Have you ever wondered how Japanese Sake is made? You’ve come to the right place. Today we are diving deep into the world of sake as I’m going to take you through each step from beginning to end.
Making sake involves a lot of processes. It isn’t complicated but it does take time and patience. If you want something fast consider a Chinese rice wine. which only takes a few weeks. This process takes about 3 months and the end result will be a sake traditionally brewed and incredibly rewarding.
Before we begin we need to talk about s few ingredients that you will need to make sake. The first is obviously rice. You can use table rice like sushi rice or jasmine rice but it is recommended to use a short or medium grain 40-70% polished rice. The better your rice the higher quality your sake will be. The next most important ingredient in making sake is koji (aspergillus oryzae). This mold is critical in the process and sake can not be made without it. The role of this incredible mold is to break down the carbohydrates in rice to turn them into fermentable sugars.
Once you have fermentable sugars it is then the role of the third most important ingredient in making sake, which is yeast. Technically you can use any brewers yeast but I highly suggest getting your hands on a specific sake yeast by Wyeast #4134 . This yeast has the ability to handle higher alcohol contents, works well in low temperatures, and delivers a silky smooth finish with the most incredible flavor profile.
This is by no means a comprehensive guide on how to make sake. It’s a shortened version of a much more complex series of processes. If you really want to invest in this craft I suggest you pick up the book Sake (USA): The complete guide to American Sake
If Fred’s book is a little too pricey you might want to print up these sheets and read them over (this process is directly adapted from his work). He discusses all of the steps you see me do in greater detail. Here is a link to that page: https://homebrewsake.com/FredEckhardtSRC43NEW.pdf
Let’s talk about koji for a minute. There are 2 ways you can approach the koji ingredient for sake. The first is to buy koji rice online already made. This is by far the easiest method. You will need about 8.5 cups of koji rice for this recipe. If you want to experiment with koji in other recipes then I highly suggest you make it yourself. This method is a little more work but once you start producing koji you can effectively make it forever. This is what we do. In order to make it yourself you’ll need koji spores.
Finally before we get into the production of Sake it is important to keep everything sanitized. You don’t want to introduce bad bacteria to any of these processes. I use Iodophor to sanitize my equipment and tools. This sanitizer is great as you only need a little bit and can be used for all sorts of projects. We use it in our fermenting projects, cheese making projects, salami projects, I can go on and on
This particular recipe requires an area with controlled temperature. I have a modified refrigerator that I use to make salami. As it’s empty right now it’s the perfect place to make this sake as the temps will range between 75F on the high and and 45F on the low end. The temperature is determined by what step you are on. I control my temperature using an inexpensive Inkbird Temperature controller . I plug my fridge into this unit and then set it to whatever temperature I want. Very easy. These controllers are also great if you ever want to grow mushrooms, make salami, make cheese, make beer or different wines.
In the process of making Sake you will want to take the specific gravity and record those numbers. This will help you understand you alcohol %. This will also let you know how dry your sake is at the end. By knowing these numbers you can make adjustments in the final steps to sweeten your wine a bit. (Refer to pages 13-15 on the following document for more detailed information: https://homebrewsake.com/FredEckhardtSRC43NEW.pdf )
Things you will need to make Sake
- Polished Rice 40%-60%
- Cheese cloth
- Bentonite clay
- Wine large siphon pump
- Wine small siphon pump
- Epson Salt
- Potassium Chloride (you can use salt substitute also)
- Sake Wyeast 4134
- lactic acid
- Yeast nutrient
- liquid Anti foam
- Gallon containers with air locks
- koji rice
- Koji Spores
- Inkbird Temperature Controller
If you want to see the different things that we use in our operation be sure to check out our new Amazon Store.