Stable Production of Quality Sake Year-Round:
Japan's First All-Season Brewing System (Otegura Brewing Plant)

Stable Fermentation of Quality Sake Year-Round: Japan's First All-Season Brewing System (Otegura Brewing Plant)

  • Period: 1961

In the old days, sake was brewed year-round, with different sakes in each season, and different brewing methods to suit the climate. However, starting in the 17th century, sake-brewing was restricted to just winter, with restrictions by the shogunate due to lack of rice and seasonal nature of toji (chief brewer) and kurabito (skilled brewer) labor due to the winter off season for farming meaning that production concentrated on winter-brewed sake, and even now numerous breweries only produce sake in winter.

However, beer brewing was being done year-round in Japan since the Meiji period, thanks to the introduction of Western technology. In 1904, the national Sake Brewing Laboratory (now the National Research Institute of Brewing) was established, and part of its aim was to open up applications for all-season sake brewing. Numerous all-season brewing tests were conducted by the Laboratory and sake producers, but none of them led to commercial success.

Gekkeikan completed a brewery with Japan's first all-season sake brewing system in 1961, allowing us to reliably produce high quality sake year-round. We emphasized automation, mechanization, and continuation in all processes, include steaming rice, creating the koji malt, and extracting the sake, as well as controlling temperature and humidity to manage the microorganisms properly. We also made great strides in equipment as well, such as using double-walled fermentation tanks to keep sake cool during fermentation.

By making all-season sake brewing possible, we were able to supply the range of different products that the market demanded, year-round, including freshly-extracted namazake in summer. In addition, with these major changes in production structure, instead of seasonal workers, we now make sake using staff hired year-round, allowing us to pass on their skills and techniques to others.

Later, at Gekkeikan Sake (USA), Inc., which we established in 1989 in California, we were able to establish a production system overseas, in a different environment, by creating a sake brewery based on the all-season brewing techniques we developed in Japan, and the latest technology. This lets us supply sake to the United States, as well as Canada, South America, and Europe. To enable people around the world to enjoy sake, one of Japan's most famous culinary products, Gekkeikan USA, together with exports from the Gekkeikan Head Office in Japan, work to supply a diverse range of products to every part of the world, year-round.

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