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Blue Kudzu Sake Company is the FOURTH micro sake brewery in the US, born in Beer City USA - Asheville, NC

How Kickstarter works:

STEP ONE: Sign into Kickstarter - just need an e-mail and create a password, that's it
STEP TWO: Sign into Amazon (if you already have an account you're good to go)
STEP THREE: Kick us $5 or more and your card will only get charged once we reach that $25,000 goal!

*Kickstarter is a sponsored marathon! You are charged for your pledge only when we run the miles! Not before!

Our Story

We are Mitch Fortune, Cat Ford-Coates, and Mary Taylor, three long time friends with a passion for food, drinks, and general merriment. A little over a year ago we were enjoying our winter cooking club with a dozen of our friends.  Mitch had prepared a delicious dinner of Asian cuisine, and our friends brought sake to drink. After several hours of enjoying the food, sake, each other’s company, we began a discussion of the history, origin, and the production of sake. We soon realized that the majority of our friends did not know much about sake, other than the fact that it is a drink that most of us enjoy. A friendly argument ensued about whether sake is considered a beer or a wine. To settle the argument we broke out "the google" and went on a search for answers.   

We learned a lot about the origin and process of making sake, and were surprised by what we found. First off, sake is more like beer in the process of brewing, but more like wine in the alcohol content of the finished product. The most surprising thing to us was that sake is gluten and sulfite free, vegan, and kosher. Sake is also one of the purest drinks on earth, consisting of only water, rice, yeast, and a magic little mold called koji. Sake is the only alcoholic beverage on earth that is brewed using two simultaneous processes during fermentation. Even more interesting is that sake, unlike wine, should be consumed FRESH! It should not be aged.
Fact: All of the premium sake sold in the U.S. is imported, and therefore, not very fresh. In transport to the U.S., sake is typically stored incorrectly, destroying the subtle and delicate flavors.

What a tragedy.

So, we asked ourselves, "where in the US can we buy fresh sake?" Being long time bartenders, we like to know our products. We wanted to try truly fresh sake to see just how good it could be. Turns out there are only six, massive, Japanese owned companies which produce 99 percent of the sake consumed in the United States. Most of this sake is consumed hot, in sushi bars across the country. (sake is generally served hot if it is of poor quality, to mask the imperfections). These macro-breweries are large scale brewing operations focused on quantity over quality, much like American domestic beer companies.

Once we found out all of this, we decided to take a leap and try brewing our own sake. Luckily, Mary has worked in breweries and distilleries over the years, and Mitch has been avidly home brewing beer for over 10 years, and making homemade wine for several years on top of that. Mitch had all the equipment we needed, so we just had to find the right ingredients and obtain a little know how. We went back to "the google" and we did some research and got a hold of a few recipes, books, and videos about sake brewing. After more than a few misadventures, we finally made our first palatable (and delicious) batch of sake.

Blue Kudzu Salute!
Blue Kudzu Salute!

Skip ahead 8 months and we have perfected our processes and are now consistently brewing fresh, delicious sake, and have even started creating infused flavored sakes as well. We have also tested our products on some willing (quite willing in fact) testers and have received very positive feedback. To this end, we have decided that we should open our own sake brewery to share our delicious FRESH sake with others – Blue Kudzu Sake Co. was born.

Hard at Work
Hard at Work

What's in our name? 

Kudzu is a vine that is the scourge of some and the delight of others. It is referred to in our neck of the woods as "the vine that ate the South." It has many positive uses from making fabrics to natural soaps and medicinal tonics. It grows very quickly and overtakes things in its path at an exceptional rate. As it overtakes anything in its path, it also restores and improves topsoil and the overall soil quality where it grows. We want our business to grow like kudzu, benefiting those who enjoy our product by offering them a healthier alternative to the traditional American alcoholic beverages. We use the word blue to pay homage to the Blue Ridge Mountains, the beautiful place we call home.

Where we are today

 Over the past year through all of our small craft batches and during all of our research and experimentation, we learned that 3 mirco-sake breweries have opened in the United States and are creating small batch craft sake, with very warm reception. We wish to add our name to the small, but growing, craft sake scene in the United States. In an effort to try to start our brewery we enrolled in a local business incubator class at Mountain Biz Works, and developed a working business plan. With their encouragement, we have done extensive market research, as well held customer test sessions. We discovered that our business model is sound and plausible. Eureka! We have a realistic and profitable business plan! Mountain Biz works showed us that we could feasibly start our own kura (sake brewery). To ensure our success we will continue to work with Mountain Bizworks through their mentoring and coaching programs as we expand from home brewing into commercial brewing of American craft sake.

What Blue Kudzu is and will become

Right now, we are super micro-craft sake brewers. That's okay, we are doing what we love. What we love more? Bringing the awesome to our community by opening a kura (sake brewery).  Our kura will encompass a tasting room, a garden patio, a retail space, bottling line and of course, our brew house. Think small but airy, a relaxed spot to enjoy West Asheville and Blue Kudzu Sake. This will of course include a bottle shop for you to take home your favorite Blue Kudzu bottle or a growler of some of our craftier stuff (ie - seasonal infusions, etc). 

What is sake?

Ok, so you've had sake that one time last year when you went out for sushi. It was served hot and tasted okay, so whats all the hubaloo about?

First off, sake is more like beer in the process of brewing, but more like wine in the alcohol content of the finished product (anywhere from 10-20%...Whew!).  The most surprising thing to us was that sake is gluten and sulfite free, vegan, and kosher.  Sake is also one of the purest drinks on earth, consisting of only water, rice, yeast, and a magic little mold called koji.  Sake is the only alcoholic beverage on earth that is brewed using two simultaneous processes during fermentation.  Even more interesting is that sake, unlike wine, should be consumed FRESH!  

It should not be aged.  

Fact:  All of the premium sake sold in the U.S. is imported, and therefore, not very fresh. In transport to the U.S., sake is typically stored incorrectly, destroying the subtle and delicate flavors.  Also the majority of domestic sake is mass produced sake drank warm in sake bars across the country.  Fresh and premium sakes are generally served cold (like white wines) and if you haven't tried it yet, go get a bottle right now....we'll be here when you get back.

Why We Need Your Help

We do have several obstacles to overcome.  First, it will take us 6 months for licensing, and that means we cannot sell anything for 6 months.  The real catch is that we have to have the space leased before we can apply for our permits from the state and the federal governments.  That's 6 months of down time, 5 months to go.

Our second obstacle:  We do have a financial backer who will loan us the money to open our brewery, but we have to raise an additional $25,000 or more, to combine with our own cash reserves to be able to get the loan.  If we can raise the $25,000 we will have enough to secure funding and move forward!

We are also breaking new ground and have had a difficult time finding equipment suppliers. Most brewery design companies do not know anything about building a sake brewery and do not want to risk their reputation by putting their name on a project that they are unfamiliar with. However, through persistence, we have equipment suppliers lined up and the brewery designed. A brewery is an expensive endeavor.  That's why we need your help. 

How much we are able to raise will dictate the scope and scale of our final operation.  We are also hoping to raise enough capital to visit Japan to work with some very old sake brewers, and learn from them as well as gain insight into the traditions and methodology of sake brewing.  It is also our hope that we can hire a toji (master sake brewer) from Japan to come work with us in the initial months to help us keep true to traditional sake brewing techniques, and perfect our process as well.  We need all the help we can get to make this all come to fruition.

Last:  Share this page with anyone and everyone.  Tweet it, facebook it, email it, pin it, stumble upon it, dig it, etc.  We need your help to get this project off the ground. If you have any questions about us or our project feel free to send us a message here via kickstarter or via email: info@bluekudzusake.com

Just think, you could get a Blue Kudzu bottle just like this at a store near you!

Blue Kudzu Sake
Blue Kudzu Sake

Things to know: If we do not hit our project goal, we don't get any of the money.  That’s how kickstarter works.  It is all or nothing.  We either get enough money to move ahead, or we do not get a dime.  SO please, share our cause with anyone you think can help.  

For those donating from outside the contiguous United States, please add $10 to your pledge to cover the extra shipping costs.  

We thank you for taking the time to learn about our project and graciously thank you for any support you can provide.  No pledge is too small.  We hope that we can get this project off of the ground and hope to share a glass of fresh sake with you at our brewery soon!  If you have any questions or would love to discuss sake please feel free to contact us.

So to refresh your memory and summarize:

- We need some $$$ so we can finally start brewing sake at a commercial level, meaning there will finally be sake for you to try!
- Kickstarter allows people with great ideas a chance to execute them with help from supporters like you, i.e. a small donation.
- Kickstarter will only charge your card and disburse the money to us if we reach the $25,000 goal by the deadline.
- If we can reach $25,000 by the end of August, another backer has come forward saying they will then donate matching funds which will allow us to really take off!
- WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP!
- Also, it's quick and easy:

STEP ONE: Sign into Kickstarter - just need an e-mail and create a password, that's it
STEP TWO: Sign into Amazon (if you already have an account you're good to go)
STEP THREE: Kick us $5 or more and your card will only get charged once we reach that $25,000 goal!

WE ARE BLUE KUDZU SAKE COMPANY!!!!!
We are artisans with a dream. We aren't doing this project to become wildly rich (it wouldn't hurt of course, but is generally not the case in the brewing world). We are doing this because we can't imagine doing anything else with our lives. We take this venture very seriously as both brewers and business savvy go getters. We understand that it is one thing to have a dream and another to have the pieces in place to execute it. Over the past year of serious planning we are confident that we have both the brewing expertise and good business sense to not just reach for our dream but make it a success.

We would like to express some thanks to some dear friends and businesses for helping us launch our kickstarter campaign:

Hotel Indigo, Asheville

Micah Mackenzie Photography

Vieve Bernard of Hops n Vines, West Asheville

Mountain Biz Works

Here is a mock up of our Reward T-shirt...we have some more designs with new logos and the hoodie on the way!!!

We helped cultivate Blue Kudzu!
We helped cultivate Blue Kudzu!

FAQ

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  • Pledge $5 or more
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    6 backers

    You get a Blue Kudzu Sticker for which to do with as you please. We suggest placing it on the back of your Subaru, on the street facing side of your guitar case while you are busking, or use it to add to the decoupage of your local Mountain Xpress Box (Just kidding, we do not condone vandalism). Also you can sing to yourself, “I got 5 on it.”

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  • Pledge $10 or more
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    9 backers

    You get the sticker mentioned above, plus a private kura (brewery) tour. Then you can brag to your friends that you have been to a sake brewery, and how many people can say that? You will also get your name on our donor wall. (To thank our generous benefactors, we will dedicate a wall in the Kura to display the names of all the awesome people who helped to cultivate Blue Kudzu)

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  • Pledge $25 or more
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    53 backers

    You will get the sticker and the tour, your name on the wall, plus a souvenir Blue Kudzu ochoko (sake glass). You are gonna be too cool for school. No really!

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  • Pledge $50 or more
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    16 backers

    You will get the sticker, the tour, your name on the wall, a souvenir ochoko, plus an autographed full color 11x17 poster print of one of our flagship brew labels. Frame it and you have an awesome conversation piece for your office. Say that 5 times fast.

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  • Pledge $100 or more
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    17 backers

    You get everything above, plus you will receive a limited edition “I helped cultivate Blue Kudzu” T-shirt. Then you show off your love of sake to the whole world.

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  • Pledge $250 or more
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    6 backers

    You will get everything above plus a souvenir sake set [1 Tokkuri (Sake server) and an extra ochoko (sake glass)], as well as membership to our exclusive Limited Release First Dibs Club. That’s right folks, you will have first dibs on our limited special releases for the rest of your natural life.

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  • Pledge $500 or more
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    0 backers

    You will get everything above plus a private sake tour for you and 9 of your favorite friends, and a limited edition “I helped cultivate Blue Kudzu” Hoodie. You will be the envy of all of your friends, and the hoodie, along with our sake, will keep you warm all winter.

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  • Pledge $1,000 or more
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    3 backers

    Same as the $500 reward, plus you will get 2 tickets to our very super duper exclusive and limited invitation only grand opening party (and we throw a good party, trust us.) The best part, you will get to rub elbows with who’s who of the Asheville Craft brewing scene. You will also become immortalized by having your name emblazoned on the bar top, marking your permanent seat at the tasting bar. That’s right you will have a lifelong reserved seat at the bar, because we know you love sake that much. Anytime you come in, you can tell people to beat it, and get out of your seat (politely of course).

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  • Pledge $2,500 or more
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    0 backers

    You get everything from the $1,000 tier plus instead of your name on the bar, we will dedicate a table to you in the brewery. Anytime of day, you can come in, and that table is yours!

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  • Pledge $5,000 or more
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    0 backers

    For a pledge of $5,000, you will get the sticker, the Sake set, the T-shirt, the tour, your name on the wall (bigger and more predominantly placed than lower tier donors), the Hoodie, tickets to the opening, membership to the limited release club, as well as a private 6 course sushi dinner in the brewery with our head brewers and 7 of your closest friends that you want to impress. Now, if that is not something to write home about we don’t know what is!

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  • Pledge $10,000 or more
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    0 backers

    It just doesn’t get any cooler than this. You get everything from the $5,000 tier plus….and...wait for it….you get to choose your own sake adventure! We will let you come to the brewery and work side by side with our kuribito (sake brewers) to make your own sake! We will put it into production and also allow you to name it (with our and Uncle Sam’s approval of course). You will choose the yeast, rice, and koji, that go into the brew, and we will blend it down to your specifications, i.e. filtered, unfiltered, sparkling, sweet, dry, etc. Now them’s bragging rights.

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Funding period

- (30 days)