The debate wages on. When describing makgeolli for the first time to people who have never tried it before, it can be a real challenge to really get it across. The words we usually use are milky, sour, sweet, thick, carbonated….which to someone who has never tried makgeoli before might think it’s like expired drinking yoghurt. We are working on that!
But the question on many makgeolli lovers lips these days, is do we call it ‘Rice Wine’ or ‘Rice Beer’ in English? Rice wine conjours up images of sake or soju, some sort of clear potent liquor. Whereas Rice Beer seems to be something so foreign, that the words just don’t seem to go together. The argument for rice beer is makgeolli’s low percentage of alcohol, brewing process, and the way it is consumed these days. But is that really what makgeolli is definitionally speaking?