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MAKING really good SAKE AT HOME Using the more efficient Sokujo-moto method, with well polished sake brewery rice and fresh brewery koji a day by day plan

Fred Eckhardt, (c) 1976, 1982, 1993, 1997, 2004, 2007, 2008

all rights reserved may not be reproduced for sale (other than reproduction / distribution costs)


Sake is unique among fermented beverages, in that the sugar is being produced from starch – by enzymes – simultaneously with the fermentation process – by yeast. The alcohol content can be very high: 16-20% by volume, depending on the rate of polish on the rice (the more polish the lower the alcohol content). Because of the cool temperature requirements of the ferment, it is best to make sake in the late fall to early spring or use refrigeration.

This recipe makes what the Japanese call Nihonshu, Japanese shu (rice beer). It is also called Seishu: refined shu or rice beer. We have come to call it “sake” which is another pronunciation of “shu”. They share the same Chinese character.

“Refined.” Now that ought to tell the reader something. IT’S NOT SIMPLE. You want simple? Make wine. Get used to it. All-grain beer brewing is not simple either; but if you want that, you do what it takes. Sake brewing is no more difficult, in fact it is easier. All grain brewing takes all day. Sake brewing takes longer, but the steps are much easier. THE HARD PART IS DOING THINGS IN THE RIGHT ORDER. You will have better success brewing sake if you follow this day-by-day sequence of events, and plan your brewing schedule accordingly. You can make adjustments. You don’t have to be a slave to this schedule. However, the closer you can adhere to it, the better will be your finished sake. It is important to note that you will need a half day’s time for 3 out of 4 days during the main mash buildup. I suggest a long weekend for starters. Arrange your brewing schedule with that in mind (see calendar at end).

Let me suggest that you make a copy of this master recipe, and mark it with date-time notes about when those tasks need to be accomplished. This will provide a game plan for each sake batch you brew. In addition to that, you should keep an accurate log of the brewing activities for each batch. This particular recipe is designed for using brewery koji and brewery polished rice, both polished to around 60-70%. It should be noted that different polishing ratios require different rice preparation, but these will probably work for any of the highly polished rice you will find on the market.

We are happy to acknowledge the help and assistance of the brewers and management of SakeOne Brewing, Forest Grove, Oregon, especially CEO Steve Boone, former CEO Grif Frost, former CEO Steve Chun, former chief sakemakers Chris Harrison and Abednego Barnes and Chief Sakemaker Greg Lorenz.


You need normal winemaking equipment: two food-grade plastic open-topped primary fermenters (2.5-gallon and 5-gallon sizes), a plastic sheet to cover same; several (6) closed secondary storage vessels such as 1-gallon or 4-liter bottles; about 7ft (2.1m) of 3/8-inch (9.5mm) plastic siphon hose and several fermentation locks. You will also need a fairly large double- or triple-deck steaming vessel of at least 2-gallon capacity (35-40cm/14-16 inch, (which can be found here in Portland at Fubonn Super Market, 2850 SE 82d, Portland); a small plastic (or wood wine) press; a specific gravity hydrometer and hydrometer jar are also desirable. Most of this equipment is found at any beer or winemaking supply store (yellow pages under Home Beermaking Supplies or Home Winemaking Supplies).


All of the equipment used in the fermentation and pressing or bottling of the finished or fermenting product must be absolutely sterile. A sterile solution can be made using about 6ml (1-1/4tspn) Iodofor BTF in a gallon/4liter of water. This is iodine: odorless and tasteless at this concentration. It takes 2- 5-minutes to work, does not have to be rinsed, and will not damage stainless steel equipment as will chlorine bleach. The solution is brown at first and can be reused. When it goes to yellow change the solution. You can also use 2-tablespoon of household chlorine bleach in a gallon of water. Rinse the equipment carefully in this solution, and allow to drain completely before using. Water rinse is usually not necessary, as this low concentration will likely dissipate soon and not leave any flavor in the finished sake, but there is no guarantee; the Iodofor is better.


Rice consists mostly of starches, which must be converted to fermentable sugars before a yeast ferment can take place to produce alcohol. The outer layers of the rice grain contain concentrations of protein and crude fats which contribute off-flavors to finished sake. The best sake rice is the so-called short-grain rice which may be polished extensively to produce higher quality sake. Dinner rice is polished to 93% (losing 7% of its mass as rice “flour”); while sake rice is polished to 70% (or even more in the case of premium sake). This recipe is designed for use with such highly polished rice, but not dinner rice. It should also be noted here that different polishing ratios require different steeping and steaming times. If you wish to use dinner rice (Homai, Kokuho Rose, etc.), follow the directions in my book Sake (USA) or those in my earlier recipes in this series, some of which are found on the Internet at

The sake brewer separates 20-25% of the total rice (we use 25% here), from which to grow kome koji or rice koji and which we’ll simply call koji. Koji is produced by inoculating the rice grains with a mold (koji-kin: aspergillus Oryzae a relative of Penicillium). These mold spores are also called “seed” or tane koji. Growing your own koji is a bit tedious, so we have by-passed that 2-day process in favor of using commercially available brewery koji. Please note that you can NOT produce usable koji by merely adding rice and water to some kome-koji. CAN NOT. You must use home grown koji, OR commercially grown koji. Period. This recipe calls for 40-ounces (1.13 kg) of brewery koji. Other commercial koji and koji-kin are available on the market. See SOURCES (end).


Your water should be relatively soft, with no iron in it at all. Do NOT use water that has ANY iron in it. If your water is not soft, dilute with, or use, distilled or deionized water. If so, you may wish to add the Morton Salt Substitute as a water hardner in the yeast mash. This is the only generally available chemical addition with a good concentration of proper nutrients and water adjustment for sake brewing to match the famous Japanese miyamizu (heavenly water): potassium chloride, fumaric acid, tri- and mono-calcium phosphate.

Extra water (to reduce alcohol to the normal commercial level 15-16%abv) should be added much later at the Yodan stage, e.g. about 28-oz (830ml) will make sake with normal commercial ABV of 16%. Be very careful; such water, once added, cannot be removed. Pay attention to our warnings throughout this recipe.


The yeast needs other nutrients: Epsom salts and regular winemaker’s yeast nutrient will suffice. The alcohol content may be controlled by varying the addition of water late in the procedure (Stabilization Stage — yodan). Our recipe will produce about 2-USgallons (7.6-liters) of full strength 18.5 – 19.5% alcohol (by volume — genshu strength) sake. Adding more water will produce additional sake, but with lower alcohol content. Use of even more highly polished rice (to 50% or more), will also reduce possible alcohol content by a small amount, while greatly improving the sake’s quality.


(Two gallon single recipe–may be halved, doubled or tripled)

10-lbs Brewers polished rice (to 58-70%) 4.54kg
2.5-lbs(40-oz) Koji 1.13kg
2-USgal Water 7.6 l
PLUS acid adjustment using lactic acid if possible:

1-tspn              Lactic acid 88%                                               3.8ml

or, alternately, if no lactic acid is available:

8/10-tspn        Winemakers citric acid, or acid blend              4.1gm

AND the following:
3/5-tspn Winemaker’s yeast nutrient (or FermFed) 4gm
A pinch of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate–MgSO4) 0.7gm
yeast WyEast sake yeast K9 strain (type #3134) Tube
1.25-tspn Morton Salt Substitute (only)

Or Potassium Chloride [both are optional]



This recipe is for brewery polished rice (to 70 -50%) and koji.

For each addition prepare the rice as follows:

1. Cover the rice with 2- 3-inches (50- 75mm) of very cold water; wash and work the rice (intermittently by hand) while steeping for about an hour (with several changes to remove the rice starch), and drain for another hour before using. The object here is to add moisture to about 25-30% by weight. I don’t recommend it, but you COULD steep for 6- 11-hours and drain for 1-hour (which is not as good — but might be more convenient for your work schedule; perhaps allowing you to do that step the night before), with only a minimal effect on the quality of the finished product.

3. Place the rice in the double deck steamer – which must have plenty of water in the bottom to allow for the long 1-hour steam. The rice is not boiled, but steamed – separated above the boiling water – for an hour.

4. The koji for each addition (except that for the very first step – the shubo or yeast mash) is always added to the mash about 12 hours before adding the freshly steamed rice for that addition. At that time also add half of the water for the next addition as well. Refrigerate the other half of that water overnight. This will help cool the freshly steamed rice when that is ready (the next day after 12-hours).



Dinner rice needs different treatment than our brewery rice (above).

1. Wash the dinner rice completely and thoroughly in running cold water to remove all starch powder.

2. Cover the rice with 2- 3-inches (50- 75mm) of very cold water, and stand in your refrigerator to soak for about 18-hours before using. Properly soaked rice is slightly less than crunchy and nibbles easily (if it’s squishy it has soaked too long, if very crunchy it’s not soaked long enough). Don’t forget there is an entirely different procedure for dinner rice.

3. Drain off the cold water, and place the rice in the steamer — which must have plenty of water in the bottom to allow for the long 45-minute steam. The rice is not boiled, but steamed, separated above the boiling water in the steamer. Steamed rice is ready when it is not quite Al dente (as for spaghetti), it should not be soft and gooey as cooked rice is.  After steaming, the grains separate easily, although they do have some tendency to stick to each other.

4. The koji for each addition (except that for the very first step, shubo or yeast mash) is always added to the mash 12- 18-hours before adding the rice for that addition. Add the koji portion, for each addition, directly to the fermenter at the same time that you set the rice, for that addition, to soak in the refrigerator.


Brown rice can be used, but it is not recommended. Brown rice has too many nutrients, proteins and fats, which will encourage souring infections in the ferment. If you insist on making genmai-shu or brown rice sake, follow the domestic dinner rice procedures (above), but add 10% more rice in all additions, and soak each addition for 36-45 hours (instead of 18) and you must steam the rice an hour-and-a-half to two hours (instead of 45-minutes). Check the progress of steaming by squeezing a grain between your fingers. It should squeeze under pressure, but squishing easily indicates too long a steam. Finally, leave out the nutrients mentioned earlier. Do not use or make koji from brown rice. Use commercially polished rice koji (polished to 70 to 90%). Again, there is an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT PROCEDURE to make Brown Rice sake.


Yeast Mash day 1 First  Addition day 8 Middle Addition day 10 Final Addition day 11 Totals
Steamed rice ounces 12


20 12.5% 48






cups (8oz) 1.6 2.7 6.5 ~11(bal) ~21
grams 340 570 1360 2270 4540
Koji ounces 4


7.25 20% 11.25 30% 17.5 40% 40


cups (8oz) 0.75 1.5 2.25 ~3.5


grams 115 205 320 500 1135
Water fl. Ounces 20




70 27.6% 128 56.3% 240
cups 2 1/2 2 3/4 8 3/4 16 30
cc/ml 590 650 2070 3790 7100
8-oz Cup weights:

sake ratios are all volumetric

1 cup rice = 7.5oz
1 cup koji = 5oz

Percent values of total: Water volume is 126% of rice/koji volume. Additional water is needed, after the ferment, to reduce the alcohol level to a more reasonable 16.5%abv for normal consumption. Percentage notes are a percent of the total for each addition.


The ingredients are assembled in the fermenter in five increments:

1.  Shubo or yeast mash.

2.  Moromi or main ferment, consisting of

a. Hatsuzoe, first addition

b. Nakazoe, middle addition

c. Tomezoe, final addition.

d. Yodan or stabilizing addition.

The various stages of fermentation require different temperatures. These can be as low as 40F/4.4C which would probably require refrigeration, and warmer (50-60F/10-16C) which might call for a cellar, or at least a cooler time of the year, such as fall-winter-spring. Some of the ferment is done as warm as 73F/23C which would require a warm room. I solve these problems by fermenting in the winter and moving the ferment about my house and garage to achieve the necessary temperatures for the various stages. Careful temperature control is essential to making good sake.

For the most part: cooler is better. Since the end of the 16th century Japanese sake brewers have centered their sake production in winter (kan-zukuri-zake). We suggest you do likewise.


(total time 7-days)

The brewing process begins with the yeast mash or shubo as it is called. Our original recipe in Sake (USA) used very traditional methods to start the shubo. This was a modification of the original ancient, and traditional, method for preparing the yeast mash called yamahai moto, it is still used by some Japanese sake brewers to this day. That method was tedious and convoluted, but entirely natural, except that one could add yeast to the mash. This complicated procedure made sake brewing seem far more difficult than it was. The real difficulty lies in organizing the steps of the process, so as to do each in its proper turn, as we have done here.

This recipe incorporates a more modern procedure which has the advantage of being simpler to carry off, while also reducing the acidity of the finished sake. The long yamahai mash relied on natural lactobacillus for pH reduction. In this procedure, called sokujo-moto, you add an acid adjustment. The net result is lower total acid in the end product and simpler production steps. While the sokujo method was invented in 1909; it has been improved and updated often since that time. It is currently the most popular yeast mash production method in use by Japanese sake brewers. Commercial lactic acid (88%) is called for, but homebrew and winemaking supply stores don’t always stock lactic acid. If that is the case, you could also use the equivalent, and more available, but not as good, dry citric acid.


We give temperature ranges here. Always try for the lowest end temperature in each case. I accomplish this by moving the ferment about my house, using the basement and garage where necessary; as I do not have temperature controlled aging spaces. I, in the fashion of the ancientas well as modern Japanese, do my sake ferments in the winter (kan-zukuri-zake).


1.   a. Important Please note that you must add very active yeast to this yeast mash: (#4.a. below) and that means you must start the incubation of your WyEast packet early enough. The yeast MUST be stored under refrigeration. Bring the packet to a warm temperature 80F/27C, about twenty-four hours ahead of time to ensure the yeast to be fully active when added. A high concentration of yeast cells (10-5 to 10-9/mg) is needed at that time.

2.   a. That evening, prepare 2.5 cups (20-oz/600ml) good brewing water that has been de-chlorinated by standing for a couple of days. The water should be low in hardness (less than 200 ppm), and with no iron content at all. If your water department uses sodium or calcium chloride as the active agent to chlorinate your water supply, do not use that water; instead, dilute with distilled, or de-ionized water. You can verify all this by calling your water department. Don’t use hard water either (over 200ppm), at least not for the shubo mash.

b. To this water, add the water adjustment chemicals: the lactic acid 88% solution (1-teaspoon/3.8ml) or winemaker’s citric acid (4/5-teaspoon/4gm) [to prevent harmful wild yeast growth]; the winemaker’s yeast nutrient (3/5-teaspoon/4gm); Epsom salts (pinch/0.7gm); and Morton’s Salt Substitute (optional but no other brand please), (1-1/4 teaspoon/7gm); stir to thoroughly dissolve all of those chemicals – they provide nutrients for yeast growth.

c. Separate a half cup (4-oz/120ml) of this treated water, and put that in the refrigerator. Cover the remaining treated water, 2 cups (16-oz/480ml), and store in a cool place (about 59-64F/15-18C) overnight.

d. Clean and sterilize a small three-quart wide-mouth flat bottomed vessel to use as a fermenter for your shubo.

e. If you have stored your koji in the freezer move it into your regular refrigerator. Keep it refrigerated until you actually use it.


3.   Wash and steep 1.6-cups (12-oz/340gm) rice: wash/steep for 1-hour and drain for 1-hour at room temperature. Ordinary cold tap water will do for this.

4.   a. Now add the fully active WYeast Smack pack (activated as per instructions) contents to the 2-cups of water you left standing 24-hours (at 70-5F/21-4C). Leave this sit for an hour, while the rice is draining, and:

b. Add 8/10-cup koji (4oz/115gm) to the water yeast mixture (above #4.a.), and stand for another hour. Check the temperature of the mix, which should still be around 70-5F/21-4C. If you checked the pH, (which isn’t necessary); you’d probably find it at 3.6-3.8 or so. Do this while the rice is steaming (1-hour).

c. Steam the rice 1-hour, and then cool it with the four ounces of chilled water (#1c above). Add this to the water-koji mix. The resulting temperature should be somewhere around 75F/24C. If it is too warm, (above 90F/32C), the heat may damage the live yeast. Do what you can to get the temperature to 72F/22C as soon as possible (i.e. float a sterile container of ice cubes in the mash).

d. Mix gently, but well, by folding the rice – water – koji – yeast mix for about 5-minutes. Gently and smoothly, please. (A sterilized stainless steel stirring spoon is OK for this). Cover with a plastic sheet. Keep the mix out of strong light which can damage sake.


5. 12-hours later — stir gently again for about five minutes. By now the rice-mash cake may rise above the water.


6. Stir gently twice (morning and evening, at about 12-hour intervals). During this period gradually raise the temperature to 73F/23C and maintain that temperature as best you can.


7. Continue to maintain the temperature (73F/23C) through the sixth day and stir twice daily (at 12-hour intervals).


Continue to maintain the temperature (73F/23C) through sixth day and stir twice daily (at 12-hour intervals), .


Continue to stir twice daily (at 12-hour intervals).


8. Stir once and start lowering the temperature gradually from 73F-23C to 59F/15C by the end of the eighth day (day six, last of shubo) – the night before you start the MAIN BUILDUP (next). Your yeast mash is almost finished, with only one more day. Tomorrow, the last day of shubo, you will set the stage for the main mash buildup. By now the alcohol content will be about 6%abv, SMV -60/1.042/10.8P.


1.   a. The night before starting the main ferment, add koji (1.5-cups/7.25-oz/205gm) to the yeast mash (which has been working for 7-days). Fold the koji gently into the yeast mash (Shubo), and add half of the 2-3/4 cups (22-oz/650ml) water required for the next step, or about 1-1/2 cup (12-oz/355ml), stir gently. By now the mash temperature should be 59F/15C, place the remainder of that water (10oz/295ml) in the refrigerator to chill. You will need this in the morning to help cool the freshly steamed rice.

b. Wash and steep 2.5 cups rice (20-oz/570gm) in water and leave overnight, for use in the morning. OR do that on the ninth day before starting and stand for only an hour at that time.


(time four days)

The Buildup ferment will be in three stages over a four day period. The stages, or additions, are called first addition (hatsuzoe), second addition (nakazoe), and final addition (tomezoe). Each consists of a further portion of koji, steamed rice, and water. These sequential additions each double the volume of the mash until the main ferment can take place over about three-weeks. Specific procedures follow. Beginning here the water can be ordinary tap water (no iron, under 200ppm hardness), although the distilled or de-ionized water would be slightly better. If your water is too hard with no iron, you can cut it with distilled as necessary to produce 3-500ppm as you desire.

REMEMBER — if you are pressed for time (i.e. you work for a living) you could always wash and soak the rice the night before, rather than, ideally, in the morning, before draining and steaming. In any case place the water for each addition in the fridge overnight for use AFTER the morning’s steaming and draining, to cool the freshly steamed rice each morning.

The buildup in three additions:

First addition – hatsuzoe, followed, the next day, by the odori or dancing ferment.


1.   a. Drain the first night’s rice addition for an hour, and then steam it and drain it as described earlier.

b. While this is going on cool the mash to 50F/10C.

2. When the rice has finished steaming, spread it out on a clean surface, a couple of inches/5cm thick, and allow to stand 15-minutes to dry (this drying process hardens the rice, hence reducing the moisture level in the grain). We should note that the purpose of this is not so much to cool the rice as it is to dry the grain’s surface before adding it to the main ferment.  Use a spoon or a fork to break up the freshly steamed, and drying, rice as it cools. Next, move the steamed and dried rice to your small, clean, sterilized, 2.5-gallon plastic open fermenter. Cool it by adding the water from the refrigerator (above), and/or place the container in a cold water bath. Be sure the mass has cooled well before adding the shubo ferment, so as not to damage the active yeast mash.

3. Now add the shubo, or yeast mash (which has been fermenting for 5- 7-days), to the fermenter, and mix with mild agitation, gently but thoroughly, for about 5-minutes. Cover the fermenter with a plastic sheet and cool to 55F/13C. Do what you can to get the temperature to 55F/13C as soon as possible (i.e. float a bag of ice cubes in the mash, place it in a cold water bath, or – if necessary – heat by floating a small plastic bag of hot water in the mash). Finally, move the fermenter to a cold dark area (or cover with a blanket in a cold area) — remember, light is damaging to sake.

4. Stir gently 12-hours later, that evening, and at 12-hour intervals for a total of 48-hours.


5. Stir, or gently agitate, at about 12-hour intervals, for a total of 48-hours time (from steaming). The second 24-hour period is called odori, or dancing, ferment. By now you have tripled the volume of the original shubo, and the ferment will be quite active.

6.   a. The night before day three, add koji 2.25-cups (11.25-oz/320gm) to the main mash. Fold the koji gently into the mash, and add over half of the 70-oz/2.07liter water required for the next step, or about 40-oz/1.2liter, stir gently. Lower the mash temperature to 55-68F/15-20C (the lower temperature is much better), place the remainder of that water (30oz/870ml) in the refrigerator to chill overnight. Chill that water as cold as you can manage without freezing it. Clean and sterilize a larger fermenter (5- 8-gallons or so).

b. Wash and steep 6-cups of rice (48-oz/1.36kg) in water overnight.


Middle Addition (Nakazoe).

1. This starts 48-hours after the first addition.

2. Steam the next segment of rice (48oz/6.5c/1360gm) in the usual fashion.

3. When the rice has finished steaming, spread it out on a clean surface, a couple of inches/5cm thick, and allow to stand drying for 20-minutes or so. Gently mix it into the fermenting mash. Cool it by adding the water you saved, and chilled, in the refrigerator (#8a above), and/or place the container in a cold water bath. Be sure the mash has cooled well before proceeding. Gently mix this, with mild agitation, into the fermenting mash for a few minutes. Lower the temperature to 48-60F/9-20C as quickly as you can. Stir gently again after 12-hours. Keep the mash covered. By now you will have doubled the volume to about 2-gallons. Keep the temperature 48-60F/9-20C. From here on maintain these low temperatures if possible.

4.   a. That night, add what’s left of the koji (about 3.5-cups/17.5-oz/500gm) to the main mash. Fold the koji gently into the mash, and add over half of the 128-oz/3.79liter water required for the next step, or about 10cups/80-oz/2.4 liter, stir gently. Maintain the mash temperature at 48-60F/9-20C (lower temperature is much better), place the remainder of that water (6-cups/48oz/1.4 liter) in the refrigerator overnight. (see adjustment stage box*).

b. Wash and steep 10-cups of rice (80-oz/2.27kg) in water overnight for the final addition, or better yet do that in the morning before steaming. [WGA: 10 cups of rice at 7.5 oz per cup is 75oz. But here we are talking about 80 oz of rice which is 10.66 cups.  Simply use the remaining amount of rice from the original 10lbs.]


Final Addition (Tomezoe). 24-hours after last (middle) addition.

1. Chill the above water (6-cups/48oz/1.4 liter) as cold as possible without freezing; then wash and steep the remaining rice (about 5-lbs) for 1-hour, and let it drain for 1-hour.

2. At the proper time, steam the rice for one hour; and while this is going forth, clean and sterilize your large fermenter if you haven’t already done so.

3. When the rice has finished steaming, spread it out on a clean surface, a couple of inches/5cm thick, and allow to stand 30-min, or longer, to dry and cool. While it is cooling, mix and turn the grains with a fork or spoon.

4. In the large fermenter, transfer the above freshly steamed and dried rice. Add the 6-cups water you have chilled earlier. Be sure the mass has cooled well, and is no warmer than 90F/32C, before adding the fully fermenting mash from the small fermenter. This will again double the mash volume to about 4-gallons/15liters. Be sure to stir at 12-hour intervals through two more days. Cool to, and keep the temperature at, 45-60F/10-16C, and remember cooler is better. These final additions and fermentation activity will enlarge your mash considerably. Keep a careful watch so it doesn’t overflow your fermenter. If that seems imminent dip out a portion to another smaller container, and add it back later when the ferment recedes, as it will. See adjustment stage box.*


Moromi — FIRST DAY. Lower the temperature to below 60F/15.5C if you have not already managed that. It could be even cooler: as low as 45F/7C. Keep the fermenter covered and cool — this should be a long slow ferment. From this point onwards, the timing of transfers, adjustments, etc., is dependent on the progress of the ferment and it’s temperature. The day-by-day schedule may be quite flexible from this  point on; but remember to stir morning and evening. If your ferment is moving too fast your mash may overflow, and you might have to transfer some of it to another small vessel (low temperatures help prevent this). Keep a close watch for a possible overflow.


1. Stir gently and twice daily until the ferment recedes. Keep covered and at 45-60F/7-15.5C as described above. By now the alcohol will be around ~3.5%abv/-75SMV/13.5P/1.053. In the first 14-days main ferment most of the alcohol is formed, often at about 1%/day. Mid-moromi is most productive.

2. (Optional) take samples on the 2nd and 7th days to determine specific gravity with your hydrometer. Specific gravity will drop from 1.045 to 1.020, and continue falling.

15th through 22d Day: MAIN (MOROMI) DAYS 3-10.

1. Stir gently once or twice daily as necessary.

2. Along about the 15th day (main 5) ferment recedes enough to combine fermenters, (if you’ve had to use two of them).

3. (Optional) take samples on the 7th day or so, to determine specific gravity (SG) with your hydrometer. SG will drop from 1.045 to 1.020, and continue falling, perhaps even faster. By the tenth day of the main ferment look for 11.5abv/9P/1.036.

23rd to 27th DAY: MAIN/MOROMI DAY 11-15

4. By the 11th – 15th day or so, the main ferment should be nearly over. Maintain a low temperature — as low as 45F/7C if you can. You are ready to make adjustments to stabilize and finish the main ferment. Look for 4.5P/1.0155/alcohol about 15% to start and 3P/1.012/SMV -17.5 by around Main 15.


Yodan: Traditional Japanese sake brewers used a “fourth” addition (yodan) to soften the sake and bring it to an end before pasteurizing

it and ending the ferment. They add some rice kept out of the Third addition for that purpose. There are a number of other adjustments, but we are going to skip those traditional steps and take some shortcuts. After you have brewed a number of sake batches you will have a much better feel for such nuances; but we’ll skip that for now.

When the gravity drops below zero, depending on the fermenting temperature and other factors you will probably want to stabilize and adjust the alcohol content.(see adjustment stage box* – below). The Water Addition consists of adding about 40- to 156-oz/1180-4600ml of chilled water, the amount of which will depend on the final desired alcohol content. Be very careful because WATER ADDED CANNOT BE REMOVED; and also remember to save part of the water additions for unforeseen uses, such as topping up your fermenters in secondary aging. Ration your water carefully, there’s no second chance. Un-used water (no more than a cup or so — 8oz) can also be added at final end-adjustments before bottling and final pasteurization.

If you add no water, the sake will be full strength (genshu) sake. This full strength varies somewhat according to the rice polishing ratio. Dinner rice (polished to 93%) rice may give you 20% abv in your sake, while the rice we recommend here (polished to 70%, or even more, to 60%) may yield only about 18-19% abv. If you desire a commercial strength ordinary sake (16.5% abv), then you should add about 40-oz/1180ml, depending on the polishing rate of your rice.

If you wish to make sparkling sake, a bottle ferment is required; and that means not more than 11% abv or there will be no second ferment in the bottle. Adding 156oz/4600ml will allow the second ferment necessary for sparkling sake. This calculation is approximate, be careful. You would be wise to have the alcohol content measured by a professional lab if you plan to make sparkling sake.

These adjustments are all done at the yodan (about 27th day, main ferment day 15) with the addition of water to control alcohol strength desired, as noted earlier. Rack and pasteurize. *check box and read about the adjustment stage (below).



BUFFERING THE FINISH– see 27th day Yodan

*It is possible to incorporate an adjustment stage to buffer and prevent the ferment from going too dry (i.e., below s.g. 0.993/SMV +10). We recommend a finish not lower than 0.993 to 0.998 (+10 to +3 SMV). There are two possibilities here. The easiest way is to let the ferment finish out (which may be as low as 0.987/SMV +18 or so — very dry indeed). The simplest thing to do with sake that dry is to add sugar, as winemakers would do. This amelioration will raise the gravity to the level of your favorite commercial sake. Most commercial sake is between 1.002 and 0.994/SMV -3 to +9. See later “Bottling and Finishing — Procedures for small batches”.

Some sake brewers are reluctant to resort to amelioration. For them there are two possibilities: 1. Get used to really really dry sake or; 2. Stop the ferment, when it gets to your desired end-point, by racking, pressing, and pasteurizing. You must pasteurize to stop the yeast/koji activity. See later “Several adjustments can be made”. Pasteurization is usually done twice while finishing out sake (at racking and bottling).

NOTE: The polishing ratio (seimai buai) of the rice used in sake brewing has a definite effect on the final alcohol content. The greater the rate of polish, the lower will be the final possible alcohol content of that much higher quality sake. Sake brewers have told me this, but I can find no specific English references to the ratios involved.


In another few days, the moromi or main ferment will be just about finished. Gravity will be well under 1.000. You are just about ready to rack your sake to secondary fermenters.


The specific gravity of the mash should be well below 1.000. See (adjustment stage box* note concerning water adjustment). This last adjustment addition also tends to stabilize the alcohol content of the sake. IT IS TIME TO RACK TO SECONDARY FERMENTERS.

1.  Transfer the sake from the open primary fermenter by separating the liquid, off the lees. I don’t usually siphon my sake at this stage, the 2-gal batch is just too small for that. Simply pour it through a cloth strainer bag, such as 1/16″ nylon mesh bags, (available in winemaker supply stores). Pass that through a small winepress (which may be rented at some winemaking supply stores) and into another open fermentor (as a temporary container for the entire contents). There will be about 320-oz/9.5-liters, more if you’ve added water at the stabilizing addition. Plan on about two-and-a-half gallons. Press the lees carefully to extract all possible fluid. This liquor should fill three jugs 3/4-4/5 full. Fill the jugs to shoulder level (not full). It is a messy process at best. This process of transferring the sake to closed containers is called racking. Now is time to take NIGORI (unfiltered) for the table, or for bottling, if that is your desire. If you bottle the nigori be sure to pasteurize and cap it, because the nigori is still alive and in ferment — if not: always keep it refrigerated — with loose closures — in case fermentation does continue.

2.  These containers, with their sake, should be placed under fermentation lock. Fermentation locks are small inexpensive plastic fittings which hold water, permitting the escape of carbon dioxide without allowing the entry of oxygen, which can damage the sake. Keep them under observation until you are certain there is no more ferment. Keep them covered and shielded from light at all times. Light and oxygen are the enemies of sake. Keep the storage temperature of these secondary fermenters low at around 45F/7C.

31st to 39th DAYS: END OF FERMENT — MAIN 19-27,


3.  The end of ferment is signaled when there are no more bubbles in the fermentation locks. Keep the temp around 45F/7C.


4.  The fermentation locks should be removed from the bottles, and you should “top up”, using one of the jugs to fill the others to the upper neck, so as to reduce air space. The remainder from that jug should be moved to smaller bottle(s). All should be capped (loosened) and placed in the refrigerator at 35-38F/2-3C for about ten days.


After ten-days, the sake should be racked again (to two or three more sterilized wine jugs) and strained through about 4 layers of gauze to remove any remaining solids.


Sake is, by its very nature, brewed with thick rice dregs present all through the process until the very end, when it is pressed and filtered. Our recipe includes pressing, to separate the heavy dregs, which is followed by a further settling of the remaining abundant light sediment (above).

The small quantity of the finished product (about 2-1/2 gallons) makes it difficult to filter with the usual amateur winemaking equipment. However, we can then decant the finished sake off those dregs at bottling time. Such lightly sedimented sake is called “orizake.” We could actually call it “hefe-sake”, especially so, since it actually is beer. Don’t worry about this small amount  of oxidation — live with it.

The small quantity, and the fact that pasteurization is necessary, also makes bottling very difficult. Wine and beer are normally siphoned into small bottles for finishing. This is almost impossible with hot sake. A better system is to decant the hot pasteurized sake from the larger wine jugs by pouring carefully into smaller bottles.


At this point the sake may show something like this (assuming around 10 liters/338-fluid ounces total volume, in perhaps 3 secondary containers under fermentation lock). Our simple analysis:

Sake Meter Value about +16/sg 0.989/-2.9-degrees Plato

About 16-17% abv

Total acidity (TA) as high as 3.0 (as succinic)


1. Pasteurization is necessary to inactivate the koji enzymes and disinfect the beverage. PASTEURIZATION IS REALLY VERY IMPORTANT IN MAKING AND STABILIZING SAKE. Place the storage jug in a hot water bath, with a thermometer sticking in the neck. Heat the water bath slowly until the thermometer shows 140F/60C, and remove the jug, cap it and allow to cool. Don’t worry if it looks like it is boiling; it won’t actually boil at that temperature.

2. If you don’t want to pasteurize your sake, don’t; BUT that sake is called nama or draft sake. It must ALWAYS BE KEPT REFRIGERATED.

59th to 80th DAY: STORAGE ABOUT 20 DAYS

When the sake is clear, and well settled, rack again and be very careful not to siphon any of the light sediment from the bottom of the old jugs to new, clean (and sterilized) jugs. It is quite difficult to get totally clear sake without filtering. However, you needn’t worry if there are a few grains of sediment in the bottles. Or you could decant it one more time. You won’t be aable to taste the difference.


1. As noted earlier, our finished sake is rather dry at SMV +16/s.g. 0.989/-2.9P, TA 2.7. Dry sake is nice, but it can get on your nerves at this level. You may want to adjust sweet-dry balance by adding a small amount of sugar in syrup (see below). You might also wish to reduce acidity a bit, by the addition of water. Winemakers call such changes amelioration. Taste as you go.

2. Compare this with a regular California commercial sake (Ozeki — our measurements — you should measure your own favorite sake, so you can match their SMV and TA as close as possible): SMV +5/sg 0.9966/-0.9 degree Plato, 16% abv, TA 1.7.

You, the sake brewer, may wish to make some of the adjustments we describe above. They will improve the palatability of your sake. The final adjustment, a tune-up of the sweet-dry balance, is best left until bottling time. (NEXT)

3.  Otherwise store your finished sake for 3-weeks to 6-months at 50-60F/10-16C, until you are ready to bottle.


1.  You can use champagne bottles (1.5-liter, 750ml, or 375ml) if you are a beermaker, because they can be crown capped. You can also use regular beer bottles. If you are a winemaker, you can use cork-finish wine bottles, or screw-cap bottles from your winemaking supply store. Sake is best in brown bottles and kept away from the light. Light and air can damage sake’s quality.

2.  The sake should be pasteurized once again before closures are added, since THE FINISHED PRODUCT IS SUSCEPTIBLE TO CERTAIN VERY DAMAGING LACTOBACILLUS INFECTIONS. Pasteurization should not effect the flavor negatively. If you’ve never tasted SOUR sake, trust me you’ve not tasted real SOUR!


The three storage containers will have your clear sake, as it is ready, to bottle. You can calculate the total volume, and then determine how much (if any) sugar to add. Unless you did some serious adjustments at the yodan stage, (*see box: ADJUSTMENT STAGE earlier), you will have about 9-liters/304-ounces sake at about SMV +13/sg 0.991/-2.8-degrees Plato. It would be prudent to raise the sg from 0.991/SMV +13 to about 0.995/SMV +6, a decrease of SMV by 7 (+13-7=+6) to SMV +6. Some commercial sake breweries also resort to amelioration under some circumstances. For you it will simplify producing the perfect sake for your personal use.

The standard winemaker’s formula for such sugar additions is 4-ounces of household sugar (sucrose) to increase the s.g. 12 points/18 SMV in one US-gallon. For 1-s.g. point this is 0.33-oz (9.45gm)/USgal (3.785 liter), or 2.44gm/liter.

If we translate these figures to SMV (a factor of 0.7 times) we find 1 SMV needs 0.23-oz (6.6gm)/USgal sugar, or 1.75gm/liter. This will change the SMV by one unit. We wish to sweeten the sake by decreasing the SMV by a factor of 7, from +13 down to +6; which is to raise the sg from 0.991 to 0.996 (See Table Three).

Remember that the positive SMV numbers indicate dryness, which is what we are reducing by making the sake sweeter. The drop of 7 SMV is accomplished by adding sugar in the amount of 1.75gm/liter. We have about 9-liters (2.37-gal) to work, so that’s 1.75gm x 9-liters x 7 SMV = 110.3-gm sugar, or 3.9-ounces of household sugar, rounded to 4-ounces — don’t be fussy. Your fermenting equipment will probably include the 4-liter “gallon” bottles, which is why I am giving you both metric and American units. You may very well end up calculating in metrics because of that fact.

Make up a sugar-sake syrup by measuring 4-ounces of sake (1/2 cup), warmed to about 125F/52C, to which you will add 4-ounces of sugar (1/2 cup). By using sake to make your sugar syrup you will minimize the reduction of the alcohol content of your sake with the addition of sugar syrup. This will give you about 8-ounces of fluid to apportion carefully among your fermenters to raise the gravity of the whole sake batch. After adding the sugar syrup, be sure to rotate each container to mix the sugar syrup into the sake.

I usually start by placing one of my “topped-up” or full sediment-free wine jugs in a kettle with a boiling water bath on the stove. I check the temperature regularly until it reaches pasteurization temperature of 140F/60C, at which point I quickly remove it from the heat and pour/funnel it into bottles (cleaned and sterilized of course). It is almost impossible to siphon from a one “gallon” bottle of hot sake, so I don’t even try, just decant. I repeat the process with each of the fermenters.

Sake is ready to drink at any time after it is bottled, but a modest aging period of up to six months helps. Sake brewers disagree as to whether further aging is beneficial.

Finished sake is best served chilled to about 45 -50F/7 -10C, however in cold weather it is also delicious served warm at 109 -119F/43 -48C. Our sake — final — SMV+7/0.995 16%abv TA 1.7.



Eckhardt, Fred, Sake (USA), 1992 Portland, Oregon, pp101-152


Harper, Philip, The Insider’s Guide to Sake, 1998 Kodansha International, Tokyo, Japan, pp39-53

Kodama & Yoshizawa, “Sake”, Rose, A.H., Ed., Alcohol Beverages, 1977 London/New York: Academic Press, pp423-475 also out of print


Brewery-polished rice and brewery fresh rice koji (kome-koji) is available (wholesale AND retail) from

F.H.Steinbart Co., 234 SE 12th, Portland OR 97214, 1-800-638-2897.

Cold Mountain Rice koji

Miyako Oriental Foods, Baldwin Park CA 91706

Found in most Japanese grocery stores

Spagnol’s Home beer and Winemaking Supplies

rice koji

New Westminster BC (800)663-0954 CANADA

Koji spores (Koji-kin or tane-koji):

Vision Brewing

P.O.Box 108, Nedlands 6909 W.A., AUSTRALIA The product is VERY expensive; the results disappointing, and the recipe confusing.

G.E.M. Cultures

30301 Sherwood Rd, Ft. Bragg, CA 95437

(707) 964-2922

Wholesale sake yeast

(Saccharomyces sake var Yabe, K9)

WyEast Labs (P.O.Box 425, Mt.Hood OR)

Wholesale import Aluminum Steamers

The 35cm aluminum steamer Mong Lee Shang brand is available from Lieh Gee Enterprises, Taipei, TAIWAN



Warm-Line not Hot-line, I am on Pacific time, so please not before my 9:30 am. It is better to call me mornings (Pacific time), because I am more competent at that time. If you don’t get me, leave a message regarding the nature of your problem, and your number, which I can call “collect”.  Remember I am not very prompt. Please try to keep your contacts to week days. I do function on weekends, I just prefer not to do this on weekends. There is no charge for this service. I want to help you brew good quality sake in your home.

My current email address:

U.S. mail: Fred Eckhardt, 35 NE Lombard St, Portland OR 97211


Remember:  Sake brewing is easier if you make a day by day plan ahead of time before starting. You can use our calendar here as a guide. Obviously one can cut corners anywhere, but the bottom line is be careful. The more cuts one makes, the more the product degenerates. Perfection is a matter of attention to detail.

TABLE THREE   SMV-Specific Gravity-Plato-Baum‚


SMV SG Plato Baum SG SMV Plato Baum
+18 0.987 -3.3 -1.8 0.986 +20 -3.70 -2.00
+17 0.988 -3.0 -1.7 0.987 +18 -3.30 -1.80
+16 0.989 -2.9 -1.6 0.988 +17 -3.00 -1.70
+15 0.990 -2.6 -1.5 0.989 +15.8 -2.80 -1.58
+12 0.992 -2.1 -1.2 0.990 +14.6 -2.60 -1.46
+11 0.993 -1.9 -1.1 0.991 +13.1 -2.30 -1.31
+10 0.993 -1.8 -1.0 0.992 +11.7 -2.05 -1.17
+9 0.994 -1.6 -0.9 0.993 +10.2 -1.80 -1.02
+8 0.9945 -1.4 -0.8 0.994 +8.8 -1.50 -0.88
+7 0.995 -1.2 -0.7 0.995 +7.3 -1.30 -0.73
+6 0.996 -1.0 -0.6 0.996 +5.8 -1.00 -0.58
+5 0.9966 -0.9 -0.5 0.997 +4.3 -0.80 -0.43
+4 0.9970 -0.7 -0.4 1 +2.9 -0.30 -0.29
+3 0.998 -0.5 -0.3 1 +1.4 -0.26 -0.14
+2 0.9986 -0.4 -0.2 1.000 0 0 0
+1 0.9993 -0.2 -0.1 1 -1.4 0.26 0.14
0 1.0000 0.0 0.0 1.0019 -2.81 0.50 0.28
SMV SG Plato Baum SG SMV Plato Baum
-1 1.0007 0.2 0.1 1 -2.9 0.5 0.29
-2 1.0014 0.4 0.2 1.0025 -3.6 0.64 0.36
-3 1.002 0.5 0.3 1.003 -4.3 0.8 0.43
-4 1.0027 0.7 0.4 1.004 -5.8 1.0 0.58
-5 1.0034 0.9 0.5 1.005 -7.3 1.3 0.73
-6 1.004 1.0 0.6 1.006 -8.8 1.5 0.88
-7 1.005 1.2 0.7 1.007 -10.2 1.8 1.02
-8 1.0055 1.4 0.8 1.008 -11.7 2.05 1.17
-9 1.006 1.6 0.9 1.009 -13.1 2.3 1.31
-10 1.0069 1.8 1.0 1.010 -14.6 2.56 1.46
-12 1.008 2.1 1.2 1.012 -17.5 3.1 1.75
to convert +SMV to s.g.:

s.g. = 1-(SMV x 0.000695) =

negative s.g. 0.9nn…

to convert -SMV to s.g.:

s.g. = 1+)SMV x 0.000695) =

positive s.g. 1.0nn…

10 SMV = 1øBaum‚ =1.8-Plato =0.0069 Sg points
Temp corrections Sg
5C/41F  -0.002 Average sake our recipe:

Original gravity estimate:

29P/1.133sg/-161 SMV

0/50   -0.001
15/59   -0-
20/68   +0.001 Table three compiled from various sources: Hough, Briggs, Stevens, Malting and Brewing Science, Chapman & Hall; Amerine, Berg, Cruess, Technology of Wine Making, Avi; and other sources.
25/71   +0.002



The process of making Nihonshu/Seishu (Japanese-style refined sake) is complex only so far as one looks at the number of tasks to be performed. The order or sequence of those tasks, each of which is relatively simple, is why it SEEMS complex.

1. The sake finished out at about 19% abv, depending on variables such as rate of polishing, and a lot of other factors. There are no other alcohol ferments which can reach that level in a single step. The closest is sherry, which depends on a “syruped” ferment, where the winemaker adds sugar, as syrup and in small increments, so as not to overwhelm the yeast. This is actually what sake is: an automatic “syruped” ferment–as the aspergillus mold changes the rice starches to fermentable sugars in simple increments the yeast has time to acclimatize itself to those changes. These doubling procedures were all in place by the year 1599! Modernization has changed them only in very small ways: the cultivation of single strain yeasts, and in 1909 the sokujo moto (yeast mash or shubo production (used in this recipe), was introduced to supersede the Yamahai moto method by eliminating the lactobacillus cultivation phase–with the addition of lactic acid to acidify the mash–and thus saving three weeks in the yeast mash portion of the process.

2. The doubling stage system, developed between 600 and 1100c.e., allowed the ferment to develop much higher alcohol levels. Until then one could produce sake only to about 9%abv. This was with a ferment similar to what is called doburoku (home-brewed farm sake). It was, in fact, what we call the yeast mash (shubo) today. Those early brewers found that they could use this initial sake as a starter mash, and then double the mash to start a real ferment, which was doubled again after a day of rest, and doubled twice more (a total of four doublings).

3. Now, for EACH of the above listed 4 phases, one has to polish, wash, steep and steam the rice as we have done in this recipe. The steaming process depends on SEPARATING the grains from the water, thus allowing the steamed rice to be added to a previous mash without clumping. Important to ensure that the mold (and yeast) can reach each grain. The brewer must cool the rice so as not to kill off the yeast or mold activity as it is added to the ferment.

4. This is a 400-year-old continuously used technique, it has REALLY STOOD THE TESTS OF TIME. This a system that has been tested THOROUGHLY BY GENERATIONS AND GENERATIONS OF SKILLED INTELLIGENT PEOPLE.

5. I am contacted regularly by beginning sake makers, mostly homebrewers seeking to cut corners. Some of the recipes on the Internet, and at least one company Vision Brewing of Australia (listed earlier) offers lousy recipes and truly expensive ingredients of dubious origin to make tiny amounts of sake.

6. These are small steps. They are not that troublesome, and they certainly not complicated, just spread out over a long period of time. Annoying perhaps, but not as technically difficult as all-grain brewing.

7. DISCLAIMER: I have no financial interest in any of this, not even for this recipe. I offer it freely. Nor do I have a financial interest in either SakeOne or F.H.Steinbart Co.

(c) 2008 by Fred Eckhardt, all rights reserved.

disk.file:7404:\SAKEBREW\RECIPE3\SRC43NEW.TXT v6.1     01172008

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178 thoughts on “Recipe”

  1. Hey Will,

    Autumn has arrived here in the UK and I’m about to have a go at my second batch of sake. This time I’ll be checking to make sure my koji is properly grown and won’t just be starting the ferment like I did last time (got a tasty but fairly weak sake).

    I’m also going to try out the triple bucket press method at the end.

    But I was wondering, is there anywhere I can get your book over here in the UK? I’ve looked on amazon but couldn’t find it. This website has been so great I’d like to get the book too and help support the efforts! Might add it to my Christmas list for my wife.

    Keep up the good work,

    1. Hey Jonathon,

      My book should be in the uk and eu amazon. While I have not seen it myself, I have released it for them and I do get a small amount of royalties in the pound and euro. Do let me know if you still can’t find it and we can discuss more options.


  2. Please help, I’m in a scaleup batch right now. In table two it says 340 grams steamed rice but in the written protocol it says soak 340 grams rice then steam. Considering the rice is gaining 40% moisture weight during steaming can you clarify this discrepancy ? Are the values listed as final steamed weight or in8tial dry rice weight to then be soaked?

  3. For shobu mash table 2 you list steamed rice as 340 g. However in the protocol it mentions soak 340 g rice (which would be raw). Considering water gain during steaming would you please clarify that this is actual the starting weight of raw rice as listed in actual procedure vs. a final steamed weight.

  4. It was with active fermentation when I racked (foam was already down, but it was still bubbling). I am using your recipe, so the main moromi was about 16 days. After the racking it did overflow but looks like after half day it stopped. What to you think? Should I keep it like that for 9 days and then rack again and maybe pasteurize? It looks like if I do not pasteurize the solids will not settle.

    1. Foam like that seems pretty unusual. My tendency would be to wait for the next racking. However, if you taste the sake and there is a slight off taste it may be best to pasteurize now, in case of an infection that could get out of hand.

  5. Hi Will,

    After racking my sake, fermentation it is still quite active and sake is overflowing from the jugs. Should I let it stay like that for a couple of days or is it better to pasteurize to end fermentation completely? Thanks again for this great website!

    1. Was the sake in active fermentation before you racked? How long had it fermented before racking?


  6. So I have spent the last 4 months studying the process of home brewing Sake. I think I have read every website, article, and how-to on the Internet. I have made 4 batches so far and applied what I have learned through error and mistakes, along with reading other’s info. I started here though. Without this page, I wouldn’t have had a decent “Step #1”. If you want to see what a student of this page has done, head over to my Facebook feed. and watch in real-time my successes and failures. The goal, of course, is to reduce steps, make everything simple to follow and do, and still come out with a decent Sake. So let me know if you like it. I am curious to see what you think.

  7. Second batch of Sake is in process. 3rd day of shubo phase using Japanese short grain table rice and your kome-koji. Same method as before except for the rice. I’ll let you know how it progresses. So far so good.

  8. Thanks for the response Will! Do you strain it through a coffee filter or just put the hydrometer in the unfiltered
    moromi sample??

    1. Unfiltered. No tainted readings. If there is part that is heavier it will settle out. Its the weight of the hydrometer in the solution that is important. The lower the hydrometer the more the displacement.


  9. Obviously HTML not working.:( Wanted to post some pics of my sake making equipment but I guess it’s not supported.

  10. Well, yesterday was my press day. Ended up recovering about 2.5 gallons of milky white sake. Tasted it and it was amazing. Slightly sweet with lots of mouth feel. A very warm alcohol feel but no hint of fusel alcohol taste. Just smooth and warming. I added no water after the main fermentation so it’s probably going to end up at around 18% to 19% abv. Very pleased so far. It remained in the primary fermenter from Nov 17th to Jan 13 at a constant 45F degrees. Still had airlock activity but felt it was time for secondary. Secondary is producing activity. Planning to wait 14 days before racking.

    First thing I’ve discovered is I need to do something other then press by hand. I used a nylon paint straining bag draped over a 5 gallon bottling bucket. I poured the contents of the fermenter into the nylon bag and began to press it by hand. Took too long and nearly froze my hands off before I was able to extract most of the liquid. Probably could have extracted another cup if I persisted but I was just too frozen and worn out. I guess a mechanical press is in order for the next batch. Any suggestions?

    Plan on making another two batches. One batch will be a repeat of the same ingredients as the first (Rice milled 60% and your Koke-Koji with Wyeast Sake #9) The second batch will be identical but the rice will be a table rice I found at my local Super-H Mart. The rice is marked as a short grain rice and a product of Japan but no specific MFG name. Only a distributor. Looks more polished then some of the Calrose sushi rice I’ve seen. I live on the east cost so shipping would be a cost prohibitor over the long haul. I’ll compare the two batches and see how much of a difference it makes. The one fundamental difference in producing the two batches will be the steeping process. I plan on steeping the sake rice for one hour before steaming but the sushi rice will steep for more like 8 hours in cold water. Other then that I don’t know of any differences. Any suggestions?

    Thanks for the great recipe.


    1. Julius, I had to laugh out loud reading this as I press my sake this way and you’re completely on the mark about how tiring it is and how frozen your hands get. Some people use home cheese presses and some just let the ferment hang, so no real pressing.

      When you do the comparison between your two sakes with the different rice, it would be great if you leave us a note with your thoughts.


  11. Hi will, Ive brewed 4 batches with your recipe now and my people love it! I was wondering when you take samples for the hydrometer do you strain it with a filter so its a clear liquid or are you dropping directly into the moromi?

    1. Hi Cassady,
      I take out a sample, about 200ml, for the measurement.

      I’m so glad that your batches are turning out so well for you.

  12. Your directions say to pasteurize twice: about day 68 and again about day 88 before bottling (the dates from the video sequences.). Why the first pasteurization? If the purpose of pasterizing is to kill the yeast, what does the extra 20 days accomplish? Thanks for your thoughts.

    1. Hey Carl,
      The double pasteurization is the norm and produces the more standard sake taste. However, some sakes are only pasteurized once (Hiya Oroshi – early timing, Nama Chozo – at bottling) and others are not pasteurized at all (Nama). The less pasteurization the more lively the sake and the more susceptible to harm. The more pasteurization the more refined and subtle. Each has their own flavor / aroma characteristics that are desirable.

  13. Ok thanks! Also, is there a reason I can’t use my same (cleaned) 5 gallon bucket for the secondary fermentation after filtering?

  14. Hello! I have started making my first batch of sake and I have found this procedure immensely helpful, so thank you for sharing! I also have a question about the main ferment. I live in Wisconsin and this time of year my basement is 63F and my garage is about 37F. I don’t have a means of temperature control so I am trying to choose between these two locations for the fermenting stages. Any suggestions? I thought about moving my bucket to the garage during the day and the basement at night (the garage does fluctuate a few degrees, depending on the conditions outside) but I didn’t know if cycling the temperature like that would be harmful.

    1. Hey Kathy,
      I’d stick with the basement for now. It should do a good job at 63F. 37F might work but it is pretty low so while it might work, I’d wait until you have more experience to try it.
      Good luck :-),

  15. Hello! I have started making my first batch of sake and i have found this procedure immensely helpful, so thank you for sharing! I also have a question about the main ferment. I live in Wisconsin and this time of year my basement is 63F and my garage is about 37F. I don’t have a means of temperature control so I am trying to choose between these two locations for the fermenting stages. Any suggestions? I thought about moving my bucket to the garage during the day and the basement at night (the garage does fluctuate a few degrees, depending on the conditions outside) but I didn’t know if cycling the temperature like that would be harmful.

  16. Thanks for the reply. First sake so I’m asking more questions then normal. Been brewing beer and making wines for quite a few years but not it’s sake that’s got my interest.

    Hope to see more people on here.

  17. Will,

    OK, I’ve been delaying the secondary on my batch of sake. Ever since the first day of the main ferment, the sake has been under air lock and kept at 45F degrees. I started the main ferment on November 26th and now it’s December 22nd. I still have significant air lock activity with a bubble every 8 seconds or so. I’m thinking of going ahead to the secondary stage but am wondering. What is the drawback of just keeping it in primary for a few more days until the ferment subsides? The main ferment was aggressive in the beginning as expected but after a little over two weeks it dropped to a steady rate and has been like that since. Just wanting your opinion on this.

    Still haven’t come up with a good way to press it other then by hand in a straining bag but that’s a whole other matter.

    1. The continued release of gas implies its still fermenting so it should be fine to let go longer. 45F is pretty low so it should take longer to fully ferment. Sounds like it is just fine and I would leave it till there is less activity.


  18. Just for clarification, I’m looking for a general recommendation on the additions of rice and koji to slightly sweeten the sake without it being overly sweet or dry. I understand that there’s a lot of subjectivity to this so I’m not looking for a hard fast rule as much as a proportional amount of rice and koji. Do you add any additional water with the rice and koji or just the rice and koji alone? I may only add some koji and skip the rice. Just looking for some suggestions based on your experiences.

  19. Will,

    I’m approaching the end of the main ferment and am getting ready for the adjustment phase. I’m not planing on adding water to dilute it but was thinking of adding some koji and/or rice to the sake in order to sweeten it just a tad. About how much koji should be added and how much longer after the addition should I wait before pressing?

  20. One thing I found that helped me work the Moromi stages into my work schedule was to shift the additions by 12 hours. Instead of doing all the steaming and cooling in the morning I did the koji addition, washed the rice, set the water in the fridge and started the rice steeping in the AM. This process took less time and required less cleanup. This way, when I got home from work, I was able to spend more time doing the rice draining, steaming, cooling, adding and cleanup at my leisure in the PM. I figured the sake didn’t know it was day or night but I sure did and could wake up at a reasonable time.;)

    1. Being flexible like this to mold the tasks into your schedule can make the whole experience more fun and doable for the long term if your so inclined.

  21. So, if I understand it, you want to maintain an environmental temperature of around 96F degrees with high humidity at the beginning since the rice is not generating it’s own heat. Once the rice is generating its own heat, then you want to make sure the rice mass doesn’t go above, say, 104F degrees. If it rises above a certain threshold, maybe 101F degrees, you want to stir the rice to release heat and reduce ambient temperature to help cool it. From this I can ascertain that you want to maintain a rice temperature of between 96F and 101F degrees using stirring and reducing ambient temperature to keep it within bounds but make sure the rice never goes below 96F. All the time maintaining a relative humidity level of say, 90 percent. Is this correct?

    1. Yes, you have the general idea. You’ll want to experiment with the specific temperatures for your specific equipment.

  22. Will,

    I understand that you refer to both temps (rice and ambient) when making koji but what do you use the ambient temperature for if you base it on rice temperature?

    If it seems that I’m over thinking this, understand that I’m writing some software to control the process and need to think through every aspect of the temperature control method in order to write the software algorithms needed to implement it.

    1. At the start of making koji the rice temperature is related to the physical properties of its environment, the ambient air temperature, the fact that it just came out of a steamer… The koji spores are looking for a nice comfortable environment in which to grow. Its not just about rice temperature. They like a nice warm and somewhat humid environment. Later, after the spores have started to grow, they generate considerable heat on their own. The environmental conditions still matter for the koji’s environment but their internal heat production become more of a dominate factor at this stage.

      Given this, being able to ensure the environment remains comfortable for the early development and then that the koji is stirred and allowed to dissipate more heat while it is generating a lot of heat on its own are both important.


  23. Thanks for the reply Will. I do have very good temperature control. During the early stages of Shubo I’m using the same cooler you use to make kome-koji. The only difference is I can control both the heating and cooling directions. I wrote some software and am using an H-bridge and micro controller to change the polarity of the cooler voltage to create heating or cooling depending on what the temp sensors are reading. I’m using two stainless steel thermal well temp sensors. One sensor is immersed in the mash while the other is monitoring the inside cooler temp. Later stages of mash will use an upright freezer set to 50 degrees.

    One last thing I could use for clarification. When you’re quoting temperatures, are you measuring the temperature of the air around the fermentation vessel or the actual temperature of the fermenting mash? Right now I’m adjusting temperatures based on the actual mash temp. When I was making my kome-koji I noticed a very large difference between the rice temp and the ambient environment inside the cooler.

    1. Julius, Hi,
      For the ferment I am referring to its temperature and not the surrounding air. For koji I refer to both the rice itself (the koji) and the surrounding air.

  24. Just looked at the chart again and I think I get the difference. Volume v/s weight. Still would like to know what the best temperature profile is.

    Which recipe is the most current? The one with the videos seems to be a little different then the one on this page.

    1. Just answered the previous question on this topic. Basically 72F is in the range but lower in the range is better if you can control for temperature.


  25. One other question. On the “chart of addition materials” you have at the bottom: 1 cup rice = 7.5oz and 1 cup koji = .5oz but on the chart itself you have 1cup=8oz for both koji and rice. Can you please explain what is meant by this? I’m near the end of my mash phase and am getting ready for the build up.

    1. Sorry for the confusion here. Standard measurement values equate 1 cup with 8oz. However, rice tends to be a little lighter than the standard; roughly 7.5oz. So, if you are weighing the rice rather than using a volume-metric measure, the 7.5oz would apply. Otherwise you can ignore the ounce difference and measure out in cups.


  26. I’ve read both your great recipe links and have a question. There seems to be a discrepancy between the “recipe” link and the “step by step recipe” link. In the first is states to use a target temperature of 72 degrees during the beginning SHUBO portion while the other says “target temp: 65F-75F”. Through out your write-ups you state to use the lowest end of the temp specs. What should the target temp be for day two of the SHUBO (Mash) phase of the fermentation?

    1. Julius,
      72F is in the range 65F-75F so that seems to be in agreement. The lower temperatures are better if you have the ability to control temperature.

  27. Bottled my first batch last night. Wanted to say thank you, putting together all this info is a lot of work. One question, how long after bottling is this recipe at peak?

    1. Hmmm, I’m not sure there is a good answer for this. Sake is usually considered good about 6 months after brewing. However, really, anytime is good. Most is consumed early rather than later but there is a small section of those interested in aged sake.


  28. I hung 2 of the bags for 2 days and extracted about 8 liters that way.
    I put 1 bag in a “fune” with a weight press on top and that worked okay too, but not as tasty and it took 3 days.
    (My fune is a stainless pot with water-bath/pasta-boiler/steam-insert. Works fine for a small fune.)

    After hanging the bags I also put them in the “fune” and pressed them for a tiny bit extra, but it wasn’t nearly as tasty.

    These canvas bags fill and move just like the various sake kura videos you see on the internet. While I tied all of my bags if you had a proper fune that wouldn’t be necessary.

  29. For filtering your sake clear like they do in Japan you can make your own filter bags. No need to buy expensive bags, get material shipped from Japan or anything like that:

    Get some burlap/canvas(Fabric store labels it burlap, 40 needle fabric. Looks like unbleached canvas for a shopping bag.) Wash before sewing.
    Cut the canvas to just over double the width of your intended filter bag, fold over and stitch the edge of the tube. Fold over that seam and stitch one more time. Stitch the ends of the bags the same way. I split my tube into 2 separate bags, each about 8-10″ wide and 18″ long.
    (3 bags easily handled the standard sake kit batch. 10# rice + 2.5# koji)

    Wet the clean bags in boiling water (sanitized), and allow to cool in a sanitized environment – I use a sanitized dishwasher rack. This will swell the cotton fibers creating a very fine filter matrix.
    With the stitching on the outside of the bag fill it with your moromi mixture, leaving enough room to tie it closed.

    Hang these bags over a container for 2 days while they drip nearly clear muroka sake. I drain the container every couple of hours and transfer that sake to a storage vessel. (Sake makers traditionally count their press times in days, not minutes or hours.)

    This filters very clear sake, almost no nigori or lees. The bags also clean up easily for repeated use. Also no need for bentonite clay or other additives that may effect flavors.

    1. Dan,

      Thanks for sharing this with us. Have you always hung the bags? Ever tried them in something like a fune?

      Thanks again,


  30. About to start my first batch! For the last week, I have been steaming short grain rice (cheap Kroger brand) “perfecting” my process (15# so far) much to the pleasure of the squirrels in the neighborhood. I am grateful for all of the documentation you have given. Next week, I will be in Portland on business, and plan on packing 30# of Sake-one rice in my suitcase for my first batch.

    Now for my questions:

    Koji- I plan on growing my own from spores, does it matter what rice I use (cheap store brand, expensive sushi rice, or the Sake-one rice)?

    I made my own incubation box from foam board, a seedling heating mat, and plastic tubs. Would lining the box with cedar (like the Japanese brewers use in their Koji rooms) add anything of benefit to the Sake (other than tradition)?

    Yeast- I got the last tube of Sake #9 at my brew shop (3 weeks past “best before date”), so I want to make a starter before I add it to the Moto. How would you recommend I do this?

    Thanks for any help!

    1. Mike,

      The rice used for koji is the most important rice. So, I would use the SakeOne rice for that even if you scrimp on the other rice. As for the cedar lining. It may add something but generally if the cedar is detectable in the koji it is considered a flaw. Ceder is used because it does not sweat under the conditions in the koji room. Finally, about the yeast, a standard packet of yeast is good for much more than the moto size wise, it is meant for a 5 gallon batch. The moto is the starter. I would not do a starter before the moto starter.



  31. Goodevening Will. I am doubling this recipe. just wondering, do I simply double all ingredients every step of the way? Specifically I am wondering about the yeast mash,if I double the amount of water, lactic acid, Epsom salt and yeast nutrient used. Sorry to be hasty, but I would love to get started tonight if possible, hopefully luck will have it that you see the message soon and have the time to respond haha Thanks again for your ongoing dedication to helping people in this field.

    1. Michael,

      Yes you can double everything in the moto but the yeast. The yeast packet is more than enough for multiple doublings of the moto.



  32. Hello Will,

    I last wrote about a year ago, and appreciate your thorough reply. I did manage to grow live koji and spores out of Cold Mountain dry koji when none was available in my area and the need was immediate. It’s now on the third generation.

    2014’s Sake from the advanced recipe turned out VERY well, rich and balanced, similar to Momokawa Pearl, but less sweet. I have never managed to get to bottling and pasteurizing because my friends drink it all within a couple of weeks. Thanks for the great recipe. My “accidental” variation was getting a bit carried away with koji growing. Therefore, a larger fraction of the rice total was koji than in the original proportions.

    I currently have a new batch madly fermenting, this year using true sake rice from FH Steinbart. Here are a couple of questions:

    1) Suppose the reason that fermentation stops when there is still lots of residual sugar (as in my last batch) is because of high alcohol and lack of nutrients. Could one add more water & nutrients earlier in the process to come out with a larger volume of drier sake of the same ABV?

    2) About the “lees”. Last year’s batch seemed to have a lot, though I don’t know what is to be expected normally. The lees appeared to consist of hollowed out fibrous hulls (I used dinner rice), tiny hard bits of starch (perhaps the centers of the grains), and rice flour. It seems to me that the ideal recipe would leave nearly no residual starch, converting the available starch into sugar with perhaps a dash of flour remaining for it flavors.

    My questions then are – what is the reason for having so much unconverted starch remaining; and would it make sense to adjust the proportions so that all the starch is converted? Or perhaps the problem was in my brewing and I should not have ended up with two quarts of rice mush.

    So you see both questions are about increasing the efficiency of converting rice into sake, and therefore the efficiency of the time and effort involved in this process. Thanks for your advice.


    1. Doug, Hi,

      Well, there are a lot of lees produced in the process. I have never seen any discussion on how to cut down the amount of lees. In fact many of the procedures work against such efforts. For example, the effort put into milling the rice with little cracking or breakage; on the efficiency side braking the rice up into smaller pieces would allow the enzymes to more easily get to and convert the starch. Another possibility is to have more enzymes. Sense these come from the koji, moving to 100% koji would also move towards greater conversion. You’ll have to experiment to see what works for you and how it affects the resulting sake.

      Let us know how it goes.

    1. This is a hard question. Koji does provide significant flavor components like umami and others but mostly not tastes that I can describe. Fruity and funky tastes come mostly from the yeasts and other bugs.

    1. You can follow the instructions above and take a look at the second video link above for a demonstration. If you follow this procedure you will have high quality clear sake.

  33. The ratios of steamed rice/koji/water in the recipe above are very similar to those in “Sake’ A Drinker’s Guide”, 1984, Hiroshi Kondo’, Kodansha International, ISBN 4-7700-1654-9, page 45, table at the bottom of the page. I tried those proportions before I had read Eckhardt’s book and got a good result. The text indicates that those proportions may be generally accepted as generic.

    Has anyone determined why it’s necessary to add the koji well before adding rice if one is using eating rice? Is it that the distribution of starch grains in the kernels requires the lead time?

    1. Geoff, Adding the koji early allows the koji enzymes to move around and saturate the liquid before adding the rice which will soak up much of the liquid.

  34. Somewhere I read instructions to make sweet sake by adding additional koji after fermentation had slowed or stopped. Of course, I can’t find it again. Given the recipe above, does fermentation stop because the yeast has reached its alcohol tolerance limit or because there are no more fermentable sugars left?

    If someone wants to add sugar to make sweet sake, I’d recommend adding glucose instead of sucrose. At least in my experience the taste is very different and the koji/starch reactions will only make glucose and poly-glucoses.

    1. Geoff,

      Fred Eckhardt talks about the forth addition of rice to keep the sake from getting too dry. The yeast give up for a combination of reasons. Alcohol levels are quite high, sugar levels are low and the yeast has been working hard for a long time. It only lasts this long because the sugars are fed to it slowly. Sugars are still being release by the enzymatic action but not as fast as the yeast has been able to convert it to alcohol and CO2.

      I have not tried adding glucose or maltose for amelioration. Sucrose tastes sweeter but I don’t know how the other aspects would change.



    1. Hey Epsilon, Thanks. If you haven’t looked a the video series (link at the top of the page) you may find it helpful.

  35. Hi Will. Thanks for your excellent website and articles. I have a few questions about koji, if you’d share what you know.

    I have successfully brewed three decent batches of sake, growing kome koji from spores. I was recently in Portland and able to pick up some dried koji. I would like to try using it instead of the growing some because it’s less work!

    1) In the recipe above, “brewery koji” means dried koji, such as the Cold Mountain Firm Granular Rice Koji?

    2) Suppose a sake recipe calls for fresh kome koji. Is there a conversion between fresh (wet) koji and dried koji, weight for weight for example?

    3) Is the dried koji mentioned above still alive; can it be used as a starter for fresh koji?

    Thanks for your help!


    1. Doug, Hi,

      OK, I’ll take these one at a time:

      1) Brewery koji is the koji made by a sake brewery like SakeOne. Koji from SakeOne is available from F.H. Steinbart and this site ( It is pretty much the same as koji that you would make yourself if you get high quality koji-kin specialized for Sake.

      2) Most people use a 1:1 conversion factor between Brewery koji and Cold Mountain dry koji. Two of the 20 oz. tubs are equal to about 2.5 lbs. of regular koji (i.e., 40 oz.).

      3) Its not easy but, yes, the dried koji can be re-hydrated and let mature to produce koji spores.



  36. I’m curious what the moromi should taste like on the 9th day. I tried it and it was very sweet but had a little bite to it. It was not pleasurable to say the least. Is this normal or is it possible that it has been contaminated?

    1. Silas,

      Yes, this seems fine. The koji are working on the rice to convert the starches into sugar. Yeast will convert this into alcohol but this will be somewhat delayed.

  37. I have made sake by this recipe twice this past year (last fall and last spring) The second batch came out much better because the ingredients from the first batch were literally a year old. Currently, I am taking a microbiology class (PCC) and have (of course) chosen my project topic on Homebrew Sake! I’m planning on making another batch after my class ends in Dec. so maybe we’ll have to exchange a bottle or two soon. Thank you so much for your detailed directions and tips to expand my brewing hobby to the wonderful Sake I’ve shared with others.


    1. Sushi,

      Thank you for your story. Is PCC in your note Portland Community College? I would like to here more about what you learn about the microbiology of sake.

  38. I’ve linked this recipe on the front page of my own guide, Will. Just trying to inform my readers that there are other versions of the method I set forth in the Taylor-MadeAK guide. Hope you don’t mind. =)

  39. One thing i do not get on the last addtion it says wash 10 cups of rice or save one if you want to add it later to soften it. so why does the chart of addtions say 11 cups and when you add these up it equaits to 21.8 cups so theres 1.8 cup a drift here?

    1. Russ,

      OK, the short answer is not 10 or 11 cups of rice but the remaining rice ASSUMING you purchased 10lbs of rice for this brew.

      Rice added up to the last addition (from Table II) should be 1.6+2.7+6.5=10.8 cups. Total cups in 10lbs is 21.33 (7.5oz/cup). So the remaining rice is 10.533 cups. However getting exactly 10lbs is unlikely.

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