South Korean beer on display for sale in July 2008
, called maekju
) in Korean, was first introduced to Korea
in the early 20th century. Seoul
's first beer
brewery opened in 1908. Two current major breweries date back to the 1920s. The third brewery established in Korea, Jinro Coors Brewery, was founded in the 1990s. It was later acquired by Oriental Breweries (OB). Hite Breweries's former name was Chosun Breweries, which was established in 1933. The company changed their name to Hite Breweries in 1998. OB Breweries established as Showa Kirin Breweries in 1933. The company changed their name to OB Breweries in 1995.
The South Korean beer market is currently dominated by two major manufacturers, Hite-Jinro
, with several brands being sold in the local market. Most restaurants and bars in Korea only have one of these beer brands on tap (Hite or OB's Cass), as they are largely regarded to be similar in taste and price (they are mostly brewed from rice). Imported beers are largely available in Korea, but are generally expensive - usually costing at least ₩
8,000 and as much as ₩15,000 for a pint of Guinness
in bars in downtown Seoul. Local brands usually cost around ₩3,000, thus presenting a cheaper option. Recently, microbreweries have sprouted up throughout the country, showing increasing signs of sophistication. Out of Korea's mass-produced beers, only two are brewed from 100% barley malt: Max (Hite) and OB Golden Lager. Read more...