Admin, I’m a homebrewer with an interest in sake. One thing that helped me when I was getting into beer was lots of information to read up on. It doesn’t seem like there is much brewing info on sake, though. Thus, some books would be nice. Also, from what I’ve read it seems like you might need more than just rice, yeast and what not to make a good drink. What about those molds and canvas bags I’ve read about? These things would make me more confident in brewing some sake.
I agree completely. Fred Eckhardt’s process and recipe walks you through the entire process and is matched with the ingredient in our kits. The Taylor-MadeAK site also walks you through the process. The only book I know that takes you through the brewing process is SAKE USA by Fred Eckhardt but this is out of print now. You can sometimes find it used. Do you think more general books on Sake would be helpful?
Yes there is more than just Rice and Yeast. Sake could not be made without koji, a rice cultured with Aspergillus Oryzae, and a strict method. The methods out lined in the two documents listed above and the ingredients available here are just what is needed to make Junmai Ginjo Sake (Pure High Quality).
If you read through either of these please let me know what you think.
I agree with trippeld. It would be nice to have a real press of some sort with filter. I think you are on to something with this site! Gonna be making some sake pretty soon. Will have your site on my favs.
I’ll look into presses. As far as equipment goes I have been mainly looking for a good source of steamers to start. For the most part my priority is to provide the things that are hardest for you to find first and fill out the selection next. Eventually to provide a complete one stop shopping experience.
I have pictures of my process, even pictures of my own tane-koji if you’re interested. I am about to buy a cheese press from thecheesemaker.com I think these will work great to press out the sake from the ori. Vision brewing has seeds, and I think have distributor rates? I’ve used Bob Taylor’s guide to make excellent Sake. Bob and I were working on making koji around the same time and he worked on making koji go to spore. I’ve made several batches of koji vs a few batches of Sake. I think I’ve figured out a sure way to make koji go to spore, just requires a good humidty/temp controlled environment. Spores take about a week to fully mature, vs 2 days to make Koji.
Hi, Yes I am interested in the pictures. How many batches of koji have you made? All with the vision brewing koji-kin? Are you planning to write up your process for making tane-koji?
I was looking at those same presses. I bought a Brie kit from them about a year ago. I agree, the presses do look like they will do well. If you buy the press I will be interested in hearing how well it works.
You can order the milled rice starting on the “store” page, did you need more information?
I’ve been waiting for this site for a long time! Thanks!! I would like to see a comprehensive store of sake brewing ingredients and tools… one stop shopping for sake making. Getting some koji-kin and offering brewer’s rice in bulk (50lbs) would be good. I would like to scale up the batch size and see what happens, perhaps using adjustable volume stainless fermentation tanks. I have hated messing around with small batches since my early all grain beer brewing days… Go big or stay away I say! Any chance you could find and stock some of the hemp cloth traditionally used to press the lees?
It is my goal to make this a complete one stop shopping site but it is harder and takes more time to make the needed arrangements. As for the bulk purchases, hmm, I have not thought about that. I wonder if this would be popular. What size batches are you thinking of brewing? What size all grain batches do you brew? I will add the hemp cloth to my watch list of items to look for.
Hi Mr. Admin… thanks for the response! I was thinking of using a 100 liter stainless adjustable volume wine fermenter and scaling up the batch x5, to make 10 gal per run. I live in So. Cal. so winter is the only time to do fermentations without too much fiddling about with temp control. My all grain brewery is a 15 gallon setup, two Bud keg vessels (mash tun and hot liquor back) and a 25 gallon boil kettle.
OK, the 100 liter fermenter should be big enough. I was worried that you may get foam overs during fermentation but this should work just fine. I also worry about temperature. The closer you can get to 45-50F the better.
If you have not yet looked at the recipe it would be a good idea to do so.
So, what would it take to do a 5x batch? Well, 5x the Rice, Koji, Yeast and of course the ingredients. As a brewer, you may be thinking that you could build up the yeast mash starter (moto). I’m sure this is possible but a good procedure needs to be worked out. Until then using 5x the yeast is probably your best bet.
The other issue you will need to address is finding a way to steam much more rice than is usual for most steamers on the market. Or simply accept that you will need to steam multiple rice batches. I have done this and it is not that bad but the time commitment for the steaming session goes up and needs to be taken into account.
If you want to do this with the rice, koji and yeast I carry, you could use:
1x the Full Ingredient Sake Kit
4x the Sake Ingredient Kit
This would provide all the ingredients needed for you 5x batch.
Thanks Will, you answered my next question about building the Moto. I have fantasies about building a cedar lined Koji room but that’s probably a bit far fetched for the near term! Yeast culture is no big deal, but I wonder if I build a yeast culture large enough on unhopped malt wort if it will negatively affect the taste of the sake.
I’ll be ordering as soon as I can find a suitable fermenting vessel. I have built an insulated box for fermenters that I can chill to 50 F reliably, but not sure if I can get much colder. Is 50 OK, or will I pick up fusels and other unpleasant things?
Still working on larger scale steaming plans, I’ll post again when I’ve found a solution.
If you use the method for creating a yeast starter where you grow the amount you want (5x) then cool the starter and let the yeast drop out so you can pour off the beer to use only the yeast cake then there should not be enough beer flavor to negatively impact the sake. Once you have the correct amount of yeast you can make a 5x moto.
Yes, 50F is very good. You can go down to 45F or so but getting to 50F is much more important than going below that. You will not have any fusel alcohol at these temperatures.
Hey Will I don’t have any photos of the box and I’m away from home until mid February, but it’s pretty unexciting anyway. It’s a (roughly) 6.5 x 6.5 foot interior volume wood framed box I framed with 2×6 on 16″ centers. It sits on a concrete pad in a metal shed, the floor is not raised or insulated. The walls and top are insulated with R19 6″ fiberglass batting. Outside is sheathed with 1/2″ plywood and the interior is finished with drywall. One end comes off entirely for access with a couple of cam lock latches which is a bit of a pain, I need to work out a better door. In the other end is an LG 7000BTU window air conditioner that has been modified with a CoolBot which replaces the thermostat (http://www.storeitcold.com). The folks that make the CoolBot advertise that you can get a chamber down to near freezing, but I think I need a bigger AC unit for that, maybe 12K-18K BTU. Mine is happiest around 50F most of the year. I don’t use it for fermenting July-Sept because it works too hard, but I still use it on occasion to cool down produce picked from the garden in the hot months. You can get it from ambient (around 85 or 90 in summer) down into the 50s in quite a hurry. I can fit (4) 6.5 gallons carboys and a few cornelius kegs in no problem, I could get more in but it would feel crowded. I picked up the LG AC unit on craigslist cheap, used mostly left over lumber and insulation from other projects. I bought the CoolBot new which was about $300… kinda pricey but it does work to keep a fermentation chamber at temp without worry. If you were to build this with all new stuff it would probably cost around $750. I’m going to bump the AC unit up in power as soon as I can find a good deal, that way I’ll be able to get it cooler and make some proper lager beers. I’m only using ale yeasts now.
Of course I could pour off the malt wort when I’m ready to pitch the yeast into the Moto… why didn’t I think of that?!! I can buy enough Koji from you for my purposes, no need to build the cedar room. When I get this together, my plan is to make only 1 or 2 large batches a year, so it doesn’t seem to make sense to worry about culturing Koji. I grow yeast cultures for beer brewing successfully so that’s no big deal.
I’m still researching a way to steam larger quantities of rice. I think I’m going to wind up using an older stainless brewpot with a couple of stacked steamer baskets in it…. at least that’s the plan for now. Do you know if it’s a problem to line the steamer baskets with cloth? I seem to recall seeing some video years ago from a Japanese sake brewery where the rice came out of the steamer wrapped in what I assume to be hemp cloth, but I’m not really sure. I’ll post again if I get a better idea.
Hi everyone! I do not know where to begin but hope this site will be useful for me.
In first steps it’s really nice if somebody supports you, so hope to meet friendly and helpful people here. Let me know if I can help you.
Thanks and good luck everyone!
You know what would be really cool? If we could have some video of sake homebrewing from start to finish. I’m not too smart, and they say a picture speaks a thousand words. Done a few batches myself, and they have been OK, but nothing special, so I won’t be the one posting the vids!
Temp. control was my main issue. Had a hard time just staying at 60. I have since started brewing lagers and have a dedicated fridge with a Johnson temp controller (another reason that I want to try this again).
Glad to see a site to find brewing products. I’m interested in brewing osme nigori down the road, but I will probably try whats available now. It’s hard to find much information on brewing the different types of sake. You should really get something like a phpbb forum up and going as it will allow people to share tips and discuss issues and what not that arise.
You can make nigori with the kit here but the details are not the clear and doing it in a way to get just the character of nigori you are looking for is a little tricky. I will try to post something like this soon.
Hi all, and admin. I just stumbled upon this website looking for sake brewing products and infromation. Gotta say I really love this website. It can supply me with everything I need to brew sake. (Note the name) I have never brewed sake, I currently have none of the neceserry equitment or ingrediants, and I have no experience. I’m here to observe and learn, and I believe that becoming apart of this organization is the best way to go about it. I can’t buy what I need to start my first batch yet but I will be starting my first batch in a month or two. And when I do I’ll buy the complete ingrediant kit! It’s the absolute best deal online. Peroid. And as far as suggestions go, I can give my two-sense if you’re interested. I thought that bulk supplies were a great idea, to make larger batches. Equipment like steam cookers and koji seeds is a good idea. Another idea I liked was step-by-step videos of how to brew. I would make some because I have the video-making experience, but no sake brewing experience. As for my own ideas, one thing I havn’t been able to find online is a dacanter. I’m aware it’s just a luxury item to make the sake clear, but it’s still something I would buy when getting into sake brewing. After I get a few years of experience I may even consider brewing sake comercially. (Distant future, realistic chance of success: 0.1%) So yeah, hi all, love the site, and can’t wait to see what you cook up in the future!
Oh ok, now that I read the ingrediants more closely I see that the yeast nutrient you supply makes the sake clear. That’s extremely helpful, thanks! Sorry for the mistake. And thanks Will for the encouragment! I do fantasize one day selling real bottled sake, but it will take many years to get to that point. Also, I very luckily found a source where I can buy Fred’s book “Sake U.S.A.” for a very reasonable price considering it’s been out of print for so many years. I’ve decided it might be smart shell out the money for the book before I buy the ingrediants (although there’s no question that I’m getting them.) Amazon.com currently has 9 copies right now. Here’s the link:
I don’t know how to make it clickable, so you can highlight it and copy & paste it into your address bar. The books are going for $40 all the way up to $160. Also what are some pointers to ensure the sake will have a good strong alcahol content? And what volume does good homebrew sake usually have? Thanks!
I think Fred’s book is good but it seems like too much to pay more than $30 for it. The recipe here: http://homebrewsake.com/recipe/ is Fred’s latest work, more up to date and specifically for the ingredients sold on this site.
If you follow the recipe just referenced, the alcohol by volume (ABV) will be from 18%-22% for somewhere between 1.5 and 2.5 gallons (roughly 9 liters). I don’t use a press and get about 2 gallons of sake with 1 – 2 pints of Nigori (cloudy or quite cloudy) and the rest very nicely clear sake.
Ok, thanks, I wasn’t aware they were the same recipe. That enables me to put the purchase of the book on the back burner so I can get equipment and ingrediants. Thanks for the tip on alcahol content. Just so you know I have no former beer brewing or wine making experience. I am pretty much as new as you can get. I noticed that homemade sake is stronger than most bottled sakes I found online.
One thing I’m concerned about is air. Do I air seal my sake, or do I vent it? How much empty space do I allow in my aging buckets?
If out of 9 liters of sake you only had 2 pints that were cloudy then that’s really good. One thing though, what is a press? Is it something I will need? One huge disadvantage I have in this situation is that I live in a state in the US where there are no homebrew or wine making stores anywhere. None. The internet is my only means of getting what I need. So what is in your opinion the first and foremost thing I get?
OFF TOPIC: What is the difference between sake and saki?
The two are not the same recipe. The one in the book is for table rice (milled to 90% or plain white rice). The one here is for rice milled to 60% which is the minimum milling for Ginjo grade sake. I have tried to speak to those with no other brewing experience on this site. If you find places where you need to have some experience in brewing or wine making, let me know because I want to ensure everyone can make sake, especially those with no experience.
While it depends on how you make it, and the instructions are in the recipe, you get the alcohol levels I mentioned (Genshu) or you can add some water which brings it down to the level you find most commercial sake (15-16%, normal sake). If you make this adjustment you get more sake too .
You don’t need to seal your sake as it is fermenting (Moromi). Just cover it so nothing drops into it.
Some people press the moromi (sake with rice lees) to get as much of the sake away from the lees as possible. They will use small fruit or cheese presses to do this. I just do a squeeze and drip (put the moromi in a bag or cloth and squeeze). I don’t get it all but close enough.
Look the the following article for equipment need and references:
Hi again. I had a few questions about some things mentioned throught the brewing instructins. It mostly has to do with the final straining process. First, what is the proper way to ‘rack’ the sake? Do you use a strainer, or filter it through cheese cloth or something of the like? Also what are ‘lees?’ And I had a question about the ‘yeast preperation’ process explained in the Quick Strart guide; it’s the first I’ve seen that, does it somehow make the sake stronger?
By the way, great new guide. It makes everything so much easier to see it laid out in a step-by-step process like that.
>First, what is the proper way to ‘rack’ the sake?
Racking is the process of transferring sake from one container to another. The main purpose of racking is to move the sake off its components that have settled to the bottom. Some of this may literally be on the bottom while other portions are only concentrating in the lower level of the sake. The top most portion of the sake will have the lowest count of particulate matter that can make sake cloudy. By moving this top portion over to a clean and sanitized container we preserve its clarity. By repeating this process the sake can be made ever more clear. Use of clearing agents, like bentonite, can make this process go quicker.
Now, to answer your direct question. The proper way is the way that works for you. Two common ways to rack sake are decanting and siphoning. Decanting is simply poring the clear sake into the new container being careful not to mix it while doing so or including the less clear sake. Siphoning is the most common method and allows you to suck the clear sake off the top without disturbing the container or the sake within.
>Do you use a strainer, or filter it through cheese cloth or something of the like?
Yes, this has not gotten much coverage. I had been using a linen cloth, but after hearing for some time about using paint strainer bags I tried it for my last batch. It worked pretty well. A fine cheesecloth or muslin can also work well. In any case, whatever the cloth and whether it’s a bag or not you can take a small pan or bowl and place the cloth in the bowl and fill the cloth by scooping the moromi into the cloth. Pull up the corners if needed and lift it out of the container and start to squeeze it, letting the sake drip into the container. Repeat this until you have squeezed all the moromi and taken the resulting sake into the secondary container. This process is “pressing.”
Be sure to clean the cloth even if it is already clean. I did not do this with the strainer bag I used and it left an aroma of paper on my sake. Paper aroma is a pretty bad flaw.
>Also what are ‘lees?’
The lees are the substance that is left in the cloth after pressing. It is made up of spent rice and koji as well as yeast.
>And I had a question about the ‘yeast preperation’ process explained in the Quick Strart guide; it’s the first I’ve seen that, does it somehow make the sake stronger?
Yeast has certain metabolic needs to function properly. Milled rice does not provide any of the nutrients needed. Neither does koji add much in this area other than the sugars. So we add some key items to the water that help with yeast health. Some water is better suited for making sake than other water. In large part this is because of the minerals that support the yeast and the lack of contents that heart sake, like iron.
I’m brewing 1 Sake with Hitomebore “Love at First Sight” rice, 1 Huang Jiu with mostly sweet rice (short glutinous rice), and 1 Lotus Huang Jiu.
I’d appreciate it if you checked it out and gave me some advice or whatever!
Keep in mind that the recipe I posted below changed, so there is a lot to criticize. I’ll be posting what I actually did very soon
The rice weight calculations are correct by the way. (as in they fit in the brew bucket without spilling [so far])
Just wanted to leave a note and say I’m really glad this website exists and can not wait to start the brewing process myself. It’s nice to get large rather inexpensive quantities of Ozeki, but brewing at home seems more reqarding and more inexpensive!
Hello, Will! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I need to ask a question about amisake. I have two gallons of trial-run sake brewing right now. My method was store-bought 100% dinner rice, washed, steeped, drained, and steamed for an hour each. The recipe consisted of a basic combination of dissolved dry yeast, nutrient, energizer, and acid blend, fermented in a cleaned empty milk carton for awhile, then strained.* I made amisake with the rice by mushing it, and mixing it with sugar and dissolved sugar and pasturizing it. I babble all this info because I am wondering if with this process is the amisake edible or is there a good chance it is contaminated with alchol poisoning. I have not eaten it yet as I request your professional opionion. Thanks!
*As for the sake itself this was a trial run with virtually none of the right equitment and ingrediants so I do not expect it come out good. Just want to know of my amisake is edible.
I babble all this info because I am wondering if with this process is the amisake edible or is there a good chance it is contaminated with alchol poisoning.
No worries. There is nothing in what you have done that would do that.
There are two very different things that you may be thinking of when you say “alcohol poisoning:” the first is simply consuming too much alcohol and the other is being poisoned by higher alcohols. I’m thinking it is the later that you are concerned about. While these higher alcohols can be created in regular fermentations they occur at levels too low to do much more than give you a bad hang over. You’d get the former kind of alcohol poisoning first. Higher alcohols become dangerous when the distillation process concentrates then at the head and tail of the process. If enough of either of these, that is the heads or the tails, are consumed you can have serious problems. However, your not distilling anything. You’ll be safe trying your concoction.
As a side note amazake does not have yeast added. It is not alcoholic. I believe what you are describing is more of a doburoku which could begin with amazake but would not need sugar.
Hey again. I’m very exited because today I have my very first bottle of finished sake! (I started with a gallon but ended up with one bottle) It smells and tastes similiar to the Fu-Ki my nearby liquor store sells. It came about as good as I could have hoped. However, it is slightly cloudy and there is some sediment at the bottom of the bottle. It’s still okay to drink right?
Thanks so much! It smelled and tasted like real sake! Despite being cloudy (I think it’s nigori) I could not have been happier with my first batch! Does kasu have alcahol content? If so, how strong would it be?
Thanks. I hand-pressed my kasu so I believe a good bit of sake was left in it. Besides, the kasu smells like very strong sake. But I wanted to ask you another question about warmed sake. I just noticed on your FAQ that you warn that Namazake must be kept refrigerated. Does this mean it must be served chilled or can it be warmed upon serving?
Also; if it does need pasturized to be served warm, can it be put in a double boiler without a glass jug?
While Nama needs to be stored chilled so that enzymes, bacteria … don’t continue working and quickly spoil the sake. However, when you are ready to drink it, you can have it chilled, room temperature or warm. If you don’t drink it all you should put it back in the cooler for storage.
See if you can get a copy of the “Feb-brrrrrr-uary” news letter from True Sake . In this letter they talk about an interesting tasting they did with warmed sake. One of the favorites was a nama!
If you can’t get them to send you one I can forward a copy
Thanks for that tip. I checked out the newsletter archives for February and found a lot of interesting things. It is facinating to see all those rave reviews on namazake and how it so verstile by serving it at different temperatures. I was suprised it how common namas actually were.
One thing, I didn’t find an article specifically titled “Feb-brrrrr-uary” so it’s possible I read a different article. If it’s not can you please forward that copy? I use my regular email address for this site so you should have it on record. I just don’t want to give it out. Thanks!
Hi, Will! I just finished a batch of sake, but I gotta say, it didn’t come out that good. In fact after I bottled and tasted it I contemplated dumping it. It sorta tasted like sake, but very sweetened and watered down sake. Plus it had almost no alcahol. It’s ironic because my first batch came out quite good.
Anyway, as I look over my process I realize I didn’t press the rice. I just seperated the liquid from it. Would this have made a big difference in the flavor? For both batches I used pure white dinner rice, unmilled. It was regular size. Also, the recipe itself was very basic. Nothing like here, it just called for rice, basic winemaking chemicals and yeast. It said to “coarse crush” the rice but I honestly don’t know that precedure, or even if it comes before or after steaming.
Can you shed some light on this? I have another batch (almost ready for pressing) going right and I don’t want to turn out this way, but it already smells like the bad sake I have.
It sounds like you are making a doburoku recipe rather than sake (seishu). However, you don’t mention koji, is that an oversight?
With a single addition of the ingredients, everything added at the beginning, the yeast will be overwhelmed by the high sugar content and hence produce no more than around 7% alcohol. As time marches on though, the koji continue to convert starch to sugar which causes the batch to get sweeter and sweeter. A counter acting force is lactic acid bacteria that should also be growing. So whether the batch is sweet or sour or more balanced is a bit tricky. I have a friend in Seattle that makes this regularly. She even teaches a class on it from time to time.
Are you getting more than, say, 4% or 5% alcohol?
You might just bite the bullet and follow the recipe here or the one at:
Actually, the koji was sort of an oversight as you say. The recipe called only for sugar. Koji was not a part of this recipe because it’s designed to be a wine that you can “supposedly” make with only basic grocery store ingredients. I realize that the absence of koji has a huge effect of sake, but I was hoping this recipe was a good substitute.
I had no idea that too much sugar could have a negative effect on the sake! Thanks for telling me, as it does make a lot of sense to why the batch tastes the way it does. I would say the sake was about 2-5% ABV. It had no bite whatsoever, no fiz or tingle, and when shaken it only produced a few slight bubbles.
The sake I have going now was done with this same recipe, and as I said it’s starting to smell the same as the bad batch. What can I do to save my sake? Or should I just dump it?
Your recipe makes no sense to me. You have rice but no way to convert the starch in the rice to something usable. Personally, I would dump it and start with a better recipe.
Just to be clear about the sugar. Sugar by itself is not a problem, it is the concentration of sugar in the solution that can be the problem. Distillers often make a ferment from sugar, water and some nutrients. This works fine as long as the concentration of sugars in the ferment are not too high.
I was thinking of starting, but am not interested in getting 10# of rice shipped to the east coast. Do you have a “starter kit” without the rice? Also, for my first batch, I am thinking of using some table rice from my local Asian market. If things go well and I get the basics down, I will look into your polished rice. So, I’d like two things… The kit minus the rice and your recommendation on what rice to buy locally and what recipe to follow. I realize that the quality will be affected by not using highly polished rice, but cannot make sense of shipping 10# of rice from the west coast to the east coast until after my first batch. Do you do a deal “package price” on those kits w/o the rice? Also, how much is shipping on this kind of stuff. I am in NC.
A kit minus the 60% milled rice would be priced at the kit price minus the rice price; today that is $39.15 – $16 = $23.15. Shipping cost of $15.95 drops to $12.35. So the total with shipping would be $36.25.
The rice you want is short or medium grain rice. Koshihikari and Hitomebore are two short grain rice that would do well. Calrose or Kokuho roce are medium grain rice that would do well.
For a while now I’ve been methodically reading through all the Sake articles and wonderfully insightful home-brewing information you’ve so graciously created here to the benefit of all the rest of us. I’m nowhere near finished yet for there’s a lot to take in!
I would like not only to congratulate you, but also express my deep appreciation for your effort and willingness to share your knowledge and understanding of Sake so generously and freely with those you’ll likely never meet in person. I have (and am still) benefiting greatly as a direct result. Thank you!
I personally decided to take a stab at home-brewing Sake just last month. As a newcomer to the entire arena of home-brewing, it was plainly evident that I needed to learn as much as possible prior to beginning my first attempt. And while gradually acquiring the necessary equipment & ingredients together, I determined it best to maintain patience so as to NOT allow myself to get in a hurry. The intention thereby is to help minimize the inevitable mistakes which always seem to occur in most everyone’s first attempts.
Currently, I’m at the point of considering what might be involved in the idea of further milling certain prospective rice selections (easily available locally)so as to achieve a much better seimai-buai necessary for a superior Sake-brew end result. I’ve already managed to discover your excellent articles on rice-milling experiments with the TwinBird mill you have, but the more recent update closes with the suggestion that we home-brewers might find it perfectly feasible to design/fabricate our own purpose-built rice mill. I would like to ask for your further thoughts and/or advice relating to this idea.. and whether you have managed to accomplish such a goal yourself or what you may have possibly learned from someone who has in fact done so.
Thanks Again so much – for all your helpful contributions to the benefit of us all.
I have not done any more with building a rice mill. I intended to but got distracted. What I was thinking about doing was to mimic the twinbird by using a similar pulled steel to form an outer barrel cage with a propeller that can move much more rice. So plywood on the top and bottom with the pulled steel around the sides to form the container and the propeller shaft coming through the bottom. It needs to easily hold close to 20lbs of rice. Oh, and you should have an outer ring of plastic or sheet metal that forms a barrel a little larger than the one made with the pulled steel. This is to catch the nuka. All in all a simple design.
I believe this would work for milling down to 40 to 50% but beyond that I am not sure it would do a good job. If you try to build this I would be very interested in knowing how you do.
One additional thing to think about. Knowing what you are doing is good but experience is best. And the best way to get experience is by doing. You, I and everyone learn more from our mistakes so don’t be afraid of them.
Please let me, us know how your first sake turns out!
I appreciate your response. And I appreciate your thoughts on the idea of designing a rice-mill.
I’m studying (to the extent of available clues) the technical aspects of current-day modern rice mills and the practical strategies employed therein (insofar as they appear to be engineered & typically designed in the modern day). I’m not convinced, however, that the challenge is much more than one of finding a suitable implementation of savvy mechanical techniques which subject the rice-kernel to (what amounts to) little more than a controlled abrasion process. Grinding off the outermost surface (as it were).
I’ve been fortunate enough to stumble across archived dialogue between you & Bob Taylor with regard (indirectly) to the subject. FWIW.. It was Bob’s ‘Taylor-MadeAK Sake Brewing Guide’ that originally inspired me to consider brewing Sake in the first place.
I’ll let you know what strategies I develop as the research effort continues to unfold; along with any significant insights gleaned toward the task of fabricating a practical home-made rice mill.
Also, Thanks for the encouragement for ignoring the ‘projected’ torpedoes and going for unarguably the best teacher available anywhere ~’Experience’.
I have considered it but I have not done any research of how to do it. I saw some barley koji at Uwajimaya, a large Northwest Japanese Grocery Store. So I know that it is available for cooking purposes. For shochu, the usually use white koji or black koji rather than the yellow koji we use for sake. However, they do, sometimes use yellow koji. If you try this, please let us know how it goes!
It appears that to make barley koji you need to start with pearled barley. Hulled or raw barley is not what you want to use because pearled barley is processed similar to polishing rice for use in sake brewing. Also, as for koji-kin selection, I have to go with what I can readily get, so yellow koji-kin is what is available. However, I’ll check out Gemcultures to see if they have something similar to white koji-kin.
Hi Mr Will you are doing a very nice job I am glad to see things do it the way you and your people do, I am from latinamerica so excuse me if you dont understand everything… I want to start making my first sakebrew (I am buying the ingredients right now), how you can see I have to wait untill somebody goes to the states so I can get more ingredients…..I have a question Can I keep kome-koji in the frezzer for long time (how long and how cold)
There have been several people form Latin America that have contacted me recently. There seems to be lots of interest in sake brewing. Very exciting.
You can keep koji in the freezer for a year maybe longer.
Temperature, hmm, regular freezer temperatures. I know that is not an answer. However the temperature that standard freezers keep is fine. Be careful with “frost free” freezers; they cycle the temperature to melt any accumulation of ice. This does not keep the contents at a constant and cold enough temperature. If this is all you have and there is space to put the koji in a cooler within the frost free freezer this will help to stabilize the temperature for the koji.
hi again will
the rice we got down here (normal table rice 1% broken corn) between 22-25 alfa amilase, grain width 2 mm (0.08 in.) grain length 7 mm (0.28 in) and I think 90 % polisched. Do you think can I began with this, how many grams from your koji do I need for 1 Kg (2.2 lb) kome-koji rice
A short grain or medium grain rice works best. Most long grain rice will not work as well. If all you can get is long grain rice, you can give it a try and see if you like it. I can’t tell from the measurements you have but you may have long grain here.
The GEM koji-kin that I carry has enough spores for 5 lbs of rice. Use half of this for a normal batch size of 2.5 lbs or 1kg
How much sake does a pound of rice make? answers this question for a pound of brown rice and sake made with a the rice milled down to 60%. A standard batch uses 10 lbs rice with 2.5 lbs koji or roughly 12.5 lbs or just under 7kg. This makes about 2.3 gallons or 8.7 liters of sake.
A question for you. A friend told me that I should modify this site by making the “articles” page or “posts” the main page and put something more “standoutish” on the side bar for the store. What do you think? Would this have made it easier for you to find the koji-kin?
I am not sure what you mean by “crumpled away” but 30 hours may be too soon to know. I would give it more time. While most koji runs on a 48 hour schedule it can take longer so be patient.
Here is my reply from your other comment on the video page:
“Hey Tony, I am not sure of the condition of the koji. If it is a “sticky mess” then it is possible that the rice was over cooked or steams and so was too soggy. At 30 hours I would keep it warm so that it will continue to grow and give it a good stir / mixing every couple of hours. Remove any source of humidity and give it some more time. “
As my name suggests, I am a lover of green tea (pur-eh the best!) and have taken a break from drinking anything with alcohol for many years. I have decided to open that door just to sake, the drinking of which – just as with green tea – is like imbibing the essence of life infused with transcendent flavor! I have been thinking about brewing sake and the discovery of this fabulous site has become the beginning of the journey – I just ordered Will’s book from Amazon! So, Just wanted to say ” hello” and thank you all for providing this marvelous resource. I look forward to contributing as well as receiving.
Has anyone attempted to polish their own rice? I haven’t had any luck finding any information on how the polishers work exactly. I think they use some kind of rotating drum but I am not sure if an abrasive is used or if the rice just grinding against itself is sufficient.
Instead of pasturizing my sake, can I utilize potassium sorbate to kill the yeast, as is done in wine making. Or,if I must pasturize, is the use of potassium sorbate an acceptable practice. Thanks. David
I have not used potassium sorbate for this. If you are careful to keep your sake refrigerated and do not plan to store it for a long time (more than a year) you can do without pasteurization. Sake like this is call nama or namazake.
Just received your book and greatly enjoying reading it.
At the moment I am brewing my first batch of sake and I’m running into some serious problems here.
The name of the problem being: “koji-flavour-smell”.
Now I’ve come to understand that a subtle hint of Koji is normal in a homebrew-sake,or even off-the -shelf sake, but the sort of odour I’m dealing with here is of the “impossible-to-bear” kind. Frankly, it makes drinking the stuff impossible.
I guess my question would be: how do I get rid of this pugnant Koji smell in my sake?
Yesterday I decided to press half a gallon or so of nigorizake.
I had some friends coming over, the wife’s making sushi and here I am: going to present a first offering of some homemade Sake: i.c. nigorizake.
By this time Moromi is in it’s eighteenth day of fermenting.
Fermenting has been enormous. There is still foam going on.
SG is 1004.
Moromi has been performed on a stable 50 degrees F (10 Celcius).
Cut a long story short:
I press 1,5 gallons out of a 10 gallon batch fermenting.
Put it in 2 bottles.
Some nice pasteurisation going on at 68 degrees C.
Next cool down.
But the smell of Koji is overwhelming.
Couldn’t get my friends to drink the stuff.
And I don’t blame them for it.
Will, do you think filtering will be of any help here?
Should I raise fermentation-temperatures to low-sixties?
Should I press the lot, or keep fermentation till SG=1000?
Hmm, I’ve not run into this type of issue before. I have never had the koji aroma be overwhelming, even for Sake made with 100% koji.
Fermenting at 50F should produce some nice aroma contributed by the yeast. What yeast are you using? I wonder if you are getting an aroma from something other than the koji.
Filtering and or fining my help some. Stripping small particles in the same usually also strips some of the aroma. Charcoal filtering, which I have not used, seems to be the most extreme case here. Basically some fine charcoal is added to the sake, turning it black and is then filtered out leaving it clear again.
Pasteurization also tends to remove the subtle aromas, but you are doing that already.
I would like to know if you continue to have this problem once it has completed fermentation or if it goes away.
Will, thanks for your swift and clear reply.
It helped me answer a few questions.
The yeast I use is the WYeast #9 (Aktivator).
The reason I have a strong feeling it is “Koji” – smell and no other is that it is exactly the same smell that I experienced at making Koji from spores. Also it is nothing like any of the off-smells I have experienced during beer-making (and I’ve had my share of infections …).
I just took a look at the website you link to in your book; the one on the stages of moromi with photo’s and all. I take it from these photo’s that I’m in the “Tama-Awa” stage. There still is a layer of “ball-foam” approximately 1 inch thick covering the moromi. So I guess I should wait a bit for it to drop. Also SG has not reached 1000 yet (it is 1004).
Will, I will let you know how this batch turns out, thanks again, GREAT book!
Hmmm, what are you trying to create? Do you want something like a plum wine or more of an infused sake? Are you brewing the sake or just infusing sake?
If you are brewing your sake then the beer community is the best resource. They have been experimenting with adding fruit for some time and have done it many different ways. Some times the fruit is added to the primary fermentation. This is equivalent to adding the fruit right after the last addition (Tomezoe) in sake brewing. One or two lbs. of mashed fruit should do the trick. Other times the fruit is added in the secondary. This is a time of conditioning and in sake brewing matches the time after the first 18-30 days of primary fermentation. Of these two, I believe I have heard better things about using the secondary but it is close to a tie. The fruit should remain in contact with the sake for at least two weeks maybe longer for low temperatures like 50F. At this low temperature three weeks, maybe four would be better.
If you don’t want to brew sake but just buy some and infuse with fruit then I would get the sake with the sweetness you like and add mashed fruit. I would do that rather than adding sugar. Anyway you could experiment with it to see what SMV (sweet to dry) you like best for this and how much fruit to sake at a given temperature works best.
First of all thank you so much for putting this site together and sharing your knowledge. And thanks to your daughter for filming the videos! I’m definitely going to try a batch, but first have to figure out a cooling system. So you will be getting an order from me as soon as I have the remaining logistics done. Question: why pasteurize? One doesn’t do that with beer or with miso. So why with sake, especially with the high alcohol content?
Thanks again for being passionate about brewing sake and sharing!
Traditionally, sake was not stored cold and hiochi bacteria given time will infect your sake when it is warm. This type of bacteria is not slowed by alcohol as many of the other lactic bacterias are. I don’t really know why this bacteria is not a problem for beer or wine.
If you keep the sake stored cold you don’t have to pasteurize it. Non-pasteurized sake is called nama or namezake. It is a little more vibrant than pasteurized.
Hey I want to thank you for the awesome website. I am the product of a self made Toji myself (sort of). When I lived in Minneapolis I worked for a microbrewery Sake bar called Moto I. Ever since then I have loved sake. I had the privilege of helping out our owner numerous times in brewing sake on a large scale level. Finally after a couple of years I decided to take on the process on my own. Thanks to your help I expect to finish my first batch of junmai genshu nama by next week.
A few of your videos do not seem to run on my iPad….not a big concern for me as I saw the ones I wanted to, but thought you might like to know. Something about the format….maybe it is my iPad. I made good progress today on getting geared up, but not quite there yet….
It is just so terrific that you have put this site together! THANKS!
Really enjoy your website. Lots of usable info. My wife and I are opening a micro winery here in California. Our permitting and licensing will allow us to brew sake for tasting and sale. We have yet to attempt to make sake, but have been gathering information. Your book should prove to be a great resource, (already ordered from Amazon). I’m certain that I will be frequenting this forum often.
Have you ever tried making Nara-zuke pickles from the sake lees?
Also, for making koji….I’ve made koji for miso using gem cultures starter. How would that rice koji work for sake? I’m still going to buy your complete ingredients kit for my first batch for the greatest chance of success, so just curious. Just waiting for my lagering fridge to free up.
The koji-kin I carry is GEM Cultures. I was carrying a koji-kin specifically for Ginjo style sake but it was more expensive and did not have enough demand so I have recently stop carrying it. I liked it much better for sake but GEM works fine. Here are a couple of posts I have done on making koji for sake that I think you will find helpful: Making Koji for Sake Koji production – what are we trying to do?
Sorry I forgot that point. No, I have never made Nara zuke pickles. In fact the only things I have done to date with koji is sake, amazake, and shio-koji. Posts on my experience with these later two are at: Amazake – it ain’t sake Shio-koji?
I’m currently working on my second sake batch, added the moto to the first batch of koji and steamed rice yesterday. The first batch was a simple throw it all in together with a champagne yeast and let it sit for ten days but I decided to go for the full recipe this time. Since I don’t want to just run it on the time table but do some measuring as well I was wondering what you do to measure the specific gravity, do you take some of the batch and press it, then take the SG of that? Or just drop the hydrometer in the sludge so to speak?
I don’t measure the gravity as it goes along because it is not the linear process as with beer and wine where you start with a high gravity and them it drops from there. With sake enzymes are converting starch to sugar and yeast is converting sugar to alcohol. As these run at there own pace there are no correct levels for most of the time.
While that is not what you want to smell I would ignore it for now. Watch it and if it produces a white fussy coat then taste a kernel. It should taste slightly sweet. If the koji tastes bad it is time to start over. If you get growth of any other color, remove them from the batch.
I miss understood. If there is no molds that don’t match the rest of the tub then I think you will be OK. If you re-hydrate some of the koji and taste it you may or may not be able to taste a slight sweetness.
I am using an old mini fridge for my temperature controlled environment. My intent is to use a light bulb as my heat source for the koji making portion of the process. Is koji light sensitive? (Do I need to use a different method to heat the enclosure?) I also have a small Lasko space heater, but it seems to warm up the fridge too quickly, and I am concerned with the space getting too hot by the time the temperature probes submerged in the koji reach the desired temperature. I have heard of several people using heating pads as their heat source. Is there any heating option that is more stable and reliable than another?
I have not seen any issues with light but a strong, close source may not be good. The fridge is just a small space that is well insulated so you may be able to use an old style Christmas light bulb. Yes, a heating pad is often used but the newer ones may have their own temperature control that may not do what you want so watch that. You will want to keep a thermometer in the fridge space so that you can monitor its temperature. It should not be too hot; certainly not much more than 90F. I would not use an electric heat source of any kind unless it is tied to a control unit. If you don’t have a control unit, you can use hot water in a bottle and change it out as needed. I hope that helps,
I have made a temperature controller using an stc-1000. I also have a remote indoor/outdoor thermometer I am using for independent temperature monitoring, and to calibrate the stc-1000. Taylor’s website recommends (for making koji-kin) ~35.5C (96F but the stc-1000 only reads out in Celsius). It sounds like any newer heating pad will be more of a pain than it is worth.
I have been testing with a 60W bulb for several days now. The firstbulbs I tried were normal incandescent, but three bulbs blew within the first 16 hours. I changed to a 50W ‘grow’ light bulb and so far have not had any issues. I believe the bulbs were blowing from the repeated switching of the solid state relay in the stc-1000. Contributing to the issue may be that I have my temperature band set to 0.3C (more cycling). How tight should my temperature band be? (I have seen 6F mentioned)
So far, the light bulb seems to be the most stable heat source. For now, I am going to get a double light socket adapter, and use a second grow bulb in hopes that if one bulb does pop a filament, the other will maintain temperature until I can replace it. (Let’s assume my luck isn’t bad enough for them both to pop at once..)
For other readers, the total cost for the light bulb heat source, including the light bulbs, socket, power cord, and splitter (once I convert to a dual bulb setup) will be around $13 at Lowe’s. If a single bulb is used the cost drops to under $10.
I bought a candle warmer to see if this would supply enough heat, since there is no filament to be concerned with. Another idea was to use a cheap curling iron or hair straightener as the heat source. These seem to be a potentially good, but also higher risk alternative. Any thoughts?
Since I am using a different heat source, will placing a cup of water inside the mini fridge still be sufficient for maintaining the proper himidity? (during applicable portions of the process)
Typical volume for a mini fridge is somewhere around 4.4 cubic feet.. conveniently, a 5gal bucket with a 1/2″ board underneath will fit inside with the shelves, drawer, and bracket on the door removed. My intent is to use the mini fridge’s cooling capability to maintain temperatures for the 50F phase of the process.. though I may see if I can tweak the control knob to get it as close as possible to minimize the cycling of the compressor.
Luke, just a few thoughts. A 2-3F range should be reasonably close. Even 6F should be OK but I think less slop would be better. No need to go to less than 1F. The lower the light bulb wattage the slower the heating so the cycling rate should also go down and you should have a more even temperature. That is as long as you have enough wattage to do the needed heating. The glass of water should be fine. You want it humid the first day but not too humid.
I have been to follow Taylor’s instructions for making koji. I soaked, steamed, and inoculated the rice last night. Mixed well, and then placed it inside the mini fridge.
I steamed the rice for 45 minutes.. it was clear(ish) as described.. and sticky.. it clung to the cheese cloth just like his pictures show. I ate some, and it was chewy. The rice stuck together until it was cooled, but even then I had a bit of trouble freeing each grain from the others. After mixing the koji powder into the rice, the majority of the rice is not sticky at all.
This morning I mixed the rice with my clean hands as directed. The rice still feels dry, even with a pan of water inside the mini fridge. The water is definitely evaporating, I can see condensation around the seal where the wires are ran and some heat is escaping. I am concerned that the rice may not be moist enough for the process to work correctly. Do i need to spray (like with a spray bottle) the rice to moisten it, or just let the humidity take care of it? Is it supposed to feel fairly dry to the touch?
I didn’t mix the koji spores with flour. I started with 1 only cup of dry rice, and used half the packet from vision.. the intent is to allow it to go green so that I don’t have to buy more koji powder in the future (described on page 3 of Taylor’s koji instructions).
Since I was concerned about the dryness of the rice this morning, I placed the candle warmer I mentioned in my last post with a small pyrex dish filled with water on top inside the fridge to help elevate the humidity.
Have I made some mistake, or are things progressing as they should?
Well, I just finished mixing the rice again. It is progressing exactly as it is supposed to. The feint smell of cheese, the look and feel of the rice is as described in Taylor’s guides, and the humidity level is much better. The rice still feels dry, but the koji spores are spreading correctly (so far, for the 24 hour mark). I will update as I continue the process.
Thanks again for all the advice.. It seems another anomaly has come up.
After two days since I removed the water pan, I still see barely any of the yellowish spore growth described in Taylor’s instrucions. The rice is very, very dry, so dry it is actually crunchy. It seems to me that there may not be enough moisture for the spores to begin replicating. The only thing that makes me think this, is the fact that the only locations the yellowish growths are occuring are where multiple grains of rice are still clumped together.
Any thoughts on this?
It does sound like it has dried out too much. The question then seems to be whether it can be salvaged. I don’t know. You could put it in a very humid environment (pretty warm too) for some time so it absorbs a significant amount of moisture. Sense you are trying to make more koji-kin rather than the koji itself this should not be detrimental. You can leave it like this for as long as is needed to get it to start growing again and to produce the spores.
If you don’t like this, then I think it is just start over.