Homebrewing Makgeolli in North America

Home Brewing in North America

In the Makgeolli in the USA post, I ended by saying that your best option for enjoying makgeolli in the U.S. (or abroad elsewhere) is to make your own. I realize that this is a vague directive that might seem overwhelming, especially if you don’t have any type of brewing experience. So, I decided to make a list of things you will need to brew makgeolli and where you can get them if you are living in North America.

After you have all the necessary ingredients and equipment, read A Primer on Brewing Makgeolli, the instructional pamphlet created by Becca Baldwin and Daniel Lenaghan, and you will be on your way to making the nectar of the gods. Or, what some people call makgeolli.

On a side note, Takjoo Journals received a lot of advice from Becca of Makgeolli Makers and Susubori Academy, as well as Brian Romasky who runs the blog 막걸리 빚는 남자. This post would not be possible without their help, and I would recommend everyone interested in brewing makgeolli to follow Becca and Brian to get a more profound understanding of home brewing.

(Please follow all hyperlinks for more information or sites where items can be purchased.)



  • Chapssal (찹쌀), or Glutinous/Sticky Rice
  • Nuruk (누룩), or it is sometimes listed as Powdered Enzyme Amalyse
    • H-Mart (only delivers within the contiguous US): here and here
    • Amazon: here
    • Mile Hi Distilling: here
  • Water



  • Hyomo (효모), or yeast, is used by many brewer’s so that their makgeolli does not come out overly tart or dry. Wine yeast is typically preferred by brewers.
    • Becca Baldwin had this to say, “At Susubori, we use a multi-purpose wine yeast called Fermivin. However, there’s no reason one couldn’t experiment with other strains of yeast, such as those geared for sake, lager, champagne, etc. Each will impart unique flavor congeners to the finished brew. I always proceed with the advice that adding yeast that is additional to nuruk was not traditionally done in Korea. However, it is common in modern practice, especially among makgeolli breweries that use the Japanese fermentation starter koji, or ipguk (입국) in Korean. Avoid the vitamin supplement—the yeast has been deactivated.”
    • And here’s Brian Romasky’s two cents: “I typically use wine yeast, usually Red Star or Lalvin, and I activate it by hydrating the yeast about 15 minutes before adding it to the hangari. I have had success with beer yeasts, and even baker’s yeast, although there is a noticeably lower alcohol ceiling on the baker’s yeast (and rightfully so).”



  • Sterilizing Solution – to make sure your equipment is sterilized
    • Alcohol below 70% ABV will not sufficiently sterilize your equipment. So, no, soju will not work.
    • These options come straight from the Susubori Makgeolli Brewer’s Club FAQ on Facebook. (For dilutions and timetables for the first six options, consult this article.)
      • High-proof Isopropyl Alcohol or Ethanol – 70% ABV or above. Some homebrewers have noted that Ethanol for Disinfection (i.e., not pure ethanol) has created a bitter flavor in their brew. It might be best to use a different disinfectant if you can’t get pure ethanol.
      • Hydrogen Peroxide
      • Chlorine in dilution
      • Iodophor (an iodine-based sanitizer) in dilution
      • Dry Heat (Baking)
      • Wet Heat (Autoclave or Pressure Cooker)
      • Star San
      • Sodium Metabisulfite (also called Campden Tablets)
    • Large Measuring Cup – to measure the proper amount of chapssal and water
    • Large Bowl – to rinse the rice, and to catch the makgeolli when you’re ready to strain the mash
    • Electronic Cooking Scale – to measure nuruk and yeast
    • Steamer Pot – to make godubap (고두밥), or steamed rice
      • Rice cookers are not an acceptable substitute
    • Hemp Cloth – to line the steamer and hold the godubap
    • Bamboo Mat – to cool the godubap to room temperature before adding the nuruk and yeast
    • 5-Liter, Wide-Mouthed, BPA-free Plastic Jug – to store your mash while it ferments
      • If you really want to get traditional, buy yourself a hangari (항아리), or a ceramic, Korean vessel that is specifically for making makgeolli as well as fermenting other things, like kimchi. You can buy these pots on Amazon or E-bay.
    • Spatula – to stir the mash during the first few days of fermentation
    • Large Cheesecloth – to strain the mash
      • John S., a poster on Susubori Makgeolli Brewer’s Club, suggested that getting a nut milk bag (I know!) allows you to squeeze even more alcohol out of your mash than a regular sieve.
      • Here are some other alternatives.
    • Funnel – to transfer the makgeolli from the large bowl into the storage jug(s)
    • Storage Jug(s) – to store your makgeolli in the fridge

If you noticed anything I missed or have any other suggestions where you can source ingredients or equipment, it’d be great if you can share your thoughts in the comments section!


2 thoughts on “Homebrewing Makgeolli in North America

  1. Pingback: Makgeolli in the USA | takjoo journals

  2. Pingback: The One Year Anniversary of Takjoo Journals | takjoo journals

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