The 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake Part 2

The 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake Part 2
By Kosuke Kuji

Kumamoto Earthquake that happened at 9:26 pm on April 14th 2016. As mentioned in the previous column, there were many deaths and evacuees. When this Kumamoto Earthquake happened the very first thing that arose in my mind was the condition of "Kouro" which is the birthplace of Kumamoto brewing yeast No. 9.

Brewing yeast has many varieties starting with brewing yeast No. 1 and currently there is No. 18 which are used by sake makers in Japan and the yeast is the basic production factor to produce high quality sakes.

From all the yeasts, brewing yeast No. 9 has a special existence that it was the yeast that also contributed to the Ginjo sake making in Japan from Showa (1926-1989) era to the beginning of Heisei (1989 -) era.

Ginjo sake has the character of having a wonderful aroma and it was this brewing yeast No. 9 that brought out the highest amount of that Ginjo aroma compared to all the previous brewing yeasts and was also the yeast that was used by head sake makers in Japan. This brewing yeast No. 9 was separated at the brewery in "Kouro" of Kumamoto prefecture with Kouro brewing yeast (Kumamoto brewing yeast) being first found at this brewery, then this yeast was passed onto Brewing Society of Japan that named it brewing yeast No. 9.

Brewing yeast No. 9 was distributed to the breweries in Japan and it became the basic production factor to support the high quality ginjo making. What resulted was the birth of the name "YK-35" (Y is Yamadanishiki rice, K for brewing yeast No. 9 & 35 is rice polishing ratio up to 35%) and there was a time that they said if it wasn't YK-35 you wouldn't be able to win the gold prize at the Annual Japan Sake Awards.

Kouro yeast which is the origin of this brewing yeast No. 9. If electricity was shut down by the Kumamoto Earthquake, the yeast would be destroyed if you are not able to keep it chilled which is necessary for preservation. If such a situation continued for a long time, the famous Kouro yeast (Kumamoto yeast), the original
yeast of brewing yeast No. 9, would be gone from this world.

If that were to happen that would mean losing a 'treasure' of the Japan brewery industry and it would be such a major blow to the Japanese sake world.
Is the yeast OK? That just worried me for several days when I received a call from Kumamoto.

The call was from the Mr. Morikawa (master sake brewer) in Kouro. To be continued in #3.

酒豪大陸「熊本大地震 その2」