake and tucking into some sake cake. Visitors can also take a free tour of the facilities, led by a member of staff (in Japanese).
Suehiro Sake works in collaboration with local farmers, using rice grown and cultivated combined with traditional artisanal techniques. Their best-selling product is Densho Yamahai Junmai Suehiro, a well-balanced dry and sweet liquor. Their selection also includes a sparkling sake and Daiginjo Gensai, a refreshing tipple with an enjoyable aftertaste.
Okunomatsu Sake Brewery
This award-winning brewery carries a 300-year-old history. Okunomatsu’s Eight sake pairs well with Western cuisine and is characterized by its smooth finish, making it the perfect choice for novices and aficionados alike. The brewery has built up its legacy thanks to its innovative approach, trying to build a bridge between traditional and modern brewing methods.
Its selection is rich in variety, aiming to bring to the table new flavors with unique qualities. Sake fans are sure to find their perfect match. Fun fact: Okunomatsu was one of the first companies to use a pasteurizer along with a unique bottle-cap to keep the sake as fresh as possible after it leaves the brewery.
Suzuki Sake Brewery
One of the many businesses affected by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, this brewery opened in Namie town during the Edo Era. Being relatively close to shore and only six kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, the original brewery suffered extensive damage and is located within a previously evacuated area of Namie (evacuation orders were lifted in 2017).
Luckily, a small amount of yeast mash was salvaged from a laboratory in Aizu-Wakamatsu and the brewery was able to reopen in nearby Yamagata Prefecture (they hope to relocate back to Namie soon).
Suzuki Sake Brewery’s sake is rich in flavor, made with high quality rice. Their Iwaki Kotobuki Pure Sake is one of their best-selling items and can be enjoyed at room temperature or chilled.