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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. hi will, I prepared the moto by tripling the doses, but it seems to me that there is too little water in fact the rice has absorbed most of it and there isn’t much left. It’s normal? Do I need to add more water?

    1. Elisabeth,

      This is pretty normal. It takes a while for the enzymes from the koji to kick in and start dissolving (liquefying) the rice. During this period the moto is very think. Give it some time. If after 10 days or so it is still too think for your liking you can add a little water.


  2. Hi Will,

    I’m coming up on the 23rd day of the overall process. I just did my initial filtration (brewing in a bag worked out well) and S.G is at 1.003 so things are looking on target from the fermentation standpoint. My Ph however is still a bit high at 3.8. I’ve read that for the Genshu I should be looking for somewhere between 1-2. Testing commercial Sakes I found Ph is around 4.2 though I imagine that is due to dilution. Can you provide any insight or what I should be looking for in terms of Ph?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. It looks like you are making good progress Dori.

      I suspect that you are confusing pH with Acidity (Sando). It is the succinic acidity that we talk about when talking about Sake and its value for sake is usually between 1 and 2. A pH value between 1 and 2 would be very acidic.

      I have two posts that should be helpful here. The first is Sake Acidity (Sando) which is a general discussion of Sando. The second is Measuring your sake acidity which gives the details needed to determine the acidity of your sake.


      1. That is super helpful, Will. Thank you.
        I was indeed referring to the “sake acidity”. I was taken aback when I Heard 1-2. That should be able to drill a hole in my table.

  3. Hey Will,

    I just finished my 1st day of Shubo and my mash smells like a combination of honey and vinegar. All equipment was meticulously sanitized and temperature controlled. I am using dry yeast balls (that I let “wake” for 24 hours) as my yeast source as I could not find the sake slap pack.
    It doesn’t seem like enough time to have an infection take hold and produce a sour smell. I’m thinking this could be due to the added brewers acid blend, though I’m not sure. Is this a sign of the Shubo being ruined?



    1. Dori, Hi,

      I think it is too early to tell in general. You mention a few things that would make this shubo different. First, the yeast balls. Yeast balls are not used in sake (Nihonshu). They are used for yellow wine (china rice wine). If I recall correctly yeast balls tend to have both Rhizopus oryzae and Aspergillus oryzae as well as a host of other active ingredients. These will change the ferment. I have not worked with them so I can’t really say more. Second, the brewers acid blend. What is that? An acid can be added to the shubo to stop non-yeast bugs from getting a start. Is that what you are referring to?


      1. Hi Will,

        That makes sense, thank you. I am now in the beginning of day 3 and the smell indeed stabilized into something more along the lines of sweet rice with a touch of honey.
        Thanks for the information about the rice yeast balls, that’s very helpful.
        As for the acid blend, it’s a blend of Malic, Tartaric and Citric. I indeed used it to help create less favorable conditions for any unwanted microorganisms.

        Thanks again!


  4. Hey WIll,

    I am preparing my 1st Sake run and am quite excited! Thank you for the detailed recipe.
    I have a question for you about racking/filtering. Would there be any adverse effects if I run the main fermentation in a steel vessel lined with Polyester brewing bag? I figured it would make the initial filtering easier as I can lift the bag from the fermenter and let it hang there for a while as gravity does the work. Though I’m not sure if the Polyester will have any negative effects on the flavor.

    Thanks in advance!



    1. Hey Don,

      I think that it may be OK. However, if there is a problem with this I think it would be from increasing the likelihood of getting an infection in the ferment. The foam that remains on the side of the vessel can also have this effect. Some brewers will clean the foam and others leave it. I leave it. With a brewing bag the foam will not be removable and would likely be plunged in and out of the ferment as you stir and do other things. So, I would not do it.

      If you try this, I am interested in how it turns out.


      1. Thank you for the reply, Will.

        That’s a good point and good advice. I’ll think this through. I am using a 10 Gal tall fermenter and making about 5 Gal (2.5 times the recipe), so my hope is that there will be plenty of head space for the foam to remain on the sides of the fermenter (and possible brew bag) without getting close enough to the top of the fermenter to risk infection by external elements.

        I’ll have to think this one through.

        Thanks again,

  5. Hi Will,

    I’m currently following both Fred’s guide here as well as your detailed video series, both of which have been extremely helpful for me as I’ve gotten more seriously into fermenting via sake production.

    I’m currently on the 6th day of Shubo (day 7 overall), and have been maintaining a temperature of 73F as well as I can using a heating pad under my moto container connected to a temperature controller. For the upcoming cooling states, I’ll need some additional equipment to realistically maintain temperatures below ~65F, which I won’t be able to have on hand until Monday.

    My question is: would I be better off maintaining the 73F temperature of the moto until Monday (extending the Shubo phase by 2 days and delaying the main ferment buildup), or attempting to do my best to lower the temperature (while remaining above recommendations until Monday) and stay on schedule with the guide? Not sure if there is any downside to extending the period during which the moto undergoing the initial fermentation by a couple of days.


    1. Hey Pat,

      Sorry for the late reply. The idea of the shubo is to build up a strong yeast culture with enough lactic acid to keep the batch mostly safe. Having the Shubo sit cold for a few days prior will cause the yeast to slow down and their start in the next stage. This can be ok but may give best results from elongating the next stage a little; maybe add half a day.

      On the other hand remaining at room temperature for a few more days will use up more of the starch. In this case adding a little more rice, maybe a half day before moving to the next stage will liven things up a bit and give good results.

      Not making either of these adjustment might prove to be just fine.

      Good luck with your batch!!!

      1. Hey Will,

        No worries, thanks for the reply!

        I ended up in the second scenario you mentioned above, and from what I can tell things seem to going well as I’ve continued to follow the guide as is since then. I’ll let you know how it turns out, and if there is anything of note going forward that seems related to this adjustment.

        Once other quick question for you: I’ve been using a temperature controller to maintain the temperatures with both a heating pad and now a mini fridge at different stages. I sterilized the temperature controller’s probe in an idophor solution and have since been letting it sit inside the actual mash/ferment to read the temps, but it just occurred to me this morning that perhaps this could affect the fermentation negatively in some way (perhaps if for some reason the probe doesn’t remain sterile as I open up the container to stir etc). Just wanted to get your Brewer’s take on whether or not that might have a chance of messing something up!


          1. Hey Will,

            Thanks for your help, everything seems to be going well so far as I approach my first racking of the clear sake into new jugs in a couple of days!

            I had another timing question for you: I’m going to be away on vacation in Japan for 3 weeks or so, so will need to leave a gap somewhere in the process where the sake is resting for longer than recommended in your guide. I was wondering if there is a certain phase that would be better than another to schedule a longer rest.

            Specifically, I’ll need to choose between waiting to perform the second racking (Day 55 in the quick start guide in your book) until I return, or doing this racking a few days earlier than scheduled and leaving that to rest for extra time before the first pasteurization. Is there a clear advantage or disadvantage to either option? For context, I’m able to maintain a consistent 50F temperature throughout.


          2. Hey Pat,
            I’m not sure which is really better, but I would tend to let it settle more before the racking. It should be fine either way.

            Have a great time in Japan! That should be wonderful,

          3. Hey Will,

            Thanks, very excited for our trip and a chance to try a ton of great new Sake!

            Wanted to run one more quick question by you, as I just racked (for the second time total) before our trip. At this stage, my brew has quite a sour/unpleasant taste, which is a contrast to the pleasant Nigori-esque aroma and flavor that it had prior to the first racking.

            Is there a good chance this batch may be spoiled, or perhaps this is due to leaving it fermenting for too long before the second racking? What aromas or flavors would you recommend looking out for to tell if perhaps it was spoiled somewhere along the way?

            Thanks, and Happy Holidays!

          4. Hey Pat,
            That does not sound good. You are so far along it would be a shame to loose it now. It should be pretty close to its final taste. If it has been infected it seems like it may be too far gone. However, you could pasteurize it and see if that helps. This would stop the infection from doing more damage. You could try this with a little of the sake to see if it helps before committing to doing the whole batch.

  6. Hello Will, I’ m in the first day of shubo and the mash stayed accidentally at 34 C,I think, for about 12 hours; is there any possibility to continue the process? Or the yeast is now too demaged? When I realized the fact, there was a strong smell of yeast and the mash was bubbling a lot.
    Thanks for your advice

    1. Hey Elisabeth,

      Bring it back to the low twenties C and it should be OK. One day at the start should not throw everything off.


      1. Hi Will,
        I’ve now reached the 28th day and I’ve filtered and filled the jugs. My problem is that the temperature even in the cellar is rising as we are in late spring. Can I put the jugs in the refigerator at 4C?
        Thanks for your help!

  7. Hello
    I’m on my second attempt in making sake using Fred’s recipe. Last year’s batch ended up as a weak rice beer and lots of Kasu for amazake. My homemade koji probably was the problem. So this year I added 20% extra koji in the recipe. My Koji never came out pure white like in pictures; its yellow tinted.
    I’m on the 15th day of main ferment. The reading on the hydrometer: sp. gravity 1.08, alcohol by vol. just over 10%, Brix 19. These figures are pretty much the same as a week ago (day 8 of the main). The recipe article states sp. gravity to be going down below 1.00. What is wrong with my batch?
    Also all throughout the shubo stage & main buildup/ferment, I mixed 3 times a day for 5 min. or more. I always kept the foams by mixing into the liquid. Was I supposed to get rid of the foams each time?

    1. Hellow Daniel,

      Your stirring is ok. What yeast are you using? What is the temperature at which you are fermenting?


      1. I used WYeast #4134.
        The temp. was always around 7 to 12 Celsius (in my garage) but the ferment temp somehow stayed around 10 Celsius.
        Thanks for your reply.

        Since the last writing, I’m in the racking stage now and the sp. grv, did go down to very close to 1.00 on my hydrometer. At the same time the alcohol level also went down to Brix #13 on my light meter. ???

        1. You can’t directly measure ABV%. Here is a post I wrote on how to measure ABV% in case you may find it helpful.

          1. Hi Will,
            So using the formula given in the article above:
            %ABV = 1.646 * RI – 2.703 * (145 – 145 / SG) – 1.794,
            my batch after 47 days of main ferment is 18.5%.
            And it tastes pretty good as a Nigori, a bit sour at the first taste. I think it’s due to the 50% increase on the Lactic acid add-on, just to make sure the batch is safe being in the garage.

    1. That is an interesting article. And it makes me think that I should have mentioned that lots of sake brewed at home in the US uses table rice. Calrose or a Sushi rice which is milled to about 93% for eating works pretty well.


  8. Its funny, you add ‘Brewers polished rice’ as if its a normal thing to buy. Thing is, options in America are plenty but in Europe there seems to be none whatsoever! I have to order it from Japan it seems, but even that I can’t find.. Suggestions are welcome!

  9. First sake brewing attempt. Currently on day 4 of moromi. Bubbles rise to the surface ~1-2/second, but I have not seen any of the foaming/frothing that so many others describe. I’m using White Lab’s sake yeast #7 (WLP705), which I thought, like #9, was a foaming yeast. The packs I started with were a month past their best-by date, so I used two and the moto was actually very active and smelled great. Currently the moromi also smells lovely (banana and some melon, a hint of alcohol today) and specific gravity on day 2 was 1,060. I have 5 brand new packs of #7 yeast, so I could add one or more if it sounds like the moromi should be further along/more active. Started on days 1-2 at 50 F, but on days 3-4, it has gotten down to ~42-3 F.

    1. Hey Jonathan,
      It sounds like it is doing well. While colder, slower ferments will produce finer sake, too cold and the fermentation will stop. I would recommend that you not let the temperature continue to drop.

      1. Thanks Will. I have a exterior, unheated stairwell and I’m figuring out the temperature gradients as the outdoor temperature changes. I think I have a system to keep it consistently in the 46-48 range. Incidentally, I found out White Labs sake yeast #7 I have is actually #701; a non-foaming strain.

  10. First time brewing. Can’t get a hold of yeast#9 , but I did get some #7. I know the end result will be different, but if I understand correctly, the #7 is a pretty flexible/forgiving strain. Would you recommend any modifications to this recipe though?

    1. Hey Jon,

      Both #7 and #9 are good yeasts for sake. No worries there and no need to modify the recipe for #7. You are good to go!


          1. May I ask what type of rice you sell in the shop? It says milled to 60%, but not the cultivar. I’m guessing calrose?

          2. Jonathan, Hi,
            Yes, the rice is Calrose, milled to 60% by SakeOne. It is the same rice they use for their Sake.


  11. Hi Fred, Thanks for the detailed recipe. I have not made sake before. Just curious…can Glucono-Delta-Lactone be used as a “substitute” for lactic acid 88%? If yes, in what proportion with respect to your prescribed lactic acid? Thanks. Also, can lactic acid, in general, be used to treat certain musts of wine for adjustments post fermentation (i.e. before bottling)? Cheers!

    1. Hey Kevin,

      Fred has long since past on. That said, his recipe gives citric acid and acid blend as substitutions. I personally don’t know anything about Glucono-Delta-Lactone. So I can’t really give you any useful information on it.


      1. Hi Will, oh so sorry to hear the late Fred had passed on quite a long time ago. Thanks so much for your feedback. Sure, will adhere to his recipe when I am ready to make sake. Still learning the ropes…very valuable resources here, especially reading from his detailed recipe and the Q & As in this section! Cheers, Kevin.

  12. Hi Will, greetings from the Netherlands!

    Many thanks for such a lengthy and knowledgeable guide. I have made my own koji, proceeded with the sake recipe and right now my first Shubo is nearing completion. I have a question about the primary fermentation (moromi). You call it an ‘open’ fermentation, but you specify to cover with plastic wrap. Should this be airtight? I am using a fermenting bucket as primary fermenter, it comes with a lid with an airlock, should this be used? Or are airlocks only good for secondary fermentation? I would love to know more about the process in this regard.

    A second question, about something further along the process. As I understand it, the secondary fermentation is meant to stop the activity of the yeast and the koji correct? Since pasteurization does the same, would it be wise to try the sake often during the secondary fermentation and pasteurize when i think it is good? Or does secondary fermentation have other functions? Should I always wait for secondary fermentation to complete?

    I have so many more questions, but i will wait until this batch is complete. I have been reading everything with much pleasure, thanks so much again!

    1. Greetings Aart!

      The plastic wrap is just to keep things from falling into the ferment. We don’t really want it to be airtight. A loose lid or tin foil would also work well.

      The secondary fermentation is really just the yeast finishing up. This is similar to beer but different from wine where a secondary, malolactic I believe, fermentation happens in some cases. The secondary can be airtight if you like but this is not necessary. Using an airlock helps to show how much CO2 is coming off the ferment and this gives a sense of the amount of activity. There is still active work going on after the CO2 is mostly stopped.

      If you are tasting the sake and it gets to a place you like you may pasteurize at will. Pasteurization will change the sake and stop the fermentation locking in the current sweet/dry level.


      1. Good to know! I have constructed a fermentation chamber out of an old fridge and a small heating element hookup up to a thermostat. I cleaned the fridge quite thoroughly, would it be safe to just leave the lid off? Or perhaps tie a cheesecloth over the top of the fermenter?

        I am sure i will make more batches in the future. Would it be beneficial to the shubo to leave the lid off and supply the yeast with more oxygen during the entire pre-ferment?

        The questions never end, I cannot wait to try the finished product.

        Many thanks once more!

        1. Yes, you can leave the lid off or use the cheese cloth. I’d do the latter. You should not add oxygen during the shubo/moto.


  13. Is there any reason not to make amazake out of the koji and rice prior to adding it into the fermenter? I’ve been making amazake with my own koji rice and steamed rice using a water bath set to 140 F. After about 10 hours it is super sweet. It would seem to me that you could then add the koji and rice at the same time during each step of the build up since most of the work of the amylase enzymes would have been done and the bulk of the starches would already be converted into sugars. Am I way off base here?

    1. Hey Nathan,

      You could try it and see what happens.

      Some thoughts on what might happen. The amazake method would begin each addition at higher sugar concentrations. This can have different effects depending on the level of concentration. If too high it will be detrimental to the yeast and they will not live as long or work as well. If not too high then the fermentation would be sped up because all (or a lot of ) the sugar is available at the start. Part of the standard process is that the sugars are released slowly which limits the speed of fermentation. Slower fermentation can be cleaner. This is why the highest grade koji is sparsely covered with mold. It is also part of the effect of brewing colder. All of that said, the best way to know is to try it.


  14. Temperature control is an issue where i come from. do you think this will work with Kviek Yeast? what kind of modification will you make?

    1. That is an interesting question. Will it work? Absolutely. How will it be different? I have no clue. Kviek is supposed to remain clean while handling higher temperatures so that is good. All yeast add their own character.

      I’d do almost everything the same but use kviek and don’t worry about keeping it cool. Let us know if you try it and how you like the final product.


    1. Hey Edwin,

      Yes the recipe is the same as in the video series. The recipe, however, discusses some variations and background in addition to what you see in the video series.


  15. Hello,

    I have one question on the koji/rice ratio. Sorry if this has been already mentioned but I don’t have it clear.
    The measurements for koji in the recipe are for the final koji weight or for the rice separated for koji weight?


    1. Hi Rodrigo,

      The measurement given in the recipe for koji is for the koji itself and not the amount of rice needed to make the koji.


  16. I just made my first batch of Sake, following your recipe. I made a 5 gallons recipe.

    It has been 14 days in secondary and my sediment level is still very high. For the past 6 days, the line has been at the 2.5 gallon mark in my 5 gallon sake. Do you have any recommendations? My plan at this point is to move the “clear” sake into a third 3 gallon container with some Kieselsol/Chitosan finings. But that will leave me with quite a bit of the cloudy/yeast sake!

    I am also planning to ameliorate in the 3 gallon jug, let it clear for a week or 2, then pasturize in 1 gallon jugs…

    1. You are on track Stephen, doing everything right.

      It is a shame that there is so much “waist” from the process. That is the lees… Actually the lees can be used for lots of different things if you are so inclined. For example cheese cake. :-)) Keep doing what you’re doing.


      1. Hi Will, I appreciate the response.

        Just to make sure we are on the same page. Here was my process…

        -Main ferment ~8 gallons
        -Strained through nylon. I yielded 5 gallons liquid and 3 gallons Kasu.
        -Now it looks like I have about half lees and half clear sake. That still seems on par to you?

        Will those lees in my carboy be too thick to drink? You think that I should go ahead and rack to a tertiary container?

        1. Sorry Stephen, that is not quite what I was thinking. Thanks for the added details.

          It is not that far off though. Your batch size is quite a bit larger than I am used to. Anyway, Yes, I would move to a tertiary container. When all is said and done I have maybe 1/4 – 1/3 of the batch overly milky sake, not really lees but by no means clear. I don’t personally find this good to drink. Given this and you have too much to be comfortable discarding, I would do a clarifying pass. Bentonite can be useful for this.

          Hope this is a little more helpful.

          1. Thanks again Will,

            Perhaps the I used too much pressure on my straining bags. Or, maybe settling in a 5 gallon carboy has different kinematics than the smaller jugs… I don’t know. Anyway, racked and I’m pleased with the flavor of my first batch. I’m quite surprised that at 0.989 it doesn’t taste super dry! It tasted much drier before the milky portion/starches settled out. It also does not taste like the 16% ABV I calculated when ameliorated to 0.995 and, in fact, tastes quite sweet.

            I wanted to share this web page that I have used over the past year for various things. It has a bunch of calculators, including some calculations you reference on this site. Brix+SG abv calc and more.

          2. In general sake tends to seem sweeter than the gravity would imply; at least for someone with a beer brewing background.

            I’m glad it is working out and that you like it. Oh and yes that is a very useful link (and a nice guy).


          3. Well, 2 weeks later and we have seen much better clearing (and an increased yield)!

            I’m looking for another nugget of wisdom. It is about 90% cleared to my liking. I have not yet pasteurized, but I would like to allow it to clear more before bottling. Would you recommend that I do my bulk pasteurization so that I can let it clear? Or do you think it is safe to sit in the fridge for another couple of weeks before a pasteurization?

            It has been in secondary/tertiary for about 5 weeks now… maybe I should have pasteurized long before this.

          4. Sorry for the second comment…

            I just wanted to add that I’ve been in the fridge since pressing the lees.

          5. As long as it stays in the refrigerator it should be OK. Pasteurizing will give you more safety but is not needed. It will also stop most of the gradual changes that occur with Nama.

  17. After making several batches of Sake from your recipe I took a sabbatical and than went back to making sake again. Before I started I reread the recipe to make sure I had the details down. I then notices a slight error in the amount of water used during that last addition on the 11th day. You state to add the following amount of water:

    “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*).”

    Than on the 12th day you say:

    “1. Chill the above 64-oz water as cold as possible without freezing;”

    Just making sure that the amount of water chilled for the next day should have been 48oz. Not the 64oz mentioned later. Correct? Not nit picking, just requesting clarification since the recipe is what is critical.

    1. Hey Julius,
      Yes, you are correct, it should be 48 oz. I have updated the recipe to match.

      Thanks for pointing this out,

  18. Just ended a batch that didn’t turn out as expected. It fermented but seemed to get stuck at some point and never fermented all the way out. I’m thinking that the yeast I used Wyeast 4134 took a hit on temperature when it was shipped in September. Temps in the area were well into the upper 90’s. I smacked the package the night before day 1 but it never inflated. Planning on making another batch now. I asked my local Home Brew to order the yeast and it arrived with a very recent MFG date of October 2019. A little gun shy so was thinking of starting with two packs of yeast. A couple questions:

    Are there any issues with going this route?

    Should the smack pack inflate like beer and wine yeasts?

    Is there any way to salvage the current batch of sake?

    1. Julius, Hi,

      First a few comments. The yeast pack should inflate after the inner package has been broken open. This is true for all Wyeast varieties. So, that was not a good sign. That said if it made it through the moto stage in good shape it should have been fine. The moto stage is like making a starter in the beer world. Maybe it was not doing well all along. You should not need two packages for your next batch.

      – Issues with using two packs, not really but not necessary.
      – Yes, it should inflate.
      – Is there a way to salvage the current batch? Well if it was the yeast you could try adding some more yeast now. Don’t wait because the sugar levels are likely climbing and this will make it harder for a yeast to deal with both high sugar and high alcohol level while working properly. Does it taste good but too sweet? How long has it been since it stopped fermenting? How long did it ferment for?


      1. I had it in the primary for about 45 days. It was kept at 45F for most of the time after the final build up. I have a freezer converted into a fermentation chamber and I kept in a on airlock for all of the time. It seemed to have good activity but never really “boiled” during the fermentation. Saw a good amount of airlock activity but it never really seemed to take off. It also never showed any stratified layers of clear sake during the fermentation after the stirring period. Just stayed white and thicker than I’m use to. After pressing and transferring to gallon jugs, a week later, it still is not clearing. Looks like rather thick white material. Pressing was a little harder and it only yielded two gallons. Moto seemed correct but it also never really took off. I’m still guessing that the yeast was week from the start. I’ve ordered some replacement yeast (3 packs) from a local home brew center that has it dated 10/2019 MFG date and just received it from Wyeast. I’ll give it a taste to see if it’s sweet.
        If so, my plan to make another Moto batch and add that to the existing batches to see if I can get them to take off again. Maybe raise the temp to 50F as well.

        Either way I’m going to start a new batch and see if I run into any problems. Previous batches were great. This would be my first failure.

        On a side note, I’m using distilled water because I’ve never tested my well water for iron. I know it’s soft naturally but don’t have the mineral analysis. When using distilled water, should I be adding any of the water treatments (Lactic Acid, Morton salt, epsom salt) after the Moto phase?

        1. Thanks Julius, that is helpful. Your plan sounds reasonable but I do worry that the combination of sugar and alcohol will be too much for it. Can’t really know without trying though.

          Yes, it would be good to add both potassium (Morton salt substitute NOT Morton Salt) and magnesium (epsom salt) into the Moto. Also, the Lactic Acid. Lactic acid is to keep unwanted bugs from infesting your sake. After the moto you don’t need to add more of these.

          Just FYI: Sokujo is sake with lactic acid added. Kimoto and Yamahai are methods where no lactic acid is added. Rather lactobacillus bacteria gets into the sake and creates the lactic acid for the sake.


          1. Original batch never turned out that way I expected from previous batches. Still think is was the weak yeast that was the culprit. Now in the process of making a another batch using yeast with a very recent MFG code of November 2019. Now into the 19th day and all is looking, and smelling, MUCH more like I’m use to. The other batch at this time was still quite thick and had a slightly off scent. This batch liquefied quite rapidly and has a much more pleasant fragrance. Waiting to see how it finishes but expecting it to be much more what I was accustomed to.

            Strong yeast is definitely needed for this recipe to work right.

            Next Sake batch will be made using a very high quality short grain sushi rice that is highly milled. Not sure the percentage but looks close to the rice from Sake One. I’ll be using the same batch of yeast and your koji so it will be an interesting comparison.

    1. You can add the bentonite any time in the racking phase. It will speed the particle drop rate and time to next rack.


  19. I have had maybe 15 attempts at making sake from this receipe, but the results are always disappointing and don’t really taste like sake. The fermented product has a light aroma of sake but there are some ‘malty’ smells and taste there too. It’s yellow in colour and looks nothing like commercial sake. When I slowly column filter it with activated carbon, I can remove all the colour but it also strips virtually all flavour. I just get an alcoholic, malty liquid.

    I have tried #7, #9, EC1118, MA33, BV7, CY17, CL23, and SN9 yeasts. I have used koshihikari (Japanese and Australian), arborio (Italian), calrose, generic sushi rice, generic medium grain rice, and jasmine for my batches but none delivers good results. I mill my own rice down to about 60% of its original size. Previously I used Tibbs Vision’s koji spores to make my own koji, but I found the spores would bloom yellow quite quickly. I then turned to a Japanese source of koji spores that claims it’s for sake brewing. The koji is a wonderful fluffy white colour.

    CL23 smelled absolutely wonderful during fermentation. A big, bold, full on sake smell. But by the time I filtered the lees it was yellowish and didn’t taste or smell like sake. #7 yeast foamed like mad and was terrible to work with. Never again. I keep the temperature around 12C for fermentation, and slightly higher for some yeasts that need it (14C for MA33).

    How the heck do brewers get that wonderful aroma of sake AND make the liquid crystal clear at the same time? Are they using just charcoal, and not activated carbon? Is there some trick to it? Am I doing the fermentation wrong by following the receipe on this site?

    I know in Japan they mainly use Yamada Nishiki for brewing. I once approached a kura in Japan to buy a sack of rice. ‘No way’ was the response. Sigh.

    1. Hey Michael,

      I have answered much of the questions here in response to your post on the forums page so here I will only cover things that I didn’t cover over there.

      I don’t know why there would be a malty taste. Seems very strange.

      How are you milling your rice? might be able to help you with Yamadanishiki. I’ve never used Yamadanishiki.

      I gave two suggestions in my forum response:
      – Stop fermentation early by pressing and pasteurizing to see if that is closer to what you want (and before bad bugs may be changing it)
      – double the amount of lactic acid to help guard against bad bugs


      1. Hi Will, thank you for your response.

        I guess I should explain the ‘malty’ smell and taste. It’s difficult to describe but doesn’t smell like sake after carbon filtering. It’s just alcohol with some sort of unusual aftertaste that I can’t quite describe. Before activated carbon filtering the liquid does have some sake taste and smell, but it’s quite yellow with odd flavours mixed in. The only non carbon filtered sake I have tasted was nigori zake and unfortunately mine is nowhere near it.

        Ideally I want something that tastes like Gekkeikan. That’s not setting the bar very high, but I would be delighted to produce something like it given my past attempts.

        I might try your suggestion of stopping fermentation earlier than specified by the recipe. Is it possible that sake can be left too long to ferment and thus maybe enzymes are affecting the taste?

        Regarding lactic acid, I have never used any. I have citric acid powder on hand and have used that.

        Thanks for the link to Good to see that Yamada Nishiki is grown outside of Japan. I’m in Australia so would really have to nail my technique before contemplating importing a bag of rice.

        I mill my rice using a Twinbird rice mill from Japan. I need about six runs at milling a koshihikari batch before it will get down to 50%. Takes a very long time, including waiting for the rice to cool so it doesn’t overheat or fracture.

        Many premium sakes have distilled alcohol added before pressing so I tried doing that. The only effect was a more alcoholic liquid at the end without any more flavour.

        1. Hey Michael,

          Yes, it is possible to leave the sake in the fermenting stage too long but it does not sound like that is what is happening for you. Stopping the process sooner will keep it from getting very dry which may help. If there is an infection, it will also, on pasteurization, stop the bugs from spoiling the batch (hopefully).

          I’ve not used citric acid but many do. I would still try doubling the acid. Not in the same time you are stopping the fermentation early. Best to only make one change at a time.

          I believe gets their Yamadanishiki from Japan.

          Once you get the process working the way you like you can retry adding alcohol before pressing. If helps to bring the aromas into the final product. Here is one of my articles talking about honjozo:

          I’ve experimented with the twinbird but it take too much work for me to use regularly.


      2. I have a question regarding the cooking of rice. I wash and then soak the rice for an hour, then steam for an hour. The rice is cooked but still has a firmness to the grain. After fermentation has finished I can still see individual grains of rice floating in the mash.

        Should all the rice be dissolved? If so, am I not cooking it long/hard enough? Even arborio rice doesn’t dissolve completely after fermentation.
        Apart from making koji, couldn’t the rice be cooked using the absorption technique and basically cooked into a soft mush?

        1. Not all the rice needs to be dissolved but you may need to soak it a bit longer. The soak makes the steaming more effective. When finished steaming you should be able to bite through a grain with the center firm but fully gelatinized.

          Sake brewer say only steam the rice, never cook it like you would to eat. They say the rice should not be mushy. I have not tried to see what would happen if I did this.


  20. I was just looking at the list of ingredients
    5.5kg Rice and 1.3kg of Koji

    Does that not seem wrong or am I misunderstanding or misreading

    Thanks – what a great gift you’ve produced

    1. Hey Peter,

      The ratio of rice to koji can vary widely. The kit I sell is about 25% of the rice weight in koji. Your numbers are in the same ball park at about 24% so yes that will work. Just FYI there are 100% koji sakes where all the rice is provided in the form of koji. Hope that helps.


  21. Hello!
    So me and a couple friends are brewing. we are at the stage where we have already pressed the sake and we are going to rack it off into new bottles tomorrow. We made two batches and instead of doing the 3 – 1 gallon bottles we pressed our sake and put it in 1- 3 gallon jug. So we have 2 – 3 gallon carboys full of sake. Is there a reason to do the 3- 1gallon method as opposed to what we did? Also, we have a significant amount of lees on the bottom. Do you have any recommendations on how to filter out some of that lees. I was thinking of just passing it through a finer mesh filter before putting it in the new bottle. Any thoughts?

    1. Hey John,
      What you have done for containers is just fine. No reason for doing it differently.

      As for the racking. First if, after the lees have settled, you rack the clear sake of the top you don’t need to filter that. You can then try to filter the lower section containing a higher concentration of lees. This later part might make a good Nigori though it can often be too bitter.

      Have fun,

  22. Hey Will,

    I am currently gearing up for my second brewing season and I’m wondering if you have any tips on keeping your sake at a consistently low temp (50-55 F). Love your book. Thanks for all you do for the sake nerds of the world.


    1. I use a small freezer with a temperature controller attached. These freezers are between 1-2 hundred dollars and the controller is less than 1 hundred so the setup is roughly $200. It works very well. The biggest part is not the money but the commitment of the space.


  23. Second try at koji complete… I think it might just have worked this time. It looks better than last time at least!

    I’ll try sending you over a picture of it, maybe you could have a look and tell me what you think.

    It wasn’t completely white all over but in some spots was starting to turn the mustard brown/green of sporing so I decided to stop it.


    1. Jonathon, Hi,
      The koji pictures are always hard to see the details. That said it looks reasonable with some grains well covered while others not so much. All in all the sake will tell you how well you have done but it looks good and your well on your way.

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