A Rice Beer Recipe


[An updated recipe is located here – it is much simpler!]

I just finished making the simplest booze to make ever & it is chock full of good bacteria. Rice beer has 3 ingredients: rice, yeast & water. The yeast is specific though; it is Shanghai Dried Yeast Balls (Jiuqu). The other yeasts you will find at your local Asian market might be wheat based & might contain a lot of the Candida strain & you don’t want that if you are already having problems with Candida.

I used Ben the Urban Farmer’s recipe, which calls for “a few weeks”, but a lot of the other recipes say it is finished in 4 days. Also, while looking around for recipes, I learned that there is a huge renaissance in Asia with the traditional Korean Makgeolli (rice beer, but it uses Nuruk yeast, which is wheat based). The rice beer made with Jiuqu is called Lao Zao or Lao Zhao; it is described as a sweet beer, but the recipe I used wasn’t all that sweet – maybe the few weeks fermentation broke down most of the sugars.

Here’s what I did:

Rinse 5 cups of rice until clear & soak for an hour. Rinse again & steam in a bamboo steamer over a large pot of water for 2 hours. I line the steamer with a thin tea towel (floursack cloth) soaked in hot water & wrung out. When finished, put in large container or crock. I ferment everything in my large crockpot crock.

Crush one yeast ball until fine & mix well into cooled but still warm rice. Make a depression in the middle & cover with a tea towel (or paper towel) for two days, stirring each day. You can add water if liquid isn’t forming in center hole, but don’t add much. Cover & let ferment for another couple of days (or weeks in my case).

When done to taste, spoon some into some cheesecloth or floursack cloth & squeeze the liquid into a mason jar & guzzle. Will make about a quart. It is ready to drink as soon as bottled & you will want to drink it soon while it is fresh. Sometimes sugar is added right before bottling to make it fizzier & more alcoholic, but I’m going for purity.

If you like, you can make Drunken Chicken or other recipes with your beer. The rice is just as yummy as the beer if you like a nice boozy rice pudding.

The most interesting thing about Ben’s post was:

The chinese yeast balls above contain koji (or at least some similar mould that produces these enzymes) as well as yeast, so adding these to cooked rice allows:

The koji to break the starches down into sugars; and
The yeast to simultaneously ferment these sugars into alcohol.

[…] So the fact that these yeast balls contain koji and yeast theoretically means that we could ferment anything with starch in it. Rice, barley, wheat, corn, potato, sweet potato, squash, beetroot, peas, pumpkin, banana flowers – pretty much any plant you can think of.

His website is really great if you are fascinated with fermentation like I am – next I’m going to try his recipe for Kombucha & maybe try to make my own apple cider vinegar, hopefully by first making my own hard cider.

[Note: I made soooo many mistakes on the second go-round. You need to use glutinous rice (does not contain gluten) or sweet rice as it is called by the guy at the Asian market. I used normal rice & it worked but it tastes “green” – I bottled it with 1t.  sugar & I will report back in a couple of days on the taste now.

I was trying it too dry, so adding a 1/4 cup water each day really helped & the process did take 2 weeks – maybe with the sweet rice it will only take 4 days – I’ll let you know. The end product before squeezing the beer out will resemble a thick, soupy oatmeal. It actually produces a lot of its own liquid. The squeezing process (through flour sack cloth in my case) is not unlike milking a cow: kind of gross yet satisfying. Not sure what to do with the rice left over by the process.]

[UPDATE: I played with the recipe some more & think I have it down pat, so I posted it in A Better Rice Beer Recipe.]


12 thoughts on “A Rice Beer Recipe

  1. jeff

    interesting. I have been a home brewer for over 15 years, but not heard of this. What does it taste like?

  2. TempestTcup Post author

    It’s bubbly & kind of sweet. It’s thick & opaque white. It looks like this:

    It is pretty pleasant – pleasant enough that I just started a double batch!

    I don’t really know how to describe it, alcoholic tasting but with I think they call “mouth feel”.

  3. TempestTcup Post author

    Oh, & if you are going to try it, definitely check out Ben The Urban Farmer’s post because he explains a lot more about it. He has the science!

  4. pillscout

    This looks really awesome. I’ve never brewed anything besides kombucha, which is great by the way. My complexion gets really clear when I drink a couple ounces every day.

    Would you ever consider bottling this rice beer for bubbles? I’ve never tried it before and wouldn’t know where to start.

  5. TempestTcup Post author

    I haven’t tried bottling it yet, but I have a double batch fermenting now & I have some Grolsch beer bottles with the pop top lids & I’m going to try it. If I remember, you are supposed to add a pinch of sugar, cap & let it sit room temp for a couple of days to get bubbly & then refrigerate. It’s fizzy anyway, but it might be more fun bubblier.

    Kombucha is next – I’m going to try the perpetual batch & I have a glass jug with a spout at the bottom! http://nourishedkitchen.com/continuous-brew-kombucha/

    The rice beer is funny because I swear I felt better the couple of days I was drinking it. I bet it’s like kombucha in that the end product is so much more beneficial to health than the beginning ingredients are bad (sugar, rice), plus those bad ingredients are consumed by the bacteria anyway. I do kind of wonder if there is any resistant starch in the rice beer end product. Then it would be a probiotic & a prebiotic!

  6. darlingdoll

    I have never ever heard of rice beer! I suppose it would be a good alternative for someone with a gluten intolerance, right? How does it hold up to traditional beer?

  7. TempestTcup Post author

    It’s nothing like any beer you’ve ever had. It is thick, opaque white, sweet & fizzy. I tried local craft beer & had a bad reaction, but with this I actually felt really good. I would say it is more akin to kombucha than beer although it does taste alcoholic.

  8. Ben the Urban Farmer

    Good work on making the rice beer, and thanks for visiting my blog! I love the stuff – it’s quite thick and syrupy, and if you let it sit for a few weeks in the fridge, the starchy solids tend to drop to the bottom. For some reason, this seems to work best if you pasteurise it after fermentation by holding the temperature at around 68C in a water bath, but I’m not sure why that is. Perhaps it kills the yeasts as well which sink to the bottom? Anyway, if you don’t pasteurise, it does contain a bunch of probiotics and lactic acid bacteria that are good for your health. At least that’s the excuse I use to drink plenty of it.

  9. TempestTcup Post author

    Thanks for giving the recipe – I’m trying your kombucha next! I read a lot of your posts, but I haven’t had time to really read your whole blog. I love “experiments” so I’ll probably be trying out a lot of your recipes!

    I’m going with unpasteurized for all the bacterial goodness. I have a double batch about 3 days in right now but none left from the last batch 😦

  10. Ratna Waiba

    Rice beer (chang, jhard, thõ) is a staple in Nepal and surrounding areas. We steam rice, cool, then add the yeast, like the recipe here says. After a good smell has developed from fermentation we add water and let it sit for a day or overnight. We then strain it through a coarse strainer, so that there are no chunks of rice — but the liquid is thick. Stir well just before straining. If you bottle and refrigerate, you can shake before pouring. (But let gas out first or “boom!”) The leftover mash is then mixed with more yeast and sugar (we use raw brown, sticky sugar, almost molasses). When this ferments and the rice dissolves into liquid, we distill for rice liquor. You can also strain, let all rice sediment settle then let the clear liquid age for a long time in a cool place. Fridge is OK. This is called ‘Ningu’ (name a little different from place to place.)

  11. TempestTcup Post author

    Interesting, thank you. It is difficult to get information on how to make the rice beer; all of the recipes are so different. Then there are a wide variety of yeast ball/cakes. I was just stirring my latest batch this morning & will probably be straining it tonight.

    I never thought of doing a second fermentation on the leftover rice. I always hated to waste it. I’ll look for some sticky raw brown sugar and do the strain and age thing – I don’t know how to distill, yet.

    I’ve always read that the rice beer is supposed to be consumed withing a couple of weeks, but it makes more sense that a sugar fermentation should last longer and age better.

  12. Pingback: Rice Beer Recipe | Girls Being Girls

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