Making Traditional Arak in Sidemen

Posted on Posted in Bali, Destinations

Sidemen is well-known for its beautiful landscapes and superb rice fields. It is a truly pretty and special place in the middle-East Bali.
But it’s not only all about the rice fields. Here we can whiteness the making of the very local and traditional alcohol called Arak.
Our day is Sidemen was nicely filled up with long and peaceful walks between rice paddies and green patches of growing rice. Every few minutes we met a local farmer looking after his precious production, greeting us with this charming smile, like only Balinese can do. Trekking on the small path in between each rice slot was a great start of the day, we were able to enjoy the marvelous scenery and discover the local plants and trees.
Sidemen rice fields are just great, lovely and colourfull !
But it’s not all we saw and discovered here. We also very much enjoyed the visit to an Arak maker’s family. Nowhere else we saw that, the production is still done like in the old times, in the Tri Eka Buana village in Sidemen. Here 90% of the inhabitants are Arak makers. From generations to generations, they keep the tradition alive, crafting a new barrel of Arak every single day.
Our guide took us to one of the big local houses. There, we met the whole family, Mangku, Kadek, Made, Putu… The grand-pa showed us the place and the process. He is the one, with his son, when he is home, who climbs the 20 meters high coconut trees in order to extract the liquid from its flowers.

The coconut water, after a first fermentation, becomes wine first, called Tuak, and, after a second fermentation becomes a stronger alcohol, called Arak.
We place the liquid collected from the coconuts in a plastic barrel for 3 to 4 days, until it feels sour. This tuak (Balinese wine) coincides with the coconut fibers in the enclosed barrel as a fermentation process. This wine is drunken by Balinese men after ceremonies or just like that, a bit like we drink grape wine in France. It tastes quite nice I found, but can only be kept good for 2 days’ maximum.
Once sufficient, the tuak is put into a series of pengarakan consisting of three pieces or jars. Each jar contains 4 buckets of tuak with a capacity of 5 liters. The distillation process begins from 5 am to 3 pm. The tuak becomes then Arak and vary in degrees of alcohol from 40 percent to 25 percent.
Arak is not only a drinkable substance but it is also used for the offerings. Balinese sprinkle it on the square cenangs and other type of offerings made of flowers and banana leaves in a way to appease the evil spirits residing in the human habitats.
Arak is also traditionally used for medicine as a rheumatism healer.
Our visit ended up with a tasting of the famous alcohol, the Tuak first and then, the Arak. Not too bad I must say!
Don’t miss out on the Arak and Tuak tasting when you go to Sidemen and say hi for us this lovely family!