Technically, this is something different from sake/Makgeolli. Historically, sake/Makgeolli use a type of fungus (Koji/Nuruk) to convert starch to sugar, then yeast are used to convert sugar to alcohol. Here, I’ve used science to avoid adding Koji/Nuruk to convert rice starch into sugar. Instead, I’m adding purified alpha amylase to perform this conversion much like the mash for beer brewing. The result is much easier and more consistent than the finicky mold cultivation.
Sake and Makgeolli have been flavored with fruit for a long time, so why not honey? It’s a logical progression in my thought process. In addition, it will add a bit more character to the brew. As a bonus, using honey cuts the amount of rice we need by half. A unique brew with half the work!
Sake BOMM: 2 gallon
- Cook 3 pounds (7.5 cups) rice with 11.5 cups water until soft. (For Sake, use polished rice. For Makgeolli, use any rice. For a colorful red brew, use half red glutinous rice.)
- Add enough cold water to make a very thick soup (2.5 quarts). Puree with a boat motor.
- Check pH. Adjust to 5.5 with lactic acid if necessary (1 ml). A pH of 5.5 is optimal for alpha amylase enzyme.
- Bring temperature to 152 F on medium heat while stirring with boat motor. This is the optimal temperature for alpha amylase enzyme. Too hot denatures the enzyme. Better to go 5 degrees lower if your temperature control is poor.
- Kill heat and add 6 grams amylase (2 grams per lb of rice) (~1 TBSP). If you are using 4% amylase mixed with sugar, use 1/3 lb or 152 grams.
- Mix well, cover and allow starch conversion overnight. I just do the initial fermentation in my stainless steel pot.
- No iodine test. Iodine test needs 100% conversion to test negative which will never happen here. Instead, taste it. It should get sweeter and sweeter until it no longer gets any sweeter. Overnight will do unless your amylase is dead for some reason. (Overcooked, too old, bad storage, etc)
- Add 3 lb of Gallberry honey. Note: Varietal honey will have a profound effect on the outcome, so choose wisely. Clover or orange blossom is solid, but some dark honeys could yield interesting results.
- Add 0.8 tsp Fermaid K and 1.6 tsp Fermaid O. Only upfront addition needed. Rice has lots of nutrients.
- Add 4 drops Fermcap S. Believe me, this is not fun without it.
- Pitch an activated smack pack of Wyeast 1388 once the rice and yeast temperature are equal.
- Ferment for 4 days with occasional stirring.
- Strain through metal strainer into a new carboy. Use a spoon to help push the liquid through. There will still be a lot of white sediment that gets through.
- Airlock it and allow to ferment another week.
- Refrigerate overnight. (Why? Oxygen is the enemy because it leads to chemical reactions. Filtering, racking and bottling all introduces a lot of oxygen. However, chemical reactions occur much slower at cold temperatures. Cold is just an added protection from oxidation).
- Optional for Makgeolli: Age with 5-10 grams ginseng for an herbal element.
- Bottle here with the white solids for Scientist’s Makgeolli.
- Optional for Sake: Add a small cedar plank. This is to simulate a taru style sake. Taste first to determine if this would clash with your honey choice. Taste daily until the proper amount is achieved, then remove the plank. This is usually 3-5 days in the refrigerator.
- Remove plank and/or allow to clear.
- Bottle. Expect less than a 1 gallon yield.
Specs (lots of guesswork here)
Rice Gravity Math
1 cup honey is 0.75 lbs
1 Tbsp honey = 64 calories
-1 cup honey has 12x or 768
-1020 calories per pound
-1 lb honey per gallon adds 40 points
-1 point is 25.5 calories
1 cup uncooked rice is 0.4 lbs.
1 cup cooked rice = 242 calories
-1 cup uncooked rice has 2.5x or 605
-1512 calories per pound (uncooked)
-1 lb adds 59 points per gallon