Ohio! The sake is finally done, and I’m very happy with the final product. In the last post I had just pressed the lees, prepping it for a long lagering phase. There is a lot of temperature controlling during this section of the sake process so again, I’m not sure how you do this with any accuracy without some sort of kegerator or temperature controlled refrigerator. I was able to clarify it pretty substantially by racking it off the lees a couple times. I ended up buying a few 1 gallon jugs for this, as the three gallon carboy resulted in a sediment/lees layer on the bottom that was too thick for racking. This is something to keep in mind if you are used to all grain brewing and want to use it for sake making. I would suggest using the one gallon jugs, as they make it a little easier during the racking process. You can also grab a small wine auto-syphon at the homebrew store for this, which works perfectly in conjunction with one gallon jugs.
After racking, the next step is to pasteurize the sake, which is just the process of heating it up to 140 degrees and then letting it cool to room temperature. You do this once after the 2nd racking, and then once before racking to bottle. It’s not hard at all, but it does take some planning, as the heating and cooling can take a little while. I bought some 6 oz champagne bottles from the homebrew store so I could bottle small portions of sake. I would highly suggest this as it makes for good presentation. You can also use normal bottle caps and cappers for this, so again, if you are a current homebrewer you probably already have this equipment lying around. The finishing touch was the label, and there you have it – Black Rice Sake.
It has a very nice sweet graininess to it. You can taste the rice. I’m not sure if this would be considered a flaw in the sake community, but the flavor of this particular sake is very nice. The color is a very light pink and reminds me of the sakura blossoms. It has a very high ABV, which is a signature of straight Junmai-Shu sake (Pure Rice Beer with no distilled spirits added). I think it’s too high for the style, reading at 24% ABV using a wine vinometer, but it’s not noticeable when you are drinking it (dangerous?). I’m very happy with how it turned out, and I’m looking forward to brewing it again; my only concern is the time it takes to make. Like lagering, you have to devote a considerable amount of time to cold storage, so my temperature controlled beer brewing took a backseat during this project. But overall, I highly recommend trying sake brewing if you haven’t so already. Pick up Will Auld’s book and/or check out homebrewsake.com for more on sake brewing.
OWARI – Kompai!
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