All adult Hawaiian tours during the month of August should incorporate a brief exploration of Hawaii s rich sake culture. This year s public tasting event, The Joy of Sake, is the place to be for Sake lovers visiting Oahu this month. According to the official website, The Joy of Sake will celebrate Hawaii’s hundred-year love affair with the fermented brew. The history of sake in Hawaii begins in the early days of Japanese immigration and founding of the Honolulu Sake Brewery. Today, Honolulu hosts the annual U.S. National Sake Appraisal and has more sake-serving restaurants per capita than any other city in the country.
Sake is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice that originated in Japan. Although the exact origin of Sake is obscure, texts from China in the 3rd century refer to Japanese people as drinking and dancing, which, many believe to be an early form of the sake brew. Other scholars place the origin of Sake in the 8th century. Regardless of the exact origins, Hawaii delights in hosting the U.S. National Sake Appraisal, where authorities on the subject judge approximately 300 entries in two days.
Ten judges from Japan and the U.S. get together to partake in a blind tasting of all the sakes represented. This public event is known as The Joy of Sake and is incorporated with entries from almost every region representing contemporary sake brewing. This is the oldest, most prestigious, and world s largest annual event for sake outside of Japan. Participation in, or attendance to this event, gives one a great opportunity to see the many different flavors and styles of sake known throughout the world.
An intriguing aspect of The Joy of Sake is that the competition portion of the event is only two and a half hours long. Because of the whirlwind pace at which the tasting takes place, the International Sake Association has to set aside archive bottles for groups of people to enjoy on their own time. It was in 2006 that Aftertaste events were added to the annual tasting in order to give people a better opportunity to experience the many subtleties existing between the various regions, styles, and brewers.
The International Sake Association, also known as Kokusai Sake Kai, gives a 10-minute talk before each Aftertaste, which then leads into a 50-minute tasting session. Each entry to the event then migrates to an appetizer station, so that tasters can get the full process, as it is supposed to be enjoyed. Norihiko Umeda, of the Ishimoto Brewing Company, is acknowledged for introducing sake-tasting for the sake of education, as well as for enjoyment purposes.
Hawaiian natives take pride in the fact that the popular upsurge of sake actually first began in Hawaii, before expanding to San Francisco and New York. Even as premium sakes gained prominence in Hawaii, there was a time when these sake brews were not even available in Japan. One of the leading authorities on sake, Chris Pearce, is acknowledged for his role in furthering the Joy of Sake since its founding in 2001.
This year s annual Joy of Sake event is taking place Friday, August 16, from 6:30 to 9:30 PM at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu at 1801 Kalākaua Avenue.