The first time I told people I had made Hwanggeumju, a Korean person asked me if I had made the name up. Nope, it’s the real name. Translated it basically means Yellow-Golden Wine; I would probably call it Ambrosia as it is easily the best recipe I’ve ever made. Good thing because it’s probably the most labor intensive recipe as well.
First things first, all credit for this recipe goes to the knowledgeable instructors at Susubori Academy. The reason I titled this Hwanggeumju 2 is that this is my second attempt at making this tremendous recipe after first learning it at Susubori. I would encourage any and all to take a brewing class at Susubori if you have the chance. You can check in with the Makgeolli Makers, the Susubori Makgeolli Brewer’s Club, and the Makgeolli Mamas & Papas Korea for more details on these classes.
And, now, back to the booze! Hwanggeumju is what’s called an iyangju, or two-step fermentation. The first stage is made with mepssal, or non-glutinous rice. After soaking the rice for 3 hours and draining it for at least 25 minutes, you steam it as you would with a normal recipe (see the Primer for an explanation). Then comes the (not) fun part: making ssal juk, or porridge. Put the steamed, non-glutinous rice in a pot, add part of the water ratio, set your stove to a gentle boil, and stir. And stir. Stir some more. Are you still stirring? Good because you need to stir more. You’re basically going to keep stirring that pot until your arm is about to come off and that’s because you the rice needs to get to the consistency of porridge without burning. Therefore, make sure you’re scraping the sides and bottom thoroughly.
Cool the porridge in the pot. To speed things along, you can set the pot in a bowl of cold water. Just be careful not to splash any water into the porridge. After it’s cooled, you can mix in the nuruk, yeast, and the rest of the water that you didn’t use to make the porridge.
I’ve been hearing from several other brewers that you can get your nuruk and yeast activated more quickly by combining them with a small portion of your water ratio. So, I started mine while I was steaming the rice so it probably had 3+ hours to go to work. In the end, I didn’t notice a real difference but if the real-deal brewers do it, I’m game!
And that’s it for the mitsul, or primary fermentation stage. You’ll want to stir that bad girl twice a day for the next two to three days. After that period, you’ll be ready to add the deotsul, or secondary fermentation. This is straight up your basic danyangju process: glutinous rice that’s been washed, soaked, drained, steamed, and cooled.
One concern that I had is when I added the deotsul, my small hangari (it’s about 7L, I believe), was nearly full. The general rule of thumb is that you only fill your hangari 75-80% capacity so that CO2 has enough room to escape. (If you’re using a vessel that isn’t breathable, the capacity should max out around 60-65% from what I understand.)
This is my second time making hwanggeumju, and this batch was just as delicious as my first go at it. The only disconcerting thing was the cheongju content, or lack thereof. I was expecting after the bottles had settles for a few days, I’d get at least 50% cheongju but I may have got 5% at best.
I can only point to two things that might be responsible for this. The first is the lack of space in the hangari. The other is that I may not have used enough water. I couldn’t remember if the water used in the porridge is subtracted from the mitsul’s water ratio but that is what I ultimately did. I have no idea if these have any correlation with my lack of cheongju but they’re worth noting.
EDIT: After keeping an eye on the Susubori Makgeolli Brewer’s Club facebook page (search for Steady Eddie’s post), I noticed another brewer with the same problem. One of the instructor’s noted that the brewer had probably filtered his brew too soon, meaning the fermentation was incomplete. In my case, I tried the Match Test and the match maintained a faint flame. I offer my mea culpas but, due to time constraints, I needed to filter that day.
Despite all that, the wonju was absolutely lovely and I can’t wait to brew another hwanggeumju.
Total: 15 days
· 500g mepssal
· 248g nuruk
· 8g yeast
· 2.45L water
· 2973g chapssal
|Amount Produced:||· 4.7L|
|Notes:||· Probably overfilled the hangari. I remember reading somewhere that you should never fill more than half (more than 2/3?) your brewing vessel. The hangari is full to all but two inches or so. Need to find out why you shouldn’t overfill brewing vessel!!!
· Stopped bubbling after 12 or 13 days. Finally match checked it after 14 days. Two match tests and both stayed lit. Just didn’t seem ready from looking at the cap as it seemed too firm.
· Decided to bottle on Day 15, despite cap still firm and the fact that I’ve got a faint flame from the match test.
|Results:||· First brew in a while that I think was an unmitigated success! Love the 황금주.|
|Typical in color. Very dense looking. What little cheongju gained was very yellow.||Sour, cream, vegetable (almost like celery)||Dense with slight particulate due to doing a poor job in the straining stage. But I kinda like the dongdongju aspect to it.||Zingy, sweet, middle flavor bitter||Boozy wash combining front sweetness and middle bitterness|