Apr 1, 2015

Ms. Joan Lim / Nama NOMADS

Thanks to Epicurean Nomads, a microbrewery import company, there is now a growing selection of unpasteurised sakes in Singapore. We speak to co-founder Joan Lim to find out more.

Joan with Mr Naoki Iimori, President of Fukuchiyo Shuzo (Kashima, Saga), where nabeshima sakes are brewed.

My partner Charles and I have had a passionate love affair for great food and produce from Japan for a long time. On one of our culinary adventures, we had an epiphany – an awakening of all-things nama (unpasteurised/生)! We tasted nama beers at a microbrewery that supplies beers to the Imperial Household, and discovered that the beers were astoundingly good. We next visited various sake breweries and tasted many types of nama and nama genshu (unblended) sakes – they were some of the best sakes we’ve tasted, ever!

Back in Singapore, these beers and sakes were unavailable. After some research, we realised that the cold-chain logistics involved in transporting and warehousing these unpasteurised sakes and beers to Singapore (where they are kept at between 0 – 5°C) were extremely costly. Also, the smaller breweries did not produce sufficient beers and sakes for the local community and, naturally, saw no need to explore export markets. So for over two years, we, as free-spirited nomads, traversed across various parts of Japan, seeking out some of the best sake kuras (breweries) and microbreweries and persuading them to set aside an allocation for enthused beer and sake lovers here in Singapore. Many have, over time, relented and agreed to export part of their minuscule production to Singapore. Today, we have a portfolio of over 30 sake and beer breweries.

The Rise of Small-Batch Microbrews in Singapore

Similar to the third-wave coffee culture, there has been a lot more interest in small-batch microbrews here. We see a segmentation of premium craft beers emerging where consumers understand why they are paying more for quality artisanal products. Many of the Japanese breweries we represent still employ small-batch brewing techniques, with a keen and primary focus on delivering quality beers. They have a tight and small line-up of year-round beers with various seasonal brews. These breweries also believe in offering their beers in their most natural, unpasteurised state, so none of the delicate flavours are stripped away or compromised. While it is logistically challenging to transport and handle unpasteurised beers, which need to be kept chilled at under 5°C, it is truly rewarding when consumers rave about the quality of the beers they taste!

A Fine Judge

At the recent Fine Sake Awards 2015

Joan was most recently invited to be a judge at the Fine Sake Awards 2015 in Tokyo. Alongside a distinguished panel that included veterans of the sake industry in Japan, Joan assessed the quality of sakes when drunk from a wine glass, which is a relatively new movement to enjoy sake. “I particularly like to drink Ginjo style sake out of a chardonnay wine glass to enjoy the fullness and aroma of the sake.”