Restaurant Owner Gets It Right with Korea’s Oldest Alcoholic Beverage — After a Few Explosions

It was only last summer we saw the first article about Girin, Seattle’s newest Korean restaurant, and their forays into the world of makgeolli brewing. (Before you start reading, see if you can guess where the staff of Girin learned their makgeolli recipe.) A new article by the improbably named Providence Cicero outlines how things are going for Cody Burns, Steven Han, and the rest of the team at Girin. From the Seattle Times article:

“[Cody Burns] started fiddling with recipes, making batches in his apartment. It took him six months — and a couple of explosions — to get something he even wanted to drink. Many months later, he perfected the recipe after a second trip to Korea and a visit to Susubori Academy, where they teach classes on making makgeolli.

Rice is the main ingredient, but the most important variable is nuruk — a cake of dried, aged grain that contains fermenting microorganisms and naturally occurring yeast. What Burns could source here, at stores like H Mart, wasn’t yielding results he was happy with. While at Susubori, he learned of a Korean company that makes nuruk from a recipe hundreds of years old. He secured some and made a batch. It was the aha moment. Finally he had the right materials to start refining his recipe.

…[T]hey expect to sell a lot of makgeolli in the restaurant, and fill growlers to go. But first they have to secure federal and state licensing. When Girin first opened, they were selling their house brew under a temporary license, assuming all hurdles would be cleared by the time it expired.

Just before the final step — inspection of the production kitchen — Burns learned the paperwork, which was filed physically, not digitally, had gone missing. He halted production and had to start the application process all over. Girin has been making do with Kooksoondang bottled makgeolli until production can restart, sometime this spring, Burns hopes. Meanwhile, he brews practice batches to keep his skills sharp.”

Read the whole Seattle Times article here.

And, if anyone has been to Girin, let Takjoo Journals know. We’d love to hear about your experience!

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