Saturday, June 26th, is a day to remember for Hana Makgeolli (201 Dupont Street). It is the birthday of their latest brew – the Omija Makgeolli. The team is working on setting up a full tasting room, which you will be able to enjoy sometime this summer. Right now, they are open for in-person pick up and the space is also available for private events.
I crashed the party and spoke to Founder and Brewer Alice Jun, over a glass of the drink of the day.
When and how did Hana Makgeolli come about?
Hana Makgeolli started off as a home-brewing passion project in 2015. I would share my home-brews with friends and strangers during private tastings and events. It was really my way of putting structure around my home-brewing practice. This also allowed me to dive deeper into the world of sool brewing. Hana Makgeolli became the brewery that it is today in late 2017. That was when I decided to commit to the idea that there is a potential market and commercial viability for traditionally made Korean sools here in the U.S.
For our readers who are not familiar with makgeolli as an alcoholic beverage, why should they get on the makgeolli train?
Makgeolli, and the broader category of sool, is truly an incredible category of beverages due to its unique fermentation starter (nuruk), long history, and breadth. For newcomers to the category – there is so much to learn about the process of natural/wild fermentation. One will also get to experience the complexity and flavors that are unique to traditionally made sools.
How is the Omija Makgeolli different from the rest of your products?
The Omija Makgeolli is our first lower ABV makgeolli – at 9.5% ABV. It is infused with a unique berry called ‘omija’ or also known as magnolia berry. The omija berry is best known for its 5 distinct flavors – saltiness, tartness, sweetness, bitterness and pungency.
The Omija Makgeolli has a slight pink hue from the berry and has a very salty, yet refreshing profile. It is meant to be drunk from the bottle in a casual setting – making it distinct from our core line of sools. Similar to all of our sool, it is made with organic rice, nuruk and water using traditional Korean brewing methodologies.
What would you recommend pairing your makgeolli with?
Because of how dry the Omija Makgeolli is, it pairs well with so many foods! We paired the Omija Makgeolli with a gamja jeon and pa jeon (potato and scallion pancakes) at the launch event. It would also do great with many other savory Korean dishes or even a simple cheese board!
What does Hana Makgeolli hope to achieve in the Greenpoint community and beyond?
Our overall hope is that our work spreads knowledge of traditionally made Korean sools. We also want our space to be a hospitable place for the community to come taste and learn all about sool!
Seong Joon, a makgeolli enthusiast and home-brewer, shares, ‘The Omija Makgeolli is the perfect summer drink, light and refreshing. I like how it’s savory too. It feels real and natural, with a wine feel… All the other ones (in the market) are very sweet, like dessert. I would drink this under the sun, with a mild soft cheese and cured meats.’
Hana Makgeolli sells 3 other brews. Get your hands on some today.