Blue Current Brewery — New England’s First Sake Brewery
Maine brewer brings hand-crafted American sake project to Kickstarter
KITTERY, Maine, September 20, 2014 — Excitement is brewing at New England’s first sake brewery. Blue Current Brewery is almost ready to begin to handcraft sake, often called rice wine in small batches using traditional methods and the finest natural ingredients. Southern coastal Maine’s pure water and the abundance of cool ocean breezes make Kittery a perfect spot to cold-brew premium American sake. Following a trend in crowdsourcing, Blue Current Brewery hopes to finance the final equipment purchases through an online Kickstarter campaign.
When most Americans think of “sake,” they immediately picture the little warmed carafe with tiny sipping cups from a sushi restaurant. However, sake, like wine, has many varietals and can be served many ways.
“The better sakes are best served chilled and deserve to be paired with more than just raw fish,” said Dan Ford, founder and master brewer of Blue Current Brewery. “Sake’s bright fresh flavor goes well with anything you’d pair with a nice crisp white wine such as seafood and chicken.”
Ford knows what he’s talking about. He spent time in Japan and fell in love with sake – the taste, the craft, the ritual. He holds both the Advanced Sake Professional (ASP) and Certified Sake Professional (CSP) certifications by the non-profit Sake Education Council of Tokyo, Japan. Ford is one of fewer than 130 certified ASP sake “sommeliers” in the world.
There has been an incredible surge in the craft brewing of beer in the U.S., but it is more difficult to source the ingredients and equipment traditionally used in Japan to brew sake. Ford has worked over the past year and now has suppliers lined up for the specially milled sake rice and he has purchased or custom-built the necessary equipment. The brewery itself is just about complete, a one-of-a-kind sake facility on the site of a former auto body shop.
“We love that we’re going to be able to bring this great product to more American tables,” said Ford. “Unlike most wines, sake has no tannins and no sulfites that bring on a hangover, plus, sake is gluten-free, vegan, and soy-free. Add in the natural spring water of Maine and our chilly climate, and you have the perfect conditions for brewing premium sake at Blue Current Brewery.”
Sake sales in the U.S. have been booming in the past decade. Some importers have seen double-digit increases in sales over the past 8 years. In addition, new sake bars have been popping up in Paris, New York, and other large cities, and wine merchants are stocking an increasing number of sake brands. Consumers like the taste, enjoy experiencing something new, and are attracted to sake as a healthier alternative drink.
Blue Current is poised to take advantage of this growing market and needs the final funds to go into production. And as many entrepreneurs have done, Ford is looking online crowdsourcing to get started. Blue Current just launched a 30-day campaign on Kickstarter and, so far, more than 80 backers have donated nearly $11,000, with a goal of raising $33,000 in total. Supporters receive gifts based on the amount of the donation, with gifts ranging from T-shirts and sake glasses to brewery tours and lobster bakes.
The campaign closes on October 11th. Kickstarter campaigns operate under an “all-or-nothing” funding model, so if the project doesn’t reach its goal at the end of 30 days then Blue Current goes home empty-handed.
“We hope sake enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, and those interested in supporting a new and exciting product will follow our progress and make sure to spread the word about our crowdsourced funding campaign,” said Ford. “We are looking for supporters donating as little or as much as they can to help our project come to life. And, anyone who decides to donate more might be among the first in the world to serve friends Blue Current sake at a private Maine lobster bake!”