Makgeolli Magic

So what is Makgeolli you may be asking.  Makgeolli is an Korean fermented, unfiltered rice alcohol.  This stuff is carried alongside Soju in every convenience store starting at 1,100 won and is a definite must try when in Korea.

We tried some Makgeolli when we first arrived here and were excited when we heard about the Introduction to Brewing Makgeolli class taught by the Susubori Academy.  We figured we would roll up our sleeves and try our hand at brewing this Korean concoction.

IMG_8122You too can sign up for the class via the Susubori Facebook Page.  They list all of their classes on there and you can ask them questions as well.  The class itself is held over at the Susubori Academy by Chungjeongno station.

We started the class with a little background on Makgeolli.  We learned that it is traditionally made up of 3 ingredients – Rice, Water, and Nuruk.


Then we got to sample 7 different kinds of Makgeolli while discussing the differences between each type.  One of the Makgeollis we sampled was made via the same recipe we were going to use that day.


The recipe we prepared was called Danyangju, this method only undergoes a single stage fermentation.  The total time of fermentation takes approximately 7-10 days depending on the temperature (the ideal temperature was around 24 degrees celsius).

The first step in the process was getting our fermentation vessel which was made of food grade plastic, this vessel would house our brew for the next 7-10 days.


Next we took a look at the first and primary ingredient, rice.  Chapssal was selected for this recipe.  Chapssal is glutinous rice that is often made into rice cakes or sushi.  The rice itself has 100% amylopectin and that is why it is chosen for this recipe as that higher starch content will make the Makgeolli sweeter.  The rice on the right in the photo below is Chapssal.


After learning about what kind of rice we should use, we practiced washing the rice.  Washing the rice is very important in order to remove any impurities that might affect the taste of the Mageolli (pesticides, excess starch, etc).  We all took turns washing it numerous times trying to get the water to run close to clear.


Next we learned that the rice needs to be steamed, not cooked like in a rice cooker.  The Danyangju recipe calls for 1 Kg of Chapssal.

The rice is placed on a hemp cloth or silicone steaming mat and cooked in a steaming tray or can simply be put in a bamboo steamer. After the rice steams for about 40 minutes, it is removed and cooled down to about 25 degrees celsius.  Once properly cooled you can place it into your vessel.


We then added 1 liter of water into the vessel.

And finally added 90 grams of Nuruk.  Nuruk is a traditional Korean fermentation starter that is made of moistened coarsely ground wheat which is then packed into a mold and left to ferment with straw.

I added 3 grams of yeast to try to make a sweeter Makgeolli.


After we got all of the ingredients into the vessel it was time to get down to business.  I thoroughly washed my hands and began massaging all of the ingredients together.  This was done for a while until the rice had absorbed all of the water and all of the ingredients were well incorporated.


The final step was to make sure we wiped down the insides of the vessel and packed down all of the rice.  We were advised to put on the lid, but to make sure we loosened it by a quarter turn as the gases created during the fermentation process could make the vessel explode if the lid was on super tight.  I definitely didn’t want a mess in the house, so I did as I was told!

Now to wait the 7-10 days and hopefully enjoy the fruits of our labor.  More to come!

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