Many more people think about home brewing sake than do. Many more people homebrew sake than homebrew sake more than once. What is it that helps us get started and continue to homebrew sake? Well it is really easier to say what gets in the way. First, and I believe foremost, it is the lack of good information on how to homebrew or any kind of brewing sake. It is for this very reason that I have been writing this blog, this set of articles on sake brewing and sake brewing related information.
Second, assuming we get past the bad information and find the good sources, it is hard to find the needed ingredients. Of these koji is ironically the biggest issue. I say ironically because it is available throughout the country and maybe the world in Asian markets. Here in the states, Cold Mountain Koji is the primary example. However, it is most common when looking for koji that the staff at the vary stores that sell it do not know about it or where they might keep it.
Third, is highly polished or milled rice to produce high quality sake. However, if we corrected all of these we would still have a significant barrier to transforming those who one time homebrewed sake into sake homebrewers. What is this barrier?
Sake brewing is best done at temperatures well below what we usually have in our homes. Sake breweries use what is known as the kan-zukuri (寒作り) method which is cold weather or winter brewing method. While refrigeration was introduced to sake brewing in 1908 when the Honolulu Sake Brewery first refrigerated their fermentation area, most Japanese breweries brew only in the winter so they utilize the natural temperature to control that of their fermentation. Experienced homebrewers often have refrigerators or freezers with a special temperature controller device to hold the temperature where desired. However, for the first time brewer, this is too expensive for trying something they may not stick with.
Everyone has a refrigerator for the household and they are cold enough, however, they don’t normally have enough free space to support a five gallon bucket – the standard size for small, 2 gallon, batch homebrew sake. Given this, most first time sake brewers don’t provide the proper conditions for truly good sake to emerge. After producing a ho hum batch of sake, they have satisfied their intellectual curiosity about sake brewing but not gotten the bug to continue. Would producing a commercial quality sake turn all these first time sake brewers around? No, not all, but some.
So the question seems to be how can a person brew a commercial quality batch of sake without investing in a bunch of equipment that he may never use again? Answer: make it fit in the refrigerator. There is, of course and issue with this. If we shrink the batch of sake to fit in the refrigerator, it will be considerably smaller than the standard small batch and, for some, too small to be worth the effort. Well, one solution will not solve all the problems for everyone but it will provide a new option for those that want to try their hand at making a truly exceptional sake with very limited resources.
How do we make a batch of sake fit in the refrigerator? Well, first we will need to define a recipe that is small enough and produces excellent sake. Once we have this we need to give examples of common vessels that will work well for brewing this recipe. Here I am thinking that the large plastic juice containers may be an option. In any case, I will start with the following recipe to see how well it works and adjust from there.
My first cut at the recipe is:
|Lactic Acid||1 ml.|
|Yeast #9 or #7||1 pack|
With a water adjustment to distilled water:
|Magnesium sulfate||0.2 g|
|Potassium chloride||1 g|
With the following schedules:
I am expecting that this will produce about 50 oz. of fine clear sake or a little more than 4 12 oz. bottles worth. This is, of course, following the same process that is detailed in https://homebrewsake.com/recipe/. If any of you give this a go, please let me know so we can compare notes and perhaps I can highlight your efforts as well.