Simply Confront Sake Brewing (Junmai/No Filtering)
Gangi’s lineup is consisted only of junmaishu (sake without added-alcohol or sugar). Adding distilled alcohol is one of the traditional methods, however, we have no necessity in including such method. We want to purely utilize the potentials of the rice itself, alike making a sculpture from one tree. Filtering sake made with using activated carbon is also a general method but we don’t need it either. We impose the requirement to ourselves to not make sake of high quality as it doesn’t need secondary processing. Never adding or extracting any extra materials, we simply confront the art of sake brewing.
Never Compromise With Preparation. (Rice Washing/Immersing)
Professional athletes often comment “I’ll reboot my mind and prepare for my next match” after their matches. Preparation for them means clarifying their tasks and getting themselves into good condition; preparation for sake brewing is the rinsing and immersing of rice.
Making good sake requires making good rice malt to prompt good moromi (main fermenting mash) ferment. Good mushi mai (steamed rice) is required to achieve good rice malt. Good mushi mai (steamed rice) can be achieved only by proper preparations of the washing and water immersing of white rice.
The purpose of rinsing and immersing rice is not only to wash off bran on rice thoroughly but also to make rice absorb water to just about the perfect amount of water by immersing it in water. However, amount of water inside rice before being rinsed depends on how much polished it is and the length of time after it got polished and how long it should be immersed is not the same everyday. We also have to care about ambient temperature and water temperature. Conditions differ everyday. So, we work on those processes after measuring the amount of water in rice and calculating the time to immerse it using water absorption rate to make it absorb enough water. Absorption of water is a sensitive matter, which each minute and second become crucial. Thus, the rice is divided into each 10 kg and is hand-washed in small portions, and then becomes immersed. After it is immersed, the water on surface is removed by centrifugation and becomes weighed to check the absorption rate. Then the next absorption time is adjusted. This process is continued in this manner every each time. If the amount needed to be processed that day is 600kg, then this process would need to take time 60 times. No compromise is made with preparation when entering the battle of sake brewing.
Find Clues in the Touch (Malt Making①)
Information achieved from touching things is richer and more accurate than information achieved from measuring equipments.
On the first day of the malt making process which continues for two days and nights, the sensor in the hand not only reads the temperature and the moisture of the steamed rice brought into the malt room and through its unwinding and mixing processes, but also its resiliency, the texture of the surface, and many other detailed conditions of the rice also achieved.
This makes the best timing of the tane koji (malt seed) scattering possible to happen. Data obtained from the thermometer and weight of course is also effective, but the senses achieved from the touch is the most reliable source of information.
We operate as though we are embracing each other with the rice. As a matter of fact, the table we work on has long been called toko (bed), and the process of spraying the tane koji onto the mushi mai (steamed rice) and embedding the malt fungus is called tanetsuke (studding).
Did our predecessors have any sexual imagination from this process. The exchanges of the rice and human in the malt room indeed may recall a “secretive act in the dark.” The process of malt making which involves tangling with the rice could be recognized as an elotic and previldged act. This is a process which never could be completed by a machine.
Synchronize With Microorganisms (Malt Making②)
It is well said that sake brewing is a collaborative activity together with microorganisms, such as malt and kobo who control the saccharification and fermentation. It is true that some processes could be done within the human timelines, while a large part of sake brewing processes also needs to be done appropriately along with the conditions of the microorganisms.
The processes require well observation, and furthermore, efforts continuously trying to synchronize with the microorganisms becomes important. Although we make efforts, it is also true that there are limits in what a human being could do. Thus, we depend on IT technologies as well. For example,
The temperature data which fluctuates with time upon the malt making process is transmitted to the cloud server via WiFi directly from the thermometer, which data can be accessed by each Kurabito (sake brewer)’s smartphone application making timely and appropriate operation possible. The data even is shared and synchronized by everyone in the team.
The Necessary Extra Effort (Preparation)
During the preparation process of sake, the yeast repeats its cell division in order to increase its absolute number. Our predecessors established a method called sandan-jikomi (three-step preparation) in order to increase the absolute number of yeasts most efficiently, by taking steps in the preparation of moto (yeast)s. First, the yeasts with small absolute numbers are increased in geometric progression in a small shubo tank, and then the moromi (main fermenting mash) is transferred into a larger tank for the sandan-jikomi. The processes in sandan-jikomi are each called hatsuzoe (first step), nakazoe (second step), and tomezoe (third step), and in between hatsuzoe and nakazoe is called a breaktime called odori. The malt, mushimai (steamed rice) and water are prepared in these three steps in one tank taking four days. We also follow this process, while one thing different is that we prepare the hatsuzoe (first step) in an appropriately sized tank different from the nakazoe and tomezoe. This is because the tank appropriately sized for the tomezoe would be too large for the hatsuzoe step, which quantity is still small. The surface area is too large in comparison to the quantity. We cannot complete the harmony of taste we envision in this condition as the malt and yeast cannot dance in the container together in the ideal rhythm upon the multiple parallel fermentation process (concurrent saccharification and fermentation process). A violinist must have practiced with a smaller violin during one’s infant age as well. An additional process of transferring the moromi into a different container becomes required in order to realize this. Only the Japanese culture take the demanding process of three-step preparation, but we even take this one step further. It is necessary for the taste of Gangi.
Listening the Moromi’s Voice (Moromi Control and Brewing)）
We hear stories such as good sake could be made by letting the moromi (main fermenting mash) listen to good music, thus some brewers make the moromi listen to Mozart pieces, which to us sounds strange. Should it not be the opposite? We think a kurabito (sake brewer) is not supposed to play music towards the microorganisms, but should listen to music they compose instead. We do not actually hear in our ears, but do sense the sensation of the polyrhythmic rhythms created through the complicated saccharification and fermentation process alike a gamelan creating a magnificent universe of sound through our skins, when we are in the preparation room.
The moromi controlling process means to keep the moromi under good control, visualizing its “melting” and “cutting” balance along the timeline into a graph and controlling its temperature to its best condition, or at times apply oimizu (adding water), and brew the moromi in its best timing. In order to realize this, samples are calculated everyday viewing its alcohol percentage, sugar concentration, acid degree and other data in order to comprehend the current status of the fermentation. However, there always is a gap between the numbers and the actual reality. Never relying only the statistic data and following the expressions of the daily-shifting moromi everyday, by actually visiting its fermentation room and sense its soundless voices is just alike raising a child, and listening carefully to a sleeping baby’s voice.