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324 thoughts on “Forum”

  1. For nama, my understanding is it would get dryer as it sits in the refrigerator after racking as the still active enzymes do their work. At 35f, do you think it would slow down the enzymes to make the drying effect small? Do you have an idea how big the change will be over time? Thanks.

    1. Hey Matt,

      There are both enzymes and yeast that are present and remain somewhat active. It is the yeast that will continue over time to make the sake dryer by eating the sugars that they can. As the sugars they can process dwindle there will be less and less change at all temperatures. At 35F the yeast will not be very active even with significant sugar available. Despite this namas change over time even at 35F. It would be hard to define the rate of change but you can give it a try with different types of namas.

      Thanks,
      Will

      1. Thanks, Will
        For my first home brew sake, I think I will try a Nama. I am a beer homebrewer, so I have Kegs, CO2 tanks and a temperature controlled chest freezer, so that seems simpler to start. For my 2nd sake, I will then try pasteurization and secondary storage to make clear sake.
        Cheers,
        Matt

    1. Sorry Dylan,

      I can’t see what product you are looking at. Also, I have almost no experience with vinegar having only added a mother to wine once.

      Thanks,
      Will

  2. Hi Will,
    To take specific gravity readings on days 2 and seven of main fermentation do you strain the liquid going into the hydrometer vessel?
    Thanks
    Scott

    1. Hey Scott,
      To take specific gravity you want the liquid to be relatively free of solids so they don’t interfere with the hydrometer. Some solids at the bottom or floating will not cause a problem. After the measurement you can taste the sake to see how it is at that stage. Don’t put any back though.
      Thanks,
      Will

  3. Hey again Will (plus community–anyone else please feel free to answer my question),

    I am on day 10 of the Moromi (i.e. ten days from the first addition to the moto and seven days from the third). I had lots of foaming action going on at first. In fact, for the two days after the third addition I had to go stir every 6 hours or risk foaming over the top (I have a 5.5 gallon pail). However, I am surprised to see the foam is now virtually gone. Theres still a “snap crackle and pop” thing going on, so I can hear fermentation happening, but I am surprised the foaming has stopped. Is this normal? The surface is pretty solid looking with rice kernels, rather than liquid (reminds me of early on in the Moto). Am I somehow low on liquid? The pail is in a closed fermentation chamber but I do live in a very arid area. Maybe I’m loosing a lot to evaporation?

    I am using Wyeast #9 and temperature has been pretty constant at 11C.

    I can always email a photo.

    Any advice or reassurance is welcome.

    Thanks!
    Tyler

    1. Hey Tyler,

      It sounds like it is all going well. You are not low on liquid. You can punch the rice solids down while stirring but you don’t have to.

      Keep it up 😉

      Will

      1. Hey Will,

        Im nearly done the Moromi and it does still have a slightly funky smell and the “lid” is pretty robust. I am hoping to salvage it. At the moment, it doesnt smell too appealing lol. Based on John Gauntner’s description, it sounds like this may be the result of wild yeast and that the thick lid means the sake may be harsh and acidic. I was thinking of doing a small Yodan rice/water addition to mellow it out a bit. I was going to add this tomorrow and give it 1 or 2 days before transfering off. I want to dilute to 12% ABV for a nice sessionable sake (like Masumi Shiro) so I’m not too worried about the lose in ABV.

        Am I on the right track here or am I out to lunch?

        Best,
        Tyler

        1. Hey Tyler,

          I’d taste the sake first. It should not smell bad at this point. As you say it may be infected. If so, tasting the sake before sweetening it up or otherwise trying to change it will give you a better idea of where you are at. If it tastes bad, sweetening will not help. That said I once made a sake that was infected and did not smell very good. After all processing it tasted a lot like chardonnay. So, give it a taste and determine where to go from there.

          Thanks,
          Will

          1. Hey Will,

            After pressing, it was clear that the bad smell was coming from the dry bits along the top of the fermentor from when it foamed. The sake itself smells boozy and fruity.

            I gave the amount I used for the hydrometer (1.002 reading) a quick pasteurize and taste to see where I am at. It didn’t taste particularly good. Not “off” but not good. Quite bitter, surprisingly. I’m just wondering what sake should be expected to taste like at this point and if this is fairly normal for this stage and if the flavour is going to change much through all the clarifying and aging. I watched the “Birth of Sake” and the brewers seemed to think the sake tasted pretty good immediately after pressing.

            p.s. I took a refractometer reading and using the formula from your book, the sake is at a whopping 25% abv. I suspect this is a little skewed as it was my first time using the refractometer and I didn’t have distilled water on hand to calibrate.

            Thanks,
            Tyler

          2. Hey Tyler,

            Good to here that the batch itself was not infected!

            The taste will change but not that dramatically. The bitterness may be coming from the koji, that would be normal. It is likely very dry which can give it harsh overtones that will round a bit as it ages. If it is dryer than you like, consider amelioration. You can find instructions for this on the recipe page. Maybe try it with just a sample to see if this would help before doing the full batch.

            Thanks,
            Will

  4. Hey Will,

    In your book (p.163) there is mention of calculating the water addition to lower the ABV but no value is given. I assume this is in gallons? I’m just hoping to double check.

    Best,
    Tyler

    1. Hey Tyler,

      Sorry I have not kept up with your posts.

      1. I don’t think there is a problem with the shubo. Keep going and trust the process.
      2. While not optimal and certainly not what the Javanese producers would like, I don’t think the broken rice will cause the batch to be funky.
      3. Page 163 has an error on it. It should be water addition = (VolumeG * CABV/TABV)- VolumeG. The error is the missing G on the second Volume. Your assumption is correct.

      You’re the first person I know that has milled a full batch of rice with the TwinBird. It will be very interesting to see how the batch turns out.

      Thanks,
      Will

      1. Hey Will,

        No problem at all! Appreciate all the feedback.

        Thanks for clarifying the formula. I’ve adjusted it in my own personal little brew binder.

        The shubo is smelling fairly good. Heavy banana and yeast notes. Just a slight musky sour smell but I honestly think thats me just confusing that with yeast. The fermentation is pretty steady from 18-19C from day to day. Tomorrow I drop to 15C ahead of the Moromi.

        I’m actually going to run some experiments tomorrow with different settings on the Twinbird. I think I can get it to do a better polish job and less breaking by switching the mode around. I just realized you can even fine tune the speed. I have about 11kg of Koshihikari left and plan to polish all of it (assuming I get the Twinbird polishing properly) and mix it in with the ~5 lb broken rice to “diffuse” it. I start the Moromi on Saturday so tomorrow is going to be a busy day with the Twinbird. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.

        For your reference, during the first session with the Twinbird, the total weight of the full amount (11 4go batches) went from 7128g to 5745g at about ~5min a batch. Then, it went from 5745g to 4856g (9ish 4go batches) at about ~5min a batch. I nearly hit 60% in just two hours. However, as I said, the grains appear broken so once I get the Twinbird producing results I am happy with, I will see if this efficiency is kept up. It does look like a newer model than when you ran your experiment.

        Thanks again,
        Tyler

  5. What an awesome site. Thank you!
    I am at day 2 and added koji, yeast and steamed rice. The steamed rice was maybe a tad too dry. It soaked up all the liquid and got totally solid. I added some water to leave the yeast some liquid. Is this ok?

    Thanks
    Gerd

    1. Hey Gerd,

      Yes, that should be fine. Most likely it would have been ok, but no harm no foul. The enzymes in the koji hydrolyze the starch producing lots of liquid.

      Thanks,
      Will

      1. Thank you for your reply! Now I got another question, I hope you don’t mind 🙂
        My Shubo is extremely bubbly and active after only one day. I posted a picture here:
        https://www.reddit.com/r/Koji/comments/l2iqum/shubo_questions/

        I am a bit lost now. Should I continue with day 6? Or just continue to stir. It was like this yesterday. Today it already calmed down to a light “sizzle” (sorry, I am missing the right word here).

        Thank you!

        Best
        Gerd

        1. Hey Gerd,
          Continue to follow the recipe you are using. It will guide you all the way through. Notice what happens so that you’ll know what to expect next time. It might be a bit scary but take it step by step and it will turn out fine.

          Thanks,
          Will

          1. I will do so. I stepped to the main mash a little bit earlier. But from that on I followed the recipe to the point. I am doing my second addition tomorrow.
            It is very scary at the first attempt =P
            But the smell is already promising…

            Thanks
            Gerd

  6. Hi Will,

    I’ve been traveling to Japan for years and brewing my own beer for sometime now. I actually study early human-crop relations in Japan (Paleoethnobotany) which is why I have been to Japan so much, so it seems inevitable that I would make the jump from beer to Sake. I just picked up your book!

    I have only one major hurdle: Rice. I live in Northern Canada and rice is a commodity here and there is little selection. I can order some of the variants with high shinpaku online, but I assume they will all need to be milled down a little to 60% (I want to make Ginjo or DaiGinjo grade). I am hoping to avoid going the TwinBird route for now, and your book gave the impression that 60% milled rice is a pretty normal thing and easy to find. Could you point me to some specific examples/sources? I am having trouble finding the polish percentage ever specified.

    I considered just ordering straight from the site here but the shipping is a bit extreme for my location.

    Thanks!
    Tyler

    1. Tyler, Hi,

      In terms of rice milled for sake and small (homebrew size) batches the only places I know for you to get rice is here and Minnesota Rice and Milling.

      Short or medium grain table or sushi rice will work well. Generally they are milled to about 93% so you can’t use them to make Ginjo but they can still make fine sake.

      As for the twinbird personal rice mill, for me it is just not practical. The batch size is too small to be useful.

      Thanks,
      Will

      1. Hi Will,

        Thanks for the reply. I ended up getting a newer model Twinbird and it seems like they have gotten more efficient–Just FYI. I went from 93% to ~75% on my first round (doing the total required rice in 4go batches at a time and then setting them aside to cool for a second round). The second round average 4go batch went from ~75% to ~61%. In total it only took me about 3 hours rather than 6 (I cooled the spinning arm in an ice bath between each batch).

        Minnesota Rice will only ship commercial orders outside of the States (1000kg minimum order haha…). My hope is Artisan Sake Maker in BC will try growing Yamadanishiki again and get to the point where they produce more than they need and will sell.

        I didn’t realize I dont get an email notification to a reply, so I’ll have to skim the website for your other replies. But I do have a question:

        My shubo is underway. Its the morning of day 1. But it smells a little sour. Is that normal this early on?

      2. Hey Will,

        To follow up on my last reply. I took a look at the rice under the microscope and virtually all of it appears broken rather than polished. Very disappointing.

        I did another test batch with the polisher and had the same thing (so its not heat). Not sure why the Twinbird is breaking them rather than polishing.

        I guess my first batch is gunna taste pretty funky.

        -Tyler

  7. Will,
    Having problems measuring SG. I am at day 34 so should be ready for pressing. However there still seems to be a good deal if bubbling going on. Should I go ahead and press or wait until the fermentation stops.
    Thanks

    1. Hey Scott,
      Waiting for no activity will give you the driest possible sake. Taste it to see what you think of it now. It will seem a little sweeter than it does after pressing but close. If it is too sweet let it ferment. If it is getting too dry for you or is just right, go ahead and press.
      Thanks,
      Will

      1. Thanks Will. I think I waited a little too long. It’s really dry. Can I sweeten it up ? If so how and when? I pressed it today

  8. Hi Will,
    Does your sake end up clear, and if so how. Mine is always yellow. Bentonite does not seem to take the yellow color out. I have been trying to figure out how to use charcoal but have not seen a home brew friendly application.

    1. Hey Scott,
      The yellowish tint is normal. I have not tried to remove this.

      You could look at the charcoal mixture used for home distilling or some of the post distilling filters. You could even try the brita water filter.
      Thanks,
      Will

  9. Hi Will, I am trying my hand at making some Sake and following a recipe from the internet. I have used Japanese rice and a slap pack of Koji and yeast. The fermetation seemed to go well the only thing I’m not sure of is the smell of the Kasu, should it have a strong cheese aroma? or is there something wrong?

    Regards,

    Ron.
    Exeter, UK.

    1. Hey Ron, Hi,
      I know of no slap pack koji product, can you say more of what this is?
      I would not expect a cheesy aroma, this sounds like there may be a bacterial infection.
      Thanks,
      Will

      1. Hi Will,
        Thanks for the reply.
        This was the product I used:
        Wyeast ™ 4134 Sake Yeast

        Sake #9 used in conjunction with Koji for making wide variety of Asian Jius (rice based beverages). Full bodied profile, silky and smooth on palate with low ester production.

        Flocculation: Low
        Attenuation: NA
        Temperature Range: 60-75°F, 15-24°C
        Alcohol Tolerance: 14% ABV

        1. Thanks Ron,

          OK, so I may have misunderstood, but that is only sake yeast and does not include koji. Were you using that for both the yeast and koji? If so, that explains some of what happened. The koji is needed to convert the starches in the rice to sugar for the yeast to convert to alcohol. Koji is a mold covered rice and it is the mold that makes the enzymes needed to do the conversion.

          Thanks,
          Will

          1. Hi Will,

            Yep, my mistake, I read about it on another website and took the information as read, which was wrong!!! So now looks like I have a very cheesey fermented rice rather than Sake. I think I’ll start again!!!

  10. G’day Will,

    Quick question on the water chemistry for the Sokujo-moto. Can’t find Morton Salt Sub so I have pure KCl to use instead but don’t know the percentage of KCl in the Morton product. Should I adjust the amount of pure KCl or just use a teaspoon?

    Cheers.

    1. Hey Steve,

      KCl is 52% potassium while Morton salt substitute is just over 50.8%. For our purposes these two are just about the same. So you can use the same amount of either one that you have.

      Thanks,
      Will

      1. Thanks for your help so far Will, all seems to be coming along well now.

        I’m up to the pressing stage and was considering the Honjozo addition but wondered if that would kill the yeast and prevent any secondary fermentation, or can I expect the yeast to survive? I plan to press just 12 hours after adding the alcohol.

        Thanks again,
        Steve.

        1. You are welcome.

          Adding the alcohol will at least slow the yeast’s productivity if not kill them but that should not be a problem if you are planning to press shortly thereafter.

          Thanks,
          Will

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