Learn More About Sake Brewing
Sake is a national drink of Japan and also a window into the extraordinary spirit of Japanese craftsmanship and intricate layers of Japan’s culture. Takara Sake USA inherited such spirit and tradition, and we have successfully managed to adapt and adjust to the local climate and ingredients of California to provide freshly brewed premium sake for the American market today.
Sake is fermented from four basic ingredients: water, rice, a microbe called koji and yeast. Brewing just the right batch of sake takes skill, precision and patience. While “sake” is the term Americans often use to describe as a Japanese rice wine, the method of brewing sake is different from wine or beer. Here at Takara Sake USA, we use a careful production method to bring you the best flavor and quality sake in the country. Our process involves:
- Washing, soaking and steaming the finest polished local rice
- Masterfully cultivating koji to provide starch-converting enzymes that break down rice starch into sugar (saccharification). There are many different cultivation methods, and they depend on the type of sake being brewed.
- Making precision fermentation starter (moto) with yeast. Sake yeast will turn sugar into alcohol (fermentation). Similar to koji cultivation, there are many different methods, and the one used depends on which sake is being brewed.
- Creating and overseeing main fermentation mash (moromi) over two to four weeks for the fullest flavor under supreme quality control methods. In this main mash, both saccharification and fermentation happen simultaneously. This process is called multiple parallel fermentation, and it is very unique to sake production.
- Pressing, filtering and pasteurizing to achieve desirable characteristics of sake and to maintain stable quality.
- Aging for three to six months to mellow the rough edges of each batch and to balance out the flavors before bottling.
Types of Sake
Like wine or beer, sake tastes come in many varieties — each with its own intensity, intricacies and unique flavor and aroma profile. That means sake can pair well with a wide variety of foods, not only with light foods like fish and seafood, but also with rich or spicy food around the world. Sake can be full-bodied, fragrant, rich, dry and more. The most common types of sake styles include:
- Junmai: Translating to "pure rice," Junmai sake in its purest form, with no artificial sugars, no additives and no use of brewer’s alcohol. Made from rice, water, koji and yeast, it offers a full-bodied, savory flavor with acidity. Any type of sake that has “Junmai” in its name means it does not contain brewer’s alcohol.
- Tokubetsu Junmai: This means “special junmai.” This sake variety is still brewed only from rice, water, koji and yeast, but the rice is polished down to 60% (or less), and some noteworthy production method was used. It is well-balanced sake with earthy complexity.
- Junmai Ginjo: The term “ginjo” means carefully selected and brewed. This type of sake is defined by a rice polishing ratio of 60% or less, and the Ginjikomi method of brewing is used — extremely cool conditions and longer fermentation period. This type of sake has delicate fruity and floral aromas (Ginjo-ka) and often offers a smooth, light and refreshing taste.
- Junmai Daiginjo: “Dai” means great or greater. With junmai daiginjo sake, rice is further polished down to 50% or less of the weight of original kennel, utilizing only the true core of each rice grain for fermentation. Together with low temperature fermentation for a longer period (Ginjikomi), this labor intensive production of sake requires the utmost precision. This variety is known for its floral and fruity aromas (Ginjo-ka).
- Nama: Using micro-filtering instead of pasteurizing, the “raw or draft sake” is young and fresh in flavor. It is vibrant, even a bit nutty and often earthy complexity.
- Nigori: Meaning "cloudy or hazy sake." This bold, sweet sake is coarsely filtered (often labeled unfiltered) to let some of the rice solids remain in the liquid. This gives this sake variety its distinctive milky white appearance.
- Genshu: This variety is undiluted with water, so it keeps its original maximum alcohol content of about 19 percent. It provides a rich, full-bodied flavor.
Shop Takara Sake USA Online Today
When you're looking for an original Junmai sake or flavored sake website or store, look no farther than the Takara Sake USA website. We offer a wide selection of the finest sake both brewed in Berkeley, CA and imported from Japan. Browse our selection of products, find sake suited to your tastes and make your purchase online today. You'll savor every sip.
We also are one of America's top sake breweries in the nation. Our brewery in Berkley, CA is complete with a tasting room serving sake flights and a sake history museum for you learn more about the fermentation process and creation of Japenese sake. After your tasting is done you can buy your favorite bottle of sake right from our store!
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