How to homebrew Sake

Homebrew Sake is very easy to brew using simple cooking tools and then you can enjoy the taste of Sake.

Homebrew Sake called 'doburoku', rather than hazy Sake', is part of the culture of Japan.
Even under the previously strict control of Liquor Tax law, some Buddist Temples and Shinto Shrines were
brewing their own 'doburoku' to serve at their festivals or ceremonies.

Following is one of the simple Sake brewing procedures for Homebrew Sake:


* 1500g (3.3 lb) rice
* 400g (0.9 lb) Kome-koji
* 0.5g (0.02 oz) citric acid
* 2.4 liter (0.5 gal) Water
* 5g (0.18 oz) dry bread yeast. Or equivalent amount of Beer Ale yeast,Wine yeast or Wyeast Sake
 depending on your taste.

Following is for US people to understand better;
(This is proposed by Dr. Jim Palmer. Thanks a lot, Dr.)
*2 quarts of water
*3 ½ lbs of rice or 6 cups uncooked ( per example)
*1 lb of Kome-koji
*Juice of 1 lemon
*1 package of yeast

You will be able to get Kome-koji made from Koji or Koji-kin, a kind of white fungi, together with
steam cooked rice at your grocery stores or homebrew stores. If you only can get Koji or Koji-kin, you can easily
make your fresh Kome-koji together with steam cooked rice by yourself using your picnic ice box.
Later I will show you how to make Kome-koji.


* Electric rice cooker (steam cooker is better)
* Basket to drain water
* 10 liters (2.6 gal) enamel or stainless steel deep cooking pot with lid
 (Equivalent plastic or glass container can be used)
* Big spoon (stainless is better)


1. Wash and soak the 1500g(3.3 lb) rice for about 30min.and then put the rice in a basket for at least
 60minutes to drain the water.

2. Cook the rice with 1800ml(0.48 gal) water using the rice cooker. Steam cooking is recommended for better taste.
 I used a pressure cooker to steam cook rice using a stainless steel basket suspended in it.

3.After cooking,cool down the rice to 30 degC(86degF).

4. Mix the citric acid with 2.4 liter (0.5 gal) water in the enamel cooking pot.
 Citric acid will prevent contamination by bacteria and add a slightly sour taste to your Sake.
 Depending upon your taste,you can reduce the citric acid.
 Also you can uselactic acid or a lemon or lime juice.

5. Add 400g Kome-koji and mix well by agitating with the big spoon.

6. In 30 minutes, add the cooled cooked rice and mix well by agitating with the big spoon.

7.Add the yeast, place the lid on the pot and keep it at room temperature(lower than 25 degrees C or 77 F).
 Lower temperatures will cause slower and longer fermentation and will result in a better taste.

8.Stir it at least once a day.In two or three days you can enjoy a very nice Sake aroma.
 Be careful about bacterial contamination. I used 70% ethyl alcohol spray around the pot and on
 myself every time.

9.In two weeks fermentation will seem to end.

10.Filter the sludge using a sterilized basket or cheese cloth.

11.Enjoy the filtered Sake. Do not drink too much. Alcohol content is two to three times more than beer.
 Cooling the filtered Sake is the best way to taste it.If you want crystal clear Sake,
 separate the remaining sludge by decanting. This will greatly reduce the Sake Sake yield.

12.The remaining sludge can be used to make pickled vegetables in a refrigerator.
 A cucumber is the most suitable vegetable. Before pickling, sprinkle lightly with salt
 (about 2% weight of the cucumber)and place the cucumber in a dry container under two times it's weight
 for at least 2 days to squeeze out any excess moisture. Then immerse in the sludge and in
 two or three months, you will have sake tasting pickles. You can also put in white fish meat and then
 grill it. If you put soy bean cake (tofu) wrapped with cheese clothe into the sludge,in a week
 you will get a cheese like sake tasting food. The longer fermentation,the better the sake-cheese like taste.

Improved Kome-koji process for homebrew Sake

I had a sake brewing job experience at an old-fashioned and traditional sake brewery,Matsuya sake brewery,
on Feb.7 1999.

Thanks to the President Mr.Matsubara's openminded explanation about sake brewing and Kome-koji process,
I was successful to make my own Kome-koji at home,the same appearance and the same taste as that
of the sake brewery.

Key point is to steam cook rice as dry as possible by very short time of washing and soaking together.

Equipment and materials I used:

1.Normal eating rice 2kg ( I used "Hitomebore"rice which is one of the tastiest rices in Japan.)
 The sake brewery used so called 60% polished special sake rice kind.(40% reduced from original
 rice.Material cost increased 40% plus polishing expence.)

2.Stainless steel bowl and basket to wash and soak rice.

3.Steam cooker.

4.Cotton cloth, a loose open weave.(Traditional Sake brewery uses hemp cloth.)

5.Thin wooden container or cooked Sushi rice container.

6.48L picnic cooler box. (US made. Labermaid)

7.A 60W tungsten lamp together with a small fan which is controlled by a Robertshow type temperature controller.

8.Dry Koji-kin or Koji-fungi.I got a pack thanks to the Sake brewery President,Mr.Matsubara.

9.Ethylalcohl spray to sanitize hands.


1.From 13:00 on Feb.11.1999 Wash and soak the 2 kg rice for about a stainless steel basket
 together with a bowl and then remove the bowl. Drain the water at least 60 minutes.

2.Wrap the rice with a cotton cloth and steam cook it for 60min with weak gas flame.
 Steam cooked rice looks slightly transparent and well separable,not white and not sticky,
 because of less content of water.

3.Spread and separate the each rice on the other cotton cloth in a wooden container by hands to cool down
 the cooked rice to 30 degrees C(86degF) which I don't feel warm temperature anymore.

4.Wrap about a few gram of dry Koji-kin or Koji-fungi with a gauze. And sprinkle the Koji-kin or Koji-fungi on
 the cooled rice and well mix it by hands. (Dispose remaining rice of dry Koji-kin or Koji-fungi
 in the gauze after spinkling)

5.Wrap the rice with the cotton cloth in the wooden container and slightly moisten the cotton cloth
 with clean water spray. Put the rice together with the wooden container in a picnic cooler box
 with the temperature controller set at 30 deg C (86degF).

6.At 06:00 on Feb.12.1999 The rice started to stick together. Well separate the rice with hands.
 After wraping the rice with the cotton cloth. Moisten the cloth again.

7.At 21:00 on Feb.12. Kome-koji alreasy started to smell out side of the picnic cooler box.

8.At 06:00 on Feb.13. The Kome-koji stuck together. Well separate the Kome-koji with hands.
 After wraping the rice with the cotton cloth. Moisten the cloth again.

9.At 17:00 on Feb.13. Remove the already prepared Kome-koji from the picnic cooler box and cooled down
 to the room temperature by spreading the Kome-koji on the other cotton cloth on a clean table or plate.
 The uniform well separated beautiful white Kome-koji is made.
 Slightly sweet taste the same as that of Sake brewery.

10.Put the Kome-koji in a Ziploc and keep it in a refrigerator for homebrew sake or miso making.

If real "Amasake" is available(sake sludge mixed with sugar is not real Amasake), directly pitch dry yeast on
the Amasake in a bottle. You can easily brew homebrew Sake.

In Japan, at present,fermenting more than 1% alcohol without a license is illegal. Before World War(I),
I heard that every family enjoyed homebrewed Sake.
It was the Japanese culture. But the war destroyed the culture too.

At present, members of "Homebrew TSUSHIN(News Letter)" is only around 300. It is estimated that
about ten thousand homebrewers exist in Japan. We do not only hombrew Sake but also homebrew beer.

In 1992, the minimum amount of licenced beer production was reduced from 2000kl/year to 60kl/year
by the pressure from the USA. It was the dawn of local micro breweries.
We,most of Japanese homebrewers,are wanting more pressure from the USA for free homebrew and for
free trade to get cheeper homebrew ingredients.

Commercial Sake brewers use very expensive materials such as 50% polished special kinds of rice,
which looks like very small crystal beads because of the excessive polishing process.
The special rice kinds grown only for Sake are called Yamadanishiki, Miyamanishiki, Reihou, Gyokuei,
Kamenoo and so on. We never eat such a rice, we usually eat slightly polished normal kinds of rice grown
only for eating. When I visited a Sake brewer near my house, the manager told me that he tried
to eat sake rice but that it was not tasty.

Homebrew Sake is very simple to make and satisfactorily tasty if you do not compare it with
commercial high class pure rice Sake. I heard that U.S.Sake brewers must produce only pure rice Sake
because of laws.

Pure Rice Sake means Sake only from rice. In Japan, tax law allows mixture of so called industrial ethyl
alcohol into Sake within a certain percentage.
Pure rice sake (Junmaishu) is very expensive.

I hope you enjoy Homebrew Sake.

Following is a copy of Mr. T. Takeshima's Home Page,just for your information.

What is Koji?

Koji is a kind of mold that has an enzyme to convert starch to sugar.

Koji is used for making Sake (Japanese rice wine), Miso (soy-bean paste), Shoyu (soy-sauce), etc.

As a mashing step is necessary to convert starch to sugar in beer brewing, the function of Koji is
indispensable to make sake. In the case of beer brewing, fermentation takes place after starch
conversion has finished. In making sake, on the other hand, starch conversion by Koji and fermentation
by Sake yeast proceed in the same fermenter at the same time. In Sake making, Koji not only works
as a starch converter, but also produces complexity in flavor of Sake.
Rokurota-san's "KOJI to brew your own Sake."

Where to find Koji in US

There are at least a few (probably more) Koji makers in the US. Most of you can get rice Koji at your
local homebrew suppliers. Here is a Koji maker of whom I have the address and phone number:

Miyako Oriental Foods,Inc.

4287 Puente Av., Baldwin Park, CA 91716

Phone: 818-962-9633

Another way to get Koji is mail order. Here is the information for a mail order supplier:

G.E.M. Cultures

30301 Sherwood Rd., Fort Bragg, CA 95437

Phone: 707-964-2922

Kushi Institute Store

Toll-Free: 1-800-64-KUSHI (1-800-645-8744)

"The Sake Koji on-line Ordering Center"
These companies make rice Koji fundamentally for making miso (soy-bean paste),soy-source and/or Amasake.
I usually use about a 1 kg (2 lb) pack of dried rice Koji made by Miyako Oriental Foods when I homebrew my sake.

According to the mail order catalog of G.E.M. Cultures, they seem also to provide Koji starter which
enables you to make Koji by yourself at home.

I hope you are succesful.

Kampai with your Sake!

Mutsuo Hoshido