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The Increasingly Transcendent Spirit of Rice Beer

Consider the following from the Beverage Tasting Institute:Clear with a nickel cast. Bright honeyed Asian pear, ripe pineapple husk, and delicate lemongrass and anise aromas follow through on a soft, silky entry to a dry-yet-fruity medium with excellent depth and glassy smoothness. Finishes with a long, refreshing fade with a hint of coconut milk. Excellent vibrancy and acidity for the table.No, it’s not Meursault or Alsatian Riesling. It’s a sake: the ultra-premium Tears of Dawn by Konseki. Yes, sake, but now, with much the same aplomb seen in the current craft-brewed beer explosion, Japanese sake brewers like Konseki are experimenting with exciting new styles, as well as revisiting some of the island country’s most revered rice-brew methods dating from as long ago as 2,000 years. (By the way, “rice wine” is one of alcohol’s most pervasive misnomers.) Unmistakably Japan’s national beverage, the oldest active sake brewer was founded in AD 1141.Rice “Beer” HistoryHumanity’s first brewmaster likely chewed on mouthfuls of grain, allowing enzymes in saliva to break down the starches so wild yeast could turn …

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