The Main Ferment – Moromi

Discusses the main fermentation stage of the sake brewing process, moromi.

Once san-dan-jikomi is complete and the final addition has been made we enter into moromi. Moromi starts the day after the final addition, which is tomezoe. It lasts until fermentation is almost complete. This can take anywhere from 2 weeks to about a month.

The time needed for moromi is based on both temperature and koji characteristics. In particular the characteristic diastatic power the koji can muster at the moromi temperature.  The yeast work faster at the low temperatures of moromi than do the koji enzymes.

At the end of the moto the alcohol content was anywhere from about 5% to 10%. With the san-dan-jikomi additions the concentration of alcohol was also cut in the same way as the yeast and acid. However, as some yeast has been reproducing some have been producing alcohol. So by the start of moromi we have regained much of the alcohol concentration we had at the end of the moto. Continue reading “The Main Ferment – Moromi”

The Buildup – San-Dan-Jikomi – Transition from Moto to Moromi

A look at the process of building up a sake batch from the moto (yeast mash) to moromi (main ferment).

After the moto has completed, four days are taken to buildup the brew from moto to moromi. The four days are made up of three additions and a day of rest:

  • Hatsuzoe – the first addition, day 1
  • Odori – The dancing ferment, day 2, day of rest
  • Nakazoe – the second addition, day 3
  • Tomezoe – the third and final addition, day 4

I have also seen hatsuzoe called soe, nakazoe called naka and tomezoe called tome. However, my lack of Japanese limits my understanding of how these might correspond. Naka means inside or middle, as in the middle addition. Tome means stop or remaining, as in the last or final addition. Continue reading “The Buildup – San-Dan-Jikomi – Transition from Moto to Moromi”

How Sake is Brewed

Brief introduction to how sake is brewed.

Sake is brewed in a strung out process that can take quite a long time but none of the steps are particularly difficult. In the traditional method, brewing sake starts with the rice and its milling. The objective is to remove the outer layers of the rice which cause sake to be less stable and to have harsher flavors. These layers contain the bran and the highest concentrations of oils, fatty acids, proteins and minerals like magnesium and iron. Table rice (white rice) is generally milled to around 93% of its original size. Sakemai (Sake Rice) is usually milled somewhere between this for futsu-shu (table sake) and 35% for the most refined Daiginjo. Removing these components leads to a more stable and refined sake.

Once the rice has been milled to the proper level we need to steam the rice. We used steamed rice both for making koji and to directly add to the brew. In order to steam the rice properly we need to first wash the milled rice to remove the outer layer of rice flower, talc or whatever may be on the rice. After a good washing the rice is soaked to absorb the needed amount of water for proper steaming. This amounts to about 30% by weight. The higher the milling rate the faster the rice will absorb the desired amount of water. Kurabito (brewery people) working with the most highly polished (Milled) rice often use a stopwatch to time the soaking period so the rice does not take on too much moisture. Here the goal to get enough moisture into the rice so that the steaming process gelatinizes the rice by heating the water already there. If the rice has too much moisture it will become soggy / mushy during the steaming process and will not form a nice home for koji. Continue reading “How Sake is Brewed”

Sake Brewing in the 19th Century

A quick look at the differences between the sake brewing process of the 19th century and today.

I have been reading a little about brewing in the 19th century and find it to be quite similar to current brewing methods. The current brewing method consists of the following steps:

  • Rice milling
  • Koji production
  • Moto – yeast mash (Any of kimoto, yamahai moto or sokujo moto)
  • Hatsuzoe – first addition
  • Nakazoe – second addition
  • Tomezoe – third addition
  • Moromi – main mash
  • Yodon – stabilization
  • Joso – pressing
  • Hi-ire – pasteurization & bottling Continue reading “Sake Brewing in the 19th Century”

Sake Yeasts

Discusses yeast, sake yeast and what yeast need to do a good job fermenting.

Yeast: a single cell fungus whose activities have been known to man for far longer than we have known about yeast itself. We have evidence of yeast being used as far back as four thousand years ago in Egypt. They used yeast for both baking and brewing. Wine was also present in this period.

In 1857 Louis Pasteur proved that fermentation was the results of living yeast rather than a chemical reaction. In this work, Pasteur showed that as oxygen is added the growth of the cell count increases and fermentation slows. Not only did this show the significant of yeast but also its two distinct modes of operation: the aerobic and the anaerobic. In the aerobic mode, yeast reproduce by budding, a process of a child cell being created and split off from the parent cell. The anaerobic mode proceeds with little to no growth in the number of cells but with increased alcohol and CO2 production. Alcohol and CO2 are produced in equal amounts based on the following formula:

C6H12O6 -> 2 C2H5OH + 2 CO2 Continue reading “Sake Yeasts”

Brewing salts for your sake brewing water

This article talks about how to adjust you sake brewing water for better sake.

The question I will address this week is one related to water and how to convert the water we have to the water we want. Let’s assume we want to brew our sake with water that is equivalent to Miyamizu, the heavenly water from Nada. For this example the water we will start with is from the Bull Run Reservoir.

You may recall from “Miyamizu – Heavenly Water – The Gold Standard?” that the mineral content of the miyamizu water is:

Miyamizu (ppm)
Potassium 20
Phosphoric acid 5.2
Magnesium 5.6
Calcium 37
Chlorine 32
Sodium 32

Continue reading “Brewing salts for your sake brewing water”

Is Doburoku Sake?

Often when you search around on-line, looking for a recipe for sake you find recipes for Doburoku (濁酒). No, they don’t say they are for doburoku.

Often when you search around on-line, looking for a recipe for sake you find recipes for Doburoku (濁酒). No, they don’t say they are for doburoku. But if you brew them you don’t end up with what we in the U.S. think of as sake; I would venture to say the world. In Japan, “sake” is a much broader term. It is really for any type of alcoholic drink. However, outside of Japan, sake is the same thing to us as Nihonshu (日本酒) and Seishu (清酒). Even, in Japan, if a westerner asks for sake, it is mostly assumed he is not asking for just any alcohol.

Doburoku is kind of a farm house or home brew style of sake. It is, well, rustic and unrefined. This is the point Fred is making at the top of his recipe when he explains “refined.” If you are interested in making the beverage we think of when we say sake, the one in the store or at the restaurant, then you don’t want doburoku. It will never live up to your expectations. However, it does have its place. The fact that it is unrefined also means it is easy or easier to make than its more refined cousin. Continue reading “Is Doburoku Sake?”

Sake Brewing: Cleanliness is next to godliness

This article covers the basic information needed for sake brewing and preventing bacterial infections.

For making sake, as with other fermented beverages, cleanliness and sanitation are extremely important. The reason for this is that a goodly part of the flavors come from the bugs in the ferment. When the bugs are the ones we want we get the flavors we desire but when others invade the party they produce off flavors that lower the quality or even ruin the beverage altogether.

In sake using the sokujo-moto method there is one player (bug) that we want to encourage while restraining all others. The player we want is the yeast we introduce ourselves. When using the yamahai-moto method there are two main players; lactobacilli and yeast.

Given this, how do we go about restraining all the other bugs? Well, restraining these other bugs is a key part of sake brewing. It begins before we even start to prepare the ingredients; it starts with the cleaning of the equipment. Once clean, we sanitize the equipment as needed throughout the process. We control the pH and temperature to provide an environment discomforting for most bugs and finally, when not making namazake or unpasteurized sake, we pasteurize the sake at least once, usually twice. Continue reading “Sake Brewing: Cleanliness is next to godliness”

Sake Yeast Mash – The Moto

This article looks at the three types of Sake yeast mashes, also known as moto and shubo. The differences between these three moto are examined.

Moto (元), Shubo (酒母), Yeast mash are all names for the Sake yeast starter. In this article I will only use the term “moto” but the three can be used interchangeably. Moto is where the number of yeast cells is increased to the needed level. The moto is used to inoculate the main sake fermentation, the Moromi (諸味). To build the moto we start with rice (米), koji (麹) and yeast (酵母). These three ingredients along with water were the only ones used for moto originally. The method to produce this original moto is known as Kimoto. It features a vigorous mixing, taking many hours, to produce a puree of the ingredients. It was thought this vigorous mixing, called Yama-Oroshi, was needed for the ingredients to properly work together.

In 1909 a modification to the Kimoto method was developed. The modification was to drop the vigorous mixing. As it turned out, the mixing was not really needed. The modified process was called Yama-Oroshi haishi moto or Yamahai moto for short. Continue reading “Sake Yeast Mash – The Moto”

Basic Brewing Radio goes to Sake One!

A two part video of SakeOne, the kura and sake.

Basic Brewing Radio, on a trip to Portland, stopped by SakeOne and filmed their tour at the local kura (Sake Brewery). The tour is presented in two parts:

Part One, Jenifer introduces us to the sake brewery. She discusses the water, milling the rice and making the koji.

Continue reading “Basic Brewing Radio goes to Sake One!”