Monday, April 26, 2010
When Hiroko was in Japan, she didn't have time to visit her parents and buy sanuki udon in Kagawa. Her solution to not being able to get home, was to visit a prefectural store called an "Antenna Shop" in Tokyo. Even though Japan is a small island country, there are many different food cultures with unique products that can only be found in the prefecture of origin. Since each prefecture needs tourists visit their towns to revitalize their local industries, they have developed these "Antenna Shops" in Tokyo to promote their well known products as well as to provide travel information. This way you don't have to go to each of the 46 prefectures to buy their specialty goods.from each prefecture.
There seem to be number of prefecture stores that have popped up around Tokyo in just the past 5 years. Hiroko went to the Antenna Shop for Kagawa and Ehime prefectures (香川・愛媛せとうち旬彩館) in Shinbashi. After some browsing, she picked up couple of packages of sanuki udon and then spied some beer made from Umenishiki Brewery, the sake brewer in Ehime.
Umenishiki sake brewery was established in 1872. Their Junmai, Junmai Ginjo and Junmai Daiginjo are available in NYC through the importer, Japan Prestige Sake Association. Since 1995, they have also been making artisanal beer which have won medals in Japan's International Beer Competition. Among the five types that they make, their Bock, Weizen, and Blanse have won Gold, Silver, and Silver medals respectively.
Hiroko picked up one bottle each of the Pilsner and Aromatic Ale to bring home to Brooklyn. Shaken and tossed by luggage handlers, the preservation and condition of the beer might not have been the best, but nonetheless we decided to open and taste the beers made by the sake brewer.
We usually drink pilsners from Pennsylvania and ales from California where the style is very hoppy and aromatic. Umenishiki Pilsner was golden in color, very light and tasty with a light fruit flavor and peppery finish. Yet, there was something missing in the flavor. It's better than Sapporo or Kirin that we drink at Japanese restaurants, but we tend to prefer a more hoppy flavor.
We opened the Aromatic Ale next. With an alcohol level of 8.5%, it was deep and rich, with a hint of caramel flavor on the back end.
Perhaps had we drunk them in Japan, they would have tasted better. On our next trip, we hope to try their other beers. Still we enjoyed tasting something from Hiroko's family home that is not available in the U.S.