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

2 responses to “Makgeolli: Korean fizzy alcoholic rice drink

  1. I’ve never heard of this drink before, my best friend (who’s Korean) has never once mentioned it. But she is quite the drinker so it might be fun to get together one weekend and make a batch of this stuff.

    • I used to see a lot makgeolli sold in plastic bottles at the height of Japan’s Korean drama boom, but I guess it’s been a while since that happened. It’s probably the easiest alcoholic drink to make aside of apple cider, so it would be a great weekend project!

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