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日本清酒能让美国稻米产业焕发第二春?

阿肯色州如果能够成为新兴的美国清酒产业基地,也必然会给该州带来巨大的商机。

本·贝尔在日本的一处种植大米的合作农场里工作。图片来源:Courtesy of Ben Bell

美国不少爱喝酒的旅人都慕名去过肯塔基州的波旁小道和纳帕酒乡,但开车穿越阿肯色州去寻找清酒的人却并不多。

不过,本·贝尔却希望,随着美国人对清酒的兴趣与日俱增,将会有越来越多的人来到他的家乡,来一趟“清酒之旅”。

贝尔是北美清酒酿造商协会的内容总监。他表示:“多年来,我一直梦想在阿肯色州开辟一条‘清酒小道’,它可以成为我们的三角洲地区的门户,而美国的大多数大米都是在这一区域内生产的。”

阿肯色州的大米年产量占全美的40%以上,每年创收约20亿美元,但阿肯色州目前还没有一家清酒酿造厂。其他一些以酿酒业为主的地区已经迎来了旅游业和国际业务的双丰收,阿肯色州如果能够成为新兴的美国清酒产业基地,也必然会给该州带来巨大的商机。

根据美国人口统计局2017年的美国社会调查数据,阿肯色州的家庭中位收入在美国的50个州中排名第48位。虽然没有确切数据能够说明清酒产业会对阿肯色州的数据产生多大影响,但通过分析相似行业数据可以得知,投资清酒产业,必将对当地经济发展产生积极影响。为了基于美国大米搞清酒产业,阿肯色州英格兰市的伊斯贝尔农场(Isbell Farms)已经在培育专门用于酿酒的稻种——比如名贵的“山田锦”,很多人认为这种稻米只能在日本生长。很多清酒公司都把这种稻米作为必不可少的原料。

在肯塔基州,波旁威士忌酒业是当地经济的重要贡献者。路易斯维尔大学(University of Louisville)的保罗·库姆斯博士和经济顾问巴里·科恩斯坦最近的一项研究得出结论:“酿酒业每年对经济的总影响是20,100个工作岗位,每年的工资总额为10亿美元,创造了86亿美元的经济产出。”2016年,Visit Napa Valley发布的一份报告显示,在加州,葡萄酒厂品酒是该地区最受欢迎的旅游活动,为加州旅游业贡献了19.2亿美元的游客支出。

While Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail and Napa Wine Country are two regions beloved by travelers in search of America’s tastiest drinks, driving through Arkansas in search of sake hasn’t caught on quite yet.

However, Ben Bell is hoping America’s growing interest in craft sake will eventually lead to an official trail in his home state.

“For years I have dreamed about a sake trail in Arkansas that can be also be a gateway to our Delta region, where most U.S. rice is produced,” says Bell, director of content for the Sake Brewers Association of North America.

Though Arkansas produces over 40% of America’s rice annually—generating an estimated revenue of $2 billion dollars per year—there are currently no sake breweries in the state. And with the success other regions have had with tourists and international businesses intrigued by alcohol production, there’s a huge opportunity for the emerging American craft sake industry to create a home base in Arkansas.

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey, Arkansas ranks 48 out of 50 states in terms of median household income. While there isn’t any definitive data that measures how much of an economic impact the American craft sake industry would have on the state, data from similar industries strongly suggests that an investment in craft sake breweries would have a positive impact on local communities. One Arkansas farm that’s already been able to bridge the gap between American rice and the sake industry is Isbell Farms in England, Ark. Owner Chris Isbell developed sake-specific rice varieties—like the prized Yamada Nishiki—that many thought could only grow in Japan and is currently working with a variety of sake companies to provide them this essential ingredient.

In Kentucky, the bourbon distilling industry is a serious contributor to the local economy. A recent study by Dr. Paul Coombes of the University of Louisville and economic consultant Barry Kornstein concluded “that the total annual economic impact of the distilling industry is 20,100 jobs, with annual payroll of $1 billion, producing $8.6 billion of economic output.” In California, a 2016 report by Visit Napa Valley revealed wine tasting at wineries to be the region’s most popular tourist activity, contributing to a tourism industry that generated $1.92 billion of visitor spending within the county.

布鲁克林区的Kura是纽约的第一家清酒酿造厂。图片来源:Courtesy of @godaddy

不过,要想在一个州建立一个全新的产业,并非光靠建几家酿酒厂就够了。为了真正取得成功,贝尔和他的同行们还要向公众普及清酒的历史、酿造技术,以及如何正确地饮用清酒。

贝尔表示:“关于清酒是怎样进入美国的,有很多有趣的历史,而且它的历史比你想象的还要悠久。”美国的第一家清酒酿造厂于1901年在伯克利成立,还有一些清酒厂开了又关,位置多数集中在夏威夷和加州。美国现存最早的清酒厂可以追溯到20世纪70年代。

学习曲线

尽管清酒生产在美国并不是什么新鲜事物,但随着清酒作坊在美国各大城市兴起,有不少人对清酒产生了新的兴趣。很多美国人第一次体验清酒,喝的是将清酒连杯丢进啤酒里的“深水炸弹”,要么就是从一个小盒子端上来的。但凡尝试过“深水炸弹”的威力,很多人便会对清酒敬而远之。

之所以会有这种糟糕的体验,往往是由于他们饮用的是低等清酒,而且只是为了用来加强啤酒的口味。有经验的酒友都知道,还有一些其他方法可以体验清酒的丰富口感。“你得去一趟日本,对新鲜的、当地的、物美价廉的清酒有第一手的体验,才会像我一样有了创办布鲁克林Kura公司的念头。”布莱恩·波伦如是说。2018年,他开办了纽约州的第一家清酒酿造厂。

However, building multiple sake breweries is only part of the challenge when thinking about how to ingratiate a completely new industry in a state. In order to truly achieve success, Bell and his fellow craft sake makers will have to educate the public about sake’s history, brewing techniques, and how to properly drink the beverage.

“There is a lot of interesting history about sake coming to the United States, and it’s older than you might think,” Bell says. The first sake brewery in the U.S. was established in Berkeley in 1901, he notes, while others came and went, mostly in Hawaii and California. Today’s oldest sake breweries date back to the 1970s.

A Learning Curve

Although sake production is not new to the United States, there’s currently a new wave of interest thanks to craft sake operations popping up in cities across the country. Many Americans first experience sake as a warm shot dropped into a beer or served out of a small box, the memory of a night filled with sake bombs enough for many to steer clear of the drink.

However, those poor experiences are often the result of a low-grade product being used to flavor beer. Seasoned sake drinkers know there are other ways to experience the complexities of this drink. “It really took a trip to Japan and a firsthand experience with fresh, local, and affordable sake to seed the idea of creating Brooklyn Kura,“ says Brian Polen, who opened New York State’s first sake brewery in 2018.

位于布鲁克林的一家清酒酿造厂的首席酿酒师布兰登·道根在取样检查。图片来源:Courtesy of @godaddy

“清酒忍者”克里斯·约翰逊是一名认证的清酒侍酒大师,他在日本留学期间就迷上了清酒。他回忆起第一次收到别人赠送的一瓶八鹿酒造株氏会社的纯米大吟酿的经历:“在一个多数人是农民的小镇里,我们从没喝过高档清酒,所以在那天之前,我都没有真正喝过好的清酒。我向所有在场的人倒了酒,说了一声‘干杯’,从此我的人生被彻底改变了。”

清酒之所以独特,“清酒小道”的概念之所以吸引人,也是因为不同清酒口味各异。“酿酒者在酿造过程中可以对酒施加很大影响,因此,清酒可以有浓醇、甘甜、花香、酸味等各种口味,以及这些口味的复合口味。”波伦解释道。

清酒经常被错误地与米酒划等号,但它实际上是由五种成分发酵而成的产物,它们分别是大米、水、曲霉、酵母和乳酸。清酒因其添加的蒸馏酒的量和稻米品种的不同,而呈现出各种不同风味。

美国的清酒行业还处在起步阶段,所以现在还没有一种明确的“美式清酒”风格。不过展望未来,美国清酒未必不能跻身世界最佳清酒之列。贝尔表示:“美国的红酒和啤酒有大卡利红酒、啤酒花精酿啤酒等独特风格,美国清酒能够形成这样的独特风格吗?我认为现在下结论还为时过早。要有更多的酿酒商、更多的时间,才有可能形成一个独特的风格。不过,美国人喜欢大胆实验,可以预见,未来肯定会有很多这样的大胆尝试。”

Similarly, “Sake Ninja” Chris Johnson, a certified sake sommelier, became enamored with the drink while teaching abroad in Japan. “As a small town of mostly farmers we did not drink fancy sake, ever. So I have not had really great sake before this day. I poured out glasses to all in attendance and we said KanpaiPK10计划人工计划 and my life was changed forever,” Johnson recalled about the bottle of Yatsushika Junmai Daiginjo he received as a parting gift.

PK10计划人工计划Part of what makes sake so unique, and the idea of a trail so appealing, is that the range of flavors between different types of sakes varies. “Brewers have a lot of leverage in the sake-making process, and as a result, sake can be savory, sweet, floral, or acidic, and combinations thereof,” Polen says.

Though often (mistakenly) referred to as a rice wine, sake is actually the result of fermentation created by combining five ingredients: rice, water, a mold known as koji, yeast, and lactic acid. Sake styles vary depending on the amount of distilled alcohol added to sake as well as the type of rice milled.

While there’s no definitive U.S. style given the industry’s infancy, there’s a lot to like about the prospect of American sake eventually joining the ranks of the world’s finest. “Does American sake have a style like our big Cali wines and hoppy craft beers? I think the answer right now is that it is too early to say,” Bell says. “We need more brewers and more time to see a distinctive style form. However, one thing Americans love is bold experimentation, and I think you can expect plenty of that in the future.”

布鲁克林Kura清酒。图片来源:Courtesy of @godaddy

目前,美国清酒产业的几家龙头企业正在致力于用当地原料生产出最好的清酒。“我认为这里的人喜欢清酒生产的理念,也非常明白清酒与稻米产业的关系。他们虽然对清酒产业的前景持怀疑态度,但这也是可以理解的。”贝尔表示:“而且,我认识的人大多没有喝过真正的好清酒。这就好比有些人只在意大利餐厅喝过低档红酒,你向他们推广红酒产业,肯定事倍功半。”

作为阿肯色州清酒产业奠基人的贝尔目前正在休假,以更好地扮演他在清酒酿造商协会的新角色。这个身份可能最终会帮助他对整个行业产生更大影响。他表示:“十年来,我一直努力用清酒闯出一条路,现在,我可能已经到了让这条路指引我的时候了。”(财富中文网)

译者:朴成奎

For now, American sake spokespeople are concentrating on making the best sakes they can using locally available ingredients. “I think people here like the idea of sake production and very much understand the connection with our rice industry. But they are understandably skeptical of the potential,” Bell says. “Also, it doesn’t help that most people I talk to have never had really good sake. It’s like pitching a wine industry to people if they had only drank jug wine at an Italian restaurant once or twice.”

Arkansas’ sake trailblazer is currently taking time off to embrace his new role at the Sake Brewers Association, a position that may ultimately help him make an even bigger impact on the industry as a whole. “For a decade,” Bell says, “I have been trying to make a path with sake, but perhaps I have gotten to the point where I can let that path guide me.”

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