Blue Current Brewery will be New England’s First Sake Brewery
A giant thank you to our Kickstarter backers. We are so privileged to have you as part of our team helping to bring handcrafted sake to Maine and beyond! We hope you'll stay in touch. Visit our website and follow our doings on Facebook.
Bringing hand-crafted American sake to New England and beyond.
At Blue Current Brewery, we handcraft sake, often called rice wine, in small batches using traditional methods and the finest natural ingredients. Southern coastal Maine’s pure water and the abundance of cool ocean breezes make Kittery a perfect spot to cold-brew premium American sake.
We will be a production brewery to start (selling primarily through distributors), though in the future we will add tastings to our brewery tours and online sake sales.
Be sure to check out our recent updates on our Kickstarter progress.
Why Sake, Why Now, and Why Blue Current
When most Americans think of “sake”, they immediately picture the little warmed carafe with tiny sipping cups from a sushi restaurant. However, sake, like wine, has many varietals and can be served many ways. Typically, the cheaper sakes are warmed up to mask the brew’s imperfections – the same way a chilled cheap beer doesn’t taste quite as cheap.
The New White Wine
However, the better sakes, including Blue Current’s, are best served chilled and deserve to be paired with more than just raw fish. Sake’s bright fresh flavor goes well with anything you’d pair with a nice crisp white wine such as seafood and chicken.
Sake and Your Health
Unlike most wines, sake has no tannins and no sulfites that bring on a hangover. And better still, sake is gluten-free (and vegan and soy-free). Plus, word has it, it just might be healthy. No, seriously – check out the research and you’ll see.
Why So Lonely?
There has been an incredible surge in the craft brewing of beer in the U.S. - just look at all successes here on Kickstarter. So, why haven’t more sake brewers popped up in the U.S.? Well, we certainly don’t have ready access to the ingredients or equipment traditionally used in Japan, but that’s where my American ingenuity and my strong desire to “just figure it out” has kicked in. I now have access to the proper rice, milled to the proper specifications, and I’ve custom-built the necessary equipment and brewing space. Add in the natural spring water of Maine and our chilly climate, and you have Blue Current Brewery.
And as you have likely guessed, I am not alone. In the past year, the number of commercial makers of craft sake in the U.S. has doubled - to a staggering 12. That’s right. This industry is brand-spanking new and, until recently, it’s just been too tough to craft premium sake here in the U.S.. This industry is poised for growth – the same kind we’ve all seen in craft beer brewing. And Blue Current Brewery is out front ready to show Americans why sake is a tasty, healthy alternative to white wines.
How I Got Here
I started Blue Current Brewery in my garage, driven by my love of home brewing and a small obsession with anything Japanese. I had spent time in Japan and had fallen in love with sake – the taste, the craft, the ritual. Having grown up home-brewing beers and later graduating to ciders and mead, I found a you-brew-it sake kit and the experimenting began.
This nano-brewery approach allowed me and my friends to experiment in short and fast sprints (making some pretty tasty sake, I must say!) and to learn the rhythms and pace of the brewing cycle. In the meantime, the idea of a becoming a larger-scale sake brewery seemed to have enough traction and I launched the quest for a brewing space, sources for materials and equipment, and furthering my personal knowledge of the art and craft of sake.
I confirmed my palate for and knowledge of sake by becoming one of fewer than 100 certified Advanced Sake Professionals (think master sommelier of sake) from the non-profit organization, The Sake Education Council, in Tokyo. I toured breweries in Japan and North America, apprenticing with these craftsmen to learn how to brew sake on a large scale.
Fast forward another year or two and we officially moved Blue Current Brewery out of my garage and with the help of many incredibly skilled and amazingly generous friends and volunteers (and even a few strangers), we are now the proud residents of a shiny new brew space just waiting to get going.
The Next Chapter
This year has been full of new beginnings – the new brewery is ready and filled with an ever-growing array of shiny new equipment, ready to brew up the incoming ingredients. I just need a little financial push to make it over this last hump, to get our final smaller bits of equipment, oh, and to get that perfectly milled rice from Minnesota to Maine. There are also some marketing costs I’ll start accruing as soon after we begin brewing.
How We Make Sake
At Blue Current Brewery we will brew sake in two batches per month with up to three batches fermenting at a time. We will, of course, pay close personal attention to our sake brewing, using modern techniques seamlessly combined with traditional brewing methods to ensure consistently excellent taste, whether packaged in bottles or in draft kegs.
- The rice is grown in California, shipped to Minnesota to be milled, and then delivered to Maine. (And yes, I am looking to source the rice more locally and hopefully even organically.)
- To process the rice, it is washed and soaked in large tubs, then drained.
- A small batch of rice is then steamed and the inoculated with aspergillus oryzae (a specialized mold spore knows as “koji-kin” in Japanese).
- The rice is put into a sauna-like koji room for two days to allow the mold to propagate and create the “koji.”
- Additional batches of rice are steamed and gradually added to a fermentation tank with the koji to start the fermentation process.
- Fermentation happens at around 50°F over six weeks.
- The “mash” is then filter-pressed (much like cider) and polish-filtered before being bottled or kegged.
- We pasteurize the sake by placing the bottles of sake into a hot water bath for a short period of time.
- The bottles and kegs are then capped and aged for an additional four weeks before being packed for distribution.
BCB is "Green"
Blue Current Brewery will also be about as close to zero waste as we can be. The main byproduct (the fermented rice from which I've pressed the sake, called "kasu") has many uses - from noodles to facial soaps to livestock feed. We recycle and reuse all the packaging and materials, other than the water we use to clean the equipment. When fully up and running we won't even need a dumpster.
Who Else Is Talking About BCB
I Need You
I've poured my heart and soul (and blood, sweat, and maybe even a few tears) into building the brewery. My wife and I have invested our personal funds and leveraged the kindness of so many amazing volunteers. I've also been fund-raising tirelessly and have almost met my goals. I am turning to Kickstarter to help make this project a success. I already have just about all the pieces of our brewing system, plenty of fermentation capacity, lots of storage tanks, and a darn nice brewery.
We are looking to raise $33,000 to ship the rice from Minnesota, to get bottling and pasteurizing machines to speed things up, and to help with the marketing and packaging expenses. There will be some setup costs to tie everything together, as well. If we are successful, we can quickly start to fill all of those storage tanks with BCB's great sake and bottle and keg it up for you. With your support we will make it to the finish line and we can all ring in 2015 with some Blue Current junmai ginjo sake!
What’s In It For You
I’ll give you my most heartfelt thanks for even the smallest of donations, but if you can contribute a bit more there are some great rewards in store. I hope the incentives listed to the right make the giving a little sweeter. Since I'm not allowed to gift you our fine sake, I thought I'd offer things to enjoy it with - wine glasses, t-shirts, hand-make sake sets and, of course, fresh Maine lobsters.
I'd also like to show off our brewery and let you in on a rare-in-America experience of joining me for a tour and even becoming a brewer for a day. I'd love to share our corner of Maine with you - or send a little taste of it your way.
NEW REWARD JUST ADDED!
To thank you for your support of our green business, we’ve added another reward at the $40 level. When you pledge to back our Kickstarter campaign, we’ll give you the gift of a cool, reusable shopping bag. Help us kickstart our green business and you’ll be able to bring your first bottles home from your local store in Blue Current style!
Additional rewards are listed under each donation level.
Okay sake fans, if I can get to $45,000 I can buy more rice, kegs, and bottles so I can deliver our hand-crafted sake to your favorite watering hole even further in the U.S. and Canada!
If I can get to $65,000 I can get out to your neck of the woods to do more marketing and tastings, convincing your nearby distributors to stock our sake. Meaning, yes, more great BCB sake closer to you folks a bit further flung!
And perhaps, perchance to dream, with $75,000 I’ll fast-forward to develop our second sake (maybe a daiginjo or a nigori) sooner than I ever dreamed.
Stay In Touch
Follow our progress at:
- Website: http://www.americansake.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BlueCurrentBrewery
- Twitter: @mainesake https://twitter.com/MaineSake
- Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/bluecurrent/
- Instagram: @americansake http://instagram.com/americansake
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/bluecurrentbrewery
Risks and challenges
I have a state-of-the-art brewery, all the main equipment, and a great team including brewers, builders, marketers, lawyers, and accountants. I've even lined up some early distribution deals for our sake, so the risks are limited and mostly impact my ability to keep up with the already-growing demand for fine American sake. With the help of this Kickstarter campaign and by reinvesting profits back into the brewery, I’ll be able to expand to meet our anticipated growth. I am carefully building our foundation and plan to focus on steady, conservative growth as I work to control product quality and continue to handcraft premium sake here in Maine. I very much believe in the quality of Blue Current Brewery's sake and hope to be able to share it with as many current and future sake fans as possible.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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