Arkansan's vision for sake brewery draws attention in Japan | Rock Candy

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

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Lindsey Millar

  • The Hate Week Edition

    White supremacy and Donald Trump, Confederate statutes, the state’s new execution plan, a blow to Planned Parenthood in Arkansas, the LRPD and the homeless — all covered on this week's edition.
    • Aug 18, 2017
  • Werner Herzog coming to Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival

    The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival has scored a coup, landing Werner Herzog, one of the most influential and surely the most interesting documentary filmmakers ever for its upcoming festival, Oct. 6-15.
    • Aug 18, 2017
  • The Arkansas Cinema Society's must-see 'Premiere'

    The new outfit kicks off with Adam Driver "A Ghost Story" and more.
    • Aug 17, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • Take yourself there: Mavis Staples coming to LR for Central High performance

    Gospel and R&B singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, who has been inspiring fans with gospel-inflected freedom songs like "I'll Take You There" and "March Up Freedom's Highway" and the poignant "Oh What a Feeling" will come to Little Rock for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High.
  • Klan's president

    Everything that Donald Trump does — make that everything that he says — is calculated to thrill his lustiest disciples. But he is discovering that what was brilliant for a politician is a miscalculation for a president, because it deepens the chasm between him and most Americans.
  • On Charlottesville

    Watching the Charlottesville spectacle from halfway across the country, I confess that my first instinct was to raillery. Vanilla ISIS, somebody called this mob of would-be Nazis. A parade of love-deprived nerds marching bravely out of their parents' basements carrying tiki torches from Home Depot.
  • Lynchings hidden in the history of the Hot Springs Confederate monument

    Hot Springs twice erupted into the kind of violence that has its roots in the issues left unresolved by the Civil War, and both times, it happened right where that monument to Confederate soldiers stands today.

Blogroll

 

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