The craft beer scene in Korea has exploded in recent years with microbreweries popping up across the country. We spent the evening in Daejeon trying some of the nation’s best handmade ales and lagers
Before I go any further, I have a confession to make. I’m not a beer drinker, in fact (dare I say it) I don’t even really like beer. Back home you’ll find me with a crisp G&T or an ice cold sauvignon blanc, maybe a fruit cider at a push.
Much to my disappointment, my white wine world came crashing down when we moved to Korea; where anything more than a pint turned into a privilege – forcing me to swap Cava for Cass.
Now for obvious reasons, I’m no beer connoisseur; but if my beer-drinking experience has taught me anything over the past eighteen months it’s that Korea is seriously lacking in it’s lager game.
For decades, Hite, OB & Cass have been runnings things, and although they’re not offensive, the trio aren’t exactly anything to write home about either.
In 2014, the government loosened it’s restrictions on the volume of beer that microbreweries were required to produce, offering a world of opportunities for breweries across the country.
Some are calling it a beer revolution, and Dave and I were more than ready to join the movement.
Good Times Rok and Weizen Haus Brewery were hosting their annual Craft Beer and Music Festival in Daejeon, a chance for us to sample some of the tasty craft delights that have been taking Seoul by storm. The event was held downtown at Daejeon Expo Park, right in front of the Hanbittap Tower.
We arrived around 19:00pm and were surprised to see a small queue to enter the festival; turns out we weren’t the only ones thirsty to sample the vast selection of ales and lagers on offer.
As we entered, we were greeted by smiling staff selling beer coupons, it was 10,000 won (around £6.00) for two coupons. If you purchased the early bird ticket in advance it was 10,000 won for three craft beer coupons.
Tempted by fried chicken and bratwursts, we also bought some food coupons, but ended up getting a refund on them as the queues for the food stalls were too long.
Some of the breweries showcasing their beers at the festival were Kabrew, Magie Brewing Company, Kramerlee, Trevier Brewing Company, Platinum Craft Brewing, Whasoo Brewery, Weizen Haus, September Brewing, Gorilla Brewing Company, Galmegi Brewing Company, Brau Breitbach and The Hand and Malt Brewing Company.
They told us that the beer boom in recent years has led to a massive increase in sales; with some even struggling to meet the demand.
Several samples later, Dave was won over by a rather unique tasting chilli-based ale from September Brewing. Next he tried an expresso-vanilla stout from Galemgi Brewing Company and a mocha flavoured stout from Busan’s own, Gorilla Brewing Company.
After a guided tour from Dave, it was an easy decision for me; I followed the fruits and exchanged my coupons for a refreshing mango ale and peach ale from September Brewing, followed by a pressed apple cider from one of Korea’s more established craft sellers, the Hand and Malt Brewing Company.
The seating area was right in the middle of the tents and facing towards a large stage, showcasing live music throughout the evening followed by a DJ at 21:00pm.
We spent around three hours at the festival, enjoying the live music, making the most of the samples and chatting to the friendly servers who had a clear passion for the craft beer that they were selling. We stumbled contentedly towards the bus stop around 23:00pm, heading to bed with a belly full of beer.
Rating 7/10: A must visit for craft beer lovers (and there’s no entry free!) I’m not really a beer drinker but still had a great evening sampling the beers and listening to the live music, although we did leave the festival hungry because of the huge queues for food.
When: We visited the festival on Friday 14th October, but I believe the date changes every year. Email lovecraftbeermusicfestival
How to get there: Daejeon has a huge bus terminal with direct routes across the country, there is also a KTX station if you want to catch the train. We caught the bus to Daejeon and then took a ten minute taxi to the Expo Park costing around 7,000 won. The festival organisers also offer return coach trips from some of the bigger cities in Korea.