I have done a couple of posts on rice beer, but every time I write down the recipe, I simplify it, so I thought I would post my latest, easiest rendition. Phedre is also making a rice beer, but with slightly different ingredients!
Large heavy stockpot
Large Jar or Crock
Tea Towel (not fuzzy)
Mortar and Pestle
Small Weave Strainer/Sieve or Cheesecloth
Bottles in which to bottle your beer (I use Grolsch bottles – recipe makes 8 pints)
1 cup Measuring Cup
2 Chinese yeast balls
10 cups of Glutinous (Sweet) Rice
1 gallon Spring Water
Rinse rice until clear with tap water. After draining, boil rice in 14 cups spring water. Be sure to get it up to at least 170F and stir constantly while it’s on the burner. This takes a large stock pot. It doesn’t have to be cooked all the way and it’s fine if it is still pretty liquid; it will soak up the excess water while it is cooling.
Remove rice from burner, cover, wrap with towels and let sit 8 to 10 hours to cool to 110F. You boil the rice to kill any stray bacteria and you cool it so that it doesn’t kill the yeast. The yeast balls contain a beneficial mold to break the starch of the rice down into sugars, which the yeast then ferments. You might see some mold the next day, but I usually just stir it back into the rice.
Take your fermenting container (I use a 2 gallon glass jar from WalMart) fill it with water and add a cap or two of bleach. You should be able to just barely smell the bleach. Toss a tea towel in the jar and let those soak for 30 minutes or so to sterilize. Dump the water, wring out the tea towel and dry the jar.
Crush two yeast balls in a mortar and pestle. Take small bits of the rice, and when it feels warm but not hot to your (clean!) fingers and drop it into the sterilized jar bit by bit. It should be about 110F to not kill the yeast. Keep one hand clean and let the other one get covered with rice. It will be super sticky.
Sprinkle a spoonful of yeast on the first layer of rice and then repeat until all rice and yeast is layered in the jar. Cover with the damp, sterilized tea towel and place lid on top. Put in a large soft-sided cooler (or wrap in towels, etc) and let sit overnight. In the morning it should be pretty juicy (sometimes it takes 2 days). Stir with clean spatula. Each morning and evening give it a good stir; it should be bubbling merrily as you stir.
I keep the fermenting rice in my kitchen, which stays about 80F – the fermenting rice is exothermic, so I keep it insulated to speed up the process. After about 4 or 5 days the rice should be pretty liquid and it should smell sweet like really ripe alcoholic fruit.
Strain the rice through a sieve into a large bowl; it will come out kind of chunky. Put the funnel in your first bottle, place the smaller weave strainer or a piece of cheesecloth in funnel & strain the liquid into your bottles. Leave some room at the top of the bottle for expansion. This should fill 8 pint bottles. Put in a pinch of sugar (optional), cap the bottles and put in a warm dark place to ferment for a day or two. Enclose the bottles in a cooler because they might explode on you and you want to keep the mess contained. I’ve tried bottling it in mason jars and it was mildly successful – it bent the cap, but didn’t burst the bottle.
Chill the bottles in your fridge (in a soft sided cooler in case they explode). Watch out when you open them because the rice beer might be pretty explosive like champagne. The resulting rice beer is very fizzy, pretty yummy and chock full of not only beneficial bacteria, but also a medicinal mold. Mmmmm, bacteria and mold – just what the doctor ordered, LOL.
WARNING: This recipe makes a very strong drink. I’ve read that it is around 22% alcohol, which would make it around 44 proof. That means that a pint bottle will equal around 8 shots of 80-90 proof alcohol. Drink carefully!