HomeCraft Sake Brewing in San DiegoCraft Sake Brewing in San Diego

Craft Sake Brewing in San Diego

Name: Setting Sun Sake Brewing Company

Address: 8680 Miralani Dr #120 | San Diego, California

Cost: Tasters: 1 oz. $2.5o • 3 oz. $4.00 • 6 oz. $7.00 | Flights: 1 oz. $8.00 • 3 oz. $15.00 | Growler fill (32 oz.) $35.00

Photo of a large, square macrame with a large S in the middle, hanging in the tasting room.

About: Tucked away in a Miramar industrial park and surrounded by craft breweries, Josh Hembree and Keldon Premuda are brewing saké instead of beer. They believe that saké is the “next frontier in the craft-brewing world” and are the second brewery in San Diego County to think that way.

Although saké is well known as a Japanese rice wine, it is actually brewed like beer. Interestingly, for licensing purposes the State of California views saké as a wine, while the Federal Government sees it as a beer.

Saké is made by fermenting rice that has been “polished” to remove the bran, which is the hard outer layer of the rice grain. It is produced via a brewing process similar to that of beer, but different. Beer is brewed through a two-step process where grain starch first gets converted to sugar, and then during the second step, fermentation, the sugar converts to alcohol.

When saké is brewed, however, there is no double step as the conversions occur at the same time. This simultaneous conversion allows saké to be finished in 12 to 15 days, whereas beer takes longer depending on the style.

Another major brewing difference between saké and beer are ingredients. Saké is brewed using rice, water, yeast, and Aspergillus oryzae, a mold native to East Asia. This mold is the same one used in making other Asian food products such as miso, soy sauce, and black bean paste. To learn more about saké and how to make it at home, click here.

Setting Sun Sake Brewing was pouring four freshly-brewed sakés when I visited: Clear Batch 2 (15.8% ABV); Plum (15.2% ABV); Hoppy (15.8% ABV), brewed with Simcoe and Amarillo hops); and Lilikoi (15.8% ABV). According to Hembree, Setting Sun’s toji (brewer), more interesting saké creations will be available at the “sakéry” soon.

Photo of four different sakes in taster glasses on the bar of Setting Sun Sake Brewing.

What I Drank: I sampled all four sakés in a flight. Though slightly different in aroma and flavor, each one was light-bodied, smooth, and delicate. My favorite was Plum due to its floral aroma and fruity flavor, so I took a growler of it home with me and enjoyed it all week (saké keeps well in the refridgerator, up to two weeks).

Photo of a growler and tasting glass, both with logos printed on them, for Setting Sun Sake Brewing.

Likes: The flight of sakés was delicious and beautifully presented. Friendly, welcoming staff (the owners) who provide excellent service to visitors. Intimate tasting room with interesting décor. Prices are reasonable. Lots of parking available near the brewery sign.Photo of the logo for the sake brewery painted on a sheet of plywood.

Dislikes: none

The Verdict: If you love craft beer you will probably love craft saké. Setting Sun Sake Brewing is brewing good quality saké and should not be missed. Recommended.

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