Monthly Archives: March 2014

Makgeolli: Korean fizzy alcoholic rice drink

I’ve made more than a dozen batches of makgeolli now, so I think I’m qualified to talk about the subject. I cannot testify on the autheticness of my makgeolli recipe now, since I integrated some techniques from making Japanese sake and doburoku (house made unrefined liquor) in my methodology.

The basic recipe that I follow is this one.  By the way, this guy is much more knowledgeable than I am, so whatever he says is much more reliable.

The hardest part of making makgeolli is sterilizing stuff. I basically use the basic bleach solution that people use for sterilization (a tablespoon bleach in a gallon of water) and left if there for 20 minutes. I saw a guy in a video swirling soju (about 20% alcohol) for sterilization, but I don’t think that really cuts it. Bleach, star-san, one-step, or other solutions conventionally used for home brewing are a safe bet.

However, I do negate whatever sterilization method I use by squeezing out makgeolli by hand in the final part of the process, so I really can’t say I’m right or well informed or anything. I just deceive myself that I am.

One way that I comfort myself that my batches are safe is by using the Japanese sake method of Sandan-jikomi. This is done by introducing the nuruk (enzymes) and rice in three steps, doubling the ingredients each time. . This is to ensure that there’s a consistently large number of yeast-being-things living inside the fermenting liquid, and that they aren’t overwhelmed by other microbes that introduces off-flavors. So using the ingredient ratio that I got from the link, this is how I proceed:

Nuruk: 15g, 30g, 55g.

Rice: 150g, 300g, 550g. I usually make 450 grams of rice on the first day, pitch 1/3 of the rice into the fermentation vessel, and freeze the rest, which I defrost and pitch in the vessel the next day.

Water: 250ml, 500ml, 850ml.

You might be alarmed because the rice absorbs a lot of water, resulting in a thick sludgy porridge.


But don’t worry. Just keep stirring it once or twice every day, until you stop getting a layer of dry (or less liquid-like) parts on the top of your batch. The day you find a layer of pure liquid covering the rice, you’re done. Or anyway, that’s my criteria. Then, you pour the whole thing into a paint straining bag, or a nylon mesh bag from the wine store, or something along those lines. Squeeze the hell out of it, and you get this:



Fizzy, white, rice liquid.


Most people dilute it, and add non-fermentable sweeteners. I used to add simple syrup to sweeten it, until I decided that it tastes good enough on its own.

If you get really cheap rice (sushi rice will do, long-grain rice won’t) you can make an approximately three liter batch that’s around 9% for about three dollars. In Vancouver, that’s extremely cheap liquor.

Thank the person who posted the original recipe. I feel gratitude toward him every time I open a bottle of homemade makgeolli, or when I consider how much I reduced my monthly alcohol budget.


Filed under Alchoholic stuff