Our first sake mead hybrid:
Gosnells & Kanpai both grew up in a little industrial estate in Peckham called Print Village. My first time meeting Tom Wilson (Head Brewer/Co-founder) was after a 2 days koji growing session poleaxed by the daylight as he trundled over to our taproom. After having a chat over a mead or two we both wanted to do a project with each other but at the time neither of us had any idea how that would work both in production and in our busy schedules.
Then, fast forward two years and after a few drinks at a local Peckham watering hole we bit the bullet and decided that unlike most collaboration we would create a liquid separately and blend then in barrel and induce a second fermentation and allow it to age and meld together.
So we decided that we would create a specialised mead using raw honey from Hackney, North London. This had a beautiful honeysuckle and stone fruit character, delicate herbaceous notes with hints of black pepper which we thought would pair perfectly with Kanpai Saké.
Kanpai created a Saké from calrose rice, a japonica variety grown in California. Traditionally polished to 70% then put in open top fermentation using #701 traditional Japanese Saké yeast, and Japanese Saké Koji made from the same rice. They allowed the primary fermentation to progress until approx 2/3 completion, then paused early to retain residual sugar and the mash pressed to remove rice solids. The still fermenting sake was then added to the barrel to continue the hybrid fermentation.
After being in barrel for 6 months the transformation was complete with massive honey aroma, fruity undertones and a depth you can only get from the finest of Saké (our Peckham love child was conceived.) we then decided to backsweeten just enough to carbonate and left to bottle condition.
We then pasteurized each bottle as saké tends to get sweeter over time, this is due to the enzymes continuing to break down the more complicated sugars left over from the Saké fermentation. We use pasteurization so that the final product is exactly how we intended it to be.