On this site I have mostly focused on sake ingredients. This has left open a big whole for many who might like to make sake, and can now easily get the ingredients, but have no clean way to find what they need in terms of equipment and where to get it. I believe that the best solution would be for me to carry the equipment as well but I have not met with success in this area. While I will continue to work towards this outcome it is passed time for me to help you understand what you can do and where you can go for equipment. To this end, I list below all the equipment needed and where it can be purchased.
To keep this post as strait forward and clear as possible I will only give one example for each of the pieces of equipment. This does not mean the example I have is the best, cheapest, or anything else. They are simply examples. You could simply purchase every item needed from the links below and you would do just fine. On the other extreme, you could use the information below as a starting point for your search in which item you will ultimately purchase.
First up, the steamer:
12″ Steamer – Need 1: ($30)
Next up are the fermentation vessels. You need one for the moto and one for moromi. The one for moto can be pretty small, 2-4 quarts are just fine. The one for moromi should be much larger, about 5 gallons or 20 quarts is needed to ensure the foam from fermentation does not overflow your container:
3.5 Quart Food Grade Fermenter Bucket – Need 1: ($2.50)
6.5 Gallon Food Grade Fermenter Bucket – Need 1: ($14.50)
Next up is pressing, siphoning and transferring paraphernalia. Saka bukuro (bags to capture the kasu (lees)) are very helpful and just about the easiest way to strain a high percentage of the lees out of the sake. These can be used with or without a press.
Fine weave straining bag – Need 1: (~$5.00)
I, myself, don’t use a press to this day but many of those I highly respect do. One example press type is a cheese press.
Small press – Food Grade Polypropylene – Strictly optional:($130)
After straining and pressing you need vessels to put the sake that results. One gallon glass jugs work nicely for this. You might also want to have a funnel but these are common enough that I will not include prices and examples.
1 Gallon Glass Jug – Need 6: ($4 each, so 6 for $24)
As we are using these jugs for the secondary fermentor, we will put an air lock on it.
Fermentation locks to go on the glass jugs – Need 6: ($1.10 each, so $6.60)
And every air lock needs a stopper. For those who have not seen one of these before, the air lock above is slid tightly into the center hole of the stopper below and the two together are fit tightly into the mouth of the jug. With water in the air lock the only gas that goes in or out will need to go under water first. The bit of ferment that is still continuing will be generating CO2 and so as the pressure of the CO2 rises in the jug it will force its way out by going through the water.
Drilled Stopper for glass jugs – Need 6 but the size needs to match the jug mouth, will need to check at purchase time: ($1.50 each, so $9)
After the sake has conditioned in the secondary jug for a while more of the lees will settle to the bottom of the jug. By racking or transferring the sake from one set of jugs to a second set we can take just the clearest sake off the top by siphoning. One of the easiest ways to do this is with the use of an auto siphon.
Auto Siphon (from Fermtech) / Racking Cane – Need 1: ($9)
You can’t use a racking cane without some tubing(hose) to carry the siphoned sake to the target vessel.
3/8″ ID Siphon Hose (to match racking cane OD) – Need 6-7 feet: ($0.35 per foot = $2.45)
Other pieces of equipment that you will need but should have around the house are:
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Bowls you can used to rinse, wash and soak the rice
- A long handle spoon for stirring the moto and moromi
- A Funnel mentioned above
- Pan or double boiler in which a bottle of sake can be placed in a water bath for pasteurization
- A thermometer with range from about 40F – 160F
- Need to have a set of vessels for the final sake to go into. These can be the jugs themselves but in most cases you will use other bottles. The main requirement is that you can seal them: screw cap, cork or crimped cap will all work fine.
Additionally a hydrometer and glass is very nice to have to measure the specific gravity of the sake. Together they can be quite reasonably priced.
Hydrometer – Nice to have 1: ($6)
Hydrometer Jar – Nice to have 1: ($4)
Finally it is good to have a good sanitizer.
Cleaning – Star San – I use BTF Iodophor but I think there is a problem shipping it.($5 40z. or $9 1/2Liter)
Well, I think that about covers it. Adding all of this, except the cheese press, gives $122.05. Now, some of the sights given will have more than the item in question and combining items from a single supplier will result in much lower shipping costs. So if cost is a concern you will be able to do better by consolidating your purchases.
Temperature control is very important for brewing sake. Given this a reasonable temperature controller is needed for consistant brews.
The two most popular are the Ranco ($99) and the Johnson ($79) controllers.
The way these work is they monitor the temperature and turn on and off the power provided to a 120V plug. You plug the device you want to control into the controller and set the temperature you want to maintain. Then when the controller detects the temperature is out of range it will turn on the power for the device to bring it back into range. All of this just works in one direction, that is, either heating or cooling. A more expensive version will control both a heating and cooling device at the same time.
Cooler / incubator for making koji. A good cooler works well as an incubator for making koji. Add a way to keep it at the desired temperature and the process gets easier. This on is $110.
A standard cooler can also be used with a small heater like a heating pad or the like.