Cat, Mitch and Mary have been co-workers and good friends for almost a decade. Having met at a previous workplace, they quickly discovered their acuity for working as a team. A really great team. Preston joined the Blue Kudzu team in April of 2013. With a strong background in marketing, he rounds out the Blue Kudzu team.
Mitch Fortune is an avid home brewer and also 15 year veteran of the bar and restaurant business. He has worked for the last 4 years as the General Manager of Olive or Twist and has vast experience running bars and restaurants, and is also quite the chef. An entrepreneur in his own right, he has run his own business for 10 years, Mitch Fortune Productions, which is one of the premier wedding DJ businesses in the Asheville area.
Cat Ford-Coates is a food and beverage industry fanatic. She loves all things delicious! Cuisine, wine, craft brews, Scotch, and the list goes on. While working in restaurants and bars she has cultivated her own wedding photography business here in Asheville, North Carolina and is beyond excited to add sake to Beer City USA's portfolio.
Mary Taylor is a multi-disciplined veteran of the service industry and brewing world. She has spent years working in breweries, distilleries, bakeries, and restaurants. In her free time Mary loves spending time in the great outdoors with her 5 year old daughter Olivia.
Warren Preston Coleman II
from Valle Crucis NC and a recent graduate of the Walker school of Business with a degree in Marketing from Appalachian State University. He enjoys traveling, outdoor activities and is passionate about craft breweries, ciders and especially sake.
We are Mitch Fortune, Cat Ford-Coates, and Mary Taylor, three long time friends with a passion for food, drinks, and general merriment. A little over a year and a half ago we were enjoying our winter cooking club with a dozen of our friends. Mitch had prepared a delicious dinner of Asian cuisine, and our friends brought sake to drink. After several hours of enjoying the food, sake, each other’s company, we began a discussion of the history, origin, and the production of sake. We soon realized that the majority of our friends did not know much about sake, other than the fact that it is a drink that most of us enjoy. A friendly argument ensued about whether sake is considered a beer or a wine. To settle the argument we broke out "the google" and went on a search for answers.
We learned a lot about the origin and process of making sake, and were surprised by what we found. First off, sake is more like beer in the process of brewing, but more like wine in the alcohol content of the finished product. The most surprising thing to us was that sake is gluten and sulfite free, vegan, and kosher. Sake is also one of the purest drinks on earth, consisting of only water, rice, yeast, and a magic little mold called koji. Sake is the only alcoholic beverage on earth that is brewed using two simultaneous processes during fermentation. Even more interesting is that sake, unlike wine, should be consumed FRESH! It should not be aged.
Fact: All of the premium sake sold in the U.S. is imported, and therefore, not very fresh. In transport to the U.S., sake is typically stored incorrectly, destroying the subtle and delicate flavors.
What a tragedy.
So, we asked ourselves, "where in the US can we buy fresh sake?" Being long time bartenders, we like to know our products. We wanted to try truly fresh sake to see just how good it could be. Turns out there are only six, massive, Japanese owned companies which produce 99 percent of the sake consumed in the United States. Most of this sake is consumed hot, in sushi bars across the country. (sake is generally served hot if it is of poor quality, to mask the imperfections). These macro-breweries are large scale brewing operations focused on quantity over quality, much like American domestic beer companies.
Once we found out all of this, we decided to take a leap and try brewing our own sake. Luckily, Mary has worked in breweries and distilleries over the years, and Mitch has been avidly home brewing beer for over 10 years, and making homemade wine for several years on top of that. Mitch had all the equipment we needed, so we just had to find the right ingredients and obtain a little know how. We went back to "the google" and we did some research and got a hold of a few recipes, books, and videos about sake brewing. After more than a few misadventures, we finally made our first palatable (and delicious) batch of sake.
Skip ahead 8 months and we have perfected our processes and are now consistently brewing fresh, delicious sake, and have even started creating infused flavored sakes as well. We have also tested our products on some willing (quite willing in fact) testers and have received very positive feedback. To this end, we have decided that we should open our own sake brewery to share our delicious FRESH sake with others – Blue Kudzu Sake Co. was born.
What's in our name?
Kudzu is a vine that is the scourge of some and the delight of others. It is referred to in our neck of the woods as "the vine that ate the South." It has many positive uses from making fabrics to natural soaps and medicinal tonics. It grows very quickly and overtakes things in its path at an exceptional rate. As it overtakes anything in its path, it also restores and improves topsoil and the overall soil quality where it grows. We want our business to grow like kudzu, benefiting those who enjoy our product by offering them a healthier alternative to the traditional American alcoholic beverages. We use the word blue to pay homage to the Blue Ridge Mountains, the beautiful place we call home.
Where we are today
Over the past year through all of our small craft batches and during all of our research and experimentation, we learned that 3 mirco-sake breweries have opened in the United States and are creating small batch craft sake, with very warm reception. We wish to add our name to the small, but growing, craft sake scene in the United States. In an effort to try to start our brewery we enrolled in a local business incubator class at Mountain Biz Works, and developed a working business plan. With their encouragement, we have done extensive market research, as well held customer test sessions. We discovered that our business model is sound and plausible. Eureka! We have a realistic and profitable business plan! Mountain Biz works showed us that we could feasibly start our own kura (sake brewery). To ensure our success we will continue to work with Mountain Bizworks through their mentoring and coaching programs as we expand from home brewing into commercial brewing of American craft sake.
What Blue Kudzu is and will become
Right now, we are super micro-craft sake brewers. That's okay, we are doing what we love. What we love more? Bringing the awesome to our community by opening a kura (sake brewery). Our kura will encompass a tasting room, a garden patio, a retail space, bottling line and of course, our brew house. Think small but airy, a relaxed spot to enjoy West Asheville and Blue Kudzu Sake. This will of course include a bottle shop for you to take home your favorite Blue Kudzu bottle or a growler of some of our craftier stuff (ie - seasonal infusions, etc).
What is sake?
Ok, so you've had sake that one time last year when you went out for sushi. It was served hot and tasted okay, so whats all the hubaloo about?
First off, sake is more like beer in the process of brewing, but more like wine in the alcohol content of the finished product (anywhere from 10-20%...Whew!). The most surprising thing to us was that sake is gluten and sulfite free, vegan, and kosher. Sake is also one of the purest drinks on earth, consisting of only water, rice, yeast, and a magic little mold called koji. Sake is the only alcoholic beverage on earth that is brewed using two simultaneous processes during fermentation. Even more interesting is that sake, unlike wine, should be consumed FRESH!
It should not be aged.
Fact: All of the premium sake sold in the U.S. is imported, and therefore, not very fresh. In transport to the U.S., sake is typically stored incorrectly, destroying the subtle and delicate flavors. Also the majority of domestic sake is mass produced sake drank warm in sake bars across the country. Fresh and premium sakes are generally served cold (like white wines) and if you haven't tried it yet, go get a bottle right now....we'll be here when you get back.
Just think, you could get a Blue Kudzu bottle just like this at a store near you!
We thank you for taking the time to learn about our project and graciously thank you for any support you can provide. No pledge is too small. We hope that we can get this project off of the ground and hope to share a glass of fresh sake with you at our brewery soon! If you have any questions or would love to discuss sake please feel free to contact us.
So to refresh your memory and summarize:
WE ARE BLUE KUDZU SAKE COMPANY!!!!!
We are artisans with a dream. We aren't doing this project to become wildly rich (it wouldn't hurt of course, but is generally not the case in the brewing world). We are doing this because we can't imagine doing anything else with our lives. We take this venture very seriously as both brewers and business savvy go getters. We understand that it is one thing to have a dream and another to have the pieces in place to execute it. Over the past year of serious planning we are confident that we have both the brewing expertise and good business sense to not just reach for our dream but make it a success.
Content copyright . bluekudzusake.com. All rights reserved.