A visit with Yasutaka Daimon of Daimon Shuzo

One of the first things we did while in Japan was to visit Yasutaka Daimon the owner and Toji of Daimon Shuzo. He is an incredibly nice and warm man who made us feel extremely welcome. During our visit I captured some video that I like but am a little embarrassed by. The quality and choice of where I was pointing and not pointing the camera could have been much better. Well, live and learn. I hope you find them interesting despite the quality.

This first video begins while we are talking about the moisture content of the rice prior to steaming. Yasutaka-san says that they shoot for a moisture content of 32-33% for the rice that will be used to make koji and 28% for the rest of the rice, the kakemai (掛米).

 

Daimon Shuzo brews a batch a week from October through May for around 28 to 32 batches a year.

Daimon-san explains how they make koji. They first bring the moisture level of the raw rice to 33% before steaming. Steam the rice for 50 minutes and then move to the koji muro (that is the koji room) where it rests for 5 hours, slowly cooling. The koji muro is kept at 35°C (or 95°F) all the time. Koji-kin is sprinkled on the rice when it is around 30°C (or 86°F). The rice and koji-kin are then mixed and folded well and then piled up and wrapped in a cloth for its first 18 hours. After this the bundle is opened up and all of the clumps of rice are broken apart and the koji is moved into a special machine for the remainder of the koji making process. In the second phase the temperature will go from around 33°C (or 91°F) to 43°C (or 109°F). In this phase, the last 30 hours, the temperature and humidity are controlled by the machine. It also, moves round the cedar or sugi trays of koji and when the trays are at the top of the machine, a set of mixing arms come down into the tray to break up the koji.

Daimon-san next takes us to the moromi room where the main fermentation is done. The tanks in this room are 3-5kl iron tanks with a ceramic glaze. Each batch uses 1000kg of total rice. At the end of the first addition, Hatsuzoe, the temperature is around 12°C (or 54°F) and naturally rises to around 16°C (or 61°F). Tank cooling brings the temperature down while the yeast try to take it higher. At the end of the second addition, Nakazoe, the temperature is around 8°C (or 46°F) and at the end of the third and final addition, Tomezoe, the temperature has reached 6°C (or 43°F). Between each addition the temperature rises as the level of activity in the tank rises and the cooling system has to work harder to pull it back down.

For an aside, when Daimon-san asked me if I recall when zoe is done, I was trying to figure out if he was talking about Hatsuzoe, Nakazoe or Tomezoe. It was not until editing the video that I now realize that he meant all three and that zoe (添) means something like addition or attachment.

We next went to the moto room where Daimon-san told us about how they track the moto. He showed us a chart that tracks the temperature across the two week period of the moto.

Sokujo progress chart

Following this we looked at the yabuta press for which Daimon-san explained how it works and sent me the link.

In closing the tour we learned that Daimon Shuzo started doing business in 1826 and that Daimon-san is the 6th generation of this business. A few years back they converted the upper room to a restaurant, Mukune Tei. The following quick video gives a quick look at it and a little bit of the construction of the building with the beams.

 

 

As I believe I have written before, the restaurant above the brewery serves as a wonderful way to highlight the Daimon Shuzo sake in a warm and inviting atmosphere. We tried 4 of Daimon-san’s sake, none of which are available in the States; a nama and two, maybe three, Daiginjo. Vary, very nice! (Daimon Shuzo has two brands of sake available in the states, Mukune and Tozai) It was great to meet Daimon-san face to face and get to know him better.

Thank you Daimon-san

 

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