Homebrew #08 – Podoju

I didn’t think I’d return so quickly to fruit-infused makgeolli but then here came grape season and my relatives had decided that I needed a box (not a bunch—a box!) of Gapyeong grapes. What to do with so many grapes? Make booze, of course!

It helps that I had already seen a successful grape makgeolli brew over at Bryan Romasky’s blog 막걸리 빛는 남자. Moreover, it turns out that Podoju, or grape liquor, is an established recipe in the Korean brewing cannon.Podoju


Liberally paraphrased (with some slight editorializing) from the sometimes incomprehensible pages of my recipe book The Story of Traditional Alcohol Brewed from Our Rice (TSOTABFOR):

In Korea, the weather and the soil prevent cultivation of the grapes typically found in the west. Instead, you typically find a varietal of Campbell grapes in Korea: large, round grapes that come with seeds and thick skins. There’s also something in the book about how these grapes have a lower sugar content than their western counterparts. Regardless if that’s true or not, don’t come to Korea expecting to enjoy a nice glass of domestic red: it just doesn’t exist. Fortunately, you can, however, brew makgeolli with these bad girls!



Your proportional measurements:

1000g glutinous rice  200-300g grapes
800mL water 2g yeast (optional)
100g nuruk

More paraphrased from TSOTABFOR:

If you add all the ingredients at once, you can make a danyangju (one-step fermentation) which will give your brew a great purple color and a strong fragrance. The other option is to add your grapes 2-4 days after your brew is going to make an iyangju (tw0-step fermentation). The iyangju will probably take longer to ferment and the alcohol percentage will be higher, making the brew drier and more complex.


  1. Wash the glutinous rice, or chapssal (찹쌀), and soak for 6-8 hours.
  2. Drain for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  3. Make steamed rice, or godubap (고두밥).
  4. While the godubap cools, wash grapes and then mash them keeping skins and seeds in the mash.
  5. Mix grape mash, water, and nuruk with the steamed rice.



Only two days after I started my brew, I felt that I again smelled some off odors wafting from my hangari. Rather than take any chances, I dumped 5 more grams of wine yeast. Two days after adding more yeast and vigorously stirring the brew, I couldn’t shake that smell. I ended up adding another 100 grams of nuruk in the hopes that the good yeast would kill off the bad. I couldn’t do much more than that and just let it do its thing.

On a somewhat related tangent, I’ve been reading some comments on the Susubori facebook group and it seems that a lot of people agree that wine yeast is A) unnecessary, and B) changes the natural yeast flavors that the nuruk imparts. Since other brewers I respect are putting away their packets of Lalvin EC-1118 and I might do so too.



Podoju is a crowd-pleaser for many reasons. The appearance is the first thing that comes to mind. While I wouldn’t want to drink the cheongju on its own, that remarkably deep purple looks marvelous. And, mixed as a wonju, the brew turns a creamy lavender color. The fruity aroma is another very pleasing aspect of the brew. Finally, despite the fact that fruit-infused drinks seem to be aimed at women, Podoju has the flavor (and the kick!) to give it a little something for everyone. Even if grape isn’t your thing, it really only comes through as a something slightly fruity but indiscernible. Perhaps my palate isn’t as refined as others but I would have a hard time guessing what fruit was used if it was in a blind tasting.


Type: Danyangju
Name: Podoju (포도주)
Time: Made: 9.16.16

Bottled: 10.2.16

Total: 16 days

Measurements: ·         3000g glutinous rice

·         300g nuruk

·         2400ml water

·         850g grapes

·         6g yeast

ADDED LATER (see notes)

·         5g yeast

·         100g nuruk

Amount Produced: ·         5+ L (approx.)
Notes: ·           9.18: I must be getting gun shy about picchia yeast. I couldn’t tell if my the scent coming off my brew was edging into that astringent zone so I decided to be proactive and added 5 g more of wine yeast. It’s all experimentation when it comes to fending off picchia but I hope this does the trick.

·         9.20: Can’t shake the feeling that the brew is suffering from picchia. Added 100g of nuruk and gave it another mix.

Results: ·         Despite my worries, the brew came out great! It was a bit stronger and drier than I expected but I added a dash of simple syrup and it is delicious. The grape comes through more in the nose than the flavor, unfortunately, but there is still something undeniably fruity remaining in the flavor.


appearance nose body flavor finish
Wonju pleasant lavender color. Cheongju, after settling, deep fuschia hue. Fruitiest part about the brew: Sweet, grape scent. Silky smooth as wonju. Cheongju still present but thin. Cheongju almost astringent and syrupy. Wonju smoothes edges into dry, creamy brew. Grape hinted at but not noticeable beyond something fruity. Grape comes through more on finish. Sweet, light note that lingers.

One thought on “Homebrew #08 – Podoju

  1. Pingback: Takjoo Journals’ Third Anniversary | takjoo journals

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s