I tried to make makgeolli once a few years ago and it didn’t work out all that well. All I really ended up making was a big mess and a bucket full of moldy, rotten rice. I think the problem was that I didn’t add any yeast. The way I understand it is the nuruk contains your enzymes (that will convert the rice flour to sugars which can then be eaten by the yeast to produce alcohol). You still need to add some yeast. Traditionally, I would guess that things happened more spontaneously. As in wild yeast in the nuruk and in the air would have infected the batch and allowed for fermentation to take place. Being a beer brewer and as clean as I could be, sterilizing everything as I went along was probably my demise. I killed all the wild yeast.
So, round two. This time I am cheating a little. I ordered a makgeolli kit a few months ago and just got around to making it last night. It literally took five minutes to ‘make’ it, but will have to wait a week to see how it turns out.
The kit comes with two kinds of rice flour (멥쌀가루 – non sticky and 찹쌀가루 – sticky), some nuruk and yeast all packed into a small 2L (if not 2L, then pretty close) plastic jug. I sterilized the jug (although for makgeolli, that was probably completely pointless, a little yeast would make it unique) and added all of the ingredients along with 1.5L of water and mixed them up. It was pretty thick, nearly batter-like. Oh, and remember not to screw the lid on tight, just loosely, or it will explode.
That’s all that there is to it. It says to stir everyday for 5 days or so or until it’s done fermenting. Then you strain it all through something to catch the bigger chunks of whats left (nuruk, etc) and add another 1.5L of water. The makgeolli will come out at around 15%, so you need to add some water to bring it down to the 7~8% mark.
It was starting to bubble this morning (no pictures yet), but will take one this evening. If it works out, I will take another stab at making it with actual rice instead of this rice flour. Here is a link to the kit sold on Wine2080, costing 13,000won.
You can read Homebrew Korea’s original post here.