Updated: Jun 24, 2020
With the Coronovirus filling up so much mental space, and much of it negative, brewing a batch of makgeolli at home can be a great distraction.
Living in South Korea the last few months has been an exercise in change. When the virus first broke out in January, the incubator offices where Sool Co. is headquartered shut down 'until further notice'. No biggie, we thought. Things were quite contained at that point and I'm lucky enough that working remotely has been a fact of life for many years. It just meant I was back to working at home with two extremely distracting cats.
When the news broke of Shinchoenji, the fringe religious group at the center of Korea's first massive outbreak, things were a little different. Even though the epicenter is relatively far from Seoul, nothing stops the constant stream of news, non-news, opinion pieces, speculation and division into the 'Mask or No Mask' camps. Now the virus is setting down roots and taking hold internationally, which means every click creates anxiety and frustrating uncertainty.
I have always found brewing makgeolli to be an extremely relaxing and focused process. I'm not the kind of person that can easily switch off my mind, but throwing on some tunes and getting into the steps of creating a new batch is a great escape from the world at large. There is something oddly peaceful about washing rice, boiling up a juk (porridge technique in the video above) and getting your hands dirty mixing in the nuruk. A full day of brewing can take about 5 or 6 hours depending on your recipe or technique, and particularly if you are brewing multiple batches on the same day, one must keep one's mind firmly on the job! The phone gets turned off, speakers at full volume and I'm just in the brew zone.
With so many people choosing to stay at home in these uncertain times, cabin fever is definitely a thing. One positive post I saw floating around was the concept of 'Quarantine Cooking' as a means to keep busy at home without losing your marbles. I would also suggest that 'Quarantine Brewing' as a thing. Not only is the brewing process itself somewhat meditative, in the coming weeks you will see your brew baby change and evolve, and finally have the satisfaction of filtering your efforts into delicious booze.
And let's face it. We may need a few stiff drinks every now and then to get us through.