Brooklyn brewery reveals process behind their popular Korean rice wine

CeFaan Kim Image
Friday, May 14, 2021
Local brewery reveals process behind their Korean rice wine
A brewery in Brooklyn gives a behind-the-scenes-look at how they make the their popular Korean rice wine.

GREENPOINT, Brooklyn (WABC) -- A brewery in Brooklyn gives a behind-the-scenes-look at how they make the their popular Korean rice wine.

"So we're in a 25-square-foot warehouse in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It's essentially just a giant rectangle with 24-foot ceilings," said Alice Jun of Hana Makgeolli.

This is a one-of-a-kind brewery. Inside tanks is makgeolli, or traditional Korean rice wine.

It's the only locally brewed makgeolli that exists. Up until now it had to be imported from Korea.

And Hana Makgeolli isn't your everyday rice wine. It's elevated. No stabilizers, no sugars, no processed starches. It's made with organic rice and New York water.

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"We're using a traditional fermentation starter called nuruk which is essentially an amalgamation of wild microbes, wild yeast that you need to be able to use to complete fermentation," Jun said.

From the rice washer, to the rice grinder, to the rice steamer, to the stainless steel seven-barrel fermenters and 10-barrel finishing tank -- from start to finish -- it's fermented over the course of a month and a half.

No other brewery is doing it this way.

"Part of our brewery's mission is to bring back the traditions of makgeolli the way it was in Korea, pre-war," John Limb said.

So, in the interest of doing thorough research, and only in the interest of thorough research, in going to try just a sip of this, just a sip, to tell you what this tastes like compared to traditional makgeolli.

Eyewitness News reporter CeFaan Kim tried just a sip to compare the taste to traditional makgeolli.

According to Kim, it's not as filmy as traditional makgeolli, it's dry but fruity. He says it's stronger, complex and a there's a little more acidity than normal.

"If you pair it with Korean barbecue or even just a simple fruit and cheese board, it completely transforms the wine," Jun said. "And the whole point of Hana Makgeolli is to show the breadth and depth of the sool (means alcohol in Korean) category, not just create crowd pleasing makgeollis."

The crowd seems pretty pleased so far. Every bottle they've produced has sold out.

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