This Korean makgeolli brewery & museum by Baesangmyeon-juga is an easy day trip from Seoul. If you want to learn more about Korean traditional alcohol and love a brewery that does tastings, then you should add this to your wish-list when traveling in Seoul.
One of Korea’s most well-known makgeolli producers, Baesangmyeon Brewery, has a brewery and museum called “Sansawon”, located in the quiet outskirts of Pocheon-si in Gyeonggi-do. Several of their famous alcohols are produced on-site at Sansawon, including their flagship ‘Neurin Maeul’ or ‘Slow Village’ Makgeolli and Sansachun. But it’s not just a production facility.
Sansawon is a beautiful oasis of nature and history complete with a gallery, tasting area, and expansive outdoor grounds.
The picturesque garden surrounding the brewery is a peaceful place to walk around and take some “Instagram-worthy” pictures. The key feature is an open-air, almost maze-like building filled with traditional Korean alcohol-aging clay pots called ‘Hangari’. There are also beautifully built resting areas and a small warehouse with old pieces of equipment that Baesangmyeon actually used in the past.
Once you make your way into the main building, you enter a museum where you can learn all about the history of Korean alcohol and drinking culture. Artifacts from ancient brewing techniques and more modern relics are on display, taking the visitor on a journey through Korean alcohol’s evolving history.
On the main floor of the museum is an open tasting area, where the entrance fee is 4,000KRW per person. Each person receives a soju glass to freely pour themselves any amount of Baesangmyeon Brewery’s products that are available at the tasting bar. Help yourself to samples of makgeolli, cheongju, soju and fruit wines, many of which are more difficult to find outside of the brewery. And make sure you keep your receipt because you will be gifted with a full new bottle of makgeolli when you leave the tasting area!
Notably, products with a higher alcohol percentage and have been aged for a longer period will require extra payment of 4,000KRW per glass for tasting, including the brandy Omaerak 40% and different versions of Arak 40%.
After you have had your fill at the tasting area, there are more rooms on the underground floor that focus on the family history and how the products have changed over time. In particular there is a shrine dedicated to the brewery’s namesake and founder Mr. Bae Sangmyeon, who was a pioneer in the field of nuruk and makgeolli fermentation.
Whether you are interested in Korean alcohol or not, Sansawon is worth a visit with family or friends. A leisurely stroll along the hangari lined up in their garden is great way to relax, soak up the history and unwind with an expansive sool tasting. Spend your day enjoying Korean alcohol, the view, and maybe even some souvenirs to bring home with you too.
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