First Batch – Getting my Makgeolli On Vancouver 막걸리

Today is day 9 of my first batch of craft Makgeolli home brew. It’s fremented. It’s bottled. It looks good. It’s ready to drink? …Well, yeah, but it isn’t White Lotus Makgeolli, that’s for sure.

Makgeolli is a low alcohol (6-8%) rice wine made from ground rice and a fermentation agent. It has a soy milky texture and a sweetness, and is served chilled. Sometimes it is carbonated. It’s a ‘common’ and cheap low-alcohol beverage traditionally made by farmers. But it’s come a long way baby.

Here’s the story of my Makgeolli making experiment

Having recently returned from S. Korea, and falling in love with the country, the food and Makgeolli 막걸리, or nongju (농주 / 農酒), which means farmer liquor, I desired a cheap source of Makgeolli. Not so easy outside of Korea. Here in Vancouver, a bottle Korean Makgeolli / Makguli costs about $6.97 CAD (₩6,600 KRW) – the same bottle in S. Korea would cost around ₩1,500 KRW ($1.58 CAD). It’s not meant to be an expensive drink, similar to a bottle of pop soda.
BC Liquore PricesRead about my South Korea Best Magkeolli Bars

We have a pretty large Canadian-Korean population in the Vancouver. The lower mainland has the second largest Korean community in Canada, with around 50,000 (according to 2011 Census) Koreans in Vancouver and the surrounding area. Naturally we have some great Korean grocery stores, H-Mart being a large market in downtown Vancouver. And that is where, before I even knew what I was doing, I spotted a Hwajoodang Makgeolli making kit made locally from and thought I’d try my hand. The nice thing about making Makgeolli, is that it only takes days to produce, usually 5-7 days.
Makgeolli Kit from

I also watched a long but pretty useful video on YouTube by Zedomax : How to Make Korean Rice Wine Makkoli at Home! [막걸리]

Getting My Brew On

Day 1
Day 1

And there were instructions on the kit I bought.
It was exciting to put the brew on!
Day 2
Day 2

And I carefully, some may say dotingly, checking it multiple times a day. Stirred it twice a day. It lived with me in my tiny ‘office/pantry’ at home, the warmest room in the house, and the smell was nice, fermenty. It even started to make some pretty loud bubbling sounds, so much that I felt I was not alone in my little ‘office/closet’.
I was concerned with the particulates and the colour and I sought some experienced help, and found a great resource for homebrewing Makgeolli in Brian Romasky, and his website :
Day 3
Day 3

At Day 5 I bottled, and while it is a messy process, it was fun to squeeze the milky liquid as it filtered through cheesecloth! I sampled some at this stage, and it was pretty yeasty and very sour. I got three litres out of the batch.

Finished Product : Hwajoodan Magkeolli

Day 9. It looks right, and was still fermenting. There was a bit of pressure release when I opened the (undiluted) bottle today. As for the final product. It is very sour and still smells yeasty. I don’t know if that’s because it was not the ‘sweet’ rice kit, or because that’s how it was meant to come out, or if I did something wrong, or because I did not add any sugar or sweetener. In my limited taste experience, it tastes a little ‘rough’, and has a more yellow colour rather than a pure white colour. Brian has passed on some encouraging words, if I added the sugar syrup and dilute it with water, it will lighten up, and won’t be as sour. Thanks Brian!

It certainly is not the creamy and smooth White Lotus Makgeolli. Still, it was fun to try to make Makgeolli. And I will try again, perhaps upgrade the process with fresh cooked sweet rice, once I get a package of nuruk. At least I’ll have something to compare the results with.

Now, I just need a hot Bindaetteok 빈대떡 to go with it!

Gun-bae 건배

Check out my favourite Korean foods at Gwangjang Market, A Food Lover’s Travel Destination 광장시장 Seoul, Korea