Friday, April 13, 2012
Brewing Sake: Release the Toji Within
Brewing Sake: Release The Toji Within, written by William G. Auld (CreateSpace, March 2012, $19.95), is one of the only books in English, and maybe the only one currently in print, that explains how to brew your own Sake. It is a trade paperback of 218 pages, divided into about 25 chapters. Auld, who lives in Portland, Oregon, also runs an informative website, Home Brew Sake, which he started in August 2009. His goal is to provide anyone the information they need to brew their own Sake.
Unfortunately, there is a paucity of Sake books and I am always pleased to find a new one being published. Brewing Sake is a more technical guide, not really for the casual reader, with the intent of providing detailed instructions and explanations for how to brew Sake at home. It begins with a list and description of the equipment you will need for brewing, and then moves to a detailed, step by step procedure for brewing. If you follow these directions, you should be able to make a good Sake, even without fully understanding all of the reasons for each step.
The subsequent chapters then go into much greater details on the ingredients, procedures, chemistry and science behind Sake brewing. For example, you will find a brief history of rice growing, not only in Japan but also in the U.S. and Australia. There is a large section on moto, yeast starter, production with information and procedures for five different systems. You will find multiple comparisons between commercial brewing and home brewing, indicating changes that the home brewer likely may have to make. Chemistry lessons play a part, and some of the information can get very technical.
Despite its technical sections, the writing seems very clear and following the instructions seems easy enough. There are also numerous photos and charts to help to help you better comprehend the material. You will also find an informative glossary at the end of the book. The Sake information appears very accurate, and includes some information that you might not find in many other Sake books.
The key audience for this manual is anyone who is interested in brewing their own Sake. For such individuals, this will be an invaluable reference book. I would also recommend picking up a more general book about the basics of Sake, to better understand this intriguing and delicious beverage. A home wine maker or beer brewer who wants to expand their repertoire should definitely consider buying this book too. A Sake lover would also be interested in this book, even if they don't want to brew their own, as they would acquire a deeper understanding of the brewing process.
This may be a niche book but it is one which was needed and I am also glad to see another book which further love and understanding for Sake. Kanpai to William!