Making Makgeolli

Makgeolli is an alcoholic beverage made with a mixture of wheat and rice. There are many types of makgeolli, and one of them is called Dong-dong-ju. It is served like fruit punch– in a large ceramic bowl with a wooden ladle to scoop into your cup. Its milky color and sweet taste may fool you into thinking that you can handle it well, but after a few minutes, you’ll realize that the effect hits you hard. I’d recommend drinking at a slow pace to make sure you wouldn’t drink past your limit.

Last weekend, I got to experience making some traditional makgeolli. My Korean friends were surprised to hear about this because even locals do not make it at home. Our host started making his own beer, plum wine, and makgeolli about a year ago, and he was willing to share his hobby with the Korean-learning foreigners.

First we observed how a traditional Korean distiller, Sojugori, works (upper left). Then we got to make our own jar full of makgeolli. Since our host already prepared a starter (made from yeast and grains) for us, we simply mixed that starter with some freshly steamed rice. After that we were told to wait for two weeks for it to become alcohol.

For the first few days, my room smelled like freshly baked bread because of the yeast. Now I see small air bubbles between the grains of rice. In the next few days, hopefully I’ll see a clear layer of wine on top of the rice.

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