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Taedonggang logo.svg
ManufacturerTaedonggang Brewing Company
Country of originNorth Korea
Alcohol by volume5%[1]
ColourGolden orange[2]
Flavour"full-bodied lager a little on the sweet side, with a slightly bitter aftertaste"[2]
IngredientsWater, barley, rice, hops[3]
Revised RomanizationDaedonggang maekju
McCune–ReischauerTaedonggang maekchu

Taedonggang is a brand of North Korean beer brewed by the state-owned Taedonggang Brewing Company based in Pyongyang. There are four brands of beer marketed as Taedonggang,[4][self-published source?] though the brand known simply as "Taedonggang Beer" is that described below.


A bottle and glass of Taedonggang beer

In 2000, the North Korean government decided to acquire a brewery. At that point having good relationships with the West, via connections to Germany, the Government of North Korea bought the intact and still in place brewery plant of the closed Ushers of Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England for £1.5 million via broker Uwe Oehms.[5] Concerned it could be used for chemical weapons production after assurances, Peter Ward, of brewing company Thomas Hardy Brewing and Packaging bought the plant and arranged for a team from North Korea to travel to Trowbridge to dismantle it.[6] Reinstalled and operational from 2002, the brewery uses German-made computerized brewing control technology.[citation needed] Since then, North Korea has had a steady supply of beer.[7]

On 3 July 2009, a commercial for the product was broadcast on state-run Korean Central Television in a rare move, as there are very few advertisements on North Korean television.[8][9] The commercial shows technicians sampling the beer and beer bottles floating in space, shooting out foam reminiscent of a missile launch.[10] North Korea's Taepodong missiles are sometimes called "Taedong" missiles.[7] The commercial has been broadcast three times in all.[11]

Since 2016, the beer has been available in China in limited amounts.[12]

Product characteristics[edit]

Reviews of the currently produced varieties of Taedonggang beer are somewhat mixed. The most widely available Pilsner style lager is described by The New York Times as a "full-bodied lager a little on the sweet side, with a slightly bitter aftertaste" and "one of the highest quality beers on the [Korean] peninsula for several years".[2] The BBC's Korea correspondent Steven Evans in a September 2016 review notes "an OK beer, a bit bland to my palate more used to magnificent British bitter - a bit too much like ghastly, dishwater, mass-produced American beer, in my opinion."[13]

A Finnish review of Taedonggang's brown ale notes an alcohol content of 5% and a taste significantly more bitter than most Asian beers.[citation needed] Taedonggang lager resembles British ale.[7]

Taedonggang beer is named after the Taedong River, which runs through the centre of the capital city of Pyongyang.[2]

Its water comes from upstream Taedong River, barley and rice from South Hwanghae Province and hops from Ryanggang Province.[3]

It has been certified with ISO 9001, ISO 22000, and HACCP.[14]


Taedonggang beers are sorted by the amount of malt contained, and with numbers ranging from “7” to “1”. Type “1” are made of pure malt, and “5” being pure rice. Out of type “1” to “5”, the higher the number the more rice and less malt there is. Type “6” and “7” are both Schwarzbier, being “6” is made slightly more malt heavy than the other. [15] Also, Taedonggang beer type “1” and “2” exported to China Mainland are 500ml, unlike the 600ml version sold in North Korea and they have different package design.


Taedonggang beer is targeted primarily at domestic consumers,[citation needed] but was exported to South Korea during the years of the Sunshine Policy.[16] Limited export to South Korea began in 2005,[citation needed] where it is imported by Vintage Korea,[2] a company based in Dogok, Gangnam, Seoul.[citation needed]

In mid-2007, however, availability of Taedonggang beer in South Korea began to lessen and it is widely believed now that it is no longer being imported into the country after the brewery increased the price 70% without warning.[citation needed]

Inside North Korea, it is - according to expatriates living there[2] - reported to be the most popular brand of beer, and is easily found in restaurants, bars, and in Pyongyang hotels for foreign visitors, where a small bottle of Taedonggang cost about half a euro, or 75 U.S. cents, in 2008.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dagyum Ji (16 August 2016). "Plastered in Pyongyang: North Korea launches its first beer festival". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Jon Herskovitz (10 March 2008). "Brewing beer, Communist style, in North Korea". nytimes.com. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  3. ^ a b "Pyongyang Taedonggang Beer Festival". Naenara. KCNA. 2016-08-17. Retrieved 2017-04-05.
  4. ^ Taedonggang Brewery Ratebeer
  5. ^ "Kim Jong-ale: How did Ushers brewery of Trowbridge end up in North Korea producing Pyongyang's number one beer - and what did it take to set up a taste test back in Wiltshire?". independent.co.uk. 18 April 2014. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  6. ^ "How Ushers' Trowbridge brewery is now the toast of North Korea". Wiltshire Times. 2009-07-05. Retrieved 2009-11-21.
  7. ^ a b c Bärtås & Ekman 2014, p. 31.
  8. ^ In apparent first, North Korea airs beer commercial on state TV. Los Angeles Times. July 3, 2009
  9. ^ North Korea launches beer advert. BBC News Online. July 3, 2009
  10. ^ Bärtås & Ekman 2014, p. 32.
  11. ^ N.Korea Ends Experiment with TV Commercials. The Chosun Ilbo. 9 November 2009
  12. ^ Lee Jin-a (28 April 2016). "N. Korean beer sale in China". koreatimes. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  13. ^ Evans, Steven (12 September 2016). "Sneaking a taste of North Korea's finest beer". BBC News. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  14. ^ "Taedonggang Beer". Naenara. Foreign Languages Publishing House. 2016-06-11. Retrieved 2017-04-05.
  15. ^ "朝鲜电商产品 I 朝鲜大同江啤酒1...7号的区别" [Chosen Eletroic Products I Differences between Chosen Taedonggang beer type “1”...”7”] (in Chinese). 大力. 2020-11-04. Retrieved 2021-05-23.
  16. ^ Hokkanen, Jouni (2013). Pohjois-Korea: Siperiasta itään [North Korea: East of Siberia] (in Finnish). Helsinki: Johnny Kniga. p. 272. ISBN 978-951-0-39946-0.

Works cited[edit]

  • Bärtås, Magnus; Ekman, Fredrik (2014). Hirviöidenkin on kuoltava: Ryhmämatka Pohjois-Koreaan [All Monsters Must Die: An Excursion to North Korea] (in Finnish). Translated by Eskelinen, Heikki. Helsinki: Tammi. pp. 31–32. ISBN 978-951-31-7727-0.

External links[edit]