A Drinkable Globe Q&A with Joy of Sake founder Chris Pearce
The 14th edition of Joy of Sake New York is just four weeks away and I caught up with Chris Pearce, founder of the largest sake tasting event outside of Japan, about what to expect next month. Tickets are still available and if you purchase by Friday, May 25 and use the promo code ENJOYNY, you’ll get $11 off the regular $110 ticket price. Get tickets here.
Anything new at Joy of Sake this year that you’d like to highlight?
Chris Pearce: There are two standouts this year. One is the number of entries–478.
This is the largest number of sake ever made available for tasting in
the United States. There are examples from every brewing region in
Japan, representing a great range of brewing styles, all in peak
condition. The other is the U.S. craft brewers who will be pouring their
fresh, unpasteurized sake at the event. Participants include Brooklyn
Kura, Dovetail from Boston and Moto-I from Minneapolis.
With nearly 500 sake to sample, what are some recommended
strategies for navigating the floor without getting too overwhelmed?
C.P.: The pavilion is divided into 11 tasting “islands,” generally with 48
sakes at each. I would start with “Daiginjo B,” where you see a lot of variety
in brewing styles. The sakes are all entries in the 2018 U.S. National Sake
Appraisal, and the little signs in front of each one indicate whether it won
a gold or silver award. After tasting for awhile, I’d move on to one of the
Daiginjo A, Ginjo or Junmai islands. Volunteers inside the island can answer
How has the American consumer’s knowledge base/taste for sake
C.P.: The best way to learn about sake is drinking it, and if import figures are any
indication there is a lot of learning going on. Imports into the U.S. were up
18.4 percent last year compared to 2016. The amount of sake imported into New
York City is up over 30 percent (2016: 1,001,984 2017: 1,382,099 liters)
What are your thoughts on the wave of new craft sake producers in the
U.S. and will any of them be participating in Joy of Sake?
C.P.: U.S. brewers are making great strides in technical proficiency. There are
some very talented and committed people involved in this effort and
the U.S. sake are only going to get better. Guests at Joy of Sake can see
for themselves at the U.S. Sake Section, where brewers from Brooklyn,
Boston, Minneapolis and elsewhere will be pouring.
How has the Joy of Sake event grown over the years?
C.P.: The original event was held in Honolulu in 2001, with attendance of around
400 and 124 sakes for sampling. This year’s events in New York, Honolulu,
London and Tokyo will be attended by around 4,300 sake fans. The Joy of
Sake has been a big catalyst for the growth in sake popularity in the U.S.
and we expect the same thing to happen in London.
What’s the expected attendance this year?
C.P.: The expected attendance is 900 guests. To accommodate them
we have taken the entire 25,000 sq. ft. Metropolitan Pavilion so that
guests have plenty of room to move around. The number of
restaurants serving sake-themed appetizers has gone up to 18–
they are listed on the website at www.joyofsake.com.
Joy of Sake New York is on June 15, 2018 from 6:30pm-9:30pm at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Pavilion.