Blue Current Brewery: American Sake business gets started with help from UMaine

Blue Current Brewery: American Sake business gets started with help from UMaine


[music] Hi, I’m Dan Ford, Blue Current Brewery. I’m
the master brewer and president of Blue Current Brewery here in Kittery, Maine. Blue Current Brewery is a saké brewery. It’s
made from rice, koji, yeast, and water. Koji is Aspergillus oryzae, similar in mold to
penicillin. It’s used in fermented foods in Japan. It basically allows you to access sugars
that normally would not be accessible. Koji takes 54 hours to grow. It sort of propagates
across kernels of rice. At the end of 54 hours, our koji comes back into our fermentation
room, and it is mixed with steamed rice, our water, and our yeast. It’s the most difficult
thing to brew in the world. It’s multiple parallel fermentation. This is our rice steamer that University of
Maine built for us. John Belding from the Advanced Manufacturing Center said, “Hey,
why don’t you give us a shot at designing it and building it?” The students built it.
It’ll cook roughly 500 pounds or 200 kilograms of rice at a time, which is amazing. We’ve done a lot of problem solving. Dan came
up to the University of Maine for some testing of different equipment. He came up to the University of Maine pilot
plant. We did a whole bunch of things there. In addition to that, we’ve worked on testing
of alcohol in his final product, his saké, bottling equipment, all kind of things like
that. All the equipment that you see here had to
be designed and built specifically for making saké. I went as far as I could, but University
of Maine was a key that helped me unlock a lot of potential for me with steaming rice
and being able to do a lot of technical things that I wasn’t able to overcome. We’re American saké. From that, we’ve developed
a taste that is suitable and we think is approachable for the market of Americans It’s a little sweeter, gluten-free, sulfite-free,
and tannin-free. We’re in Portland restaurants all around Portland. You can find us in most
any Hannaford.

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