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  1. #1
    Moderator richardb's Avatar
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    Default Making rice wine/sake A trip report!

    As an amateur brewer I was interested in this thread

    http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f243/mak...ferent-361095/

    I followed a whole load of other threads and settled on sticky rice. No water . Just sticky rice and a chinese yeast ball ( about 40pence for two ).

    A very simple start. Things might get a bit more complicated later ( cold crash it ? maybe flavour it.)


    This Chinese ball yeast is rices best friend and will break down the rice to H2O and alcohol at about 20% which is as high as you can go without distilling. All yeasts are not equal . A yeast that loves grapes does not love barley this one apparently loves rice and as it kicks off at what happens to be my indoor temperature is a tiny bit like an ale yeast and I am told will give sherry like flavour to my hooch.

    Pics Day one below



    It should take four weeks.photo-4.jpgphoto-3.jpgphoto.jpg

    I shall post every Sunday with an update and photos.

    It had been four days now and my jar opens with a pop and quite complex sulphur and alcohol smell are coming out. Not nasty. There are flavours coming through which to me is odd as rice does not have much actual flavour so far as I am concerned; maybe I should savour rice more.

    Today my wifes cousin and her husband came for lunch. Cousin took a sniff and gave it

    Anyway watch this spot next Sunday for an update.

    Richard
    Last edited by richardb; 22nd Sep 2014 at 02:05.
    It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are

  2. #2
    Moderator richardb's Avatar
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    Wifey has facebooked my pics to darkest Issan. I was probably Thai in a past life according to Mae.

    Richard
    It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are

  3. #3
    Member สมาชิก PaulF's Avatar
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    Morning RichardB - where abouts in London are you ? I've searched the local Thai shops near me in Slough & had no joy finding the yeast balls......
    I'm hoping your west London so you can tell me which shop you source yours from ;-)
    Found 2 places via the internet & 1 was selling @90p per packet & the other wanted £3+ !!!

    Many thanks in advance

  4. #4
    Moderator richardb's Avatar
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    Hi Paul, I picked them up from a Chinese shop in Wood Green N22.

    I am sure I will pass by in the next week. PM me your details I will post you a couple. If its a whole lot you want pm me your mob and I will text you with the price for a big bag. I remember they came in packs of two ( cheap ) and a big pack.

    Richard
    It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are

  5. #5
    Member สมาชิก PaulF's Avatar
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    Richard you're a star !!!!

    Have PM'd you with my details ;-)

  6. #6
    Moderator richardb's Avatar
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    Ok Folks Sunday review will come as promised but in the interim a note of caution.

    Basically dont start brewing at least with the yeast that I pictured till I can confirm I got the right yeast.

    My fermentation stopped yesterday. I moved my jar to an internal cupboard and it has started again ( I think) .

    Maybe temperature is crucial.

    Fingers crossed . But maybe just maybe I am using the yeast to make this ( surely its the same yeast just fermented less but I cannot be sure till its done):

    http://carolynjphillips.blogspot.co....nted-rice.html

    I cant see that it is a different yeast ( or the same yeast but fermented just for a few days ) but I cant read chinese. I will have a chat with the friendly shop owners over the weekend.

    If I have made an error this is what I have ( from the link above )

    It looks and sounds lovely but Saki/rice wine it is not.

    "The first time that I heard about Chinese fermented rice, it was from a fellow American student in Taipei. She told me with singular excitement that she had just seen people there eating rice wine soup for breakfast. And that she had tried a bowl. And that it was really, really good.
    Intrigued at the thought of enjoying a hot toddy some time between getting up and yet another day of slogging through my impenetrable Chinese textbooks, I sped down to the alley she had described and ordered a big bowl of jiuniang dan, or fermented rice with a a poached egg. Sweet, perfumed, and definitely alcoholic, this was sheer heaven. I broke out in a big sweat and turned up for class with a shiny red face, happier than usual to be where I was, and very sure of where I was going to dine the next morning.



    Then I discovered that this could be served with little rice balls - sort of like bits of mochi - at the Beijing-style shop, or with sliced rice cakes (niangao) at the stand run by a guy from Ningbo, or with larger rice balls stuffed with ground black sesame at the Shanghainese place, or in a bunch of other ways. Once I had gotten over the sheer novelty of this spectacular winter breakfast, I looked up and noticed that the locals usually clutched something crunchy in their one hand while spooning up the sweet soup with the other. Yet another instance of enlightenment descended upon me. Yes, of course, I thought... hard with soft, crunchy with chewy, plain with sweet, cool with hot -- all the Chinese principles of yin and yang right there before 8 a.m.
    Rice wine yeast ball softening up


    When we returned to the States, one of my first orders of business was to make big crocks of homemade fermented rice throughout the cold months. Toe warming and chock-full of what must be nothing short of massive amounts of alcohol-induced endorphins, we not only had bowls of this hot sweet soup for breakfast and as late night snacks, but also started to use it in such marvels as the Sichuan-style fish with spicy bean paste (la douban yu) that became nothing short of heavenly when fermented rice was used instead of rice wine.


    And what is particularly endearing about homemade fermented rice is that it is incredibly easy and cheap. The only unusual ingredient is the yeast, which you can get from almost any Chinese grocery store, and which keeps practically forever as long as you close it up in a Ziploc bag and freeze it. (Do note that if it's kept outside, such as in a pantry or cupboard, it will often turn buggy; check the yeast carefully before you buy it, and only take it home if the yeast is a pure white with no suspicious dust clinging to the bottom of the bag.)


    You can of course probably buy jiuniang already made in the refrigerated section of your favorite Chinese grocery store. But it's expensive that way and of course never as good as homemade. Besides, if you have a big batch of it sitting in your fridge, you will have many more opportunities to enjoy it.


    I have made this for years and have finally perfected the technique. When I started out, every Chinese recipe I read informed me in no uncertain terms that the rice should be fermented v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y. So, I did what they said and watched as batch after batch lost out in the race between yeast and mold. My secret that I am about to share with you is this: get the yeast off to a roaring start, and there will be no contest at all. Once the yeast has taken over the jar -- preferably in less than 24 hours -- the rest of the fermentation process is pretty much clear sailing.


    Fermented rice yeast
    The other caveat that I can't stress enough is that everything that touches the fermented rice at every stage must be absolutely clean. If there is even a whisper of oil or contamination anywhere along the way, the whole batch could go south in an instant. So, wash every utensil and rinse them clean, including bamboo steamers, cheesecloth, and of course your hands. If some steamed rice hits the counter instead of the jar, just eat the wayward grains rather than risk throwing away the rest of the rice.


    After the rice has started to exude liquid, it will smell faintly yeasty and fruity, but not yet alcoholic; that will take a couple more days of fermentation.

    As the yeast grows, it will release lots of carbon dioxide, which will create bubbles in the rice and cause the mass of steamed rice to eventually float, and the jar will need to have a safety valve to keep it from exploding. For this reason I put a couple layers of cheesecloth and a sheet of plastic wrap between the jar and the lid, and this also keeps any curious fruit flies from invading my precious horde.



    The way I get the yeast to take off so quickly and subdue any errant mold spores that might try to make headway is threefold:

    - First, I use a bit of cornstarch and sugar so that the yeast can have something to immediately feed on without waiting for the rice to break down into manageable bites.


    - Second, I use boiled, filtered water so that the rice mixture stays clean clean clean.


    - And finally, I put the inoculated rice into a very warm place for the first 24 hours, by which time fermentation will have begun. I've been refining this recipe for fermented rice for over three decades now, and it's the best you'll find anywhere.



    And, as I discuss in a later column, Fermented Rice Deja Vu, I've hit upon an easier way to steam the rice. Rather than use the bamboo steam baskets outlined below, this rice can be done in a rice cooker! This saves lots of trouble and time, and it works like a dream; see the Modern Method below for more about this.


    Both Shanghai and Beijing lay claim to fermented rice, and it's used throughout most of China, so it is one of those things that are almost universally Chinese and seems to have worked its way into the good graces of just about every cuisine that allows alcohol.

    It can be enjoyed as a simple hot soup with nothing more than a quick boil with some water and sugar -- and this is also terrific chilled as a Chinese summer aperitif -- or with an egg cooked in it, or with those rice cakes or rice balls I mentioned above, but try it too in savory dishes, in almost any place that calls for rice wine, for the grains can be strained out if needed. You can also turn this into any number of magical dishes, from fish to pickled cucumbers.



    Feel free to double or triple this recipe once you get the hang of it. The directions are very detailed, but you will find that it is not at all hard after the first time around. Versatile, cheap, easy... this is a great recipe to master, and you also get to look incredibly competent cooking away with your own homemade hooch."

    I am inclined to think that it is the same yeast and my batch just got a cold as we keep the windows open a lot in my house but cant confirm till its done .

    Basic failure of constant temperature control otherwise known as no airing cupboard .

    On the other hand the above breakfast could become the "builders breakfast " of choice with some crispy bacon.

    Anyway further update on Sunday with pics.

    Richard



    Last edited by richardb; 26th Sep 2014 at 00:58.
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  7. #7
    R.I.P. colin244's Avatar
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    Your seriously into this by the look of it Richard

    colin 244

  8. #8
    Member สมาชิก PaulF's Avatar
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    Richard after wading through over 75 pages of that site you posted temp IS VERY IMPORTANT - here's a quote from one of the posts : -

    "With mine, I wasn't getting very much liquid at all. My ambient temp was
    probably closer to 68. I warmed it up to the mid 70s, and almost instantly
    (within about 5 hours, actually) the liquid level increased dramatically. I'm
    assuming it was too cold for the enzymes to do their job."

    Also the posters who seem to get the best/consistant results say the yeast balls need to ground up not left whole or soaked. With the "dust" sprinkled on the rice as you fill your container and NO extra water added which goes against some Sake recipes......

    Cheers
    Paul

  9. #9
    Moderator richardb's Avatar
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    Yes temperature sees to be crucial . Moved my little jar into an internal cupboard and its kicked off again.

    Problem is thats just more constant and not i the 80"s .

    I tried putting the jar in a furry animal hotwater bottle cover ( no hotwater ) with my two year old who just radiates heat.

    Wife noticed ......not good


    Do not not pass go...


    Richard
    Last edited by richardb; 27th Sep 2014 at 02:41.
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  10. #10
    Moderator richardb's Avatar
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    Well it is Sunday and time for an update.


    1.jpg
    A little liquid is not much but it is there.


    2.jpg

    It has been 10 days no mould which means that something is inhibiting it.

    3.jpg

    The rice is still holding its shape.

    4.jpg
    Scale. Compared to my first picture it looks like half the rice but I have taken none out. It has simply got wetter and settled.

    5.jpg

    More liquid.


    Ok. I have opened the jar and taken a sample of the rice out with a spoon sterilized in boiling water'.

    I taste it. The rice is still firm, crunchy even. It is sweet very sweet. ( Sea says not sweet enough and it should be fluffy and softer).

    What is the next taste coming through?

    Sherry . Yes Sherry and strong alcohol.

    A little bit bitey. Not sour more tangy.

    A teaspoon of the juice.

    It is definitely wine. I could drink this now no problem.

    I will keep it going for another few weeks as per the instructions. The rice is definitely breaking down to sugars hence the sweetness and the yeast is making a strong sherry like wine. Not much of it. I still think I need it warmer.

    I am facinated by how much volume it will produce. I am going to go out on a limb and guess that this ricey brew will come out at about 20% as the instructions said it would.

    Till next week

    Richard
    Last edited by richardb; 28th Sep 2014 at 23:34.
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  11. #11
    Member สมาชิก PaulF's Avatar
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    Looking good Richard - hopefully i'll start my first batch tonight !!!

  12. #12
    Member สมาชิก PaulF's Avatar
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    On Monday nite I kicked it all off - overestimated how many cups i'd need & cooked too much rice so ended up with 2x 1.5L kilner jars instead of the 1 i'd planned after taking Richards advice on not going for the 25L straight off. The yeast balls I got smealt a bit garlicy after being crushed & I layered rice & yeast ball powder all the way up the jar (4 layers) with the remainder sprinkled on the top (3 per Jar). Placed a folded piece of kitchen roll over the mouth of the jar & locked it - without the rubber seal there was enough room to vent the CO2.
    Both jars were placed in the middle of my old seed propergator & covered with a few layers of bubble wrap to keep the heat in & light out. The propergator should heat them to around 75F give or take.

    Quick update on day 3 - Both jars were nice & warm to the touch & whilst there has been no reduction in rice mass there is a beige crust on top & there is def liquid 3/4 the way up the jar with both jars giving off a slightly sweet smell so fingers crossed it's going ok, BUT from reading the forum (upto page 147) lots can go wrong yet so I plan on leaving them til Monday nite & checking then.....

    I have also managed to confirm that I have found a source of the "red rice yeast" & once the 3L jars i've ordered arrives I shall be adding that to the mix :-)

    How is your batch comming along Richard ??

    Is anyone else taking up the challenge ??

  13. #13
    Premium Member -Keith-'s Avatar
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    I haven't touched a drop of booze for 5 years now. But I'm fascinated by this report and I really want to make some just for the fun of it.
    If you're offended by any assistance I give, it says far more about you than it does me.

  14. #14
    Premium Member andye's Avatar
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    Book

    Reading this thread with a bit of interest...............
    Memories of before my Thai wedding.......... When I was dragged around the village, and plied with all sorts and colours of rice wine.
    Suffice to say the day seemed to go by a lot quicker for some reason?

    Might pay you boys to invest in a demi-john, with bung and valve...........just think your end results could disappear in a couple of glasses?
    Beware sticking this in an airing cupboard............ When these things get going.........well let's say they get a bit explosive.

  15. #15
    Moderator richardb's Avatar
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    Default Week 3 Update

    Ok it is week three. Fermentation seems to have slowed but it is still going.

    There is a massive difference. See previous pictures.


    P1180138.jpg


    P1180139.jpg

    Note the fact that this is now very wet rice. And the liquid is alcohol.

    P1180140.jpg

    There is a fair bit of liquid now.

    Taste test.

    It is strong. You can taste the alcohol. It is sharp or do I mean sour or tangy. There is an alcohol burn for sure. Difficult to describe. The rice looks like rice pudding now. Still crunchy. Maybe I should have steamed it more or boiled it ( recipes say no ).

    One more week and I will strain it and chuck it in the fridge to stop fermentation . I also want to make sure it does not turn into vinegar.

    On Saturday I popped into a vietnamese supermarket near my office. There are a dozen vietnamese restaurants nearby.

    " Got any yeast balls " ? Yes they had. Vietnamese yeast balls.

    Small compared to the Chinese ones ( Probably the same thing just a Vietnamese brand ). I spent £1.00 on a pack . I will try that yeast next.

    It appears that both Thailand and Vietnam have a similar rice wine desert.

    In Thailand it is called Khao Mahk. This link provides a recipe and pics etc and comments that Mekong Whiskey starts as this.

    http://importfood.com/recipes/khaomahk.html

    Richard
    It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are

  16. #16
    Member สมาชิก PaulF's Avatar
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    Looking GOOD Richard !!!

    What does it smell like ??? Mine after a week has a fruity smell a bit like sultanas.....

    I haven't had the b*lls to open the jar yet let alone try it lol. i'll try & post pics of my 2 jars which are still made up of one bubbling mass of rice with a beige looking crust - the liquid (alchohol ??) is almost to the top of the rice, but none of the rice seems to be being "digested" by the yeast enzymes yet... Still it's just about a week old so I need to be patient :-(

    One other thing to note I have a cheap greenhouse thermometer measuring the temp of the jars under 6 layers of bubble wrap & instead of the 70F ish I expected from the seed propergator it's actually keeping the jars in the high 80's - it doesn't seem to be causing any issues in fact the way it's bubbling it looks like it's still going to plan :-)

  17. #17
    Moderator richardb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulF View Post
    Looking GOOD Richard !!!

    What does it smell like ??? Mine after a week has a fruity smell a bit like sultanas.....
    I will stick with my week two smell test . Sherry. I see the sultanas . It's Christmas pudding like, sort of and as I commented before very strange as the rice itself is bland and has no taste apart from rice, certainly none of what I hope is the final complexity of what I hope will be the end result. A very odd brew in that it has plain rice and the special rice yeast as it's only ingredients . It's not like we toasted the rice like you would do with a beer grain.



    Well my week 4 report will reveal

    Richard
    Last edited by richardb; 7th Oct 2014 at 01:01.
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  18. #18
    Member สมาชิก PaulF's Avatar
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    You nailed it when you said xmas pudding - been racking my brains what it reminded me of.....

    Anyway 1 bad pic after first week @ 85F - started separating over sunday nite as it was almost 1 big mass Sun eve.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by PaulF; 7th Oct 2014 at 11:14. Reason: multi copies of images

  19. #19
    Moderator richardb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulF View Post
    ..started separating over sunday nite as it was almost 1 big mass Sun eve...
    Turning rice into wine. Our Lord wold approve and no doubt forgive lateness.

    John 2:1-11English Standard Version (ESV)

    Richard
    It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are

  20. #20
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    Ok So here we go . A day late but here is how it turned out. A small jar was filled with a falang size portion of steamed sticky rice. Not a lot and the only other ingredient was Chinese rice yeast. Four weeks later.

    lb1.jpg

    Hmm Could leave it longer but my research says this is the time


    b2.jpg

    Cheese cloth ( for the straining of cheese curds from Wilkinsons suitably sterilised)

    Drip Drip Drip

    b3.jpg

    Now this was the trickiest bit so far. Greedy for more booze I gave it a few twists and turns to squeeze the booze out. A larger volume than what is basically a sock full could prove troublesome.

    This is what I think could be a problem scaling up. A press? How to squeeze the extra booze out?

    b4.jpg
    This is what it yielded. Not a lot but I only started with a portion of rice. It was clear when it strained naturally but milky white when I squeezed it out


    b5.jpg

    The remaining rice looking more like a dough ball. About a cricket ball size.


    Ok the Sunday night of truth . I took my small bottle to my local at the end of my road. A hard crowd to please.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/B002ATI4VG

    Shot glasses were provided and small measures ( It is only a small bottle ) were pored.

    Pause.
    Can I try that again?

    A triumph. Wams the back of your throat with an alcohol kick, sweet but not overly so. Complex sherry and fruit notes. Mouthfeel a tad grainy as I did not wait for it to settle.

    Positives. Came back home and announced to Sea that I am " the Puyiban of Palmers Green" I told Sea that my brew prowess has propelled me to a position of high authority in our N13/22 postcode.

    A bit of a wind up but tonight pausing for a swift one ( Cheap monday £1.75 or £1.50 selected beers and ciders ) in 24 hours my sake is already mythical amongst those not there ( as well as all finished; it was such a small bottle) . I suspect it will become a Sex Pistols 100 Club moment. ( there were only 50 people at the gig but thousands claim to have seen them there).

    DL ( darling wife ) has not taken this well ( on Thai subjects she sometimes gets a bit nationalistic/foreign/competative) and was on the phone this morning to Mum ordering up Roi Et rice wine yeast. She reckons mine was par at best and her mums yeast and her inherent Thainess means that she will do a better brew.

    Thank you God. My wife cooks me lovely dinners and now wants to show me she can make better rice wine than me. As she is teetotal.......

    Life is indeed sweet.

    Richard
    Last edited by richardb; 14th Oct 2014 at 01:04.
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