Sake Brewing Supplies, Information and Forum

Home Brew Sake

Video Series & Step by Step Instructions for Homebrew Sake

This quick start procedure with videos is meant to help you get started as quickly as possible. It’s a procedure you can use to make very good sake, now, without waiting to learn more. My hope is that, as you make your sake you will be pulled more and more into this unique drink and all its aspects, making the learning about the whys and what fors more exciting and magical.

This outline is specifically for use with rice milled to 60% of original (60% seimaibuai) and pre-made koji.

The big picture: The first task is to create the moto which is a yeast mash to grow up a strong population of yeast for the ferment. The moto lasts for one week in this procedure. Next comes the buildup from the moto to the moromi or the yeast mash to the main ferment. This buildup comes in a three stage addition process over four days. Following the buildup is the main ferment that lasts about 20 days. This is followed by pressing to separate the sake from the lees and a series of rackings. The rackings transfer clear sake from containers with sediment to containers without sediment. This allows the sake to become more and more clear and more sediment free with each racking. Finally, is the pasteurization and bottling to complete the process.  The total time from start to end is 88 days and is closely tied to temperature during the process.

There is a tremendous amount of repetition in this process. For example the same process used to create the moto is used for each of the three additions of the buildup. Racking is repeated several times and pasteurization is done twice. So while the following outline is long most of the work becomes comfortable and routine before you are done.

Day 1 – estimated task time 10 minutes:

The first thing we must do is prepare a few things; sake water, yeast and koji. This is often done, as suggested in the recipe, the night before the first rice steaming.

Do:

-          Take your yeast out of the refrigerator and leave on counter to warm (target temp:65F-75F)

-          Place your koji into the refrigerator if it is not already there (you don’t want it frozen).

-          Put together your water. Combine and stir well:

  • 2.5 cups soft water (distilled or reverse osmosis water will have no problems)
  • 1 teaspoon 88% lactic acid
  • 3/4th teaspoon yeast nutrient
  • Pinch of Epsom salts (Magnesium sulfate)
  • 1¼ teaspoon Morton’s Salt Substitute (Potassium chloride)

-          Put ½ cup of this water mixture in the refrigerator and cover

-          Put 2 cups (the rest) on the counter next to the yeast and cover

That’s it for the first bit of work.

Day 2 – estimated task time 3.5 hours, beginning Moto:

This section has four distinct phases: broken up by steeping, draining and steaming.

Do phase 1:

-          Smack your yeast pack if you have not already done so and are using Wyeast yeast (White labs yeast does not need to be smacked J)

-          Ready sanitizer

-          Prepare rice

  • 1.6 cups of rice
  • Wash the rice in cold water till water is mostly clear
  • Steep in cold water with 1” water over top of rice for 1 hour

Do phase 2:

-          Sanitize the Moto container

-          Begin preparing the moto by combining (target temp: 70F):

  • 2 cups of sake water prepared on day 1
  • Yeast

-          Drain rice and place in a colander to drain for an hour

Do phase 3:

-          Add 8/10th cup koji to water and yeast mixture

-          Prepare steamer with cheese cloth liner

-          Add drained rice to steamer

-          Steam rice for 1 hour

Do phase 4:

-          30 minute check of the steaming rice to be sure you don’t run out of water in the steamer

Do phase 5:

-          Cool rice after steaming – using ½ cup water prepare day 1 and placed in refrigerator

-          Combine and mix well (target temp:72F do not let it get to or above 90F):

  • Moto starter from phase 2 and 3: sake water, yeast, koji
  • Freshly steamed and cooled rice

-          Loosely cover with plastic wrap and place where it will not get too much light (target temp: 65F-75F)

Day 3-6 – estimated time 5 minutes

Do from moto begun till ready to start the buildup to the main ferment, Moromi

-          Stir well twice a day with a sanitized spoon

-          Target temp: 65F-72F

Day 7 – Day before starting the build up to Moromi – estimated time 5+ minutes

Do:

-          Stir the Moto

-          Begin lowering moto temperature, slowly, down to 60F

Day 8 in the evening – estimated time 10 minutes

The moto should now be at about 60F.

Do:

-          Mix with Moto:

  • 1.5 cups koji
  • 1.5 cups water

-          Place 1.25 cups water into the refrigerator to use in the morning

Day 9 – estimated time 3.5 hours

Hatsuzoe, the first addition.

This section has four distinct phases: broken up by steeping, draining and steaming. This is mostly the same as day 2 with a different amount of rice and without the yeast.

Do phase 1:

-          Start cooling the moto to 50F

-          Prepare rice

  • 2.5 cups of rice
  • Wash the rice in cold water till water is mostly clear
  • Steep in cold water with 1” water over top of rice for 1 hour

Do phase 2:

-          Drain rice and place in a colander to drain for an hour

Do phase 3:

-          Prepare steamer with cheese cloth liner

-          Add drained rice to steamer

-          Steam rice for 1 hour

Do phase 4:

-          30 minute check of the steaming rice to be sure you don’t run out of water in the steamer.

Do phase 5:

-          Ready sanitizer

-          Sanitize the large 5-7gallon fermentor

-          Cool rice after steaming – using1.25 cups water that was prepared day 8 and placed in refrigerator

-          Place steamed and cooled rice into the fermentor

-          Mix the moto with the rice in the fermentor

-          Loosely cover with plastic wrap and place where it will not get too much light (target temp: 55F)

Do for next 48 hours at 12 hour intervals:

-          Stir the ferment for 5 minutes

Day 10 in the evening – estimated time 10 minutes

The second day (hours 24 to 48 after first addition Hatsuzoe) is Odori, the dancing ferment.

The ferment should now be about 55F to 60F.

Do:

-          Mix with Moto:

  • 2.25 cups koji
  • 4.5 cups water

-          Place 4.25 cups water into the refrigerator to use in the morning

Day 11 – estimated time 3.5 hours

Nakazoe, the middle addition begins 48 hours after the first addition, Hatsuzoe.

This section has four distinct phases: broken up by steeping, draining and steaming. This is mostly the same as day 9 with a different amount of rice.

Do phase 1:

-          Start cooling the ferment to 50F

-          Prepare rice

  • 6 cups of rice
  • Wash the rice in cold water till water is mostly clear
  • Steep in cold water with 1” water over top of rice for 1 hour

Do phase 2:

-          Drain rice and place in a colander to drain for an hour

Do phase 3:

-          Prepare steamer with cheese cloth liner

-          Add drained rice to steamer

-          Steam rice for 1 hour

Do phase 4:

-          30 minute check of the steaming rice to be sure you don’t run out of water in the steamer.

Do phase 5:

-          Cool rice after steaming – using 4.25 cups water prepared on day 10 and placed in refrigerator

-          Place steamed and cooled rice into the fermentor

-          Mix well in the fermentor

-          Loosely cover the fermentor with plastic wrap and place somewhere out of the light where it will cool (target temp: 50F)

Do in the evening:

-          Mix with ferment:

  • 3.5 cups koji
  • 10 cups water

-          Place 6 cups water into the refrigerator to use in the morning

Do every 12 hours:

-          Stir the ferment

Day 12 – estimated time 3.5 hours

Tomezoe,  the last addition in the buildup of the Moromi, begins 24 hours after Nakazoe.

This section has four distinct phases: broken up by steeping, draining and steaming. This is mostly the same as day 11 with a different amount of rice.

Do phase 1:

-          Prepare rice

  • 10 cups of rice
  • Wash the rice in cold water till water is mostly clear
  • Steep in cold water with 1” water over top of rice for 1 hour

Do phase 2:

-          Drain rice and place in a colander to drain for an hour

Do phase 3:

-          Prepare steamer with cheese cloth liner

-          Add drained rice to steamer

-          Steam rice for 1 hour

Do phase 4:

-          30 minute check of the steaming rice to be sure you don’t run out of water in the steamer.

Do phase 5:

-          Cool rice after steaming – using 6 cups water prepared on day 11 and placed in refrigerator

-          Place steamed, cooled rice into the fermentor

-          Mix well with the rice in the fermentor

-          Loosely cover fermentor with plastic wrap and place where it will not get too much light (target temp: 50F)

Do for next 2 days at 12 hour intervals:

-          Stir the ferment

Day 32 – estimated time 1.5 hours

Time to press! We must separate the sake from the lees to start to clarify our sake. At this stage we also rack to the secondary fermentor (glass jugs).

Do phase 1:

-          Prepare the sanitizer solution

-          Sanitize 3 glass 1 gallon jugs

-          Sanitize 3 air locks with stoppers

-          Sanitize a container for collecting sake from the pressing

-          Sanitize a funnel

-          Prepare the cloth or bag for holding the moromi while pressing

-          Line the container for collecting your sake with the cloth or bag for holding the moromi

Do phase 2:

-          Transfer a portion of the moromi into the cloth or bag and begin to squeeze the sake through to the container, transfer the sake into a jug

-          Repeat until all the moromi has been pressed and the sake is in the 3 jugs

-          Place jugs where it will not get too much light (target temp: 50F)

Do phase 3 (optional):

-          Prepare an Hydrometer to measure the specific gravity

-          Place sample in the Hydrometer jar and float the Hydrometer in the sample

-          Read and record the specific gravity. (Expect it to be around 1.010 to 1.002) depending on clarity

The sake in the jugs will still be quite milky in most cases but should not have any rice mixed in.

Day 44 – estimated time 0.5 hours

Transfer sake off lees into new jugs (i.e., rack sake to new jugs). The idea is to move the clear sake off the lees that have sunk to the bottom without stirring them up and mixing them with the clear sake.

Do:

-          Sanitize 3 new glass 1 gallon jugs

-          Decant or siphon the clear sake into the new glass jugs

-          Fill new jugs up to within a few inches of the top

-          Place jugs where it will not get too much light (target temp: 50F)

Day 54 – estimated time 0.5 hours

Rack again. Transfer sake off lees into new jugs. The idea is to move the clear sake off the lees that have sunk to the bottom again without stirring them up and mixing them with the clear sake.

Do:

-          Sanitize 3 new glass 1 gallon jugs

-          Decant or siphon the clear sake into the new glass jugs

-          Fill new jugs up to within a few inches of the top

-          Place jugs where it will not get too much light (target temp: 50F)

Day 68 – estimated time 2.0 hours

Time to rack and pasteurize.

Do phase 1:

-          Sanitize 3 new glass containers

-          Rack the clear sake of the lees and into the new jugs

The sake and lees left may be the correct consistency for nigori

Do phase 2:

-          Prepare a double boiler or water bath on the stove that can hold the jugs for sake for pasteurization, most likely one jug at a time

-          Place the jug in the water bath while the water is cool

-          Bring the water bath up in temperature tracking the temperature of the sake (target 140F to 150F)

-          Remove sake from bath when it reaches temperature and let cool to room temperature

-          Place airlock on jug and return to cool place (target temp. 45F to 50F)

Day 88 – estimated time 3.0 hours

Time to rack, pasteurize and bottle.

Do phase 1:

-          Sanitize 3 new glass containers

-          Rack the clear sake of the lees and into the new jugs

The sake and lees left may be the correct consistency for nigori

Do phase 2:

-          Prepare a double boiler or water bath on the stove that can hold the jugs for sake for pasteurization, most likely one jug at a time

-          Place the jug in the water bath while the water is cool

-          Bring the water bath up in temperature tracking the temperature of the sake (target 140F to 150F)

-          Remove sake from bath when it reaches 140F

Do phase 3 (optional):

-          Prepare an Hydrometer to measure the specific gravity

-          Place sample in the Hydrometer jar and float the Hydrometer in the sample

-          Read and record the specific gravity. (Expect it to be around 0.998 to 0.990) depending on clarity

Do phase 4:

-          Sanitize a funnel and bottles with caps

-          Fill bottles with pasteurized sake and cap

-          Let cool to room temperature

-          Store and drink when ready

Following this procedure will produce sake that is clear, dry and very high quality.

89
  • saj
    9:53 pm on December 29th, 2010 1

    Per the instructions you’re siphoning on day 44 and day 54. Are you supposed to siphon twice? It looks like from the video’s you only siphon once – wait and then pasteurize. But from the instructions you are doing it twice.

    As far as the 50F temperature target. If it’s difficult to keep it at 50, is it better to keep it at 60, or put it in the refrigerator? (~38 – 40). Basically is it better to be warmer or cooler?

    Thanks for the video’s, they really help!

  • Will
    8:35 am on December 30th, 2010 2

    Saj,

    Multiple rackings (siphonings) are to help clear the sake. I didn’t repeat them in the video because of the repetition. If you don’t find the sake clear enough after two rackings you could go for more. Essentially, rack, let solids settle out for about 10 days and rack again until you are happy with the clarity. But don’t go overboard for your first sake; relax and have fun with it.

    Generally, lower temperatures are better but 38-40F is too low and will likely stop fermentation. So, in this case I would sake 60F is the better choice for you.

    I use a small freezer and a temperature controller that goes between the freezer and the wall.

    Thanks, I am glad the videos help!

  • Frank
    7:42 pm on January 8th, 2011 3

    Hi I am an older man of 54. I was impressed with your instructions.
    I have to say this is the most informative set of videos I could ask for on the subject. There is one subject I am having problems. I am living in the mid west in a city of only a half million rednecks. I am only able to purchase the mold spores rather than the pre-made koji. Have you made the Kome-koji from scratch using the Kome-kin? If so do you have a video on that?

    Also I noticed that when you were doing the second racking, you adjusted the specific gravity of the alcohol content. Would this be a good time to flavor the Sake if desired into a Liquor? The reason why I am asking is a very long time ago in the 70′s. I had the pleasure of tasting a Banana Sake Liquor overseas and liked it very much. But today I cannot find it anywhere.

    Thank you for the videos you made. They were very good.

    Frank

  • Will
    10:13 pm on January 8th, 2011 4

    Frank,

    I have a post of making koji from koji-kin (Making Koji for Sake) but I have not done a video. Take a look and see if you find it helpful.

    The method you use for adding flavors to your sake will dictate when it is best to do so. For example, if you are adding a flavoring then the adjustment at racking would be a good time. If you want to add fruit to infuse the sake, I would do this right after pressing to give it as much contact time as needed.

    If you do this please let us know what you do and how it turns out.

    Also, in case you did not notice, the store on this site has koji :-)

    Thanks for your interest and comments.

  • saj
    12:26 pm on January 9th, 2011 5

    Will,

    I have a couple of questions.

    1. When is the best time to add the Speedy Bentonite I got off your site? If I were to guess, I would add the solution after the first siphon, and do a second and third siphon. I imagine that the bentonite would induce better sediment, and the solution would be with some distilled water which would impact the specific gravity so I would keep it to a minimum.

    2. I am bottling using some green tinted screw top bottles. It won’t be sealed but will be racked after the second pasturization per your instructions. Do you have a ballpark estimate on how long the sake will keep unrefrigerated with non-sealed screwcaps?

    3. The bottles I am using used to keep carbonated mineral water. I had an idea racking the pasturized sake with a little bit of mineral water (instead of wasating it) so that the sake would be slightly sparkling (I know you can make sparkling sake as well through a natural process but i’m not going that rout at this time). My question is, do you think that this is a good idea? I had some concern over the “mineral water” not being distilled, therefore would any of the minerals, if any, in the water impact how long the sake would keep or taste? You mentioned that iron is not good for the sake. Not sure if there is any iron in it or if the mineral content only matters during the fermentation process. Please advise.

    4. Have you ever tried to adjust the dryness with any sort of sugars? Do you have any instructions on this or is it advised for sake? If so, I would like to know, is it a good idea, what stage is the best to add sugars, would natural unprocessed hawaiian sugar work? Will it impact how long the sake would keep? And any other words of caution.

    Any help would be appreciated, thanks very much!

    Saj

  • Will
    1:27 pm on January 9th, 2011 6

    Saj,

    Let’s take these one at a time.

    A1: I would add the Bentonite after the second or third racking. I prefer the second from the last racking. The material in solution is very heavy after pressing and so would tend to “clog” the bentonite. After the second racking much of the rice solids are gone an will allow the bentonite to get at the yeasts, proteins and other nasties.

    You are only the second person to ask about bentonite. The other was just recently as well. Here is what I wrote him:

    First mix 1 tablespoon in one cup of boiling water to make a slurry. A good way to do this is to use a blender. Begin with the boiling water in the blender and the blender on. Slowly add the bentonite to the boiling water as the blender continues blending. After all the bentonite has been added let the blender continue for 2 minutes. Then take it out and let it set for an hour for the bentonite to fully absorb the water.

    Two tablespoons of this slurry is added per gallon of cold sake, 50F. The sake could be room temperature but cold works best. Stir the slurry in smoothly making sure you disperse it evenly. Stir it a few times over the next 3 to 6 hours to give it lots of time to attract yeast, proteins and the likes. Add it after the second to the last racking before your final racking for bottling.

    I will create a posting for how to use bentonite but for now, the above will have to cover it.

    A2: When you screw them closed they should seal. If not you should use other bottles. I have reused screw top bottles and kept sake for over two years in a cooler. I am not recommending this but the sake is still quite good. A good way to go is to use beer bottles and cap them with a new cap. Capping tools and caps are inexpensive.

    A3: I don’t know what to tell you about the mineral water. Mostly I don’t see and issue if it produces something you like. You could try it with a few of the bottles and see how it turns out. As for any iron, one problem with iron effects the yeast and you don’t have to worry about that at the bottling stage. The other problem is with iron, amino acids and light. The iron can cause the amino acids to “turn” easier, quicker when in the presence of harmful light. This causes a darkening in color and worsening of the aroma.

    A4: Yes, this adjustment is called amelioration. To raise the specific gravity of the sake 1 point (i.e., from 0.992 to 0.993) for 1 gallon of sake takes 9.45 grams of sucrose (table sugar). This topic is discussed in the recipe and in the second to last video of the step by step video series.

    The amelioration process is not used for premium quality sake in Japan but comes from wine making practices. So technically, the sake is not Junmai if you ameliorate, but we don’t need to follow Japanese Law in our homebrewing :-)

    Hope this helps!

  • Jon
    11:12 pm on September 30th, 2011 7

    Awesome videos! Thank you sooo much! I’m going to Portland tomorrow to buy most of the supplies I need to start making my 2nd batch of Sake. I do have a question about your cooling methods like on Day 7 when you need to start slowly cooling the moto down to 60 degrees or store the carboys in cool temps like 50 degrees, etc. Are you using a freezer or refrigerator with a temperature control to keep it consistent?

  • Will
    9:26 am on October 1st, 2011 8

    Hey Jon,

    Yes, I use a chest freezer with a temperature control.

    Others move the mash to a cold location around the house or use an ice bath (bucket in ice water).

    Thanks

  • Jon
    10:08 pm on October 14th, 2011 9

    Hey Will,

    When would you actually pasteurize and bottle for a Nigori style? Would you do it after pressing the Moromi through the cloth mesh, or would you filter once after that?

    Also, have you experimented with infusing your Sake? If so, when do you think the best time would be for that?

    Thanks!

    I just added my first addition and it’s smelling nice and sweet!

  • Will
    6:04 pm on October 15th, 2011 10

    Jon,

    I would shoot for roughly within 30 days after pressing the moromi for the first pasteurization and then at bottling. You want to give the sake some time to come together before the first pasteurization and then you can do the second one whenever you choose to bottle.

    I have not done any infusing of sake. Beer brewers do this in many different ways. They will add fruit in the primary for full fermentation. They put it in the secondary to infuse the beer while it is conditioning. Each brewer seems to have his own way after he has done some experimentation to see what works best for him. If you experiment with this let us know what you did and how it turned out.

  • Jon
    7:08 pm on November 7th, 2011 11

    Hey Will…

    I just pressed my Sake. I gave it a try just to see what it’s like. It tasted a little on the sour side…

    Normal? Didn’t seem to be bubbling all that much when I pulled it out. It’s been in my freezer with the temp control at 50 degrees…

    Do you think it’ll mellow out after I rack and pasteurize?

    Jon

  • Will
    7:02 pm on November 8th, 2011 12

    Jon,

    It depends on how sour. The CO2 will make is seem a bit more sour than it will seem later. Also, conditioning will help it integrate and become smoother. Yes, it will mellow.

  • Jon
    10:04 pm on November 8th, 2011 13

    Not suuuper sour….. Not like, sour milk in the fridge for months sour, although, I really don’t know what that tastes like… I’ll let it continue to do it’s thing in the freezer…. Thanks a bunch…I’ll let you know how it turns out! Appreciate your help!

  • Will
    8:01 am on November 9th, 2011 14

    Jon, Another thing that may be contributing to your perception of sourness is a low specific gravity (or high SMV). This indicates the dryness of the sake. Very dry sake will not have much of the sweetness you may associate with sake. This all goes to the kind of sake you most often drink… Anyway, If it is too dry or sour you can amilerate with a little sugar (see the recipe) to bring up the specific gravity (or down the SMV). This can be done just before bottling.

  • Kurt
    11:17 am on January 5th, 2012 15

    I don’t know if I missed it but at the end, you have a little less than 2 gallons of sake. Was that your aim or did you aim for 3 gallons knowing you’d lose some in racking. I ask because I want to know how to scale the recipe properly.

  • Will
    5:19 pm on January 5th, 2012 16

    Kurt,

    The recipe is for around 2 Gallon. However, the final amount depends on decisions that are not fully specified in the recipe. Mainly what I am talking about here is water additions to hit a specific %ABV. I am not adding water so the final amount is the lowest amount that would be produced. The other factor is nigori options. The recipe pretty much ignores material that could only be used for nigori, so if you count this you would get a little more but not a lot.

    In short, my aim was pretty much what I got.

    Thanks

  • john
    6:41 pm on January 18th, 2012 17

    Hi Will
    The different high quality sakes ive tasted all seem to have slightly different sweet or drynesses and some hints of fruit flavors how is this accomplished? Different yeasts,sugars, fruits, types of rice or water or does it happen on its own. thanks john

  • Will
    8:06 pm on January 18th, 2012 18

    John,

    High quality sake, those that are “special designation sake” are made with rice, koji (a rice covered with a special mold), yeast, water and in some cases brewers alcohol. The flavors and aromas are largely from the yeast but not entirely. Koji add some and rice does as well to a lesser extent. So, sticking with the yeast; the type of yeast and the temperature of the brewing process will cause various fruits to be expressed in the flavors and aromas. One interesting thing is that the sake yeasts tend to create more aromas at lower temperatures, while ale yeast tend to produce more aromas at higher temperatures.

    Thanks

  • Kurt
    5:40 am on April 9th, 2012 19

    Hi Will,

    After carefully following your guidelines, with some minor alterations from my LHBS, I’m ready to pasteurize and bottle my sake.

    The alterations included the use of Sorachi Ace Hops (the japanese hops used in Sapporo beer, with 11.6% AA), using a chemical clearing agent (Super Cleer) after in the 2nd to last racking (after bentonite clearing) and the addition of Kmeta and Ksorbate to protect it.

  • Kurt
    5:42 am on April 9th, 2012 20

    oops…posted too soon

    with the hop addition, the Kmeta and Ksorbate and pasteurization, how long can I expect to be able to store the sake if I am storing it in a dark environment @ about 65 degrees F.

    Thanks alot for all your hard work.

    -Kurt

  • Will
    8:08 pm on April 9th, 2012 21

    Hey Kurt,

    With a good double pasteurization and storage in a dark 65F place it should easily last a couple of years. I’m not recommending it but it should not spoil under those conditions. The rest of that should help it last but I don’t know how much.

    How’d your sake turn out?

    Will

  • Kurt
    8:58 am on April 10th, 2012 22

    I ended up with 12 750ml bottles and about 3/4 handle for an approximate yield of 10.3 liters. I put down ~13.3 liters so I lost some in not getting all the liquid out when pressing, during racking and of course tasting along the way.

    When tasting throughout the process, it was largely “bland” After benonite clearing and allowing the solids to settle, I began to taste a grapefruit flavor. It is the most prominent flavor now that it is bottled. It is dry because I purposefully didn’t backsweeten it. It is golden in color and very clear. I just spec’d it at work and it is 17.3% ABV. I am very happy with it.

    Thanks so much for your advice and this resource.

  • Will
    8:33 pm on April 10th, 2012 23

    Congratulations Kurt!

  • David
    7:59 pm on July 23rd, 2012 24

    Hi Will
    I’ve spent hours reading your site and find the info very deep. You’ve probably gathered from my email address, I’m an experienced brewer, but haven’t tried sake, and am not very excited to give it a go, thank you very much! I have one question about your rackiing/fining however. I’ve used Bentonite in the past with good success, but have had better overall success with Sparkolloid. The difference being, Bentonite will produce an overall negative molecular charge in low ph solutions where Sparkolloid produces a positive charge. Have you ever used Sparkolloid in sake as a fining/clearing agent and if so, how would you compare its overall performancew to Bentonite in sake fining? I’ve used a combo where Bentonite was first, and 24 hours later was followed by Sparkolloid with spectacular results. My concern is, various literature from one source of Bentonite reports it can strip out color and some flavors and I don’t want this to happen with the sake. I want to taste ALL it has to offer, at least on the first few runs I make.
    Thanks for your great site and happy sipping…. :-)
    David

  • David
    8:08 pm on July 23rd, 2012 25

    Me Again…
    Damn spell checker….. !!! In my previous post, the part stating
    “am not very excited” should have been “am NOW very excited”! Computers… “whada gonna do?” …. LOL
    Thanks again and any light you shead on the fining question is greatly appreciated.
    David
    p.s. seems the ‘spell checker’ didn’t do much good elsewhere either
    :-)

  • Will
    8:32 pm on July 23rd, 2012 26

    David,

    I just let things settle and rack several times so I don’t have a lot of experience in this area. I have never used Sparkolloid. So, I don’t know about its effects. Given that you are an experienced brewer and interested in brewing sake, you will most likely brew several batches if not more. With this in mind, I suggest you don’t fine your first batch. That way, you will see just how it is without loosing any of the color, flavor and aroma. Then when you use Bentonite, Sparkolloid or both, you will have something to compare it with. In batch two, you could use Bentonite for the entire batch and then Sparkolloid on half of that. Anyway, whatever you choose to do, let us know how it turns out and which you prefer.

    Kampai,

    Will

  • Erika Rosenberg
    5:16 am on October 7th, 2012 27

    Sir, thank you for so much information in one place! I am making my first batch of 3 liters, I prepared the koji and just began my first fermentation for moto. Can I use isinglass as a finer? If so, when? Also,
    Would it be appropriate to use my cheese press and draining molds to squeeze out the liquid for the first press? Thank you.

  • Erika Rosenberg
    7:40 am on October 7th, 2012 28

    Sorry, meant 3 gallons. Also, would it be feasible to add some cut up pears during the fermentation for some fruit flavor?

  • Will
    7:30 pm on October 8th, 2012 29

    Erika,

    Sure, that should work fine.

    Thanks, will

  • Will
    7:37 pm on October 8th, 2012 30

    You can use various substances for fining. I have not heard of anyone using Isinglass but it should not hurt. Let us know how well it works for you. Bentonite can be used any time after racking out of the main fermentor to jugs.

    Yes, many people use cheese presses for pressing their sake mash.

    Good luck, Kampai!

  • Humbert
    10:44 am on June 21st, 2013 31

    Hi Will,
    I have one question: Why don’t you use an airlock till the day 32?I though that during the first fermentation the CO2 needs to come out as well.
    thanks!

  • Will
    12:20 am on June 22nd, 2013 32

    Humbert, I don’t use an air tight lid. Just enough cover to keep dust and other debris from falling in. Traditionally sake is brewed in open tanks. So there is no need to seal it up.

    Will

  • Humbert
    1:39 pm on July 2nd, 2013 33

    Hi Will, thanks a lot for your reply. Both your site and book is being very useful to help brew some sake! Doing my first try!
    Once i use the koji, wath I should do with the rest? keep it in the fridge or in the freezer again?
    thanks

  • Will
    7:21 am on July 6th, 2013 34

    Humbert,

    The best would be to put the koji in the refrigerator when it arrives and use it within a couple of weeks. If you can’t use it that soon then freezing may be better.

    Thanks,

    Will

  • Mark
    2:01 pm on July 19th, 2013 35

    I just received your full ingrediant kit. How would I adjust the ingrediants and/or the brewing process if I wanted to brew nigori sake? I’m fond of that milky stuff.

    Thank you, Mark

  • Will
    4:27 pm on July 19th, 2013 36

    Mark, Hi,

    No adjustment of the recipe is needed. After the primary fermentation (Moromi), while letting the lees settle out you can stop and bottle when it gets to the consistency you like. Most likely this would be after the second racking; rack after Moromi but save your lees under a little sake just in case you need them. Let the racked sake settle a bit and then rack and let settle again. While settling this time it may be about where you want it. Shake it up to see if it is. If it is where you like it, you can bottle at this stage. If not, adjust with more racking or adding back in some of the lees you saved.

    Thanks,

    Will

  • Mike
    7:50 am on November 29th, 2013 37

    Hey Will,

    I join everyone in thanking you for making it possible to home brew Sake.

    Two questions:

    1) Can you use a Rice cooker for preparing the rice or is steaming the only option?
    2) For Nigori…what specific gravity (range) would you recommend if a sweeter sake is desired?

  • Will
    2:24 pm on December 1st, 2013 38

    Hey Mike,

    It is important to steam the rice rather than use a rice cooker. Rice cooked in a rice cooker will break down too easily producing too rapid and unstable release of converted sugar. Steamed rice has more integrity and hence will have a slow and steady release of sugar.

    The gravity is really just a matter of taste. For me, -4 SMV is quite sweet so I’d not go beyond this until you know you want it sweeter. Minus 4 SMV is equal to a specific gravity of 1.0028.

    Kampai!

  • Bill
    9:12 pm on January 28th, 2014 39

    Thanks for such a good set of videos and instructions. I have been wanting to make Sake for a few years but never had the guts to try for fear of messing it up but now that I actually seen how it is done I am going to give it a shot.

  • Will
    9:20 pm on January 28th, 2014 40

    Hey Bill, the unknown is usually more frightening than reality. Have fun with it :-)

  • Paul
    2:29 am on February 7th, 2014 41

    Thanks Will!!!! Love the site, videos & information… I’m still gathering all the necessary tools and making preparations…. Yup darn thirsty.

  • Will
    8:08 am on February 8th, 2014 42

    Thanks Paul

  • bikram
    8:14 am on March 2nd, 2014 43

    Hi will – how can you cut down the days in the process.

    why cant we add adequate steamed rice at once to the the right quantity and allow fermentation.

    i am a beginner in a hurry – but i would love to know the subtlety involved in the steps involved

    thanks loved the vidoes… and good job done by your daughter.

    wr

    bikram india

  • Will
    12:04 pm on March 6th, 2014 44

    The main reason for having multiple additions it to allow the yeast to keep up with the sugar that is being produced from the koji and rice. If too much sugar is created to quickly, the yeast will be harmed and will not be able to complete the fermentation. Rushing the process also causes the yeast to create unwanted compounds.

    Thanks,

    Will

  • Paul AZ coyote
    4:32 am on October 20th, 2014 45

    Hello Will,

    Finally gathered all the necessary tools & ingredients. I will be taking my first stab at brewing next week.

    I have watched the videos and am very grateful for them…

    My question is when and did you add the (speedy bentonite) ?

    Thanks again.

    Paul

  • Will
    7:46 pm on October 20th, 2014 46

    Just to tie the questions together: using bentonite discusses how to use bentonite.

    Thanks,

    Will

  • dWiGhT
    9:50 am on June 18th, 2015 47

    Thanks for this wonderful site! It has released the Toji in me… “: )

    Just finished racking the second time to jugs and took a hydro reading and got 0.897. It is very clear at this point. It is very dry with a fruity note to it with the alcohol burn coming in on the end. I obviously had a successful fermentation and also am about 2 weeks late doing the racking so I am guessing that this recipe is very time sensitive.

    I’m going to adjust to get it to 0.995 (a difference of 98!) after pasteurization by adding sugar… but doing the calculations it seems like I’ll have to add a fair amount (926 grams! = 33oz/gal!!!)… is there another option that doesn’t have me adding a crazy amount of sugar?

    dWiGhT

  • Will
    7:17 pm on June 18th, 2015 48

    It sounds like your sake is turning out nicely with the exception of the final gravity. It seems to be too low; that is its lower than it could be. I’d take the measurement again to verify what you are getting. Watch your temperature, each hydrometer is calibrated for a specific temperature.

    Then, ignoring the measurements, taste your sake; is it too dry? Add just enough to raise the gravity by 4 points per gallon (4 * 9.5g). Taste and repeat if necessary. Keep notes so you can reproduce your findings.

    Good luck and let us know how it turns out!
    Will

  • dWiGhT
    10:40 am on June 19th, 2015 49

    Thanks for the quick response Will,

    I’m a fairly experienced brewer of beer and mead. Sake is new and exciting to me. Especially since there is not that much equipment needed to produce a wonderful sake.

    Back to the FG… so I’m using a Final Gravity Hydrometer (http://www.morebeer.com/products/final-gravity-hydrometer.html) but I also have a Proof and Tralle Hydrometer so I’ll take another sample this weekend to see what I have.

    So what is the assumed Starting Gravity (SG) of this recipe? I couldn’t find the extract potential of polished rice…

    thanks…

    dWiGhT

  • dWiGhT
    8:59 pm on June 21st, 2015 50

    Will, thanks again for this site.

    I do have a question about brewing bigger batches than 3 gallons, would you start the moto the same size and just keep doubling till you get to the batch size you are shooting for?

    dWiGhT

  • Will
    9:43 pm on June 21st, 2015 51

    I’ve never seen an assumed starting gravity, nor have I ever seen an extract potential for rice or koji. To perform a calculation for the percent of potential you’d need both. The fermentability of rice depends on the polish so that will add into the delta.

    Thanks,
    Will

  • Will
    9:57 pm on June 21st, 2015 52

    The scaling is pretty much linear. However, the amount of yeast that comes standard from white labs or Wyeast is much more than is needed for the standard small batch moto. You could easily double or quadruple the moto size with the same amount of yeast. I would not go through a process of starting with the standard small size and doubling… Sake breweries build much larger motos with much more yeast…

    Thanks,
    Will

  • Humbert
    4:16 am on August 4th, 2015 53

    Hi will, do you recommend top up the sake after the shibori? or it is better once it has finished the second fermentation?
    thanks from Barcelona!

  • Will
    8:13 pm on August 4th, 2015 54

    Humbert,

    I would wait until just before your ready to bottle it. I think this will give you better control since more of the material you don’t want will have dropped out. However, I think you could do it either way and it would be fine.

    Salute to you and to Barcelona :-) !

  • Humbert
    2:48 am on October 23rd, 2015 55

    Cheers from Barcelona;)! thanks John for all your answers! Always are very useful! I steamed rice 3 days ago but becasuse unexpected circunstance I couldn’t use. Do you think I can used it or it may be contaminated? or maybe throw it away?
    Thanks!
    Humbert

  • Will
    7:12 pm on October 25th, 2015 56

    Humbert, Hey,

    I wouldn’t use the rice after it has been a few days from the time you steamed it. You just never know what might have gotten on to it. Good luck!

    Thanks,
    Will

  • Cholla
    7:32 pm on January 30th, 2016 57

    Hi Will,

    A quick question about water additions during buildup and miyamizu.

    When creating the shubo, the recipe calls for (and you use) epsom salts and morton’s salt substitute to simulate miyamizu. During the mash buildup however, it appears you are using just distilled water and the recipe makes no mention of adding epsom salts nor morton’s salt substitute.

    I just wanted to verify before moving ahead whether I should be using pure distilled water or adding epsom salts and morton’s salt substitute during the mash buildup.

    Thanks!

  • Will
    8:34 pm on January 31st, 2016 58

    Cholla, yes, you have it correct. The water adjustments are only made for the shubo and then regular water (or distilled, spring…) is used for the rest. This is for this particular recipe. Another way to go would be to adjust all the water but here that is not what we are doing with this recipe.

    Thanks,
    Will

  • Eric
    7:40 pm on February 9th, 2016 59

    Hi Will,

    On day 10 where it say mix with Moro -/- mini and water. Does that mean mix it with the ferment? At that point all the koji mixture is in the big 5gal fermenter. Please advise.
    Thanks!

  • Eric
    7:43 pm on February 9th, 2016 60

    Auto correct. It says mix with moto but the moto is already in the ferment. Does the mean I put the koji and the water from step ten into the ferment in the five gallon bucket? I’m pretty sure I know the answer but I thought I’d double check. Thanks!

  • Will
    9:09 pm on February 9th, 2016 61

    Eric, Yes you add the koji and water to the rest of the mash in the large bucket.

    Thanks,
    Will

  • Eric James Pinnell
    3:23 pm on February 12th, 2016 62

    In Japan, does anyone distill this output to try and make some kind of whiskey?

  • Will
    9:42 am on February 13th, 2016 63

    Yes Eric, they do. Shochu is the name of the spirit. It is broader than just distilled sake however. Basically any starch and koji combination used to produce an alcoholic beverage that is then distilled is Shochu. Common starches include rice, barley and sweet potato.

    Thanks,
    Will

  • Eric
    9:43 am on February 13th, 2016 64

    One last question… this one more serious than the last. In step 11 where you start putting things in the 5 gal fermentor. t says cover loosely with plastic wrap. Can I use the lid that came with the fermentor and an airlock? Or does the ferment do better when it’s not 100% sealed off? Thanks Will!

  • Will
    10:03 am on February 13th, 2016 65

    Eric,

    You can use the lid and airlock if you prefer but there is no need to and it will make it less convenient to stir.

    Thanks,
    Will

  • Eric
    12:17 pm on February 13th, 2016 66

    Thanks. What I’m more concerned with is that where it is stored way back in the basement pantry makes is susceptible to getting things knocked on top of it… for example if someone is searching for mason jars or cookbooks. Its a tight and often used space. The lid in the big plastic 5 gal fermenter from the home brew shop gives me peace of mind.

  • Bob
    1:39 pm on February 25th, 2016 67

    Hi,

    Thank you so much for this fantastic resource! I am planning to purchase your kit and start my first batch in a few weeks. My question is about temperature control. Seems like at a lot of stages you need a fairly precise degree of temperature constraints, especially on the cooling. Do you have an easy method for this? (e.g., getting it from 72 deg to 60 deg., and things like that)?

    Best,
    Bob

  • Paolo Ruggirello
    4:23 pm on February 26th, 2016 68

    Hey,
    Just starting my first racking and it is looking great! I’m wondering when it is safe to drink? There is a party I am going to tomorrow and would like to bring at least a little bit after the racking. I tasted a small lick from the bucket and it tasted pretty good!
    Please let me know, thanks!
    -Paolo

  • Will
    1:02 pm on February 27th, 2016 69

    Hey Bob,

    Thanks. I use a temperature controller and a small freezer but I didn’t start with these. Generally the inside of a refrigerator is too cold so while that is something everyone has, it does not work well. What I started out doing as many others have, is to move the ferment to a location that is as close as possible to the temperature I’d like; a basement or garage can work well. Sometimes its just a room or closet in the house. For your first few batches don’t worry about this too much.

    thanks,
    Will

  • Will
    1:08 pm on February 27th, 2016 70

    Paolo Hi,

    It is always safe to drink your sake a any stage :-) . You can rest assured that everyone who drinks some of your sake will be just fine. If you like it, they may also and its fun to have others taste the product of your labors. Go for it!

    Thanks,
    Will

  • Paolo Ruggirello
    8:40 am on February 28th, 2016 71

    Hey Will,
    Thanks for the reply! I had my friend taste sone and it’s pretty delicious. It also felt a little carbonated, is that normal? I finished the first racking with success. I think just one more and we’re going to have a party!
    Thanks,
    Paolo

  • Will
    9:31 am on February 28th, 2016 72

    Paolo,

    I’m glad. The fermentation process converts sugar to alcohol and co2, that is why it seems carbonated, it is. Over time the co2 will come out of solution. This is sped up by shaking, stirring and / or heating. Heating like in pasteurization; the sake seems to boil a bit at a pretty low temperature as warming forces the co2 out of the sake.

    Thanks,
    Will

  • Eric
    5:38 am on April 27th, 2016 73

    Thanks Will! I finished my first batch and it was delicious. I’m about halfway through my second with plans for a third. I have a question about using a freezer to control temps. I was wondering if you have a size of freezer that you prefer. I am using a big 5 gallon fermenter which I think I could use a smaller size to fit in a freezer. What sized fermenter and freezer works for you?

    Again, thanks for all the information and help!

    Eric

  • Will
    1:32 pm on April 30th, 2016 74

    Hey Eric,

    I’m pleased it turned out so well for you. As for the freezer, I use the small 7 or 8 cubic feet models and plug them into a temperature controller. I do use the 5 gallon buckets for fermentation and wouldn’t try something smaller because of the foam levels.

    Good luck,
    Will

  • humbert
    1:06 am on June 22nd, 2016 75

    Hi Will,
    after what racking do you think is the proper consistency for nigori? after de first racking? Do you throw away the first sake lees after the first racking? Do you recommend to pasteurize before the first racking?
    thanks a lot again ;) !
    H

  • Will
    12:22 pm on June 25th, 2016 76

    It is really up to the brewer as to how they prefer their nigori, but I like it more on the thinner side. So, I’d do a couple of rackings to get it the the level I’d prefer. This creates a sake that will, in a 750ml bottle, clear all but the bottom 1.5″ to 2″ after sitting a while. I wouldn’t pasteurize until bottling time.
    Thanks,
    Will

  • humbert
    1:06 am on June 28th, 2016 77

    thanks ;) ! do you throw away this sake lees then? The consistency is to thick & it is most probably dead yeast that will bring bad flavour, isn’t it? cheers! thanks!
    H

  • Will
    3:48 pm on July 2nd, 2016 78

    Yes, there is yeast in the lees but that is OK. Mostly, I do throw them away but I have, on occasion, saved them for cake or the like. They help to keep cakes moist and add flavor. There are recipes floating around the net.
    Thanks,
    Will

  • DEBORAH
    10:39 pm on August 4th, 2016 79

    I too wish there were an easier way to make SAKE but will try your way. May have to watch you video lesson many times. Thanks for keeping them Short.
    I don’t want more than a gallon or 1 1/2 – 2 gallons as the final finished product
    Didn’t catch where you said how much you were making.
    Estimate how it works 3 cups rice makes a gallon?
    Next I didn’t see where you pasterized the wine 2 times..?
    One time in the large bottle and one time in the smallest bottles before
    cooling and storing them for family and friends?
    I am on a mission to make Hard Cider and Sake. tried wine but it was too watery years back.
    SAKE is worth the work.
    RICE WINE maybe all I want to do.
    BUT if you can help me get these molds and yeast balls I’ll give it a go.
    stores here only sell the bread yeasts.
    I agree your video was very informitive.
    Thanks!
    Best I have seen on making SAKE videos are hard to find.

  • Will
    5:49 pm on August 8th, 2016 80

    Deborah, Hi,

    You have the volume about right for the instructions.

    Where are you located?

    Thanks,
    Will

  • Nonnie
    5:49 pm on October 5th, 2016 81

    Hi Will, many thanks to you and your daughter for taking the time to put together the series of videos – they are very helpful for anyone curious about making their own sake. A couple questions: I noticed that the steaming duration is the same (1-hr) for an increasing amount of rice, from 1.6 cups for the moto to 10 cups in the last addition. I’d think the smaller amount of moto rice will be much more cooked/”done” than the rice in the last addition. Is this on purpose? As in, is there some correlation to the level of “doneness” in the rice for each addition to the fermentation process?

  • Will
    10:13 am on October 6th, 2016 82

    Hey Nonnie,

    No, this is just do to passing on instructions I learned. In reality the rice can be steamed for less time. It only needs to be steamed until the rice is gelatinized all the way through. In some cases this can be much less time. I think I wrote up something on this in the past but I can’t find a reference to it. Anyway, you can experiment with the time to shorten it. By the way, shorter times that produce fully gelatinized rice also produce rice that is better for the brewing process.

    Thanks,
    Will

  • eliza scott
    4:08 pm on October 30th, 2016 83

    I left my sake for a month and it still only settled to about halfway, with the bottom being thicker than heavy cream. Did I mess up and is there some way to avoid this problem? For now I just siphoned off of the top and added some bentonite to the rest to see if that helps at all.

  • Will
    6:09 pm on October 30th, 2016 84

    Eliza, no you did not mess up. This is normal. I tend to do the same but with several rounds. Others use the bentonite for faster results. Your on the right track for the middle approach, a little of each.

    Thanks,
    Will

  • Merryn
    7:15 pm on January 10th, 2017 85

    Your clear instructions and advice are so clear and absolutely brilliant!
    Thank you for sharing, I successfully make litres of sake last winter and it is amazing. I am about to post it to my blog, giving you full credit.
    I cannot believe how the sake had to be babied along, making wine or mead is so much easier but it is an experience I will remember forever :D

  • Will
    9:52 am on January 11th, 2017 86

    Thanks Merryn!

  • Nick
    5:52 am on February 26th, 2017 87

    Time for me to start commenting here too! First time sake brewing for me. Starting just over a week ago and currently in the odori stage. Seems to be going well, nice and active. I don’t have a temperature controlled fridge but found out that our storage area is at a constant 55.5 F so I am lucky there (especially with the temperature changes outside).

    And I agree, the instructions on this website are phenomenal!

    One question though, due to my work this coming week I might not be able to do the Nakazoe en Tomezoe exactly 24 hrs apart. I’m trying my best to stick to the schedule as much as possible, but if I cannot, would it be better to let the Odori go on a little longer and do the Nakazoe ~60 hrs after Hatsuzoe, or to do the Nakazoe on time (after 48 hrs) and wait ~36 hrs more until the Tomezoe?

  • Will
    10:21 am on February 26th, 2017 88

    Hey Nick,

    I don’t know if there is a correct answer for this but I would try to do the Nakazoe on time. Either should be similar though.

    Thanks,
    Will

  • Nick
    8:53 am on March 19th, 2017 89

    Hi Will,

    Just to let you know, it seems to have worked fine. In the end I did the Nakazoe on time and managed to go home early and do the Tomezoe just 30 hours after instead of 24 hours. Just pressed and racked, gravity is on point as in your recipe, and tastes very nice! Thanks so much for all the instructions, so helpful!

    Cheers,

    Nick

 

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