When the ‘craft-plosion’ started to hit the streets of Seoul in the early 2010’s, Magpie was one of the founding fathers at the front of the line as Seoul’s drinkers were finally offered an alternative to an “oh-beck” Cass and a dish of stale popcorn. The brewery started in the then less than luxurious surroundings of a Kyungridan alley and has gone from strength to strength. Magpie offers a core selection of Pale Ale, IPA (my personal favourite), Porter and Kolsch but also has various ‘seasonal’ options from time to time such as the fantastic Alpine Lager. Unlike some of the other craft breweries out there Magpie is incredibly well-priced with most of their selection coming in at 6000W for a “pint”.
As commonly found in local marts these days as Cass and Hite, Jipyeong Makgeolli is fast becoming one of the most easily recognizable as well as most consumed rice wines around. This popularity could be down to the labeling on the bottle which sets the drinker up to believe that they are about to have one of the finest makgeollis on the market. Boasts of the brewery dating back to 1925, making it the oldest distillery in Korea, give it that “traditional” feeling with years of craftsmanship filling every bottle. Add to that the claim of their makgeolli only being made with Yangpyeong water, famed for its purity allegedly, and you could be forgiven for thinking this was going to be akin to the finest of Single Malt whiskies. Continue reading #10 Jipyeong Makgeolli (지평 막걸리)
Another well-crafted product from the boys at Woori Sool who brought us Gapyeong’s pine-nut rice wines. This time they’ve served up a chestnut DongDong-ju with a rich, creamy texture making it dangerously easy and addictive to drink whilst halfway up your favorite mountain. Generally easy to find in most CUs dotted around Seoul it’s accessibility and easy on the palette taste make it a great choice for those less familiar of the joys of Korean rice wine as some of the other less sweet selections out there can leave a bad taste in the mouth in more ways than one. Continue reading #9 Albam DongDong ( 알밤동동)
A slightly pine nut infused makgeolli, hence the “잣” subtly placed on the label, produced by the Woori Sool company who proudly boast having “produced the first pasteurized rice wine in the world”. Woori Sool claim to use only 100% domestic ingredients and, as the label states, use Gapyeong water and pine nuts mixed with Gyeonggi-do rice to create their entry-level makgeolli. As readily available in Seoul E-Marts as long queues and kimchi-hawking ajummas, Gapyeong Makgeolli provides a great alternative to Seoul Jangsoo or something similarly tasteless. Continue reading #8 Gapyeong Makgeolli (가평 막걸리)
Named after Jeju’s famous Baengnokdam Lake which sits atop Hallasan Mountain, this ale is one of a few craft beers that have made their way Seoulside from Korea’s island paradise of late. Brewed by the Jeju Jungmun Brewery, Baengnokdam is a ‘Whitbeer’ style ale with a particularly fruity aftertaste which lingers almost as long as last night’s BBQ smoke. Continue reading #7 Jeju Baengnokdam Ale (제주 백록담)
Produced by the Lotte Chilsung company, Cheoeum-cheoreom actually means “like the first time” in Korean which is ironic as pretty much anything you do after about the 2nd bottle will almost certainly be forgotten the next day. It’s actually made with alkali water which gives it a more distinctive taste than the other mainstream Sojus available, and has given lend to the advertising slogan ‘Happy Water’. As common on a Korean BBQ table as a red face, Cheoeun-cheoreom is an integral part of many a meal with some preferring to ‘take it down’ on it’s own and others masking its taste in a glass of beer (somek).
Brewed in Pocheon, a small city located in the mountains of the North East of Gyeonggi-do this Dongdongju is probably not going to become famous over night despite it’s exuberant export to Seoul’s local supermarkets. It is marketed as a ‘sweet rice wine’ and it’s good to know that the Marketing team had tasted their product before coming up with a tagline as “sweet” was definitely the first word that crossed my mind, with bland and watery being close seconds! Continue reading #5 Pocheon Chapsal DongDongJu ( 포천 찹쌀 동동주)
If the staple food of a Korean company dinner is kimchi then the staple beer is almost certainly Cass Fresh. As ubiquitous as chips on a British plate, few BBQ tables are short of a blue label or two. Promoted by such famous faces as Lee Hyori, BlackPink and Big Bang it is probably one of Korea’s most iconic beers. It even managed to capture the attention of Scotland’s very own ‘foul-mouthed’ chef Gordon Ramsay (no joke) who, in 2018, seemed to be on a continual loop of television stations pretending to enjoy one of Oriental Brewery’s finest. Continue reading #4 Cass Fresh (카스 프레시)
First those pesky Jeju-ites pulled us close with their Samdasoo mineral water and then they won us over forever by using arguably Korea’s finest water in their own brand of Soju. Named after South Korea’s tallest peak, Halla-san Soju is the pinnacle of Korea’s Soju range and is possibly the only one that can rival Sake for ease of drinking and taste: let’s be honest few of us actually enjoy Korea’s number one liquor. Continue reading #3 Halla-San Soju (한라산 소주)
Busan, Korea’s second largest city, is probably more well-known for it’s raw fish, baseball team and bustling film industry but it also provides a wide array of alcoholic beverages to quench the thirst after a long day on Haeundae Beach! It’s ‘generic’ makgeolli, Seang Tak, certainly beats it’s Seoul rival but then again most things would. Perfect after a long day ‘hiking’ the trails around Beomeosa Temple it certainly hits the spot, especially when accompanied with some pa-jeon (파전)!
For my video review click here