More Sake Yeast

This article contains information on the yeasts that the Japanese Central Brewers Union collects and distributes.

Last week I wrote about sake yeast but the post got to be longer than I intended so I cut it short. I left off a little of the more commonly mentioned information about the yeast strains collected and distributed by the Central Brewers Union.

You may recall from the last post that back in the early 1900s the Central Brewers Union in Japan started collecting pure strains from particularly good batches of sake. The Central Brewers Union then made these pure strains available to all breweries. These pure strains where given numeric designations. So far there are from #1 to #16 and the low foaming strains. Many breweries now use these yeast strains but many also use of private strains.

The following table summarizes the Japanese sake yeasts from the Central Brewers Union. Many of the yeast produce high acidity so their use has pretty much died out. These include #1-#6, #8 and #11-#13. This leaves less than half of those once in use. Of those left in use, sake home brewers have easy access to only two of them; #7 and #9.

Central Brewers Union Yeasts
Kyokai # A.K.A. Description
#1-#6 The acidity is too strong so use has died out.
#7 Mellow fragrance, strong in fermentation. Most commonly used yeast in the country. However, used mostly for lower grade like futsuu shu. It once was used for ginjo but was later displaced by #9 and now #10 in this respect.
#8 The acidity is too strong so use has died out.
#9 Kumamoto Kobo Highly flowery and fruity aromatics / fragrance, solid fermentation. Many ginjo yeasts are #9-based strains. From kura Koro.
#10 Ogawa Kobo Low acid, fine-grained flavor, strong  slow fermentation that performs best at lower temperatures. Commonly used in Tohoku. From Ibaraki prefecture brewery Meiri Shurui.
#11-#13 The acidity is too strong so use has died out.
#14 Kanazawa Kobo Low acid, pears and apples in nose. Used a lot in Shizuoka.
#15 Akita Kobo, AK-1 Very lively fragrance and characteristic nose/flavor; but needs to ferment slowly and at low temperatures.
#16 Hachiroku – 8.6. Super fragrant yeast from Gekkeikan Brewery.
Awa nashi kobo – The Foamless Yeasts
#601 Same as #6 but with less foam
#701 Same as #7 but with less foam
#901 Same as #9 but with less foam
#1001 Same as #10 but with less foam
#1601 Same as #16 but with less foam
Well over 40 Non-Central Brewers Union Yeasts

As for sake yeasts that are not part of the Central Brewers Union offerings, I only occasionally see references to them. I have not seen any structured presentation for them. So, I can’t say to much more about the non-association yeasts.

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10 thoughts on “More Sake Yeast”

  1. Well the sake is in the fridge, as it had all but stopped bubbling. Got a hydrometer yesterday and found the SG at 1.015, which is somewhat higher than I anticipated. It’s still got some sweetness too it, and the taste is quite nice, but I suspect the yeast didn’t have enough go in it to push the SG down further at the temperatures here (11C). The other possibility is I was impatient.

    Also the sake is just not clearing, even with some bentonite thrown in. Might be the arborio rice in this instance at fault. There is thicker dregs on the bottom, but the liquid all the way to the top is staying determinedly milky.

  2. I’m doing my first work up of the method here, but using Vintner’s Harvest SN9 instead of the 4134. It’s only been finished the additions a couple days so far, but the yeast seems to be doing it’s thing. Batch is sitting between 11C and 13C.

    I’ll note how it turns out in a few weeks time.

  3. I’m curious, how well do you think using a yeast not specifically meant sake would work?

    Finding those 2 yeast strains is proving rather tough where i am, and shipping charges from the US are quite high. But for instance the Lalvin ec118 and Lalvin c yeasts are readily available.

    1. I don’t have any direct experience with other yeasts. I have heard of people using white wine yeast for making sake that turns out OK and I have heard of using beer yeast with less success.

      If you use another yeast, please share the results with us.



    1. Jonathan,

      I don’t know the answer to this. I have not seen anything from White Labs or Wyeast that indicates whether their yeast are foaming or not foaming. I would think foaming. I’ll check and see if we can get a definitive answer.

  4. Beyond Wyeast 4134 (strain #9) and White Labs WLP 705 (strain #7), what other yeasts are available within the USA to experiment with?

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