Well, the week at Daimon brewery has come and gone and I learned a great deal about the saké making process (日本酒の造り方）. I am still processing all I learned. Over the next few weeks, I plan to make posts about some of the details of the process as I sort through my notes and photographs.
Here are few photos showing the process of making koji (麹）. In this step, rice that has been just steamed is spread out on a large, cedar bed and allowed to cool and dry for about 8 hours. Many times during the cooling/drying, the rices need to broken apart into smaller clumps (which is what I am doing below). Afterwards, the koji mold (Aspergillus oryzae) (seen below) is shaken above the rice to allow the spores to colonize the rice. The rice is then piled together and wrapped in blankets to keep in the heat. Over the next 24 hours, the mold will send small projections (hyphae) into the centre of the rice grain, secreting enzymes which convert the starch into sugar. This rice (aka koji 麹) will then be added to the fermentation tank which will feed the yeast and allow the sugar to be converted to alcohol. Interesting, no?
and I will leave you with one haiku, which we were encouraged to write by the Daimon-san, the head brewer and owner:
The summer’s rice crop
Feeds winter fermentation
In spring, celebrate
thanks for reading. there will be more to come about the saké making process, stay tuned!