Thursday, February 15, 2018

What goes down waaaay over there.

If you happen to be in South Korea, these are the beers to know.

Just as AB InBev and MillerCoors dominate the U.S market with light lager beer so is South Korea dominated by Hite-Jinro, Oriental Brewery (owned bye AB InBev), and Cass (which was acquired by Jinro-Coors before being purchased by OB). Similarly, or perhaps more so, South Korea was known as the "land of the bland."

Due to the cost of malt, Korean brewers use adjuncts, mainly rice. Out of Korea's mass-produced beers, only Max (brewed by Hite) and OB Golden Lager are brewed from 100% barley malt.

Any of this sounding familiar?

As in the United States, although much more recently, craft beer is finding it's place due to the vacuum created by the dominance of "big beer" and relaxed regulations. South Korea has less than 50 craft breweries but is about 1/100th the size of the United States where we have over 5,000.

Right now, nine of the the top ten South Korean beers on are crafted by The Booth Brewing (who has also has a presence in Eureka, CA), Magpie Brewing, and Wild Wave Brewing and the styles range from Pale to Stout to Saison. Others to look for include Craftworks Taphouse and Brewery, The Hand and Malt Brewing Company, and Galmegi Brewing Company.

Take a look at some of these websites, and South Korean breweries look a good deal like the breweries right here. On the one hand, one doesn't really have to go far to get a good beer. On the other, if you're already there or have plans to go, there's something comforting in knowing you can find something that looks familiar in an unfamiliar place.

Wherever you are, raise your glass to the Olympic athletes and enjoy the games. Just be sure you're drinking a really great brew.

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