Are you ready to explore your horizons with the best and freshest Asian beer brews?
In this article, you’ll discover the flavors of Korea, mainly their delicious Korean beers.
From crisp lagers to rich stouts, Korean beer offers a variety of drinks for beer lovers.
So grab a cold one, relax, and explore the fascinating world of Korean beer in this drunken journey!
Korean Beer 101
When you hear “Korean liquor,” you may think of soju, one of the most consumed alcohols in Korea.
But they brew various liquors in Korea, including their sweet liquor made from rice called makgeolli and, of course, the classic beer.
In South Korea, there are two leading beer manufacturers that many people have enjoyed for decades.
These brands, namely Hite-Jinro and Oriental Brewery, can be found in many local markets, restaurants, and bars.
If you visit a bar in Korea, most of them only offer either one of the brands as they are similar in taste and price.
Meanwhile, you can still avail imported beers in Korea, but they can be more expensive, like Guinness.
The main ingredient in the brewing process distinguishes Korean beer from these imported beers.
Out of Korea’s mass-produced beers, Hite and OB are the only ones using 100% barley malt.
Most microbreweries in the country are catching up with the trend and are showing more sophistication in process and taste.
Another rising trend in South Korea is home beer brewing, as most households have ingredients and supplies readily available.
So overall, Korea is catching up with the trend and welcoming beer lovers with its rich-flavored beers.
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History of Korean Beer
According to this article, the introduction of beer in Korea started in the 1890s when the Japanese brought Sapporo to Korea.
Japan was also new to the beer scene, with Sapporo only starting in 1877.
Later on, two other beer companies from Japan started selling their drinks in Korea a little later in the 1900s.
The first brewery in Korea opened in 1908, but the two mentioned major beer companies spread in the 1920s.
In the earlier years, Koreans usually preferred the lagers to wheat beers because lagers taste more familiar.
But in recent years, beer consumption has increased, and more people are willing to try the variety of beer selections.
Flavor Profile of Korean Beers
So what exactly makes Korean beers different from those offered by the rest of the world?
If you had a Korean beer, you might remember it from its crisp, clean, and sweet flavor profile because of the rice.
It has a light to medium body with the right amount of bitterness, as Koreans usually enjoy something light.
These refreshing and light flavors are the usual ones you’ll find in brands like OB, Hite, and Cass.
But some Korean beers expanded their horizons and produced slightly malty-tasting beers that still have rice.
Overall, you can expect it to be a smooth and sweet beer.
Just the perfect blend for an easy drinking night.
Korean Beer Brewing Process
The ingredients used are the critical difference in the Korean beer brewing process compared to imported beers.
Most Korean breweries use rice, which is rare for other beer styles.
It is the secret to obtaining a light body and slightly sweet flavor in Korean beers.
Koreans also use lager yeast strains in fermentation so that you can expect a clean and crisp taste.
In the actual brewing process, companies use a combination of traditional and modern brewing techniques.
They have state-of-the-art technology to help them produce high-quality beers most efficiently.
But they still follow traditional brewing methods, such as aging and natural fermentation.
Korean Beer and Food Pairing To Try
With Korean beer being a new flavor for some people, finding a good food pairing may be a handful.
So to fully enjoy your Korean beer-drinking experience, this segment features some of the best food pairings.
Beer and chicken always go together if you are in Korea because it is one of the most famous food and beer combinations.
But it is not just any other beer and chicken.
It has to be Korean beer and Korean-style fried chicken.
It became popular in 2010, and until now, it is a must-try food pairing when having Korean beer.
The beer and nuts pairing is also popular in Korea.
It is always an excellent idea to have a salty snack to help absorb the alcohol.
Related Reading: Brewing A Nut Brown All Grain Ale – Deep Dive Here.
A fresh fruit plate is a common food pairing in Korean bars and nightclubs because of its added refreshing taste.
It complements well with beer and soju, the usual drinks for an easy-going night out.
Related Reading: How To Make Orange Beer – Learn It Here.
It is not Korean beer if you don’t have it with spicy foods, which the country is famous for having.
You can try spicy stir-fried octopus, rice cakes, kimchi with tofu, and raw crabs.
4 Popular Korean Beer Brands
Hite and Oriental Brewery are two long-standing and dominating alcohol brands in South Korea.
But over the years, Korea has shown a significant increase in alcohol consumption, so more brands are coming into the picture.
Hite is a prominent Korean liquor company offering crisp, refreshing beers from malted barley and lager yeast strains.
Their sweet beers contain rice and are famous to many Korean beer drinkers because of their lightweight nature.
Oriental Brewery, or OB, is another famous brewing company that brews some of Korea’s best and most widely consumed beers.
It is one of the oldest breweries in Korea, and its bestselling product is the OB Lager which is light and crisp.
Cass is a South Korean beer brand under OB that produces lager-style, sweet, refreshing beer.
They also use malted barley and rice to achieve a slightly sweet flavor with moderate bitterness.
Kloud is famous for having cloud beer foam and clean lager-style beer from rice, hops, and malted barley.
Their consistency in quality and taste makes them one of the most well-respected beer brands in the country.
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Wrapping Up The Korean Beer Exploration
Korean beer is a unique, sweet, and refreshing twist to your usual beer, which makes it worth trying.
Korean beer is an excellent introduction to Asia if you want to explore new and diverse flavors worldwide.
With its clean and sweet flavor profile, light body, and the right amount of bitterness, it is the best drink to enjoy on muted celebrations.
While it is widely available in Korea, you may also find it in your local market or bar, which makes it easier to enjoy.
So if you are ready to take on an exciting beer experience, kick off with the unique flavors of Korean beer.