Beer in South Korea
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|Beer in South Korea|
Beer was introduced into Korea in early 20th century. Seoul's first beer brewery opened in 1908. Both current major breweries date from the 1920s. The third participant, Jinro Coors Brewery, was founded in the 1990s, but was later acquired by Oriental Breweries (OB).
The Korean beer market is dominated by two major companies, Hite-Jinro, and OB, and which each sell several brands on the local market. Most restaurants and bars will only have one of these beers on tap, as they are largely regarded as similar in taste and price (they are mostly brewed from rice). Foreign beers are available but are generally expensive - usually at least ₩8,000 and as much as ₩15,000 for a pint of Guinness in bars in downtown Seoul, while local brands usually cost around ₩3,000. Recently, microbreweries have begun to appear, and this area of the market is showing increasing signs of sophistication. Of all Korea's mass-produced beers, only two are brewed from 100% barley malt: Max (Hite) and OB Golden Lager.
The lack of microbreweries in the Korean market has been due to onerous regulations that have constrained small-size brewers to supplying beer to premises that they actually own. These laws were relaxed in June 2011, allowing several small players a toehold in the local market. One such player is Seoul’s Craftworks Taphouse and Bistro. The micro brewery growing up slowly in Seoul. Furthermore, Korea government revise the law of alcohol to adapt to changing circumstance.
A growing trend in South Korea to overcome the local shortfall of various beer styles is home brewing. While ingredients and supplies are still relatively limited, there are many who brew their own beer. Various brewing clubs exist to help guide newcomers through the baby steps of brewing in Korea, one such club being Homebrew Korea. The online community is a meeting place for all type of brewers to gather and share experiences and information related to beer and brewing in Korea.
- Hite-Jinro : Hite, Max, Dry Finish d, S, Stout, Queen's Ale
- Oriental Brewery (OB) : OB Golden Lager, Cass brands (Cass, Cass Light, Cass Red, Cass Lemon, Cass 2X), Cafri
- OB, OB Lager, OB Blue : Predecessors of OB Golden Lager
- OB Super Dry
- Crown, Crown Super Dry : Hite(formerly Chosun Brewery)'s main product until early 1990s
- Hite Prime : Succeeded by Max
- Hite Exfeel : Succeeded by S
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Billion won (KRW)
The Economist magazine wrote an article criticizing South Korean beers are boring and worse than North's Taedonggang Beer which is made with equipment imported from Britain. The magazine blamed "some South Korean beers skimp on barley malt, using the likes of rice in its place or others are full of corn." It said the problem was caused by that the national market is a cramped duopoly, Hite-Jinro and Oriental Brewery (OB) and as a result, microbreweries are prevented to enter the market. South Korean beer companies denied the allegations saying, "Most (South) Korean beers contain more than 70 percent malt, and some including Hite Max of Hite and OB Golden Lager of OB contain 100 percent malt. Rice and corn are not cheaper than malt, and these grains are used in the mixture to generate a mild taste." Despite the angry reactions by the South Korean breweries, many South Korea beer drinkers complain about the taste of domestic beer.
- "Beer, Korea - Republic of". U.S. Agricultural Trade Office, USDA Foreign Agriculture Service. February 7, 2013. GAIN Report Number:KS1312
- "Brewing in South Korea: Fiery food, boring beer, A dull duopoly crushes microbrewers". The Economist. November 24, 2012.
- "Criticism of S.Korean beer". The Dong-a Ilbo. November 29, 2012.