FYI: Beer or Wine?

Is it how the cereal grain is “worked” that makes the resulting liquid a beer or a spirit?

You stated in November´s FYI (â€Just the Facts: Beerâ€) that sake is a type of beer rather than a wine, because rice is a cereal grain. Yet rye and wheat, from which vodka and whiskey are made, are also cereal grains. Is it how the cereal grain is â€worked†that makes the resulting liquid a beer or a spirit?

Scott Jenkins

Victoria, B.C.

As a fermented grain beverage, sake is more like beer than wine, which is typically made from fruit. Whiskey would not be considered a beer because it undergoes the further process of distillation, as Paul Gatza, director of the Institute for Brewing Studies in Boulder, Colorado, points out.

One difference between sake and beer, Gatza adds, is that the fermentation of sake involves not only yeast but also a mold known as koji. And sake is not brewed; instead, the rice is steamed. Newly steamed rice is added to a fermenting mixture in stages.

_Edited by Bob Sillery

Research by Eric Adams, Greg Mone and Jill C. Shomer
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