Sunday, September 29, 2013

Toronto-Brewed Sake

If there's one thing in this world I enjoy, it's sake. The smooth taste of Japanese rice wine, hot or cold, dry or . . . wet(?) is always a treat for the senses. So I was surprised and delighted to find that my beloved hometown of Toronto has its very own sake brewery: Izumi, located in the Distillery District! Cool!

Their brewery opened in 2011 and is the first of its kind offering Ontario residents locally brewed and fresh sake for affordable prices! Yesterday I ventured there with a group of friends to investigate . . . 

Izumi is first and foremost a brewery, so you just walk up to the counter and order your sake by the glass. There's an outdoor seating area for nice days! There's no food to speak of on the menu, but you get some complimentary wasabi snacks that are pretty tasty. The sake menu is quite diverse and can be ordered by the glass in small, medium, large, and extra-large sizes. The price of a small is mostly around $4, though it depends on which you order.
The small size offered at Izumi. 
The sake I ordered had just been pressed and I started with the, uh . . . not dry one. It had almost a fruity taste, which contrasted with the second one, which was dryer and more traditional tasting. Both were made quite recently and tasted great! The staff were also super-helpful and friendly and seem to hail from Osaka -- at least, the woman I talked to did.

There were two jugs of their freshest sake.
Aside from tastings, Izumi also sells their sake in bottles, which are apparently also available at the LCBO (if you live in Toronto you know what the LCBO is). They also sell homemade wasabi and skin exfoliant made from the rice they use to brew the sake. Talk about economical! They also have barrels of sake that you can rent for parties and other functions, kind of like a beer keg. I'm not really sure how that works but I imagine it's similar to buying a keg with a deposit and all that. The barrels are pretty big, and considering that sake is quite a bit stronger than beer, I have to wonder if that's really a good idea. Still, it's available if you ever need tonnes of sake for whatever reason.
These are the barrels you can rent . . . crazy! 
As you can see, there's a number of different kinds of sake available. 
The sake is of course available by the bottle and the prices range from $13 to $16 for a regular-sized bottle, which is comparable to any liquor store in Toronto. Tasting tours are available on most days from 1 to 4 pm. If you're like me and you like premium sake that's brewed in your city and thus fresher, then head on over to Izumi and try some sake! They are also having a 30%-off day this Tuesday, so if you read this in time, do consider taking advantage of it. Here's their website:     

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