Established in 1920, Yangchon Brewery is one of the oldest commercial Korean breweries still in operation. With 3 generations of brewer’s guidance, they continue their legacy of making traditional makgeolli and chungju. Yangchon Chungju is brewed with local rice that was grown without using herbicides by utilizing a method of releasing water snails in rice field. The central Korean script reads "Water Snail." Yangchon brewery is located in Nonsan, a quaint and historic inland city surrounded by beautiful forested mountains and known for its strawberries, ancient temples and fortresses.
This chungju has a golden-amber color with abundant savory and sweet notes: toasted grain and nuts, honey, baked apple, malt, pilsner, parmesan and shoyu. The acidity is a bit higher to provide a nice tension with the touch of natural sweetness. If I were to liken this to a sake, I would say it's somewhere between Tamagawa Time Machine and Kenbishi Kuromatsu Honjozo. Rich, deep, and complex.
KMS Imports was founded recently by Kyungmoon Kim, former wine director for NYC's Korean 2-star Michelin restaurant Jungsik. He wanted to bring the best examples of Korean craft brewing and distillation to the US. Kim recommends treating Yangchon Chungju like white wine and serving it lightly chilled in a wine glass. He highlights Abalone rice (전복솥밥) as a perfect pairing-- but here in Portland, where we regrettably have no abalone farmers (!) I feel like it would be a brilliant pairing for any of the rich, slightly sweet marinated KBBQ meats like yangnyeom-galbi, bulgogi, or buldak. I am also very!! excited to pull this chungju out in mushroom season, when I just know it will play beautifully with Fall classics like matsutake-gohan.
Unlike sake, the prevailing opinion is that Korean alcohol is to be consumed in the short term (like wine). I've yet to experiment with this myself, but for now-- plan a meal around this 500ml bottle (14% abv) and enjoy it with someone you love.