Sake Making – Part 2

If you missed Sake Making – Part 1 you can read it here!

Ohio! We are back with the second part of our sake special.  We were about 20 days in at the end of the last post, just starting the main mash/ferment – The Moromi.  Primary has since ended, and I had to press and separate the sake lees (rice & koji solids) from the sake.  If you are interested in building superior muscle mass like yours truly, try making sake and focus on the intense physical nature of pressing the sake lees.  After the pressing, I was left with a very milky, unfiltered, young purple sake and the pressed lees, now called kasu.  At this point the sake goes into the cold fridge to undergo secondary fermentation and cold conditioning, which is basically lagering.  I’m about 40 days into the process now, so there are only 40 days to go.  I have had small tastes here and there and can definitely say that it tastes like sake.  I get a lot of sweetness from the black rice, and it’s very dry with an alcohol kick.  It’s getting closer to the day we can actually enjoy the finished product.

After separating the sake from the rice/koji I was left with a ton of lees, called Kasu.  I like to recycle as much as I can with spent barley when I’m brewing beer, so I decided to look into using kasu in cooking.  Sure enough, there are tons of recipes that call for kasu as additives and sauce thickeners, but the primary use seems to be for pickling or Kasuzuke.  Fish, vegetables, you name it, gets buried in the stuff for weeks, months, years, and the result is a pungent sake-ish pickle.  I’m a big fan of tsukemono (Japanese pickles), but the ones I made are a little tough for me to get behind.  At the start you get a very unique, savory, delicate pickle, but it’s quickly followed by a folding chair to the face of pungent saltiness.  I’m guessing I added too much salt.  Luckily for me, kasu is a common Japanese ingredient so you can easily find it at the Asian market.  I’ll try again with traditional kasu and see what happens.

I wanted to mention a couple other interesting things I’ve found researching the sake subject.  I’m using black rice in mine, but I surely can’t be the only person in history that has had this idea.  Sure enough, I’m not.  There is a sake line that is pretty easy to get in the US called Kikusakari.  It’s actually brewed by the Kiuchi Brewery that brews the popular Japanese Hitachino Nest Beer.  If you are familiar with the Red Rice version of their beer then you will be familiar with the rice that they use to brew their Kikusakari Asamurasaki, a red rice sake.  The color is a dark strawberry gold, and there is a lot going on with the flavors – dark berry, sherry, tart young strawberry, and umami.  It’s not your normal run-of-the-mill sake, as it reminds me of a sweet whiskey, sherry, or brandy.  It’s worth a try if you can find it.

One last mention–and this is a big one.  Will Auld, sake brewing extraordinaire, has been hard at work researching sake brewing and has successfully published a book on the subject! Earlier this month he announced that his book Sake Brewing: Release the Toji Within will be available on so you can now buy it and benefit from his cumulative research, experience, and hard work.  Thank you for putting this together Will and thank you for all your help!  Here’s a link to the amazon page.  Buy it, read it, and spread the word by writing a nice review!


–Kip B.
Los Angeles Ale Works™
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