Monday, January 5, 2015

Arkansan's vision for sake brewery draws attention in Japan

Posted By on Mon, Jan 5, 2015 at 11:29 AM

Ben Bell, last year at Big Orange - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Ben Bell, last year at Big Orange

We wrote about Sheridan native Ben Bell's vision for opening a sake brewery in Central Arkansas last year. He's currently learning the secrets of sake brewing as an apprentice at the Nanbu Bijin brewery in Ninohe, Japan. That caught the attention of Asahi Shimbun, a national newspaper in Japan. 

Bell, who works from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with five brewers, now understands most of the Japanese used at work. But he always carries a smartphone and a notebook in his apron pockets to jot down jargon.

The second floor of the brewery is used to grow "koji" mold and the inside temperature is kept at above 30 degrees.

The hardest part of his work is the mixing process in a huge vat. Bell said he often ends the day with sore arm muscles after using a 2.5-meter-long wooden paddle that weighs 2 kilograms to do the job.

His brewery, which produces the Nanbu Bijin brand of sake, currently exports to 24 countries, and the United States is its largest importer.

Kosuke Kuji, the 42-year-old president of Nanbu Bijin, said consumption of Japanese sake will likely boom in the United States if producers use local rice and water to keep prices low. It will then create a market for quality sake from Japan, he said.

Describing Bell as studious with genuine enthusiasm, Kuji said, “We have been looking for someone like him.”

According to the Nanbu Toji association, which promotes sake-making techniques in Hanamaki, Bell would possibly be the first foreign trainee to manufacture sake in his home country after learning local brewing techniques.

Bell said he wants to produce rice wine with the same quality as in Iwate Prefecture so that people associate Arkansas with Japanese sake.


UPDATE: Andrew Neyens of Seattle writes to correct the Asahi Shimbun article. He worked a brewing season at Fumigiku Shuzo in Toyama City and now runs Tahoma Fuji Sake Brewing Company in Seattle.

Tags: , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Lindsey Millar

  • Attack on free speech clears House committee

    A bill that would criminalize protest cleared the House Judiciary Committee today on a voice vote. Senate Bill 550 would make "unlawful mass picketing" a Class A misdemeanor.
    • Mar 28, 2017
  • Bid to require racial impact statements fails again

    Sen. Joyce Elliott's latest attempt to require racial impact statements on criminal justice bills failed to advance in the House Judiciary Committee today. Elliott unsuccessfully tried to pass similar legislation in 2013 and 2015.
    • Mar 28, 2017
  • Bryan King's $692 million bid to crack down on repeat offenders

    The bill is projected to add 5,500 inmates to the already over-capacity state prison population in 2026. They would likely be mostly people convicted of nonviolent drug and property crimes.
    • Mar 27, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

Visit Arkansas

Brant Collins named Group Travel Manager for Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Brant Collins named Group Travel Manager for Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Collins to work toward increasing visitation to Arkansas by groups and promoting the state's appeal

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation