Our Story

OUR STORY

Nova Brewing Co. in Covina, California was founded by Emiko Tanabe and James Jin in 2019. The two met while studying for the SSA’s (Sake School of America) sake sommelier certification. They enjoyed visiting sake and beer breweries and wondered why there weren’t any sake brewery & tasting room in LA. They felt a local brewery in LA county was needed in order to have a more personal connection to the locals and introduce fresh NAMA SAKE. Together, they took over an old winery & brewery and turned it over into a hybrid sake and beer brewery with fresh concept and flavors.

OUR SAKE
Using 100% rice sourced from a farm in North California, our brewer uses hand-crafting brewing techniques learned from an award-winning brewery Inaba Shuzo in Ibaraki, Japan to produce sake that is rich in flavor, bold and higher in acidity than traditional sake to be able to stand up to the variety of food culture in LA.

RICE
A rice variety originating in California and grown since 1948, Calrose is a medium-grain rice and a subspecie of Japonica rice. It’s a strain originally from Japan that seemed to thrive in California climate. We use premium grade of Calrose polished down to either 50% or 70% depending on the style of sake. As a sake brewery located in California, we believe using rice with the historical connection to the local region is vital to our identity.

WATER
Calrose rice is grown in Californian soil with Californian water, therefore we strongly believe Californian water has the best chemistry with the rice we use. Due to high sensitivity of sake to minerals, we filter our water twice to remove any unwanted minerals such as iron and manganese, and treat our water with our secret recipe of minerals to achieve the taste that defines our original style.

KOJI
Arguably the most important ingredient in brewing sake. Koji (scientific name: aspergillus oryzae) plays the role that malt would play in beer, providing enzymes and sugars that yeast needs to ferment and produce alcohol. We built our koji production room from scratch inside our brewery and we use our Calrose rice to produce the koji. Our brewer spent about a year during his homebrewing years with countless fails producing koji in an ice box using hot water container to maintain warm temperature. Due to high quality koji spores are not available in the US, we import the spore from Japan and make our koji in-house.

YEAST
The yeast used for sake is very unique in that in produces high amount of esters, thrives in cold temperatures and can produce high amount of alcohol. To honor the rich history of sake yeast strains isolated from historical breweries in Japan and to not derive too much away from the flavors of sake, we decided not to make any substitutes with local yeast. We currently import sake yeast Kyokai #7 and #9 from Japan to be used in both our craft beers and craft sake.

Gravity

GRAVITY

is a sake that showcases the full capability of Calrose rice and defines what it means to be a Californian Sake.

JUNMAI DAIGINJO
Junmai translates to ‘pure rice’ meaning the alcohol was produced by fermentation of the rice only with no added distilled alcohol. We used 50% polished premium calrose rice (which indicates daiginjo style) for the best balance of fruity and fresh rice aromas.

DRIP-PRESSED
The name gravity derives from the way we press the sake. Pressing sake (often called filtering) is one of the most unique step in sake production in that after the rice is fermented, the liquid (sake) is separated from the thick porridge-like mash called moromi. In order to press our gravity, we use a highly laborious and low-yielding method called ‘shizuku’ method which translates to ‘drip.’ We take our moromi (mash), and hang them in mesh bags in suspension and let the sake literally drip out of the mash using gravity. This method is only used for the most premium lineups of sake in Japan and we believe allows for the best flavors of the sake to shine.

The pressed sake is divided into 3 parts of the process:
ARABASHIRI: the first run-off of the sake with absolutely no pressure applied.
NAKADORI: the mid-portion of the pressing with some pressure applied without crushing of the rice mash.
SEME: the last part of the pressing when the most pressure is applied to the mash and crushes the rice mash.

We collect and blend only ARABASHIRI and NAKADORI to bottle only the best part of the sake.
The third part SEME is high in alcohol and off-flavors so we do not use this portion and is left in with the mash to be packaged as our SAKE KASU (leftover lees).

SHIBORITATE
Shiboritate means ‘freshly pressed.’ Most sake in the market are matured for several months to allow the sake to settle, but we believe sake that’s freshly out of the tank is some of the best sake. This style of sake is very delicate and highly sensitive to heat, UV light and agitation so once pressed in cold room, goes straight to bottling in the cold room. Due to it’s sensitivity, this style is hardly imported from Japan.

MUROKA
Muroka means the sake does NOT go through charcoal filtration. Charcoal filtration is a step to further clean up the sake after pressing to give it a white-clear look. We believe this process takes away flavors and the liveliness of the sake and we do prefer a slight natural tinge of gold.

NAMA
Nama directly translates to ‘raw’ or ‘fresh’ and indicates sake that are not pasteurized. Most sake are heat pasteurized for stability and long shelf-life, but we believe this also takes away flavors and the true characters of sake. In Japan, people wait every year for the brewing season to start to get their hands on freshly made and unpasteurized shiboritate nama sake. We brew every month to make sure our sake is always fresh.

GENSHU
Genshu means undiluted with water after fermentation is complete. Our goal for Gravity is for us to showcase our skill in producing balanced sake straight out of pressing without the need of dilution. We control the fermentation to finish at 17% abv exact as we believe this is the best level to balance out with the sweetness and the acidity level.

ACIDITY & SMV
We intended this sake to be paired with variety of foods available in LA and be able to stand up to the rich and flavorful foods of the region. To do this, we bring the acidity level to a higher level compared to normal sake between 2.1-2.4, and to balance out the acidity, allow the sweetness to be slightly higher at -3 SMV (sake meter value).

SUMINAGASHI
For the label design of this sake, our artist depicts the ‘drip’ aspect of its process with Japanese traditional art called suminagashi (floating ink). Suminagashi is a paper marbling technique where ink is dropped or dipped onto the surface of the water to create rings of aqueous ink. These rings are then moved or swirled around to create the marbling. For our design, our artist did not swirl the rings to express that our sake is undisturbed and is bottled directly after pressed using the drip method. Then we captured the most organic and natural corner of the rings to be used for the label to maintain our minimalistic concept.

Eclipse

ECLIPSE

is a sake that uses black koji to bring out higher levels of acidity like white wine compared to traditional sake. As a sake born in the wine state, California, this sake defines what it means to be an artisanal California sake.

KUROKOJI (BLACK KOJI)
Scientific name aspergillus luchuensis. Traditionally yellow koji (aspergillus oryzae) is used to brew sake and is what produces the sweetness with low acidity. Black koji is used traditionally in Japanese shochu, specifically awamori and high levels of acid is produced. We use our blend of black and yellow koji to achieve a sake that makes you think it’s wine at first, but finishes like sake.

JUNMAI
Junmai translates to ‘pure rice’ meaning the alcohol was produced by fermentation of the rice only with no added distilled alcohol. We used 70% polished premium calrose rice to bring out higher levels of umami to balance out the higher levels of acidity. This makes Eclipse a perfect sake for pairing with food.

SHIBORITATE
Shiboritate means ‘freshly pressed.’ Most sake in the market are matured for several months to allow the sake to settle, but we believe sake that’s freshly out of the tank is some of the best sake. This style of sake is very delicate and highly sensitive to heat, UV light and agitation so once pressed in cold room, goes straight to bottling in the cold room. Due to it’s sensitivity, this style is hardly imported from Japan.

MUROKA
Muroka means the sake does NOT go through charcoal filtration. Charcoal filtration is a step to further clean up the sake after pressing to give it a white-clear look. We believe this process takes away flavors and the liveliness of the sake and we do prefer a slight natural tinge of gold.

NAMA
Nama directly translates to ‘raw’ or ‘fresh’ and indicates sake that are not pasteurized. Most sake are heat pasteurized for stability and long shelf-life, but we believe this also takes away flavors and the true characters of sake. In Japan, people wait every year for the brewing season to start to get their hands on freshly made and unpasteurized shiboritate nama sake. We brew every month to make sure our sake is always fresh.

ACIDITY & SMV
We intended this sake to have a white wine-like expression which is why we used black koji to bring out higher levels of acidity at 3.0-3.4.

ARTWORK
For the label design of this sake, our artist depicts the phenomena known as solar eclipse as viewed from the earth. The sun indicates the yellow koji which is traditionally used for making sake, and the moon indicates the black koji that’s covering up the sun to indicate its shadowing of character in this sake.

Visit Us

Location

1580 W. San Bernardino Rd UnitH&I, Covina, CA, 91722

Look for the sign for “COVINA INDUSTRIAL PARK”. That’s right! You’ll need to call for gate access when you arrive.

Open hours

Mon : Closed
Tue : Closed
Wed : 5pm – 9pm
Thu : 5pm – 9pm
Fri : 5pm – 9pm
Sat : 5pm – 9pm
Sun : 4pm – 8pm