Sake brewed in Brooklyn

- Industry City in Brooklyn is now home to New York's first sake brewery. Brooklyn Kura is the brainchild of Brooklyn native Brian Polen and Brandon Doughan of Portland, Oregon, who met at a mutual friend's wedding in Japan five years ago.

"We traveled the country for two weeks and were exposed to sake of a quality, complexity, depth, and affordability that we just hadn't seen in the U.S.," said Polen, the president of Brooklyn Kura.

The two men took the sake knowledge they learned in Japan and started home brewing.

"We were pretty surprised that we could do that at home and we were making fairly good sake at home," said Doughan, co-founder and head brewer. "We started fantasizing about starting a brewery and it got more and more real. And now here we are."

A few weeks ago, the doors opened at Brooklyn Kura where they produce a high-grade sake called ginjo. It is made of four ingredients: rice, water, yeast, and koji, which is rice inoculated with a special and safe mold.

"Koji is used in a lot of Southeast Asian fermentation and cooking," Doughan said. "It's also used for soy sauce and for miso and a variety of fermented beverages."

The koji is created during a 48-hour period in a room heated to 100 degrees with 100 percent humidity. The koji is then combined with more steamed rice, yeast, and Brooklyn water and put into a tank. The liquid in the tanks ferments at a temperature of about 50 degrees for a whole month. Then it is taken out and pressed into a clear sake.

Brian and Brandon help people approach sake like craft beer or fine wine and therefore serve it in a white wine glass.

"Sake is interesting like wine and beer because it has aromatics, it's got an interesting color to it," Polen said. "You can look at it, swirl it, smell it like you would a fine wine or craft beer."

The taste of sake can change with temperature and is best served cold.

Brooklyn Kura's tap room is open Fridays through Sundays. For more information, check out brooklynkura.com.

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