Update on Makgeolli Brewery in Chicago

In about February last year, news broke about Slow City Brewery’s intention to open America’s first makgeolli brewery. Since then, it has been all quiet on the western front and we haven’t heard much since. However the Illinois Liquor Control Commission posted the brewing company’s application which is on mandatory viewing for 45 days. That means things are stepping up and we could see makgeolli finally being produced on US soil!

Nuruk from Makgeolli Festival 2012
Nuruk from Makgeolli Festival 2012

It’s no easy thing to obtain makgeolli outside of Korea. Due to its fermentation process and short shelf life, it’s not the easiest beverage to export. It’s also notoriously difficult to get the approvals necessary for breweries to open outside of Korea. The active ingredient, nuruk, has to be shipped in from Korea and as it is a wild yeast it becomes hard to regulate. Nonetheless, it’s exciting to see some progress being made so that all those makgeolli lovers off the peninsula can get their fix soon!

For more info on the developments and some background on the story you can check it out here.

We will be keeping a close eye on this one 🙂


7 thoughts on “Update on Makgeolli Brewery in Chicago

    1. The brewery is up and running, they had a tasting in July. We haven’t heard anything else since then, but we are keeping our ears to the ground 😉

  1. We know of at least one Korean grocery store in Chicago that carries Slow City Makgeolli. Each bottle has a “breathable” cap that keeps the bottles from becoming over-carbonated. The caps also leak, if the bottle is laid on its side; this is not a defect, it is the nature of the cap’s design. At this store, there is a sign reading “only two bottles per customer” so be sure to split up at the cash register… or make multiple trips into the store. How’s it taste? Perfect! It is slightly tart and fresh; I don’t think that a sweetener has been added. (I’ll check the label next time I go there).

    1. This is awesome information, thanks Steve! We are big fans of Neurin Maeul here in Seoul and have been very curious how it tastes Stateside. Would you mind taking a picture of the label next time you make it there? Thanks for the update 🙂

  2. I think this brewery has closed. In May, we not only bought some Slow City makgeolli at a Korean grocery store in Chicago, we went to the brewery and were given a tour. But on Friday July 8th we were at this same grocery store, and there were no bottles of Slow City available. I asked a store employee to check, and in about five minutes he came back to report that the brewery had closed. We live in Maryland, but when we are in Chicago again, I will try to verify this. If true, this is a very sad day for the Midwest.

    1. Yes, sadly the brewery did close and will not be reopening. There are some promising developments in the Chicago area however, so we will update when the news becomes available 🙂

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