All about Pasteurization in Sake Making Process

sake tasting
Try Raw Sake!

We know that Japanese like raw things, such as raw fish, raw beef, raw eggs, etc. —-As well as raw sake. So there is a kind of special sake called Namasake, which has a sharper aroma and fresher taste than normal sakes, because it is unpasteurized. However, most regular kinds of sake have been pasteurized, to kill a kind of lactic acid bacteria so that sake can be preserved longer. So today let’s take a glimpse of the PASTEURIZATION.

How Did Pasteurization Started and How You Do it?

Pasteurization is named after a French biochemist called Louis Pasteur, who invented this method in 1866. But it is said that long before 1866, brewers in Japan were deactivating enzymes and killing unwanted bacteria in a sake making process, just without realizing it.
Nowadays, pasteurization process has been much more developed, it can be done with modern facilities, more easily and more precisely. Generally, brewers do by passing the sake through a coiled metal pipe that sits in a vat of heated water and then moving it to a tank, or by simply immersing bottled sake in hot water. And pasteurization is achieved by heating the sake for about 30 minutes at about 65°C (150 °F).

Usually this process is done twice, ① once after filtration, and ② once before bottling. Sakes can be categorized differently according to how many times it’s pasteurized ——
Normal sake — both ① and ②
Namatsume — only ①
Namatyozo — only ②
Namasake — not pasteurized at all

Pasteurization Method of Sake Continues to Evolve

Recently, another a little special pasteurization is used by some sake breweries. For example, Gekkeikan has produced a new sake recently, called Densyo (hyakunenkoubosikomi). During the pasteurization of Densyo, they pass the sake through the pipe to heat it to 65°C, but right after that they cool it down to a low temperature. So the pasteurization is only done for 1 or 2 seconds, instead of 30 minutes as usual. This very short period pasteurization helps to keep more original aroma and flavors left inside the sake so that you can enjoy it more exquisitely. By the way, the yeast used for this bottle is also very special. It is a traditional yeast mostly used 100 years ago, and revived recently for a 100-year celebration. Definitely a must try sake!

Join Our Sake Tour!

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Do you also want to try great local sake produced in Kyoto while visiting the city? Join our sake tour on a Kyoto Insider Sake Experience tour. You’ll get to taste and learn about a variety of sake. It’s the best way to discover the secrets of sake and Kyoto culture!

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Our Sake Tour Reviews

  •   So very glad I chose this tour. I had no knowledge of the creative process required for sake production. Kotaro painstakingly walked us through the entire “brewing” procedure and the differences among the many types of sake created with different rices, percentages of polishing, pasteurization...More

    thumb maggie44113
    3/14/2020
  •   The Sake experience in Kyoto gave us the perfect Chance to learn everything we wanted to know about Sake. Our Host Kotaro was very friendly, answering all of our questions. I liked the variety of Sakes we got to taste and especially the food-pairing was...More

    thumb Leonferdinandcorin
    3/11/2020
  •   Very informative tour and tasting. The guide, Kotaro, spoke perfect English and was very knowledgeable. The regular museum was closed (like most of Japan at the moment) but we still managed to visit another brewery instead. The tastings were great - very different styles of...More

    thumb GreenSandwich
    3/10/2020
  •   Highly informative tour with excellent explanations behind the different types of sake. Find out which you like and how to find it in a bottle shop!

    thumb jamesh202020
    3/09/2020
  •   We had a fantastic time during our insider sake experience tour. Kotaro was very knowledgeable and friendly and made the experience very enjoyable for us. We learned the true way to enjoy sake both by itself and with food thanks to Kotaro. I would definitely...More

    thumb MrPedroB
    3/03/2020
  •   Extremely informative to finally understand the various types of sake and choose your favourite and how to combine with food. Highly recommended!

    thumb marcofP4557RC
    3/03/2020
  •   Kotaro was very knowledgeable and described the tour very well. He answered all of my questions and helped out a great deal with my understanding. I would recommend this tour to anyone who is interested in learning about sake

    thumb Sampenna
    3/03/2020
  •   The tour included a visit to a brewery with our guide, Asahi, giving a very informed overview of how Sake is made. He was able to answer any questions we had and made it an easy process to understand. There were tastings of 3 Sakes...More

    thumb GharghurMark
    3/01/2020
  •   The many reviews saying how good this tour is are spot on: this is a very good tour. Kotaro is very knowledgeable, ready to answer questions from all, whether general, technical or historical. The info he provided, particularly with the food pairing (which was a...More

    thumb og646
    2/22/2020
  •   Totally awesome experience. Everything was made clear. Meeting point was easy to find - just a couple of hundred metres from the nearest train station. The tour itself was extremely informative and enjoyable. There was two tastings involved - one at the main Sake brewery...More

    thumb therealbogeyman
    2/19/2020

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