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  1. Hello!
    I am attempting to make my first batch of sake here in Ireland. All has been going well. The problem is I went away for a few days and left the care of the sake to someone else, I had moved the fermentation bucket into the shed because the central heating was turned on in the house. When I was away the weather changed abruptly and the sake would have sat at about three degrees for five days of so. By the time I got back fermentation had slowed to a crawl and only tiny bubbles could be heard after stirring the sake. I brought it back inside a week ago where the temperature is averaging probably fourteen degrees, and the fermentation is snail slow. The hydrometer is reading 1.000. I’m way over time compared with your method, and I’m worried that the action of the fungus/yeast may stop and the sake be ruined, but there is still loads of rice in it which has not been ‘digested’. When the sake settles it is about half liquid on the bottom and half rice mash on the top before stirring. Should I get the liquid off the rice now and into airlocked demijohns, or should I not worry about the sake spoiling and let more of the rice be used up?

    Many thanks! I have really enjoyed making this, and am looking forward to enjoying drinking it, if it all works out.

    1. Louise, Hi,

      I would let it go a bit more. If we can get the hydrometer reading down a bit more that would be good. Keep an eye on it to see if it moves over the week. At these temperatures it should continue to be pretty slow unless the yeast starts to replicate again. I wouldn’t expect this but it is possible. If you don’t see any movement in the hydrometer reading for a week then I would rack it off. If the koji has continued to work while the yeast has slowed down then the sake will be pretty sweet but may otherwise be fine. Let me know how it turns out.

      Will

  2. Hi

    Im hoping someone will be able to lend some advice.

    A group of guys and i made a very large batch of Sake, but unfortunately some of the rice scorched and wasn’t caught before it was set to ferment. The sake came out with a nice nose on it, but a very up front taste of scorch. It has now been aging for approximately 45 days. The wine no longer has a burnt taste at the front, but there is still an aftertaste of scorched rice. Are you area of anything that could be done to salvage this wine?

    Our initial tests with charcoal filtering left us, ultimately, with something that tasted sterile, like medicine, and stripped out all of the aroma.

    1. I don’t know what to tell you Ed. My first thought went to charcoal powder, like that the Japanese kura use to filter their sake. They mix in the powder and then filter it out. This does not remove the aroma and flavor for them.

      If you don’t have any luck removing the bad character you could try an infusion that would cover or convert it into something nicer.

      Good luck!

  3. Good day.

    I hope to see them well.

    I would like to know how to buy Koji kim so that I can make miso in my house.
    I know that the only place I can find Koji kim is there in USA or Japan . I wonder what the price here in Brazil Pomerode SC .
    Kind Regards.
    Airton José Toral
    +5504799406199
    joseairtontoral@gmail.com

    1. Toral,

      There is also some koji-kin that is out of Australia; vision brewing’s sake kit. It’s not really a sake kit but a pack of koji-kin. This is the most common koji-kin available here in the US through home brew shops. If you check the home brew shops it may also be available there. If you can’t find it locally, you can order koji-kin from this site. Click on the “Store” section and scroll down to the koji-kin.

      Thanks,

      Will

  4. Hi Will,

    Yeah, I ended up just trying to emulate the brewing water in that paper I linked (HA-N) by modifying my filtered municipal water that I typically use for brewing. Bring the Ca+2 level up was an issue, even when I resorted to using chalk and lactic acid (to neutralize some of the bicarbonate). The chalk mostly settled out and my balance was being unreliable so I have no idea what my final ion concentration is for this batch. I do know, however, my sulfate and bicarbonate levels are much higher than the miyamizu source. I think in the future I may try just yeast nutrient and KCl since my Mg levels aren’t much lower than the miyamizu water, and my calcium level is about 45ppm lower, making it impossible to bring up without adding a ton of undesirable ions. The moto is moto-ing right now (thanks for the speedy koji delivery), so I guess we’ll just wait and see.

    Cheers,
    -Josh

  5. Hi again,

    As a quick follow up, I found a great water chemistry resource. My questions about bicarbonate, chloride, and sulfate are not answered, but we do now have a more complete picture of the miyamizu water. The link here is to an analytical chemistry paper about the brewing water we’re trying to replicate. Table 1, the columns labeled “HA-N” and “HA-S” are two samples taken from the source used by many brewers. I’ll keep checking back in case you post something about my ion question.

    Cheers!
    -Josh

    https://www.terrapub.co.jp/journals/GJ/pdf/3701/37010001.pdf

    1. Josh,

      Hey thanks for the paper! I will read it as soon as I get a chance, probably this weekend. I am also sure that others will be interested in it too.

      Thanks again,
      Will

  6. Thank you Will for the speedy response. I was afraid that this “ultra premium” short grain rice was polished like all other table rice, but wanted to get your opinion.

    One more question regarding water chemistry. What are the effects of bicarbonate and sulfate on sake, and should I expect chloride to have the same effect as it does in beer (accentuates fullness/sweetness)? I’m trying to build a water profile that closely mimics the miyamizu water profile you’ve posted, but as you acknowledge it is impossible without adding these other ions. I can add lactic acid to neutralize some of the bicarbonate but that leads to an ion imbalance, which is typically avoided in beer brewing. It is impossible for me to match the calcium and magnesium levels without increasing my sulfate, chloride, and bicarbonate levels. I’m very comfortable with water chemistry adjustment for beer but sake is new to me (obviously).

    Thanks again for the guidance,
    -Josh

    1. Josh,

      I don’t really have any answers here. I’ve read a little about brewing water chem. but have not done it myself. BTW https://basicbrewing.com/ has had several recent experiments around beer and brewing water chem. Anyway, I usually modify the water for my Sake and find it makes a positive difference.

      Thanks,
      Will

  7. Hi,

    Just getting into sake brewing (collecting gear for my first batch as we speak, including your book), and I had a quick rice question. Do you know the polish ratio of tamanishiki or nozomi short grain rice? They are koshihikari and yumegokochi varieties, and are the only short grain I can find locally. I emailed the company and they said the polish ratio is proprietary. Also, what is the rice variety you’re selling at the store? Just curious.

    Thanks!
    -Josh

    1. Hey Josh,

      I do not know their polish level. However, table rice is generally milled to 90-93%, you can use this as a rule of thumb.

      The rice I carry is calrose a very common medium grain rice. SakeOne uses this rice for their sake and a portion of the rice they mill to 60% gets out to home brewers. This is where the rice I carry comes from.

      Thanks,
      Will

  8. Sake Kasu is a really great by-product. It makes great pickles and is a super umami marinade for fish. Kasezuke Salmon is one of my childhood favorites. Recipes are easily found on the internet.

    I’m a new brewer, but am working toward opening a Sakagura in Sonoma County, California. Yeah, smack dab in the heart of Wine Country. This is also the epicenter for a huge farm to table movement. There are several craft brewers, distillers, and cider makers within 20 miles of one another.

    My great Grandmother, came to California from Japan in 1906 and started making Sake & Shochu from table rice. She continued this practice until WWII and her evacuation from the West Coast. I’m trying to revive this tradition and have developed a good tasting Ginjo, so far. My little rice polisher was working really hard to get table rice to 60%. I’m working on a full bodied sake from 80% table rice, for Namazake, Nigori and Junmai products. More to come . . .

    1. Do you have information about where your great Grandmother was camped and whether she continued to make sake and shochu while there? I know of a researcher that is working on understanding what happened in one of the camps that I could connect you with if you are interested.

      Will

  9. Hi! I was wondering if you know what other sake producers do with the byproduct; the sakekasu and rice flour specifically. I’m looking for a way to reduce waste in my production. Any ideas? Thanks!

    1. Ryan,

      Kasu is sold in the supermarket in Japan for inclusion in recipes. I have seen it in cheese cake recipes where it might give the cheese cake a bit of a zing. You might check with some of the Asian cooking sites for more details on what is possible and common.

      Thanks,

      Will

  10. Hello! as a quick preamble… I haven’t posted on a forum in over 10 years! Here I go…

    I made my first 40 ounce batch of koji recently, following your videos Will. Even though I accidentally slept through one of the 2-3 hour checks (somewhere in the 30 hour range), and my koji reached an internal temperature of 115F for at least a few hours, the mold continued to metabolize and reproduce and seems to have more of less penetrated many of the grains, perhaps not quite to halfway deep. Still, I am hesitant to use this koji, and at the very least plan to make another 40 ounce batch, and mix the two batches together, and follow your 2 gallon day by day brew, doubling the recipe. Any thoughts on this?

    Sorry for the novel, but now to my real question. I have scoured the net looking for instructions on how to make koji-kin. I vaguely remember seeing instructions some years ago, I believe on this site, but now I can’t seem to find them. I am interested in this for the sake of taking control over the whole process and because I am interested in all aspects of cultivation. Knowledge is power! I would appreciate guidance to the right resources for doing this.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge, it is a beautiful thing.

    1. Michael,

      I am glad it is working so well for you. If your koji is pretty much all white it is fine, 115F is hot but I have had koji do this as well. As for making koji-kin it is pretty easy once you master koji making. To make koji-kin let the koji go longer than you normally would. It will start to turn greenish yellow. As it moves through this to a little darker green you can stop the process. Spread the koji out so that it will dry. A fruit dryer can help with this. Once very dry you can put this over ripe koji into a shaker. Next batch of koji just sprinkle some on. Most of what comes out of the shaker will be the spores (koji-kin).

      Thanks,

      Will

  11. Im on my 1st batch of Moto…

    Temp 75

    Day 4 … I had a good foaming going, rising high along the walls of the fermentor.

    Todays afternoon stir I noticed very small bubbles No High Rise Foam.

    Earlier (early a.m. stir) this morning on my I did scrape the walls of the fermentor.

    Are the small bubbles an indication of the yeast dying? Has my mash started to turn bad?

    1. Paul,

      This is OK, its not going bad. 75 is getting a bit warm though. Keep going and it all should be fine 🙂

      Thanks,

      Will

    1. The yellowish / greenish color is from the rice. This is normal. You are on your 6th batch and really should have seen this in each batch. The sake looks to have less color in the glass (smaller quantities) than it does in larger bottles. Commercial sake brewers use carbon filtering to remove the color and create a clear sake.

      Thanks,

      Will

  12. I’ve had some nice successes with homebrewing a few different batches of sake. I’m also an ardent beer brewer, and one thing I often practice with is re-pitching, or seeding a future batch with some unpasteurized wort from an older batch.

    As an experiment, in my last batch of sake I saved the sake-kasu and used it where I would normally add koji rice and yeast on a freshly cooled batch of sake rice. The result was a pretty solid sake. How long can this sake re-pitching go on? Will the koji or yeast eventually die out? Or is this like kombucha and sourdough, where you can perpetuate a mother culture indefinitely?

    Thank you for this resource!

    1. Stephen,

      I see no problem with repitching though it is not standard or traditional. Just like with beer, if the yeast are healthy you can reuse them.

      Thanks,

      Will

    1. Tony,

      The first book I would recommend is Sake U.S.A. by Fred Eckhardt (https://www.amazon.com/Sake-USA-complete-breweries-homebrewed/dp/0960630287/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408908965&sr=8-1&keywords=Sake+USA). It is out of print but sometimes you can find it at a reasonable price. Then there is my own book, Brewing Sake (https://www.amazon.com/Brewing-Sake-Release-Toji-Within/dp/1468147781/ref=pd_sim_b_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=1N6RT6K54JE8C8QC99EJ).

      Thanks,

      Will

  13. Making my first batch of Sake! Learned a ton so far and still having fun with this. 🙂 I racked to a 3 gallon carboy for secondary ferment but will probably move to 1 gallon jugs for my next racking round since there is a pretty significant head in the carboy…although I do have to say having just one container made things pretty easy from that perspective.

    The sake was very aromatic and sweet. Had almost a fruity smell (banana/coconut smell). Is that typical? Specific gravity of what I measured from the bottom of the bucket after pressing was 1.040. I tasted the lees, very nice flavor, definitely can taste the alcohol.

    1. Corey, Yes the fruity smell is normal. What aromas you get depends on the yeast you are using and the temperatures for the fermentation as well as the style (sokujo, yamahai, kimoto). Keep it up!

  14. I just made my first sake using the directions and ingredients from here. It turned out good, but it does have a slight yeasty/moldy/funky taste. Is this normal? If it is not normal, what can I do to help prevent this in my next sake?

    1. John,
      Letting the particles drop long enough is usually enough to remove the yeasty taste. If it is more moldy / funky that should not be there. Generally in sokujo (adding lactic acid) the bugs that cause this type of taste can’t get a hold and so do not cause a problem. With Yamahai (no addition of lactic acid) the bugs will get started and the final amount of flavor they add can be controlled by the temperature and length of time you let the moto go before starting the next stage. In yamahai these flavors can be a positive thing; adding complexity.

      Thanks,

      will

  15. Hi Will,

    Thanks for the great site. It is just what I needed to finally push me over the edge get my first batch of sake going. One question if I may; all of the recipes I have come across utilize one gallon jugs for secondary fermentation/bright tanks. As a home brewer of beer, I have several five gallon glass carboys hanging about and wondered if there was a downside to using one of them instead of the three one gallon jugs as described in your recipe?

    Cheers,

    Alex

    1. Alex,

      A carboy should work well to put the sake after pressing. However, for later rackings the head space is a problem. We don’t want to have that much contact with air. To counter this, if you have CO2, you can fill the head space with CO2 and this should be good. Using a single container makes the process simpler too. Three gallon carboys are available and are a bit better fit but have the same issues as the 5 gallon in terms of head space.

      Thanks,

      Will

  16. I’m so glad this site existst! I’m the kind of person who loves doing things himself! I’m currently growing tea plants to make my own teas, I make my own wooden furniture, and I’m looking forward to including brewing sake into this mix! I had never had sake until I got a bottle as a Christmas gift, and now it’s one of my favorites! But I’m not sure what kind of flavores to expect with my home brew! If I follow the recipe here strictly, what should I expect?

    1. Well it depend somewhat on the variations you choose while brewing. However, limit the variations and you will get a dry sake with melon notes.

  17. Hi,
    I just made my first batch of homebrew sake. It seems to me it is not strong enough though. I think I started to filter it a bit too early. I still have the rice, can I mix it back with the unpasteurized sake to continue the fermentation ?

    Thanks for your help

    1. I wouldn’t do that. There are lots of bugs that can get into your sake by recombining in this way. Your sake may be stronger than it seems. I would just move forward with the sake and enjoy it as it turns out and then adjust in your next batch as you like.

      Thanks,

      Will

  18. Thanks Will! Time to order your rice kit 🙂

    I am unsure if you have heard of a Sake called Perfect Snow. It is a Nigori-style sake with small grains of rice in the bottle. Do you know anything about that? Are these just some of the rice grains from the fermentation or are they new rice grains added later?

  19. Hi Will. I was just wondering, how would the steps to make sake differ to make a Nigori sake? It is my favorite style by far and I would enjoy making some.

    Thank you 🙂

    1. Kevin, Hi,

      Follow the same steps as you would for fully clear sake without using Bentonite, however, stop a little sooner than you normally would. So what am I really talking about. Well after the fermentation is complete we would press as normal and put the sake into a jug to settle. The lees that are still suspended in the sake will begin to fall out and settle on the bottom. For each time we rack to a new jug and let it settle the more clear the sake will be. I usually do this two or three times. For Nigori I would drop one or two of the racking steps.

      Maybe shoot for about 1.5 inches of lees on the bottom of a 3/4 full jug that has pretty clear sake. Shake it up before drinking and enjoy.

  20. so i strained and moved to gallon jugs with airlocks. just to see how things would turn out. they are sitting at 10 celsius. everthing started to settle out, but the color is almost yellow. should it be yellowish? any ideas?

  21. for the first couple days it was at 70* then i dropped it to 55 when i added the yeast. it dosnt smell bad or sour. at first it had hints of paint thinner, but that went away. the koji i used was Cold Mountain Koji.

    1. Well, I’m not sure what is wrong but next time don’t use the airlock on the moto. At the end of the two weeks it should be a little sour or tangy. What temperature do you keep the moto? What I am looking for is what might have shut down the yeast. It might be good to check the koji, mix little koji and freshly steam rice in a 1:1 ratio and let it sit somewhere where it will stay warm for several hours. Then check it to see if it tastes pretty sweet. If the starch is not getting converted to sugar there will be nothing for the yeast to work with.

      How does it smell? Like rice, a bit yeasty or something bad?

      Thanks,

      Will

  22. hello! quick question. i started a sake awhile back, used a sake yeast from Nothern Brewer. it showed up a bit to hot for my liking, but all the brew shops were out, so i used it. was a smack pack, it gave some swelling to the pack so i figured it was fine. all the other steps i used were from the TaylorMadeAK site. i followed it to a Tee. Koji was munching on rice fine, could hear it working through the fermenter. problem is i didnt get ANY bubble action in my airlock. was stuck with what to do next, so i got another smack pack. was at proper temp and made a 1.5l stater with corn sugar and let it build up for 24 hrs. pitched it in 3 days ago. still no action. am i screwed?

    1. OK, so it sounds like the first yeast was good. Are you putting an air lock on the moto? It should not have a air lock on it because you need the lacto bugs to infect it and create the needed lactic acid. The lactic acid keeps other unwanted bugs out and helps lower the pH to make it more comfortable for the yeast.

      If you made it through the moto OK and are in the additions or the moromi proper then you can have an air lock but you certainly don’t need on. This is not beer :-). During the addition you should have had lots of fermentation, foam and such… Did you get this?

      Thanks,
      Will

  23. Hey fellow sake brewers!

    Greetings from south Louisiana where the summers are very hot and humid. Growing koji is easy here since the ambient temperatures and humidity are ideal for molds. Fermenting however is a different story. Of the four batches of sake I have brewed in the last year – two have turned out very sour and I have no clear idea why.
    Does anyone have any clues as to what causes sake fermentation to have such sour flavors? I am following the Bob Taylor guide and have a dedicated refridgerator with a temperature controller. Receiving yeast via parcel post during the hot part of the year has been a challenge. The last packet of yeast received (and used) was in the 85 degree Farenheit range when I opened the package.
    – Mark

    1. Hey Mark,

      It could be that you are letting the moto go to long or too warm. This will increase the lactic acid and may be what you are seeing.

      As for the yeast, if you ask your local brew shop (beer or wine) to order the yeast for you they will get it very well packed (kept at the correct temp) and then you can pick it up in good shape.

      Thanks,

      Will

  24. Hi Will, I have a problem with my kome koji process. my first went very well, though a few grains had a grey mould growing over the white koji, which i picked out and went on to produce very nice sake. However my next batch, after being infused with confidence, i made 4x the quantity 1600grams. This time the grey mould was much more prolific and too much to pinch out, i went on to make the sake which turned out sour and being binned. I have just finished my 3rd batch of the same 1600grms being careful with cleanliness, and at 33hrs it looked and smelled great, then at 37hrs i take off the cloth and again i’m looking at extensive grey hairy mould through and over the rice. The taste and texture is fine, but being unsure of the cause of spoilage of my last sake brew i have frozen this batch.
    I will try a small batch of sake with some of this kome koji, but after my initial success i seem to be stumbling…..

    1. Chris,

      Your koji seems to be maturing faster than most but this is only a problem in that it is unexpected. At 33 hours is it fully covered with the white fussy mold? If so, it seems that you should treat it as done and cool it down and ready it for use. If you let it go too far you can let it go a little more to be a dark green and then dry it. This dried green koji can be used for starting new batches. Just put into some type of shaker and shake over newly steamed rice to shake off the green spores onto the rice.

      Thanks,

      Will

  25. Can I make a MISO using this koji? I am live in California.
    When six bags of this is purchased, how much is a mailing cost?
    if you buy ten or more bags, Can you discount for me?

    1. Yoko,

      The koji is $9 each and shipping for 6 of them is $37.45. This can be found by entering 6 koji to purchase on the products page and then checking the shipping amount on the shipping cart page.

      Thanks,

      Will

  26. Yeah, I have been thinking the same thing. If it doesn’t work, chalk it up to lesson learned, and go for round 2!
    Thanks again Will,

    Luke

  27. Will,
    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?

    1. Luke,

      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.

      Good luck,

      Will

  28. 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.

  29. 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.
    Several questions..
    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?

  30. Will,
    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.

    1. 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.

      Good luck!

  31. 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?

    1. Hey Luke,

      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,

      Will

  32. Clarification: I’m not making komekoji, but mixing pre-made (Cold Mountain) komekomi with steamed rice in the first stage of making sake.

    -d

    1. Don,

      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.

      Will

  33. Doing my first batch and the initial koji fermintation is giving off an ammonia odor. Is this expected? Or do I have some form of infection?

    -d

    1. Don,

      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.

      Will

  34. Hi there!

    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?

    Thanks for the wonderfully informative site!

    -Arnoud

    1. 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.

      Thanks,

      Will

  35. Hi Will-
    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.
    Thanks again!
    Gretchen

  36. 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.

    Thanks for all your efforts!

    Jim Lunger

  37. Thanks! I will try both!

    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!

  38. 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.

    Thanks!

  39. Will-
    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!
    Gretchen

    1. Hey thanks Gretchen,

      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.

      Try both!

  40. I would like to know how to add plum juice to sake. I know it involves plum juice straight from plums, not store bough juice, and sugar. The problem is that I don’t know proper ratios.

    1. Paul,

      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.

      Thanks,

      Will

  41. Could anyone please tell me if there are any companies in the U.S. that sell Rice that has already been milled for Sake (50% or better).

    Thanks,
    John

  42. Hey Will,

    You were right afterall. Gangs of malevolent bacteria have invaded my sake-to-be.
    I’ll give it another try next december. Wintertime.

    Speak to you later,
    J.J.

  43. 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!

    1. I am glad you found it helpful. You do have a way to go to complete fermentation. Keep us posted on your results 🙂

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