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The Hokuritsu Shinkansen Navi site reports on a kōji cafe opening in June that will sell unpasteurised doburoku – the “home brew” version of sake.

Locals in Chino, Nagano Prefecture, are used to pouring doburoku for each other during the town’s doburoku matsuri (どぶくろ祭り, doburoku festival) and will soon be able to keep on doing so in the new Kōji Cafe Kamoshimaru opening on 9 June 2018.

Hoping to capitalise on the increased popularity of fermentation and breathe new life into the town, the Marui Itō Shoten company based in nearby Miyagawa is setting up the cafe next to its own miso storehouse. It will serve nama doburoku, which like namazake has not been pasteurised or heat-treated to stop fermentation. Company president Eiichirou Itō pointed out that it’s difficult to transport nama dobukuro because it’s still fermenting, so he wants to make its traditional flavour available in a cafe setting.

Unlike pasteurised doburoku, nama doburoku has a fizzy mouthfeel and and sweet-and-sour taste. Marui Itō Shoten use only ingredients from the surrounding Shinshu region, including sake-specific rice grown in Kohigashi Sasahara and “Alpine” yeast strains originally isolated in Nagano Prefecture. (The mountains running through the prefecture are known as the Japan Alps.) The water used for brewing comes from the foothills of Mount Yatsugatake. Itō points out that he can be choosy about his ingredients because the production is very small scale.

Brewing has already started in preparation for the June opening, and the aim is to get 14% abv. A 720 ml bottle will sell at the cafe for around JPY 1,400. The cafe will be inside a renovated wooden two-storey early Showa period house that had recently fallen into disuse. The location is already open and serving food such as yakionigiri (焼きおにぎり, grilled rice balls) and grilled pork marinated in miso (豚肉のみそ焼き, butaniku no misoyaki). Part of the running costs will be covered by a crowdfunding campaign. While the town draws crowds for its festivals, such as a traditional yearly soba festival, Itō thinks it can feel a little deserted at times and hopes to revitalise the town centre so it’s always lively.