United States, District of Columbia, Washington - 05/28/2019 (PRDistribution.com)
In response to a rapidly growing sake industry in North America, the Sake Brewers Association of North America (SBANA) has formally announced its formation. The organization is the first sake industry trade association formed outside of Japan and is focused on promoting and protecting North America’s sake brewers, their sake, and the broader community of sake enthusiasts. The association, a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit trade association, is headquartered in Washington, D.C.
Sake sales are on the rise in North America. Japan's annual sake exports reached $200 million in 2018, doubling in the past five years, with the U.S. being the largest export market. Japan also now welcomes dozens of Americans to their top breweries each year to study the sake brewing process so that these entrepreneurs are able to return to the U.S. and open craft sake breweries.
SBANA Executive Director Bernie Baskin said, “We’ve now reached a tipping point where sake is transitioning from a niche industry to being a core beverage option in North America. We’re bringing together sake breweries across North America, as well as many over in Japan, along with rice farmers, mineral water businesses, distributors, retailers, and the allied trade to offer a voice to one of the fastest growing beverage industries in this part of the world. We expect that sake consumption will continue to grow exponentially as more and more consumers discover that it is an extremely nuanced drink, with flavor profiles across a wide spectrum of tastes, and an elegance that must be experienced.”
The Sake Brewers Association will focus on three core areas: consumer education and outreach; brewery development; and legislative reform. “The legal landscape for sake is extremely confusing at the moment,” Baskin said. “We’re working with lawmakers to address this confusion to make it more streamlined for sake breweries to incorporate and sell their product. We hope that breweries will begin opening across North America and have a similar effect that craft beer brewing has had on many small and medium-sized communities.”
SBANA’s Board Chair, Andrew Centofante, is the co-owner and master brewer of North American Sake Brewery (NAS) in Charlottesville, Virginia. NAS is the first and only sake brewery in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. “Many consumers are still unaware of sake, so there’s plenty of exposure and education to be done. There’s considerable interest from home sake brewers in opening commercial breweries, and we want to support that with access to education, materials, and supplies. It’s also important for us to address confusion at the federal and state levels where there is currently no category for sake, and so in some cases it is treated as beer, and in others as wine. Neither is correct. We’re working on model legislation, which we hope to pass that will help control and regulate sake to the benefit of the whole industry.”
SBANA will appear at Sake Fest 2019 in Asheville, North Carolina on June 1 as a premier sponsor of the event’s sake brewing seminars. Sake Fest will take place at Ben’s American Sake, 195 Hilliard Ave, Asheville, N.C. More than 20 American-brewed sakes will be sampled at the event.