Cheap Farmer’s Brew No Longer

In a new article for Seoul Magazine, Julia Mellor of Makgeolli Mamas & Papas Korea (MMPK) discusses her organization, the growing foreigner interest in makgeolli, and how brewers and joomaks are changing. If you’re new to the makgeolli scene, this article provides some great state-of-the-industry insight. A few choice bits from the article:

“For the most iconic makgeolli drinking experience, dark and rough-looking bars with metal kettles – and what many have mistaken for dog bowls – were plentiful. One of the many charms of makgeolli is this rowdy but intimate combination of endless drinks and sharing good times. When the rain falls, like clockwork these bars become packed with people searching out their comfort food and drink, sheltering from the deluge.

While these jumak, as they are called in Korean, can still be readily found, as time went on we saw more and more bars emerge that were giving Korean traditional alcohol a more updated and modern treatment. Not only were new bars serving makgeolli imported from all over the nine provinces in stylish carafes but the accompanying food began to push the envelope beyond the regular pajeon, a makgeolli pairing so ingrained in the Korean psyche it is difficult to imagine one without the other. Deep metal bowls were replaced with smaller ceramic cups, and the loud crowd gave way to first dates and deep conversations. Makgeolli had made its first steps into the world of respectable drinking culture.”

“So what of the future of makgeolli? Both MMPK and Makgeolli Makers believe the key is in education, awareness and experimentation. The more opportunities there are to taste, learn about and brew makgeolli, the further the industry can develop and improve. As MMPK moves toward tourism for expats and travellers who want to deepen their experience of Korean alcohol, Makgeolli Makers continues to push boundaries and sow the seeds of brewing education. In a small alley of the Jongno neighborhood of Ikseon-dong, a co-op of makgeolli brewers, both Korean and international, has opened a brew space purely for recipe experimentation and development. With the apt name of “Jaju,” meaning “often,” and nestled in an idyllic hanok setting, the group is dedicated to honing their brewing skills and sharing knowledge of the craft. The makgeolli industry is a wheel with many spokes, each with its own role in restoring quality and reviving the traditions of a drink that has so much to give.”


Read the whole article at Seoul Magazine here.


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