Friday, May 28, 2010

Sake Update 5: Filtering and Bottling

The Sake Project is finished! It's taken four months and it's finally in bottles.

After aging in bulk for five weeks it had cleared fairly well.

But I wanted it clearer, and here I made a bit of a mistake. I mixed up about two teaspoons of bentonite and 2/3 cup boiling water. Mix well, then let it sit for a couple hours minimum, and mix again. It doesn't want to mix at first. Then into the sake and swirl it around. It will take a few days to a week to re-settle. Honestly, I think it was clearer before I put the bentonite in. So my suggestion for next time is to bentonite it right after it goes into the jug. That way it'll have a month or two to settle.

Then it went into the filter. It tasted fine unfiltered, but hey, why not make it more complicated? I have a gravity-fed Vinbrite filter which works well, if very, very slowly. Really it's only good for about two gallons max, so it worked well enough for the sake.

Yes, the humble washing machine really is the homebrewer's friend. The filtration, slow and obnoxious as it was, did however produce a very clear sake.

Then into bottles and pasteurized again on the stove. I ended up with 16 twelve-ouncers of filtered, and another pint or so of unfiltered sake (towards the end I got tired of waiting for the filter).

So how is it? After all this work, is it any good?


It's really pretty good. Melon and pear in the nose, sweet rice/grain, with of course a strong alcohol note too. Too strong, next time I'll dilute it down to 16% ABV. Just a bit of a spice, cinnamon? A bit of lactic there as well.

Upfront the flavor is sweet, there's rice there, almost a caramel flavor, and a nice smoothness to it. Then it moves into a rush of warm alcohol, and ends on a tart, lactic dry note. If there's one complaint it lies here, just a bit too much lactic acid. I blame the natural sour mash moto. Next time I'll try adding straight lactic acid instead and see what happens, maybe it will mellow that aspect. Still, with the exception of that lacto bite, this is pretty much commercial grade sake. Not bad for a first try!

But it's going to be a while before I make another batch.


will said...

Terrific job! Really nice to see you getting some good sake.

Question: The glass in the top picture is after bentonite but before filtering?



Russell Hews Everett said...

Nope, the glass in the top is of the finished product. It's clear, but not brilliantly, perfectly clear and the light wasn't perfect. The glass in the fourth pic down is probably a better representation.

Carlo said...

I'm in the Nakazoe stage of my 2nd batch; both batches were 4L from about 5.5# highly polished rice. A very skilled homebrewer for over 20 years, I bought Fred Eckhardt's book in 1992 and was intimidated by it until 2009.
I wasn't clear on how much of the grain would get 'eaten', so I posted and a friend-of-a-friend of Fred's contacted Fred and he set my mind at ease.
I, too, didn't dilute my brew, but I *did* pasteurize it - Fred was adamant about doing this! A challenge was to steam the rice - as you found out - so I bought a multi-tier bamboo steamer, lining the bottoms of each layer with butter muslin. I like your couscous approach!
It has been almost exactly 1 year since I bottled/pasteurized my first batch and it got better over time, MUCH better.
That improvement spurred my interest in making a second batch.

Russell Hews Everett said...

Hi Carlo. Thanks for the reassurance, I'm worried about the sake slowly getting worse over time. I'm happy with how well it's pasteurized, but sake is not known for its shelf-life. I've got about 10 bottles left, so I'm trying to hoard them, squirreling them away for the future, trying them at intervals. I'll probably make a batch per year or so, and I will definitely be diluting next time!

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