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12 December 2010

02 December 2010

More Good News! (I swear, really and truly, though not on a bible. But my hand is wrapped around a bottle of Baltika, which shall bring truth forth. Happy, positive truth. ;-)

    Frenzy. The word conjures images of teenage girls, decked out in baby t-shirts, glittered eyes, frantically shouting and hollering towards (insert teen idol here) and reinforcing obscene and irreparably ignorant statements they haven't the context or experience to accurately qualify. 
    Or sharks, bloodthirsty and swarming. Not sure there's much of a difference between the two, but what the hell, right?


    Or, the word, to a group of musically inclined indie art geeks in Seoul, conjures up images like this:



    I've talked more than once about the great podcast Korean Homesick Blues, which has presenter Dave Candler introducing a great many obscure musicians based in Korea to the rest of the online world. One band he has yet to feature is Frenzy, and I hope he includes them soon. Having released one CD, Nein Songs, they have a well-carved niche in the scene. Shoegazy, yes, but very clean-cut intentions in their music and the best tone management I've ever heard. No hyperbole. The bass always speaks clear and clean when melodic, low and guttural when providing a foundation. The guitars always have a place, low volume and fuzzed for background, clear and clean for melodic lead, perfectly matched with no lead role given to either player. The drums are tribal and muffled, or sharp and biting, either atmospheric or propelling depending on the needs of the songs. They are some of the nicest guys I've met among the Seoul (read: Hongdae) music 'scene' as well, which is less of a community and more of an apathetic bloodbath whose participants bleed each other to death via passive aggressive snipes.


    Anyway. Hear Frenzy here via the blog Sonic Masala (I've directed you to the 2010 July page so you can get the snarky scoop on Frenzy, about five bands down from the top) or go to their Facebook profile. Better yet, go to one of their upcoming shows which you can look up on Korea Gig Guide, the hands-down best place to locate brain-stimulating music (or not, in all too many cases) in Seoul and elsewhere on this (insert perspective-demonstrating adjective) peninsula. I'll be at the December 12th Club Ssam show, where I'll finally get to see Bit Gwa Soeum, a Pixies/Airish affair.

Making Makgeolli at Susubori Academy pt. 2


This is the second installment in a series concerning fermentation and distillation of traditional Korean alcohol as taught by Susubori Academy. (Website in Korean)

    There are three specific types of fermented rice alcohol, which is variously referred to as rice wine or rice beer. Either description suits, though I have come to prefer the beer comparison as the rice must be cooked in hot water before it begins, something that doesn't happen during the wine making process with the exception of kosher wine, which is boiled before it is allowed to ferment. What we've started making, makgeolli, is of the type which is fermented only once, and which properly must be described as something reduced from the sum of two distinct portions, a clear, top layer of cheongju, and a second base layer of milky takju, where the remnants of the rice settles after it has been fully broken down by the yeast and bacteria which live in the nuruk introduced to the hot mixture of rice flour and godubap.


    The ingredients are described thusly: godubap is rice which has been soaked for roughly three hours and let to drain before being steamed, but not as one would to in a regular rice cooked, which would introduce an excessive amount of water into the rice. In being steamed, the starch is broken down to allow the nuruk to digest it more easily, but the water content is kept to a minimum, hence enhancing the resulting concentration of alcohol by volume. This is a point where I myself would like to experiment, as it is uncommon to have and rather cumbersome to obtain a suitable steamer to produce godubap.


    The initial ingredient into which the nuruk and godubap are mixed is easier to obtain and prepare, being simply rice flour introduced to boiling water and mixed into a viscous rice dough. When making makgeolli, one would mix in both the nuruk and godubap into this dough, however if one is planning a secondary or tertiary fermentation one simply mixes in the nuruk after the mixed dough has been allowed to cool to approximately 30 degrees Celsius. This awakens the dormant yeast and bacteria in the nuruk without killing it, and while wild Korean yeast is exceptionally resilient (surviving concentrations of alcohol by volume up to 18%, similar to specially engineered yeasts like Turbo Yeast, whereas typical beer yeast often ceases to function at approximately 8% by volume, wine and champagne yeasts producing between 12% and 15% by volume, typically) it is best not to test the limits by exposing it to immoderate temperatures, lest one waste ingredients and time by producing a batch of black mold.
  
    This mixture of godubap, rice dough, and nuruk, left to sit for roughly 10 days, will result in a mixture sufficient to filter and water down to produce makgeolli. Left for one month, a concentration of 15-18% of which the top layer may be taken for a wine-like drink, the bottom layer still available for makgeolli, which should be watered down to taste. It should be said that after two weeks is the ideal time to harvest makgeolli, whereas one must wait longer for cheongju, though one may still take palatable makgeolli from beneath the more slowly developed cheongju.

Coming soon: photos updates of our homebrew... sweet. Dude.