Brewing Sake

A new way to experience Japan

On Monday I had the chance-of-a-lifetime to spend a day working at a sake brewery (酒蔵) called 18 Zakari Shuzo (十八盛酒造) in Kojima, Okayama. It was hard work but very interesting and exciting.

The brewery was started more than 200 years ago and has been growing ever since. It’s still a small operation, with only about 10 employees, but everyone there clearly cares deeply about the art of making sake. I felt so lucky to be able to see them at work and help them make something they are so obviously passionate about.

In the morning I was able to stir some of the tanks of sake that is being brewed right now, steam some rice, and then make some koji (麹), which is the fermented rice that is used to start a batch of sake (along with yeast, water, and more rice).

In the afternoon we washed some rice, which was much more complicated and difficult than I expected! It required perfect timing and coordination between the brewers, and I made a couple of mistakes, which the brewers luckily fixed for me. Hopefully I didn’t hurt the taste of the sake!

Thanks to everyone for having me! I can’t wait to try the sake I helped make! It should be ready in a few months.

Hal KenetyComment