The Past, Present, and Future of Craft Beer in
The Dark Days……….
We that have been in Korea for some time know all too well the terrible beer options, made available to us, prior to Craft Beer being mostly accepted by everyone today. We’ve had beer in Korea, however the main corporation known as Hite opened its doors in 1933; with Oriental Brewery (OB) entering the market in 1952. These two companies would tower over the beer market, and remain there thanks to government restrictions on licenses -- based on brewing capacity and taxes that favored large-scale production.
Cass, created by Jinro-Coors, was established in 1994, only to be absorbed into OB shortly after in 1999. To this very day, Hite (who merged with Jinro in 2006) and Oriental Brewery continue to dominate the beer industry in Korea. All hope wasn’t lost, because slow trickles of new craft beers were making their appearance in certain local shops by 2002, with Korea planning for the World Cup. This allowed for the domestic liquor tax to be amended and the government began administering licenses to micro breweries; however production capacity was limited because the “Brew-pubs” could only brew beer in the bars they were served in.
In 2006, a wonderful beer known as Alley Kat was imported from Canada, with the help of a local brewing company called Ka Brew that began their brewery in 2000. It was a huge hit among locals; however due to legal restrictions, it was still easier to import beer from halfway around the world, then selling and making it in your own bar.
In 2011, manufacturing laws lowered to allow breweries to manufacture a post fermentation requirement of 150,000 liters; as well as a new law allowing beer made in one brewery to be sold at another (Contract brewing). Craftworks were the first business to partner with KaBrew and soon after other breweries like Magpie got on board as well in 2012.
The Beer Explosion of 2014…………….
The beer revolution was in full swing, when manufacturing requirements were lowered to 50,000 liters and taxes were slightly reduced. Breweries began to pop up more frequently due to the reinvigorated passion that breweries had to make Craft Beer work in South Korea. Some of the leaders were Hand & Malt and The Galmaegi brewing company and the two began really making things interesting by 2013. Not only are brewers working for a better, brighter future of beer but pubs and tap houses are making use of the contract brew system. This is extremely helpful since some of these businesses still don’t possess the resources to undertake this task themselves. 7brau and KaBrew are the two spearheads in the contract brewing market here on the peninsula at the moment.