When you think of drinks in the ‘London dry’ style, saké certainly isn’t the first thing that comes to mind – but Tom and Lucy Wilson, the husband and wife duo behind Kanpai Saké Brewery, want to change that.
For the last eighteen months, they’ve been crafting distinctly dry, robust sakés in their Peckham nanobrewery, the first of its kind in the UK. Now they have launched a crowdfunding campaign to expand their operations and spread their passion for Japan’s favourite beverage.
According to co-founder Lucy Wilson, Kanpai has already begun work on its new facilities in Copeland Park near Peckham Rye station.
‘It’s a dusty old bike shop, so it needs quite a lot of TLC to turn it into a brewery,’ she explained.
The £22,000 goal on their crowdfunding page will allow Kanpai to transform the building into a space for increased production of its three flagship sakés, and will also provide the business with the resources to open a taproom on the premises – which Wilson says will help foster experimentation.
‘Our small tanks from [the nanobrewery] are going to become our experimental tanks, and we’re always going to have small batches of curiosities – different rice, different yeasts. That’s why we're so excited to have a taproom, because we can sell it by the glass to people and get their opinions.’
In the time since the Wilsons started brewing saké, they say they’ve noticed a growing interest in the stuff – and they found one group of passionate customers particularly surprising.
‘We didn't foresee mixologists’ interest in saké,’ explained Wilson. ‘We did a bespoke batch for P(our) founder and bartender] Alex Kratena, and [our saké] is in Super Lyan's Cub. Mixologists are using sake in really interesting ways, which we didn't expect because we always thought of it as pairing with meals.’
Wilson hopes that Kanpai’s crowdfunding project will increase the appreciation for saké among consumers, too.
‘We’re still a super small start-up, so any financial leg up is great, but it’s more about bringing a community together,’ she said. ‘Saké is still quite a niche drink, so it’s rallying the troops. Crowdfunding means you can go out to people and say “you can be a part of it”.’
The new brewery is expected to soft launch during Peckham Festival, 14 to 16 September.
Kanpai currently supplies the on-trade directly – visit kanpai.london to learn more.