Makgeolli time~ 막걸리 ~ 막걸리 ~ 막걸리

Kinda looks like jars of oatmeal cookie shots eh?

Kinda looks like jars of oatmeal cookie shots eh?

Korean House Wine

That’s the best way I can describe it. Or maybe farmer’s liquor? My mother often describes visiting family on Jindo island with the mention of Grandma making a huuge amount of makkoli for the farm workers and sneaking sips of it while adults are busy. A relaxing and filling beverage, so it makes sense to give it to people doing physical labor.

It is also hard to spell in English since they’re are soo many variants. If I were to phonetically spell it, it would come out as Mahk-gohl-lee, but if you’re looking for recipes in English you might have to try: makkoli, makguli, makoli, makgoli, makeolli, makuly or makgeolli. Or you can just use:막걸리.

Aren’t you a beautyblogger?

Yeah, but people gotta eat and drink so I figure why not share the love. I’ve only ever purchased Makkoli and Soju, in large quantities and I figure if my friend @babyajumma can make it, so can I.


For this initial batch I used the Maangchi recipe which can be found here

And if you’re not interested in the link here’s what you will need to buy:

  • medium grain rice (like the standard white azn eating rice)
  • Nuruk (누룩 가루 = aka nuruk powder aka starter culture)
  • dry yeast

And some appliances or kitchen items that are handy

  • rice cooker
  • baking sheets or a dehydrator
  • large glass container or Korean crock (I mean it, you’re gonna need one that is at least a gallon or more with a wide enough lid.

And some things you can procure in the meantime

  • super large bowls (multiple) for the straining process, I’m not talking large bowls for making cookies… they’re barely big enough, this is getting into bucket size. For me since I am Korean and make kimchi I have them in my house and if you go to a Korean market you can find some large bowls for cheap.
  • Strainers
  • Cheese cloth, omg didn’t have any and my man is complaining about the particle size -_-
  • ladles and long spoons
  • mason jars, beer bottles, etc. something you can store the filtered wine in
  • funnel
  • lots of paper towels
  • patience

Part 1: starting the fermentation

You will need to cook 5 cups of cooked rice, 1.5 cups of Nuruk starter culture and 1 packet (or I used 2 tablespoons of active dry yeast)

  • Cook 5 cups of medium grain rice in rice cooker (if you don’t have a rice cooker use a pot like the rest of the world, just cook it up)
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  • When that’s cooked you’re going to want to dehydrate it if you’re interested in making sweeter makeolli
    • If you don’t have a dehydrator you can use your oven
      • Spread rice evenly on baking sheets lined with parchment paper
      • set oven to lowest temperature and for the first hour or so leave it cracked open with the rice inside to get the bulk of moisture out
      • keep going until rice is pretty dry and crispy
      • 20160905_135526
    • At this point you might be wondering why cook the rice at all?
      • For one, you need to cook the rice to break down the carbohydrates so that the yeast and bacteria that you’re going to cultivate can start growing quickly
      • Second, dehydrating the cooked rices reduces the total amount of water in your batch which according to a few recipes I saw online, a ration of 1:1 rice to water keeps the makoli sweet. Apparently the more water you add the more sour it becomes, and this I’m going to assume is due to the lactic acid bacteria in the starter culture (they’re motile and make things sour ….and delicious)
  • I dunno why I'm showing the rice now but I am

    I dunno why I’m showing the rice now but I am


  • Once the rice is dry stuff it in your clean vessel, I forgot to save my initial photos so I’m using the second batch image… same rice, same volume just different vessel
  • Add 1.5  cups of Nuruk in
  • Add 8 cups of water
  • Swish around
  • Add your packet of yeast, or if you want it a bit stronger add 2 tablespoons of yeast
    • What yeast did I use? Red star active dry yeast, the same yeast I use to make bread
  • It should look like this

    It should look like this


  • Take a paper towel and cover the lid and then PLACE the lid on top, do not screw the lid on tightly, you need some gas to escape. You also do not want this mixture to become fully anaerobic you’ll hinder the lactic acid bacteria in there.

The Waiting game

  • You will want to wait about a week depending on your home temperature.
  • You’re also going to want to stir the makoli at least once a day
    • I waited 7 days total
    • Over time you'll see the grain dissolve and a clear layer developing on top

      Over time you’ll see the grain dissolve and a clear layer developing on top


    • The longer you wait the more the yeast can ferment, but it seems like the 7 day mark is a solid place to stop
    • You are looking for a sizeable layer of clear amber liquid

      You are looking for a sizeable layer of clear amber liquid


The Bottling process

This is where the multi bucket system comes in

This is where the multi bucket system comes in

  • Acquire buckets and strainers
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  • I dump the entire jar into the large green bucket and strain into the white bucket.
    • Then I take the solids from the 1st strainer and dump them into the second strainer for further pressing
  • Filter at least twice
    • And if I had cheesecloth I would strain though it after the first 2 filterings
  • 16-09-10-19-03-40-043_deco
  • And now you have a big bowl of undiluted makkgeolli
    • Its above 10% ABV, its suppossed to be around 16% at this point, but with Bread yeast I’m not getting my hopes up.
  • You are going to want to cut it with a little water and sweetner
    • This is where you will want to experiment with what tastes good to YOU
  • I had a bunch of 12oz mason jars and we found that 4oz of water+ sweetener to 8oz of makkgeolli was the perfect ratio
  • 16-09-10-19-04-58-390_deco
  • For one, we prefer agave nectar to plain white sugar, felt like it brought out some interesting flavors like vanilla in the makkoli
  • 16-09-10-19-05-17-146_deco
  • There we added 1 tablespoon of agave nectar to each jar, and filled it to the 4oz mark.
  • Kinda looks like jars of oatmeal cookie shots eh?And then you fill it up with makkgeoli, lid them and chill.

we ended up filling 8 little mason jars, since we did drink some makkgeoli to figure out our dilution ratio. I know maangchi ended up doing a 1:1 dilution so she had a larger volume of makgeolli to work with. This should last at least a couple weeks in the fridge


  1. Leaving the makoli in a warmer area to ferment will make the fermentation happen faster (our laundry room is quite warm and I think that’s part of why it was done in 7 days)
  2. After cleaning your fermentation vessel, add a shot of soju or vodka to sterilize it further
  3. Nuruk, I don’t think you will ever find it on a bag with “nuruk” spelled in English. You will have to look for 누룩 and usually the words: starter cutlture, enzyme, and amylase on the packaging
    1. It can also come in a chunky form or powdery form, either one will work the same
  4. When you add sugar into your finished batch you WILL start fermenting again.
    1. This is why chilling the makkoli will help slow down that process but be careful upon opening since they may spurt out at you due to the trapped CO2
    2. If you want to stop fermentation I figure you can pasteurize the wine, but then you’re gonna kill off the probiotics. Also I’m not sure how to pasteurize makkoli yet, but I figure someone out there has pasteurized house wine and maybe can offer advice
  5. adding sprite to your finished makkoli makes it taste amazing @_@
  6. Using yeasts meant for wine makes it smell amazing, I’m experimenting with Champagne and Red wine yeasts currently
  7. Using sweet rice should give you a higher alcohol content due to the higher starch content


And if you found this interesting, let me know if you want to see more of my makkoli experiments or other cooking endeavors… that I usually post on my instagram/instagram stories



  1. Julie

    Wow, this is quite the process! Thanks for sharing your makgeolli journey. I’ve never tasted it but it sounds to me like it could be quite good. ? And btw, feel free to add more food posts, I’m diggin’ it. ???

  2. Sue Carballo

    I definitely enjoyed this peek into stuff outside beauty! Never heard of this drink so it made it such an interesting read, more, I say, more!

    Soo, a london based fan

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