So you like the Honjozo (本醸造)

This article discusses how to make Honjozo sake.

There is a lot to be said for Honjozo. It tends to be light and fragrant and can be exceedingly smooth. I was ecstatic with the first honjozo I tried. It was the Murai Family Tokubetsu Honjozo, light and smooth, fragrant but disappeared like a ghost. Very nice. Since then I have had other honjozos but this one remains one of my favorites.

Honjozo is a Special Designation Sake just as Junmai, Junmai Ginjo and Junmai Daiginjo. In fact Ginjo and Daiginjo without the Junmai designation are both honjozo. You can think about these special designation sakes as having three grades of Junmai (pure) and three parallel grades of Honjozo (brewer’s alcohol added). The top rung, Daiginjo, is one where the rice used has been milled to 50% or less with one pure and the other with added alcohol. The next rung, Ginjo, is with the rice milled to 60% or less with one pure and the other with added alcohol. Finally the entry rung to the special designation sake is Junmai (pure) and Honjozo (brewer’s alcohol added). When this system was put in place, to make this entry rung, the rice used had to have been milled to 70% or less. While this is still true for Honjozo, the milling requirement has been remove for Junmai. Continue reading “So you like the Honjozo (本醸造)”

Quick Start Sake Brewing

Quick Start Sake Brewing

This quick start procedure is meant to help you get started as quickly as possible. It’s a procedure you can use to make very good sake, now, without waiting to learn more. My hope is that, as you make your sake you will be pulled more and more into this unique drink and all its aspects, making the learning about the whys and what fors more exciting and magical.

This outline is specifically for use with rice milled to 60% of original (60% seimaibuai) and pre-made koji.

The big picture: The first task is to create the moto which is a yeast mash to grow up a strong population of yeast for the ferment. The moto lasts for one week in this procedure. Next comes the buildup from the moto to the moromi or the yeast mash to the main ferment. This buildup comes in a three stage addition process over four days. Following the buildup is the main ferment that lasts about 20 days. This is followed by pressing to separate the sake from the lees and a series of rackings. The rackings transfer clear sake from containers with sediment to containers without sediment. This allows the sake to become more and more clear and more sediment free with each racking. Finally, is the pasteurization and bottling to complete the process.  The total time from start to end is 88 days and is closely tied to temperature during the process.

There is a tremendous amount of repetition of the process. For example the same process used to create the moto is used for each of the three additions of the buildup. Racking is repeated several times and pasteurization is done twice. So while the following outline is long most of the work becomes comfortable and routine before you are done.

Day 1 – estimated task time 10 minutes:

The first thing we must do is prepare a few things; sake water, yeast and koji. This is often done, as suggested in the recipe, the night before the first rice steaming. Continue reading “Quick Start Sake Brewing”