The light at the end of that long dark summer tunnel is clear! And we have just the place to enjoy some awesome Korean alcohol and equally delicious food. Our meeting this Saturday will be to check out the rather new location of Wolhyang.
For those of you who might have followed our tastings in previous years, Wolhyang was one of the first makgeolli bars to offer higher quality brews in a more modern dining atmosphere. A name which has become synonymous with makgeolli bars, the previous locations in Hongdae and Seogyeo-dong were sadly closed, and now we have a new look and menu at the Yeoido location to peruse!
One of the special things about Wolhyang is that they offer variations of their own house brew, including their wonju (which for all the brewers out there that know is the un-watered down version 😉 )
So if you would like to check out the new Yeoido location of Wolhyang with us this Saturday, send an email to email@example.com to sign up!
Get ready Mamas & Papas, we are going old school comfort for our meeting this Saturday! The last few meetings have been some incredible fine dining experiences, but we decided to switch it up a little and check out a little gem in the Sillim area.
Whilst there are no shortage of rough and ready makgeolli bars around Seoul, it can be a tough ask to find one with great atmosphere AND great makgeolli.
Well, fear not we have done the legwork and have found this rare combination. Whilst we have never been to this place before, the MMPK team has actually studied brewing with the owner, so we know we will be in good company!
The location features some classic Korean style dishes in the old tavern style, and has been around since 1989 (no small feat for bars in Seoul!). So if you would like to join us, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂
We here at MMPK have been operating Korean traditional alcohol tours for the past year or so through our network of makgeolli lovers and personal recommendations. After thorough beta testing and development, we are now ready to launch our services to the world at large, and therefore have designed a brand new website to better showcase all the services we offer. From tasting tours, brewery & museum tours, private brewing classes, brewing certificate courses and our international client consulting, we have developed services for all your makgeolli and Korean alcohol needs!
So if you are looking for something special and unique to do while in Korea, or simply want to broaden your alcohol knowledge horizons, check out our new service website and get in touch 🙂
Phew, where did that month go?! It’s already the very end of April and that means our monthly tasting meeting is happening this Saturday the 30th! For this meeting we are going casual neighborhood style in the super trendy Yeonnam dong area (close to Hongdae). This recently opened place was recommended to us from one of our regular meeting goers, with the word being the owner also studied brewing (our favourite kind of people 🙂 )
The bar itself looks like it has some homey, rustic style foods with a fairly large selection of quaff-able brews. It’s not a huge space, so we will be keeping numbers to a minimum at this meeting so if you would like to come, sign up swiftly!
As always, email email@example.com to get your spot 🙂
We are officially in Year 3 of the English language Makgeolli Brewing Certificate Course, and we are excited to announce this year’s course dates and lineup! After much feedback from last year regarding extended scheduling and time constraints, we have adjusted the course into two modules which will follow a weekly schedule every Monday evening from 7pm – 10pm. The first module will cover all the rice preparation techniques required to follow any recipe, with the second module offering a higher level of chemistry, analysis and commercial context. Completion of each module will award you a certificate from Gyeonggi University and Susubori Academy.
What Is Involved in Module 1: Brewing Foundations?
This course is designed to equip you with all the various techniques that allow for not only following traditional recipes, but also experimenting and developing your own brew. Each technique class will have a theoretical and practical component, as well as introducing a new recipe each week. A tasting will be included in each class featuring completed recipes from each technique, as well as representing brews available on the market.
What is Involved in Module 2: Practical Applications and Analysis?
After arming yourself with all the skills and techniques makgeolli brewing fundamentals, you can then choose to further your knowledge and brewing arsenal with this more in depth course. More theory based, this course will focus on the scientific elements of makgeolli fermentation as well as cultural and industry perspectives.
Do I Have to Take All Classes, or Can I Just Take a Few?
This year the course will be running as a full module. In order to receive the certificate, you must sign up before the commencement of the course and attend all 8 classes. However, if at the time of course commencement there are additional places available, these will be offered to the public on a first come first served basis.
I’ve Taken a Class Last Year, Can I Use that Class as Credit for the 2016 Course?
Yes! We welcome anyone who has taken an Intro or Intermediate Class last year. In the event that the class you took is repeated in Module 1, you will receive a discount on that class so as only to pay for the materials used. In your registration, be sure to specify which classes you have taken in the past to receive your new quote.
What is the Susubori Brewer’s Club?
This is an online forum for all experienced makgeolli brewers to share their experiences, issues and to share feedback on their brewing progress. You can join the group here, and share your own experiences, ask questions and learn from others in the community.
How Much Does The Course Cost?
The full cost for each module is 450,000won all materials and tuition included.
What is the Refund/Cancellation Policy?
If you sign up for the course and for some reason can no longer attend, refunds can only be offered before the commencement of the course. Therefore please make sure you are 100 percent sure you will be able to attend before making your payment. If in the event we are unable to hold the class due to low registration numbers or any unforeseen circumstances, your class fee may be refunded.
Thoughts: Located on the trendy street of Sangsu which is lined with cafes, brunch restaurants and cool bars, Booze Frog (our own affectionate translation of the name 술 개구리) is a recent addition to the scene of makgeolli bars. While some places offer a menu of ten or so brews, this place has a most impressive four page menu and scores of options to choose from. The atmosphere is intimate and lively, and if you’re lucky enough to get the one table by the terrace, you can people watch the trendsters below with your makgeolli cup in hand.
What we liked: The atmosphere. The interior has been designed like a Spanish villa, and it is a very popular place filled with imbibers. The menu being so extensive, they offer samplers which come out not in small shot glasses, but tall water glasses. If you’re not sure what you like, this is a good way to try different types without having to buy a full bottle. It’s also a great visual to come to the table, though we found it a little difficult to pour without spilling for each person. Mamas & Papas also liked a somewhat unusual aspect, the prawn crackers. It may just come out as free anjou, but multiple Mamas & Papas raved about them saying ‘I would come back just for these’.
What we disliked: The slow service. Taking into account they are a relatively new establishment, so keeping up with its popularity might mean still working out the kinks. We ordered makgeolli and the order was forgotten until they were reminded 15 minutes later. However the owner was apologetic and compensated with free bottles, and his efforts definitely made up for the service lapse. Mamas & Papas were also a little disappointed with the lack of craft makgeolli, as the only bottles listed on the menu were out of stock. The house three color jeon was a bit spicy to go well with the makgeolli, with one Mama commenting ‘It blows out the taste buds so you can’t taste the makgeolli’.
Recommendation: This is a good place for a casual makgeolli experience with a relaxed atmosphere and extensive selection. If you’re in the Hapjeong/Sangsu area and want a late afternoon brew, the open terrace and windows let in some nice light and open air. It’s also good if you want to sample a whole selection of makgeolli you perhaps have never tried before, the owner also speaks some English and can recommend you to order.
Directions: From Sangsu Station come out exit #1 and walk down the hill on the main road towards Hapjeong station. When you reach the carpark at the bottom entrance to hongdae area turn right, and at the next left you should see a CU on the corner. Turn left here and follow the street for about 3 blocks and then you should cross a 4 way street. The bar should be just on the right on the 2nd floor and it’s called Sool Frog (술 개구리)
Note: It’s also accessible from Hapjeong station at about the same distance
Thoughts: Right in the middle of Hongdae: the thriving, bustling beating heart of Seoul’s nightlife, where students, tourists, party lovers, musicians and artists all collide in a seemingly endless network of streets crammed with bars, restaurants, clubs and cafes, you will find this diamond in the rough. Olsoo, with it’s attention to quality and careful selection of Korean traditional alcohol feels somewhat out of place among the cheap barbeque restaurants, soju bars, and rowdy old fashioned makgeolli bars that fill the neighboring area right next to the Hongdae subway station.
The word Olsoo (얼쑤) is the one of the calls of encouragement and emphasis commonly given by the percussionist to solo singer during Korea’s ancient Pansori musicals and translates, perhaps somewhat crudely as “Yah Hoo”. Olsoo is owned and managed by the bar’s chef, who’s passion is not only in modern reflections of Korea’s cuisine, but also in it’s wide offerings in the field of traditional liquor. His staff also share his enthusiasm for makgeolli, cheongju and well crafted soju and are more than happy to offer recommendations and suggestions on what you may like to drink.
JahuiHyang Nabi 자희향 나비 (chalky, mild, floral, aromatic,silky)
Do Mun Daejak 도문대작 (Pungent, nice finish, mild/pleasant bitterness,slightly higher alcohol content)
What we liked: The Menu. A bit of a cop out to mention the menu, however it has such a delicious selection of food on offer that it wouldn’t be fair to leave it off the recommendation. The selection of makgeolli and cheongju on offer here is also very good, with a large number of premium bottles as well as some more interesting and less common varieties of takju/table makgeolli, the selection deserves an honorable mention. We were very happy with the direction this bar has taken in terms of its well chosen, predominantly non-aspartame bottle choices. Mamas & Papas also were quite satisfied with the quality of food, the fried oysters being a particular hit with the general comment being simply ‘Yummy!!’ (Note: Oysters are a seasonal menu found mostly from September to December/January)
What we disliked: The Price. Well, in hongdae, you would be forgiven for thinking that most places in this area offer cheap and cheerful drinks, with the target demographic being students and party goers. However if that is what you are looking for then this place is perhaps not for you. Although nothing on the menu is unreasonable, it is certainly more expensive than other makgeolli bars that are in the vicinity of Olsoo. You are certainly paying for the quality of the produce and drinks you are receiving here though, and we are more than happy to recommend it.
Recommendation: A great place for a nice meal and a chat with a few friends who either are makgeolli lovers, or who want to get into the world of premium makgeolli. If you have the budget, you will be able to sample and compare most of the higher end makgeolli that is available in Seoul; paired with some very tasty dishes as well. It can sometimes get a little rowdy, as it does appear that the also sell common soju as well which is still popular with the local clientele and the company dinner customers as well. However, the atmosphere is fun and it is certainly a good place to start you night in the most happening place in the city.
Directions: Come out exit 8 of Hongdae Station and walk straight. You will reach a roundabout, and Olsoo is on the opposite side of the street, on the second floor. Look for a staircase and a white sign with black writing that says 얼쑤.
These are the brew pubs of Baesangmyeon Brewery, and they are the force behind Neurin Maeul (느린마을) Makgeolli, which is an all chemical & aspartame free brew. Baesangmyeon’s brew philosophy is all about tradition, quality of ingredients and all natural processes. They don’t just stop at makgeolli, they have an extensive range of rice & fruit wines, including premium infused soju. At each of their showcase brew pubs they have a large selection of fruit wines, cheongjus, sojus and makgeolli’s for take home purchase. There are three brew pubs in Seoul where you can experience fresh Neurin Maeul brewed on site, an experience no other makgeolli brewery currently offers. Each brew pub has a different atmosphere, but each offer similar menus and varieties of alcohol. They also have a free membership program which gives you excellent benefits such as unlimited makgeolli, cheongju and soju for 10,000won for a 2 hour period. MMPK has regularly visited each Neurin Maeul location, and we readily recommend them as places to get an excellent overview of the spectrum of Korean traditional alcohol.
Atmosphere: The Yangjae location of the three Neurin Maeul Pubs was the first to brew on site, and it is actually in the building of the Brewery’s offices. The neighborhood of Yangjae houses a lot of offices, and the crowd at the pub of an evening is often office workers coming in for a few drinks at the end of the day. It’s a little more out of the way in terms of entertainment locations, but the atmosphere is cosy and lively, and they have a number of rooms for big groups. A special feature of this location is that they also have an outdoor terrace for the warmer seasons.
Recommendation: For those looking for a casual but quality makgeolli experience.
Atmosphere: Of course being in Gangnam, this location has a much more trendy and busy atmosphere than both Yangjae and Jongno. The crowd that can be seen at Gangnam is much younger and louder, and people are more likely to let their hair down at this pub. It is a very popular hangout, and it is not unusual to see a line or have to wait for a table, however the size of the location usually means the lines move fairly quickly. One thing to note is that the Gangnam location is more of a restaurant and bar, and whilst you can buy some alcohols for take out, the selection is not as diverse as the other two locations.
Recommendation: For those looking for a more party atmosphere, or a good quality makgeolli experience in the Gangnam area.
Neurin Maeul Brewery & Pub – Jongno Center One Building
Atmosphere: This is the most recent installment in the Neurin Maeul Brewery Pubs situated on the Cheongyecheon, and it is by far the largest. It is housed in one of the biggest financial buildings near Euljiro 1-ga station, and you can certainly feel the size of the pub on entry. However despite being so big, the atmosphere is still quite busy without being overwhelmingly so. One feature at this bar is that you can ask for them to bring you a free tasting of the four seasons of Neurin Maeul to help you make your choices.
Recommendation: If you find yourself in the Gwangwhamun or Jongno area, this location is a nice way to finish off a day of sightseeing or stream wandering.
Tell Us Your Experiences!
If you check out any of the Neurin Mauel Breweries & Pubs, we want to know what you think! Let us know by commenting below, or posting on our Facebook Page or Facebook Group 🙂
What about the Supermarket?
Don’t forget that you can also get Neurin Maeul at a number of different supermarkets in Seoul, including Homeplus and Emart. If you’re wondering if your local supermarket carries it, check out our lists here and here.
Thoughts: Midam is an established Makgeolli brewery, that produces a decent premium makgeolli we have known about for a while now. Imagine our surprise when we found out that they have their own bar!? We couldn’t believe it had slipped under our radar, and we had absolutely no choice but to check it out. It’s very close to exit 14 of Sadang station but is a little tricky to find as it is (as a lot of the bars we review are) hidden away in an alley. The beautiful and distinctive font of the the signage is also a little bit tricky to read from afar ~ so be aware, if you’re looking for it, you may have missed it!
“Prompt service, bright and airy, the free flowing layout (with open sliding doors) made actually quite small space feel much larger”
Note: Song Myeong Sub reflects the individual spirit of the brewer, and can be quite varied in it’s character depending on the season. A great brew that can vary between sweet and thick, to thin and sour. As one regular makgeolli mama said at this meeting, “The taste seems to have changed from it’s usual palate… a bit watery, a bit bitter a bit dull”
Don’t let this put you off though ~ despite it’s changes, this is one of our absolute favorite, easily accessible makgeolli bottles.
Note: The Chapssal Saengju (pictured above) has been advertised as a clear makgeolli. However due to its lack of sediment, and it’s high alcohol percentage we suggest that it is actually a cheong-ju (a clear sake-like rice wine). Unfortunately, the terms makgeolli and/or Cheong-ju/Yak-ju are nowhere to be found on the bottle.
What Mamas and Papas liked: The Service. The staff at Midam are lovely, helpful and very generous. We were waited on hand and foot by our waitress and the chef, who provided us with ample extra dishes at no extra charge. The makgeolli selection wasn’t terrific, however they were happy to find us some things that were not on the menu specifically, which turned out to be something rather tasty too! Seriously excellent staff. It had been a long time since we felt so welcomed during a meeting by our hosts. Mamas & Papas also enjoyed the food, commenting “I felt like I was eating home food!”, and “I really liked this food, clean and neat!”.
What Mamas and Papas disliked: The Selection. Most of the Makgeolli on offer here is aspartame sweetened, entry level tak-ju, again with one of the only dry options being Song Myeong Sub. There were a number of Cheongju bottles available for sale (Clear, sediment free rice wine) and they obviously provided their own Midam brand premium bottle, although there no other representatives from the top shelf makgeolli camp. From the selection of cheongjus we tried, the least favorite was the potato liquor, with one mama not quite knowing how to put it into words commenting “strange…but interesting”.
Recommendation: This is a good place to come and enjoy their rather tasty food alongside a fairly varied palate of drinks options. It seems to cater well to larger group sizes, and offer relatively private sections for your group to eat and drink in. The majority of their seating is floor based, especially at the large tables. If you don’t like to sit on the floor or are unable to for whatever reason, you should be alright at a seated table if your group is between 2 and 4, but more than that is not possible.
Papa Dan’s comment: For those customers willing to spend a larger amount of money, there are some excellent premium Soju bottles on offer. Including SeongMyungSeop’s Juk Lyeok Go (죽력고), which is a highly renowned drink in Korea, brewed by 4 generations of the master brewers family! It will set you back 120,000 at Midam. They also serve Gam Hong Ro (감홍로) which is a strong soju infused with Asian medicinal herbs, and yields a cinnamon taste and aroma ~ this is one of MMPK’s favorites, however it is quite pricey at around 80,000 per bottle!
How to get there: Come out of Sadang Station exit 14 and take your first left. At the next street turn right, and then left again at the next street. The bar should be on the corner just near then next street on your left.
Thoughts: Like many of the Makgeolli bars dotted around Seoul this one finds itself in an inconspicuous, treasure trove of an alleyway between donggyodong junction and Yeonsei University. If you weren’t looking for anything specific you would be forgiven for walking past the alley and missing out on a microcosm of wonderful little cafes and restaurants, including Korea Bistro. It has a fair selection of lower and mid priced Makgeolli, and seems to fit itself snugly in the alcove between Makgeolli bar and cafeteria diner with groups of revelers drinking and laughing as common as individuals having dinner and a few cups of Makgeolli to themselves.
It seems as though the have potential to stock a lot of Makgeolli however at the time we visited they didn’t have too many non-aspartame selections. The staff were passionate however and it seems as though they were tasting a lot of interesting varieties with a view to add to the menu…. watch this space!
What We Liked: The Style. This is a cozy little place with low lighting and plenty of space. The staff were very friendly and willing to help and offer suggestions from the Makgeolli and food menus. This is a place that isn’t prohibitive to individuals coming in on their own to enjoy a meal for one with a nice refreshing cup of Makgeolli as an accompaniment. Many restaurants in Korea only provide menu items to be shared among groups, however this little place caters for all possibilities: with large items for groups and smaller, very reasonably priced individual meals available too. The best part: the food is actually very good, with lots of side dishes to boot! yummy!
What We Disliked: The Selection. Unfortunately as mentioned before there are not many options for additive free or premium Makgeolli. For non aspertame it was Dae Dae Po or SongmyeongSeop. If you don’t mind aspertame then there is quite a variety of bottles available. It does seem like a newer place and as such may be still finding it’s feet regarding its drinks menu – we hope it will branch out a little more and offer some bottles from the upper end of the market makgeolli selection.
Recommendation. Come on your own and have a couple of cheeky bottles with dinner or bring your friends and have dinner and a chat in what is a popular but not rowdy establishment. Either way you approach it – as a diner or as a bar – I am sure you will find something for your taste on the cheap and extensive food menu and you enjoy your time in this comfortable and friendly venue.
How to get there: Come out of Hongdae Station Exit 3 and double back to the main road and turn left towards dongyodong junction. Walk straight for about 6 mins and you will pass a Gimbap restaurant with a craft beer pub on the second floor. Turn left, go down the alley and it will be the first store on the left.