Saké production is finally coming to Europe. Though Saké is produced in place such as the United States, Australia and Canada, it had been previously unknown in Europe. But a Norwegian brewery is poised to be the first such Saké brewery.
Nøgne Ø has been producing beer since 2002 and now they want to expand their product line to include Saké. The President, Kjetil Jikiun, is also an airline pilot who started off as a homebrewer. He was very successful and eventually became a professional brewer. The name Nøgne Ø means "naked island," which derives from a poetic term used by Henrik Ibsen to describe the stark, barren outcroppings visible off Norway's southern coast. The brewery also has a subtitle, Det Kompromissløse Bryggeri, or “The Uncompromising Brewery.” Kjetil remains a part-time pilot, devoting the rest of this time to the brewery. (FYI: The brewery website, http://www.nogne-o.com, does not appear to be working.)
The brewery makes over 20 different styles of ales and export over 70% of their production. One of the beers they produce, Red Horizon, is similar to Saké in some ways. They fermented it with Saké yeast as well as fermenting it at low temperatures like Saké. This gives the beer the smell and fruitiness of Saké. Though I generally dislike beer, this is one that sounds very appealing to me and which I need to seek out.
Kjetil learned about Saké brewing in Japan and is now ready for the next step, brewing their own this winter. They will even be using rice imported from Japan, the Hokkaido-grown Ginpu. The Saké should be available for sale next summer, primarily in Norway though some will be exported to Japan. Originally, Kjetil had considered growing rice in Norway but realized that was not realistic given the climate of Norway.
This is exciting news, though it is unlikely we will be able to find this Saké anytime soon. But if there is enough demand, who knows what might happen. I am just pleased to see Saké becoming more widespread across the world.