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Converted Makgeolli Brewer
Asked a question 3 months ago

Do you dilute your brews? If so, how do you dilute them and what ratios do you use to create a drink that's most similar to makgeolli?

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It's totally dependent on the recipe and the results in terms of ABV% and the desired flavour balance.  Generally, I don't dilute for my own consumption (and that of my highly wonju experienced circle of friends ;) ) but certainly when we do public events or if I'm giving bottles to my extended Korean family I will dilute.  That being said, every batch comes out differently, and not all lend themselves to dilution.  

A sour-heavy batch when diluted will open up the sour notes even more and does not fare well with say a 50-50 dilution (which in theory would bring a high ABV wonju down to the usual commercial standard percentage.)  I find that if I'm making a batch intended for dilution, I will aim for a sweeter overall profile so that when water is added it still has some flavour and character.  

One of my favourite commercial makgeolli's here in Korea has a 6, 9, 12 and 18% makgeolli (the 18% being really just wonju), and while I normally love and prefer high ABV sool, it's his 6% that is the shining star because it has a balance of all elements.  The 18% for me is just way too sweet and heavy-bodied.....but he makes it like that so after dilution, he can have the perfect sweet spot for his 6%. 

What I tend to do if I'm diluting is to add the water gradually and continually taste.  I start at about 20% and then add in smaller increments, continually tasting until I'm happy with where it's at.  If it happens to be losing too much flavour, I'll sometime beef it up with a fermented syrup or some fruit, and then age it in the fridge for another 1 - 2 weeks.  I usually don't like to dilute and serve immediately, as it needs time to blend.