3 Brands And There History
If you have not been to Korea, then it is unlikely that you have seen a South Korean Beer. There are good reasons for this, compared to western beers they don’t come close but they are though popular in South Korea as imported beers are very expensive.
There are 3 mains brands of beer Hite, Cass and OB.
Koreans first tasted beer in 1884, when Korean and American delegates celebrated the signing of a treaty between the two states. The surviving pictures of the banquet clearly show that beer bottles were present on the table. Maybe, some Koreans tasted what for them may have been a strange liquid, even if it remains unknown what they thought of its peculiar taste, so different was it from the beverages they were accustomed to.
The introduction of beer for the South Korean people was in the 1890s, when Japanese merchants introduced the Sapporo beer brand to Korea. The Korean name for beer, maekju, is of Japanese origin, which supports that for ordinary Koreans it was the Japanese hat introduced beer, however when written it consists of two Chinese characters meaning "barley liquor"
The Hite brewery is the largest in Korea and the beer has a market share of over 50%, brewing several different beers including Hite, Hite Prime, Hite Stout and Hite Exfeel (low cal beer). The most Popular is Hite which has an alcohol content of 4.5%, this is a micro filtered lager that is best served Ice cold and is refreshing and has a light taste, probably most similar to western light beers.
The Hite brewery opened in 1933 under Japanese ownership under a different name (Chosun Beer Co., Ltd). The company was confiscated by the Korean government in 1945 before being privatised shortly after. A similar story occurred for todays OB brand which was also Japanese owned at first.
For the subsequent decades these two companies constituted the backbone of the Korean beer industry.
Most ingredients had to be imported from overseas until the 1970s, when finally local production began and the cost decreased slightly. During this time however Beer had become the drink of the upper classes.
The government saw beer as a rich tax: It was taxed much more heavily than soju, the drink for everyday Koreans. In 1997, beer has been taxed at 130% while for soju the tax level is comparatively lower at 35%.
Beer Consumption increased until the early 2000s, where it has begun to decrease again although consumption has never been near that of most western countries. The average Korean drinks about ¼ of the beer the average European drinks in a year and as more Koreans become health conscious Korean beer may be consumed less.
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