Make Sake at Home

Discussion in 'Japanese Culture and History' started by kegage, Apr 1, 2011.

  1. kegage

    kegage Green Belt

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  2. crushing

    crushing Grandmaster

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    From the linked article in the OP:

    Personally (I'm not an expert though!), I would put sake firmly in the beer category based it being a fermented grain drink. In various brewing and beer related books and articles I've read recently it's been stated that in the thousands of years of beermaking, hops is a relatively new ingredient. Through the ages beer has been made with herbs, roots and other flavoring ingredients.

    Anyway, once I get a few batches of other beers under my belt (in more than one way, I suppose :) ) I think I may try brewing up some sake. So thanks much for posting this.
     
  3. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng Sr. Grandmaster

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    I would put sake firmly in a small cup and drink it... warm of course :D


    I don't know about Japan and how it categorizes alcoholic beverages but in China there are only two categories based on the English translation... Beer and Wine...

    No matter what it is...if it ain't beer :drinkbeer...it's wine :drink2tha
     
  4. kegage

    kegage Green Belt

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    Crushing: Your very welcome. Your right about hops being a relatively new ingredient. The ancient Egyptians brewed beer from bread. I think that's the oldest known, but I am not really sure.
    I also make mead, which is almost as old, (hoping to start a new batch in a couple of weeks), but I haven't done beer proper yet. I am not really a beer kinda guy. I do like a dark stout every once in a while though, but mead and sake are my drinks of choice.
    At the moment I am trying to make some koji go to spore so I can make somemore kome-koji to start a couple of batches of sake.

    Kevin
     
  5. crushing

    crushing Grandmaster

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    Kevin, I would very much like it if you updated this thread with your progress, particularly if you included pictures. Thanks and happy brewing!
     
  6. kegage

    kegage Green Belt

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    Xue Sheng : I do both mead and sake, and both seem to defy modern senses when it comes to being categorized. I see the point of sake being seen as a beer because it comes from grain, but has a wine-like consistancy and taste, and is not carbonated, hence rice-wine. Mead is the same way, wine like, but made from honey. I know that in the U.S. they are both legally condsidered wine. I have been checking this stuff out as I am thinking of opening a meadery.

    Like you, drink sake warm. Why would anyone want to drink it chilled. Although, some, for some reason, seem to think that's the way to go.

    Kevin
     
  7. kegage

    kegage Green Belt

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    Sure, I will be happy to. Updates are easy. I will try to post pictures, but I may have to do some fanagling. I am on a old laptop at the moment (desktop is down), and I will have to figure out how to get the pictures on here. Although, I need to figure out how to do that anyway.
    Are you just interested in the finished product, or the entire process? Be advised that almost everything I am doing, with the sake at least, is jury-rigged experimentation, but that seems to be a major part of homebrewing anyway. So, don't expect to see much sophisticated equipment. Not quite a mad scientist lab, but it is kind of esoteric.

    Kevin

    P.S. Sake has to be brewed at 50-55 degrees (F). One one of the things I am working on is a cheap and easy way to maintain that temp. Especially for those in warmer climes without basements. Like me. Pretty sure I have it figured out, but that is later down the line. First steps first.
     
  8. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

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    Why would anyone drink it cold? Welllllll............Same reason why many people drink wine cold. Hot wine (mulled) is tasty and a great New England tradition, but no one buys a nice bottle of wine for that. They buy bargain bin wine for that. A quality sake has many overtones of flavors, like a quality wine. The practice of heating sake came about as a way to mask the unrefind flavor of lower quality product. If you look at commercial products, a $6 bottle of the entry level Geikkikan is brewed in California and has the instructions to remove bottle cap before heating. A $30 bottle labeled for imply may very well have the instructions "serve cold " in english.

    There is nothing wrong with drinking sake warm, many Japanese do it. They buy $6 Geikkikan for the same reason I do....I cannot always afford the good stuff even tho I can easily find it. Plus Japanese restants will warm a higher end sake for you if you ask, and sake bars will ask hot or cold at the time you order....at least the did for a gaijin like me...LOL.


    Apologies for typos...typing from the Droid.

    Most important is to enjoy a nice glass of whatever it is you pour and share :)
     
  9. kegage

    kegage Green Belt

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    Carol: Yeah, I actually knew all that. Just going with the flow. Bob Taylor, the guy that has the sake making website, actually goes into what determines what quality of sake, how to filter raw sake to get each level, which qualities are best drunk warm or chilled, and how to do that.

    Kevin
     
  10. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng Sr. Grandmaster

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    Yes there is.. it is just plain WRONG!!!! :uhyeah:
     
  11. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

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    Japan's is more complex, and structured off the drinks that they commonly produce. Sake is its own category, as is mirin. Whiskey is seperate from spirits, brandy is separate from wines. Beer is...beer. :cheers:
     
  12. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng Sr. Grandmaster

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    The Chinese make it SOOO much simpler (as well as surprisingly confusing:yinyang: )

    Sake, Mirin, Whiskey, Scotch, Vodka, Wine = Wine
    Beer, Ale (possibly Mead) = Beer

    As for Sake and for the record... I always drink it warm, IMO, there just is not any other way for me to properly enjoy it. But then when I drink dark beer I like it warm as well so maybe it is just me.
     
  13. crushing

    crushing Grandmaster

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    The state of Texas has a completely stupid take on beer. They classify beer as a malt beverage >= .5% but <= 4% ABW. And Ale/Malt Liquor is a malt beverage that is > 4% ABW. Basically, Texas says that ale is not beer and that certain lagers are ales. Apparently came up with this for tax reasons: http://www.tabc.state.tx.us/excise_tax/index.asp

    This means brewers that package for Texas distribution may be forced to to print untruths on the labels. For example, Sam Adams Noble Pils, a very nice crisp hoppy lager ends up with words like "Ale in Texas" on the label.

    As far as temperature, cold kills flavors, notes and complexity whilst warmth helps bring them out. For certain beers that you don't want to taste, they will have magic mountains in the packaging that turn blue that will tell you it's cold enough to drink, or vortex necks on bottles to help you drink them before they get warm enough to taste. ;)
     
  14. kegage

    kegage Green Belt

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    A quick update on the sake at home efforts. I have been experimenting with the concept of producing tane-koji (mold spores) from the Cold Mountain brand kome-koji (mold impregnated rice used to convert starches to sugars) mentioned in Bob Taylor’s guide. I have had some limited success, but, with advice and technical help from Bob and others, I am still trying to refine the process.
    I haven’t actually started brewing my own sake yet, and part of the reason is I don’t have enough kome-koji. If this can be successfully accomplished, people, and me, would be able to produce their own kome-koji without having to order spores from Australia, or purchase more kome-koji.
    Once I get the process refined I will post it here.

    Kevin
     
  15. kegage

    kegage Green Belt

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    I know it's been awhile but here's another update. Got all the refinements done for producing the spores I need to grow the kome-koji necessary for brewing, and I have begun producing the kome-koji I will need. I live in a hot and humid section of the country and the required temperatures for brewing sake range from the low 70's to 50 degrees depending on where you are in the process. Very difficult to do unless you have a basement, or a box freezer, or refrigerator you can dedicate for brewing. Which I don't. Instead I have developed a relatively cheap and easy method for maintaining the proper temperatures using a cooler. If anyone wants details I will be happy to provide them. I should be able to start actually brewing next week.

    Kevin
     
  16. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

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    I'd love to hear it more. I live in a cooler section of the country and even here it would be difficult to find something in that range of temps. Not sure if I'll ever get around to brewing my own, but maybe someday.... :D

    How is it going with growing your own kome-koji?
     
  17. kegage

    kegage Green Belt

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    Carol- Sure, not a problem. I have written an article on the basic method for maintaining the cooler temperatures, and by all accounts, so far, from Bob and others, it will work. I can send you the article privately or I can post here. You choose.

    The kome-koji is progressing just fine. The first batch should be finishing up today and I will be starting the second tonight. I will need seven batches total. I am brewing two batches of sake. That is why I need so much.

    A humorous side note: It has been very entertaining to see the look on the faces of my friends when they ask me what I have been up to and I answer "Growing mold in my living room." Once I tell them why they become even more intrigued.

    Kevin
     
  18. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

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    If you don't mind posting it here, that would be great...I think there are a few hobby brewers that would find it interesting :)

    Have you made a successful batch so far? Part of me thinks I'd put in a lot of effort and time, only to create something that I either toss out or put in the fridge and pretend it is Mirin :D
     
  19. crushing

    crushing Grandmaster

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    Kevin,

    I would like to see your method for maintaining cooler temps and see if I can apply it to fermenting a lager such as a pils, which requires a cooler temperature than what I've got in my coldest room. I've been looking on craigslist for a chest freezer to convert to a fermentation chamber/kegerator.
     
  20. kegage

    kegage Green Belt

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    Carol- No I haven't actually brewed sake yet. The kome-koji is the last ingredient I need to start.

    Here is the article. I tried to post photos, but it didn't seem to want to work. If you have any questions, please ask them.

    Kevin


    A Cheap And Easy Method To Control Sake Brewing Temperatures.

    I live in Memphis, TN. Temperate climate zone, high summer heat, high humidity. I have seen several questions in the comment sections on Bob Taylor's site about controlling the brewing temperature if you live in a climate area like mine and you don't have a basement, or a box freezer, or refrigerator that can be dedicated for brewing, like me, but no real answers. I believe I have developed a relatively cheap and easy method for doing just that. I have done some initial non-brewing control experiments, using water, and they were very successful. I got the initial idea from the guy that operates one of the local brewing supply stores (Mid-South Malts) here in Memphis, and I have tweaked it a bit, hopefully, to be more sake friendly. It may seem a little labor intensive, but I don't believe any more so than any of the other operations necessary for brewing sake.
    I have been very successful in maintaining temperatures at 74 degrees and 50 degrees with a fluctuation of plus or minus two degrees using this method. I have not actually brewed anything using this method yet. All the information I relate is based on using water as a medium. Your results may vary.

    Here's, essentially, how it works

    Equipment:

    A Standard Cooler: Big enough to hold your brewing vessel with a little clearance between the brewing vessel and the inside wall of the cooler. It is not necessary to be able to close the top. I am using a Coleman 75 quart cooler. A normal five gallon brewing bucket, or glass carboy, will work in as small as a 56 quart cooler, but it is a very tight fit.

    1/2&#8221; to 1&#8221; Thick Open Cell Foam Pad: Cut to fit the circumference and height of your brewing vessel. This is the yellow open cell foam style pad normally used as a pad on top of mattresses and for pillow stuffing. You should be able to find it at your local department, hardware, or fabric store.

    Plastic Bottles: 2 Liter soft drink, or other similar size. You will need several. I recommend at least eight.

    A Thermometer: I use a digital cooking thermometer with a probe attached by a cord. After sanitizing the probe and cord, I simply insert it through the airlock hole in the top of the bucket to take a reading.

    The Setup:

    1. The day before you start the brewing process fill the bottles with water. Put four in the refrigerator, and four in the freezer.

    2. Wrap and secure (tie, tape, however) the cut-to-fit foam pad around your brewing vessel and put it in the cooler.

    The Process:

    As you are doing the various brewing steps place two, or as many as you need, of the plastic bottles, on either side of the brewing vessel to maintain the necessary temperature for that step. The refrigerated water filled bottles for temperatures in the 70 degree ranges, and the frozen bottles for the 50 degree ranges. You will need to replace the appropriate bottles as they warm up, or melt, as the case may be, to maintain the desired temperature. Depending on your environment, you may need to replace the refrigerated bottles every four to six hours, and the frozen bottles every eight to twelve hours. I recommend, at least in the beginning, that you do temperature checks as often as you feel is necessary until you get the &#8220;feel&#8221; for how temperatures fluctuate in your situation. I would, at least, do temperature checks at the times you replace the bottles.

    Suggestions:

    1. Before you start using this system for brewing, conduct your your own experiments, using water as a stand-in for your actual brewing ingredients. Your process may need to be adapted depending on the temperatures and humidity in your area. Example: I have found the cooler I am using maintains the desired temperatures for much longer a period than I expected, and therefore I do not need to change out the bottles as often as I expected. It took me about a week to figure how to work the system. You may find that instead of two refrigerated bottles, one will do the trick for the 70 degree steps, or one frozen bottle may work best to maintain 50 degrees, or you may need more than two. Etc.

    2. When reducing the temperature from the 70's to the 50's it will take some time. You may want to use three or all four of the frozen bottles. When you get to about three degrees of the target temperature remove the extra bottle(s) and put them back in the freezer.

    3. Warming the temperatures back up from 50 degrees will also take time. Since coolers are designed to maintain a cold environment, you may want to remove the brewing vessel from the cooler to accomplish this in a more timely manner.
     

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