Booze news for beer hunters
It’s no wonder 70 percent of beer sales occur between June and October in Korea, according to industry figures.
However, if you’re the kind of person who drinks any old beer when you go out, you’re missing out. Beer, like fine wine, has its own characteristics and taste. True drinkers develop a nose for ale and Koreans are becoming more cosmopolitan in their thirst for new types of maegju.
In Korea, American beverages like Miller and Budweiser, and Mexico’s Corona, used to be considered cool, but today European beers, with their stronger personalities and richer tastes are becoming more prominent.
Interest in European drinks has been fueled in part by the tourism boom. As more Koreans travel overseas, they encounter a diverse range of brews. Events like Oktoberfest in Germany have introduced more locals here to that nation’s wealth of beer talent. Subsequently, the beer market here is moving away from lagers and is embracing dark, wheat and light beers.
According to English journalist Michael Jackson, author of “The World Guide to Beer,” there are 10,000 different beers in existence. They are classified into two groups: ale and lager.
Lager, which takes up two-thirds of the world’s market, ferments the yeast at a low temperature of 7 to 15 degrees Celsius (44.6 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit). Lagers are sweet and have a low alcohol content. Pilzen, Bock and Korean brands like OB, Cass and Hite are labeled lagers.
Ale is popular in England, where so-called real ale is still brewed using traditional methods. The yeast is fermented at a high temperature of 18 to 25 degrees Celsius. Ale has little foam, a strong aroma and bitter taste. Wheat beer, stout and porter are all ales.
For drinkers who refuse bland beer
For a stronger taste, drinkers opt for dark beer, which is made by roasting barley and can be either a lager or an ale.
The two most famous dark beers are Guinness and other stouts from Ireland. Other famous dark drinks are Beck’s Dark from Germany and Coopers from Australia.
Dark beer is an acquired taste, and some drinkers prefer a smoother ale.
Newcastle Brown Ale has a thick bittersweet taste.
Among lager beers, Krombacher Pils from Germany or Stella Artois from Belgium have a much stronger taste than Korean beers.
For drinkers who want to get drunk
A beer’s alcohol content is usually about 4 to 5 percent. But if you want to get really plastered, try a barley-rich Bock, a lager with 7 to 9 percent alcohol. Erdinger Bock is 7.3 percent on the alcohol Richter scale while Paulaner Salvator at 7.5 percent will get you tipsy quickly.
Paulaner Salvator is a drink that used to be consumed at Paulaner Monastery in Germany during meals as a kind of liquid bread.
Monks have a long history of brewing, and Leffe, which was brewed at a monastery in Belgium, has a strong bitter taste.
Its alcohol content is 6.3 percent. Leffe Brune, a brown ale, has a high alcohol content of 6.5 percent.
Korea’s strongest beer is Cass Red with an alcohol content of 6.9 percent.
For drinkers who prefer a sweet beer
The Belgian beer Hoegaarden is gaining in popularity in Korea. It is a wheat beer, both soft and sweet on the taste buds.
German wheat beer Erdinger Weissbier Dunkel has a chocolate quality and Erdinger Weissbier Hefe has a fruity flavor, which will appeal to drinkers who dislike bitter brews.
For people who wish to drink beer that tastes more like other beverages, alcopop beer is recommended. Hooch, KGB, Cruiser and Woody’s are typical of this genre.
These drinks mix beer or vodka with fruit. Mudshake is a drink that mixes vodka with smooth milk, chocolate, caramel and coffee.
Trust me, this drink goes down really well. Be warned: Despite its sweet taste, a Mudshake has an alcohol content of 5 percent. A few of these and you will be staggering to the cashier to settle your bill, if you can stand up.
For drinkers worried about their weight
Because beer contains grain as its main ingredient, the calorie content is high. On average a liter of beer contains 400 calories.
Unlike those in carbohydrates, calories from beer stimulate blood circulation and maintain body temperature.
This means the calories don’t build up in the body, which makes it safe for people worried about gaining a few pounds.
It’s a common misconception that beer will make you fat. The calorie content is not as great as that fast-food burger you had for lunch. But if you drink a lot of beer, you will lose that six-pack fast.
Diet low malt beer is very popular in Japan for people who want to shed some pounds. It tastes like ordinary beer but it has less than 25 percent barley.
Style Free by Asahi, Zero from Kirin and ZeroNama from Suntory are examples of this low-malt variety. However, these beers are not imported officially into Korea.
But not to worry: You can always pull a Miller Lite. Most beers labeled “light” are not only lower in alcohol than most beers but also lower in calories. Hite’s S is designed for drinkers concerned about their beer bellies. For every 100 milliliters, the brewers add 0.5 grams of dietary fiber.
For drinkers who wish to drink an interesting beer
The Belgian bottled-beer Duvel costs more than 10,000 won ($9.60) in bars. Yet it is hard to resist ordering one.
Duvel means devil in Flemish, where it comes from. The yeast ferments in the bottle, and connoisseurs say the beer tastes best when fermented for a year.
Guinness is also an interesting brew. The ingredients and manufacturing process have been a closely guarded secret ever since Arthur Guinness first concocted the drink in 1759.
This company also gives its name to the Guinness World Records.
Another interesting way to drink beer is to mix ordinary beer with dark beer in a “black and tan.” When mixing the two, the white foam builds up rapidly. This is called a “white top.”
For drinkers who wish to
remember trips around Asia
Although beer was born in Europe, Asian beers don’t lag far behind in taste and quality. For those who have traveled to many Asian countries, the taste is irresistible. Some of the best beers come from Japan: Sapporo, Asahi and Kirin.
China’s Tsingtao Beer, which Germans brewed when they settled in China, as well as San Miguel, which Filipinos learned how to make from the Spanish, are considered top quality beers.
In Singapore there is Tiger, Kingfisher from India, Singha in Thailand and Bia Ha Noi from Vietnam.
By Lee Young-hee, Kim Do-eun JoongAng Ilbo [firstname.lastname@example.org]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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