The Deli is an ode to the artisanal food makers of New York. Last week, we introduced our favorite chocolate made in the Bronx by Sol Cacao. This week, we spoke to Alice Jun who co-founded Korean rice wine brand Hana Makgeolli in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
The Product: Makgeolli and other handcrafted Korean rice wines.
The Deli Pick: Takju 16
How To Buy: Shop directly from the Hana Makgeolli website or from a store near you. Nationwide delivery available in 38 states. $14-$34.

I came to NYU as a first-generation Korean-American and, in my first few years, all the makgeolli I could find were really sweet and light, and they would give you really bad hangovers. I was missing the kind of brews that my dad made growing up, much more bitter, sour, and structured. Hana started off as a home brewing project in 2015. I was an HR consultant at Deloitte at the time and I loved my job. I was traveling every week Monday through Thursday and, on Thursday nights, I would get home and brew the entire weekend because of the multiple stages involved in making makgeolli.

As the production grew, I started throwing events because I couldn't drink it all! Over the course of two or three years of doing pop-up events all over the city I realized that a lot of people were interested in a product like this. Eventually I moved to brewing in a commercial kitchen here in Greenpoint. I wasn’t trying to be commercial yet, it was just a very expensive hobby I had invested in up until that point. 

When I met my business partner John [Limb], we were like, is this a commercially viable thing? That's when we really started putting pen to paper. And when Coronavirus hit, I knew there were going to be multiple obstacles to get through, in addition to what we already anticipated so I quit my comfortable corporate job to focus 100% on the brewery and tap room, which we built out and moved into last year. John and I love being able to serve people, creating spaces for community, and having parties.

We put a lot of care into every brew and there's so many things to worry about all the time, so if people could just take away an understanding of one part of the process, that would be good enough for me. If we could just slip in the fact that we were using unpolished rice or the fact that we're using a wild starter or the fact that this was made over the course of a week and a half or two and that we were feeding about 900 pounds of rice into each batch...that’s the stuff that excites me.

In the future, we want to be the leading producer of this style of artisanal Korean rice wines. That means having expanded distribution and adding capacity. We would like to be the resource that people turn to when they have questions about makgeolli. That's kind of the vision for Hana.

Greatest hit: Takju, our signature brew. It's so fruity and gives this sense of sweetness without actually being sweet. They're a really good introduction into the category. 

Most underrated product: Hwaju, our second brew. Everyone was surprised because of its dryness and the use of infusions, which people aren't really used to in sool [traditional Korean alcohol]. Ingredients like pine mugwort, lotus, and chrysanthemums are underrated aspects of the sool tradition that people never had access to here in the US. 

How to best enjoy your products: With food! Because of the acid profile in our wines and because of their relative dryness, they pair really well not just with Korean food, but across cuisines.

Favorite places to eat in NY: My go-to is onigiri and simple sandwiches from Ashbox. Ops saved my ass during COVID, especially because of their amazing wine delivery options. For a city location, Atoboy has an amazing team, the best quality food and value, and have been so supportive of us. 

Food makers to follow: Ana’s NYrture for natto. Sake from Kato Sake Works, and Honey's for mead.

Follow the maker  +  Shop the goods   Follow The Deli

This tip was whispered by: Zev Rovine
A subjective, passionate selection from Polonsky & Friends and Teddy Wolff
Photos: Teddy Wolff for The Deli © 2021 All rights reserved.

 
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