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The story behind our logo.

Our logo has its origins in Korea’s iconic bird, the Korean magpie. It is the official bird of several Korean cities and holds a special place in their culture.

Though this bird can be found throughout Asia, it is in Korea that it holds the most importance.

The Korean magpie makes an excellent emblem for our makgeolli, because just as makgeolli is the drink of the people, the magpie is the bird of the people.

The name Geonbae comes from the way Koreans make a toast while having a drink together. It’s as emblematic as a Cheers! in Great Britain, a Salute! in Italy and a Prost! in Germany.

In Korea, makgeolli is enjoyed among friends. It is a festive drink that represents the joy of living and of sharing a good time with your nearest and dearest.

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Makgeolli at Vrooden.

My previous professional life allowed me to make two trips to South Korea. During these trips, I learned about Korean culture, food and alcohol, especially makgeolli.

This rice wine immediately won me over, but when I returned to Canada, there was no way to find it anywhere, except in some Korean restaurants in Montréal, and of very average quality compared to what can be found in Korea.

When I opened the brewery in 2016, I already had the idea to brew makgeolli here. But with the start of the business, it took a few years before I could start working on it.

In 2019, I began to do the research and the tests to brew a high quality makgeolli here, as found in Korea. In January 2020, I returned to Korea to study makgeolli brewing, but I soon found out that the Korean master brewers were not very open about giving up their secrets. Nevertheless, this trip was very informative and with the tests done the previous year, it allowed me to perfect my brewing techniques.

Two years and a trip to Korea later, we are now able to brew high quality makgeolli using ancestral Korean methods.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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The history of makgeolli.

Traditionally brewed for over 2,000 years, makgeolli is an integral part of Korean culture, past and present.

This rice wine is brewed using nuruk, a fermented wheat cake which contains the bacteria and wild yeast naturally present in wheat to ferment and produce this exceptional alcohol.

The aromas and flavours of makgeolli are intrinsically linked to the origin of the nuruk, as the bacteria and wild yeast present on the wheat vary in each region. Thus, in Korea, makgeolli vary in flavour and aroma depending on their terroir of origin.

We make our nuruk using high quality Canadian wheat and a multi-week traditional Korean method. This gives our makgeolli distinctive flavours and aromas that represent well our terroir.

The quality and the sensory complexity of makgeolli are directly related to the number of successive fermentations undergone during brewing. This number is usually between one and five fermentations. The terms danyangju, iyangju, samyangju sayangiu and oyangju represent the number of fermentations used during brewing, from one to five. Samyangju, or three fermentations, is the standard for a quality makgeolli in Korea.

To be able to offer you a very high quality makgeolli, we made the choice to brew ours with four fermentations. This process produces a makgeolli of the sayangiu type.

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Tasting.

Makgeolli settles naturally over time. It consists of two layers, the yakju, the clear part, and the takju, the sedimented part. Before consuming, it is important to shake the bottle gently to mix its contents thoroughly.

To fully appreciate makgeolli, we recommend serving it at a temperature between 5 and 7°C.

Makgeolli has a milky texture; it is tangy and has a rich mouthfeel. The floral and white fruit flavours and aromas go well with its sourness to accompany spicy dishes.

Normally, it is consumed in small bowls, during meals. As expected, it goes very well with spicy Korean cuisine, but it can also be savoured as an aperitif, a digestif, or for any other occasions, using your favourite glass.

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Makgeolli and food pairing.

It would be easy to say that this makgeolli works wonderfully with kimchi, bibimbap or Korean gochujang sauces. And we would be right, as its velvety, milky texture melds beautifully with the flavours of rice, cabbage, fermentation and hot peppers. In essence though, a good makgeolli can accompany any spicy dish. So any Thai curry, American chili and Mexican taco dish will be an ideal partner for this floral beverage. For a healthier option, just switch the meat for grilled tofu and rice and keep the same spicy seasonings. Guaranteed trip with every bite and sip!