Click on the steps below to learn more about the sake production process!
When the Sake rice first arrives at the sake brewery, the first step is sake production is to mill the rice. It’s polished or milled to remove the outer layers of each grain exposing the starchy core. The percentage to which the rice is milled is called “seimaibuai”.
After the rice is milled, it’s covered with rice flour which is called ‘nuka’. To remove this and to begin introducing moisture into each grain, the rice grains are next washed. Timing of the washing is precise and timed down to the second.
To fully prep the the rice grain for steaming, the rice is then soaked. This step continues to introduce moisture into the grain. The soaking step is also precisely timed.
The next step is rice steaming. Rice is laid in the steamer and steamed from below. This process usually lasts about an hour. When freshly steamed, rice then moves onto the next step.
Koji-kin is a mold. Koji is rice that has this mold growing on it. Making of this koji rice is the next step. freshly steamed rice is moved to the koji making room, which is usually has either wood or metal walls and is quite hot. the rice is spread out on long tables and allowed to dry slightly on the outside of each grain. the goal is to have each grain moist inside and dry on the outside. this encourages the koji mold to dig deep into each grain to reach the moisture.after the rice is prepped in teh koji room, teh koji mold powder is sprinkled over the grains. after about 4 days, the mold is fully covering each grain and koji rice has been created.
Moto or Shubo - The Yeast Starter
Next comes the making of the sjubo or moto – also known as the yeast starter. In a small tank, Yeast, water, rice and Koji-rice are mixed together. overabout 2 weeks a small batch of sake is created that is high in yeast. this gives the yeast colony a comfortable start in life.
Moromi - The Main Mash
Finally all the prep work comes together. In the main brewing tank, Water, rice, koji-rice and the yeast starter are added. In a process known as San-danjikomi, three additions are made over 4 days time. This allows the yeast and koji to adjust nicely to each addition without being overwhelmed. After the third addition of rice, water yeast and koji, the mash is left to ferment for about 30 days.
Once the sake is done brewing, the newly created alcohol needs to be separated from the unfermented rice solids left in the mash. The mash is trasfered into a machine known as a Yabuta. the mash is poured into verticalpockets of the machine and pressure is applied from the side. the sake is forced out of the bottom and mesh holds the rice solids behind. these rice solids are known as “kasu”.
Once the sake is pressed, the next step is often pasteurization. Sake is pumped thru a pipe submerged in hot water. This quickly heats the sake to around 150ËšF. The purpose of this heating to kill of any remaining enzymes, bacteria and yeast to make the sake shelf stable without refrigeration.
Most sake is charcoal filtered at this stage. It’s run through a machine with charcoal that removes color and some enzymes in the sake making the body very clear.
Most sake is cellared or aged in a tank at this stage. Usually this lasts from 3-6 months.
Next, sake is bottled. Machines fill and seal the cap on each bottle. At this stage, sake is usually pasteurized again. after the bottles have cooled down, they are labelled.
Finally, sake is boxed up and shipped out for distribution