I copy paste-ing all this content from Kbs world website
With only ten days left in the year 2011 the restaurants and bars in Korea are filled with revelers celebrating the year’s end.
Alcohol is a must in every party. Life’s sorrow and worries seem to vanish as party-goers drink up with loud, good-hearted cheers. In recent years this particular alcohol has grown in popularity in year-end parties, quickly catching up with the demands for wine and soju.
– I think of makgeoli when I have scallion pancakes. Makgeoli is so popular these days. It’s a healthful drink.
– Unlike other liquors, makgeoli is very smooth and delicious. It has that carbonated zip of the beer and rich texture.
There are also a lot of different varieties of makgeoli, so people can choose the one they like. It’s smooth-tasting and tangy at the same time.
– It’s good for my skin. Makgeoli contains lots of lactic acid bacteria since the drink is made from rice.
Makgeoli is again at the top of everyone’s favorite drink list. Let’s check out this delicious and nutritious alcoholic beverage further.
Makgeoli has the oldest history among all traditional Korean alcoholic beverages. It is milky white and its alcoholic content is rather low at six to seven percent. Generally made with rice, makgeoli sometimes uses barley or wheat. The grain is steamed and dried before fermented with water and yeast. This grain-based beverage features layers of flavor – sweetness, tanginess, bitterness, and even the tannin flavor. Here’s alcoholic beverage expert Heo Si-myung.
Makgeoli is not a refined type of liquor. The color is opaque and its production process is very simple. This is the oldest alcoholic beverage of Koreans. Makgeoli is made through the most basic and simple process, which is why it is the oldest alcoholic beverage in Korea. Makgeoli can be made quickly since it can be completed in a week to ten days. The ingredients and the nutrients in them are preserved relatively fresh, making them almost meal-like. Makgeoli is Korean people’s favorite drink because it gives you the same satisfaction as a meal.
Perhaps because makgeoli satisfies all your senses and even fills your tummy, this traditional folksy drink is growing quite popular among foreigners as well.
– The color was so white that I thought it was really strong. I’m not used to rice, so I’m not familiar with the smell of rice. The smell of fermented rice was strange to me. So I just closed my eyes and tried a sip, but then it was sweet and delicious. Now I’m more familiar with makgeoli than beer.
– Makgeoli cocktail is good for ladies, too. Its alcoholic content is not too high, so it’s smooth-tasting and I don’t get drunk as fast. When I drink makgeoli on a hot day, it chases away the heat. When I’m depressed I drink sweet makgeoli to chase away the stress.
Milky, rice-based alcohol was unfamiliar to foreigners. But once they tried it, they all agreed that it was great-tasting and enjoyable. Better still, they didn’t get too drunk or get a bad hangover afterward. This is why foreigners came to love makgeoli so much. Makgeoli’s popularity among foreigners grew to the point that there is even a makgeoli bar run by a foreigner.
Originally from Finland, Taru Salminen now lives in Korea and runs a makgeoli bar.
– At first it wasn’t like alcohol and it wasn’t like milk. It had an unusual flavor of milk mixed with cider. But I found out that drinking it made me pleasantly intoxicated. It was not only delicious, but it made me feel good, just enough to get me slightly woozy when I get up. It was a very efficient drink. It’s been a year since I opened this makgeoli bar. I have no regrets. I started this bar because I love makgeoli.
Sharing a bowl or two of makgeoli with customers is all part of running a bar. Taru’s pub now enjoys a host of loyal customers.
Some patrons come from all corners of Korea to see a bar run by a foreigner and try out a wide variety of makgeoli produced in different regions in Korea. Taru has become a perfect hostess, welcoming customers and pouring makgeoli.
– I searched the internet to find Taru’s bar. It was hard finding the place.
– I heard that this is a place to visit in the Hongdae neighborhood. People said that she has a variety of makgeoli at reasonable prices. So I came to check it out. Makgeoli is made differently by region and here they have all sorts of makgeoli. I like it that I have a wide selection. I’m going to try another brand after I finish this one.
Now that makgeoli has captivated Koreans, it is reaching out to the world. It is not clear when Koreans started enjoying makgeoli. But a poem from the Goryeo Dynasty in the late 1300s mentions makgeoli, “white makgeoli in a clay bowl,” indicating that people drank makgeoli before the time of Goryeo. Makgeoli had been ordinary Koreans’ favorite alcohol before the introduction of beer and wine in Korea. Here’s liquor expert Heo Si-myung again.
Makgeoli was Korean people’s oldest and most favorite liquor. By number, makgeoli accounted for 60% of total alcohol consumption in Korea in the 1970s and 80s. Since the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics, however, hard liquor from the west grew popular, resulting in beer replacing makgeoli as Korea’s dominant alcohol.
The introduction of beer, whisky, and other liquor from the west brought down makgeoli consumption to 4% of total alcohol consumption. For 20 years since then Koreans’ alcoholic preference leaned toward beer and western liquor. But the rising interest in health and well-being has brought the spotlight back on makgeoli. Then what is the correlation between makgeoli and health? Here’s alcoholic beverage expert Heo Si-myung.
It has a low alcoholic content so it’s not detrimental to your health. Koreans like fresh makgeoli, which has live yeast and health-enhancing lactic acid bacteria. This is why drinking makgeoli helps digestion. Since makgeoli is made with rice or other grains, protein in the rice is transformed into amino acids, making makgeoli that much more nutritious. This year scientists have proven that makgeoli contains far more cancer-fighting substances than other alcohol types.
Mainly made of rice and yeast, makgeoli is 54% carbohydrate and 46% protein. Since it is fat free, only 10% of the makgeoli calories remain in our body. That means, while a shot of soju or 45 grams of it has 64 calories, a bowl of makgeoli or 150 grams has about the same amount of calories, 69 calories. So makgeoli is not only delicious and nutritious, but also less fattening. No wonder everyone, including foreigners, loves makgeoli. Here’s Olivia, a makgeoli lover from New Zealand.
Makgeoli is unknown in Australia. But when I tried makgeoli in Korea, there was nothing else like it. It’s good for my body and has fewer calories. It’s great for losing weight! I am sure you will feel the same way once you come to Korea and try makgeoli.
It’s worth noting that a bottle of makgeoli contains 70 to 80 billion lactic acid bacteria, equal to the amount in a hundred bottles of kefir or liquid yogurt. It was also found that makgeoli has up to 25 times more of the cancer-fighting substance Farnesol than wine or beer. And then, you rarely get to drink makgeoli excessively, because it makes you full after a while.
Makgeoli is very filling, so it’s hard to drink a lot of it. So I get to drink moderately. It’s a very humane alcohol. It protects the stomach lining, is full of nutrients and protein and anti-cancer substances. It’s really an attractive drink. The taste differs every day, because it keeps on fermenting as days go by. The makgeoli I tasted today is bound to taste differently tomorrow. Also the flavor differs by brewery and region. The flavor variance in makgeoli is just as wide as that in wine.
The flavor of makgeoli varies by the season, the time, the place, and method of its fermentation. Currently Korea produces roughly 700 varieties of makgeoli. Here’s alcoholic beverage expert Heo Si-myung.
Makgeoli sold in Seoul targets younger people and has a very light and refreshing flavor. It has none of the traditional grainy flavor. But places far from Seoul in Jeolla or Gyeongsang Province still use a lot of traditional yeast in their makgeoli, making their varieties thicker and heartier. These days, makgeoli is paired with local specialties. For instance, Boseong features green tea makgeoli, Munkyeong omija makgeoli, and Cheongyang Chinese matrimony vine makgeoli.
Such variety of makgeoli is what appeals to foreign makgeoli fans.
– Makgeoli flavors are widely varied by store and region. The different in flavor is really interesting.
-Makgeoli tastes different by place and by bar. The flavor differs by how the rice is cooked. I heard that there is makgeoli that tastes like yogurt, so I want to try it if I get a chance.
This is Makgeoli School located in central Seoul. The rising popularity of makgeoli has prompted many Koreans to learn more about the drink. Here’s alcoholic beverage expert Heo Si-myung again.
I opened Makgeoli School because I wanted to create a forum for makgeoli where people can learn more about the culture and history of makgeoli, and discuss makgeoli’s quality enhancement. It’s been two years and I’ve seen people enjoy makgeoli and Korean culture, and grow proud of the wide variety of makgeoli. Running Makgeoli School has been very rewarding.
Students at Makgeoli School include not only those working in the food and beverage industries, but also students, office workers, and teachers. They all have different reasons for studying Korea’s most traditional drink. Some of them even want to inform the world about makgeoli. Here are the two makgeoli proselytizers, Mr. Ham Chan-woong and Park No-hong.
– I’m a teacher and I travel a lot during vacation. Next year I plan to go to Africa. It’s not that hard to make makgeoli. So I’m planning on taking rice and yeast on my trip and share my own version of makgeoli with the locals.
– I live in America and whenever I invite my American friends to my home, I serve either beer or wine. But now I want to learn how to make makgeoli, so I can serve them makgeoli and teach them about the spirit and culture of Korea.
The makgeoli boom has driven up the export of makgeoli. Here’s President Jang Jae-joon of Seoul Takju Association.
Makgeoli export has roughly tripled over the past three years. It increased 282% since 2009 and has recorded a growth of over 350% in the third quarter this year. We sell in 15 countries with the largest portion going to Japan. Seoul Makgeoli operated in combination with Japanese distribution giant Suntory is a surprise hit in Japan.
According to Korea Customs Service, Korea has exported 37 thousand tons or nearly 45.3 million dollars of makgeoli between January and October of this year. At this rate makgeoli export in 2011 is projected to top 50 million dollars for the first time in history. Makgeoli-related business ventures are also flourishing. Makgeoli bread, makgeoli vinegar, makgeoli soaps, and makgeoli cosmetics make the traditional Korean alcohol more accessible for even those who can’t drink. Now aren’t you getting more curious about makgeoli? Have a sip and you’ll be able to understand why this milky and filling alcoholic drink has become the hottest thing on the market.