13 Beers to Try – The Great Korean Beer Festival 2018

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I remember not liking alcohol and only drinking to get drunk. I didn’t enjoy the taste and it was only a means to an end. However, that changed when a roommate offered me some of their beer. I tasted it and I was surprised. It wasn’t bitter. It was actually light and refreshing. I decided to give beer a chance and I started trying out different beers. I realized that I actually liked beer. Now I’m not a beer connoisseur, but I do have an appreciation for beer and the craftsmanship that is involved in brewing beer. Fast forward several years and here I am at my second beer festival in Seoul.

I love this beer festival! I went last year with a good friend of mine and I am so thankful to her for bringing me. This year I came better prepared to take pictures and notes of the beer that we had. Before we could get stared we had to buy tickets. This was optional, but I think it’s a better value than outright buying the beer at each booth. The cups they give you are 6oz each, but I think it’s the perfect size to sample each beer and get a good feel for the taste of each one, without getting shitfaced. There were 2 ticket options so we got both.

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We decided to start from the front of the venue and work our way back. The first beer we tasted was a Czech beer, Merlin Cerny. This was my partner’s favorite. It was a stout so it was bitter, but it was slight and it had a rich aftertaste. My partner was excited about trying it and tasted it before I could take a picture.

Next stop: Goose Island. We(my partner) really wanted to taste the Duck Duck Goose because it’s an ale with tropical fruit, peach and pineapple flavor. It sounded really interesting, but they unfortunately ran out so we had the Urabn Wheat Ale instead. The Urban Wheat was light and had a slight fruity flavor. The sign said citrus, but it didn’t taste citrusy to me. More of a sweet, fruity flavor, but very light. It wasn’t a sweet beer and it still tasted like an ale. I generally like Goose Island beer and I’ve never been disappointed with any of their products. It’s not my favorite, but I think it’s a solid beer that you can rely on.

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Schöfferhofer Grapefruit Beer – I’ve had many grapefruit beers in Korea, which are just grapefruit flavored Cass. They’re usually too sweet because they’re trying to mask the flavor of a subpar beer and this reminded me of that. I was surprised because Germany is known for their great beer and I’ve liked all the German beers I’ve had, but this was too sweet and tasted more like a cocktail than a beer. The line was also really long so it wasn’t worth the wait and reminded me to not follow the crowd.

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Platinum Craft Beer Oatmeal Stout – My partner and I alternated between ale and stout to balance out the flavors so we wouldn’t be influenced by the aftertaste of each beer, but I really wanted something bitter after that last beer, so I chose the stout. I’m usually more into ale but I liked all of the stouts we tasted and this one made my top 3. It had a deep, rich flavor and it wasn’t bitter and it had no bitter aftertaste.

Gorilla Brewing Co Raspberry Wheat Ale – My partner didn’t really want to go to this booth because there weren’t really many people lining up, but I wasn’t going to let one beer go untasted. The initial taste was a little sour and bitter. The sourness was subtle but it lasts long. The aftertaste slowly dissipates, but I felt that was a good thing. While the flavors weren’t particularly strong, I felt that this indicated quality ingredients and good brewing technique. It was a little flat, but I think that it’s a great beer for summer because it’s kind of refreshing. Also, it’s something you can drink for a while without feeling bored of the taste.

The Hand and Malt Brewing Company Mocha Stout – We didn’t have a ticket for this booth because my partner accidentally used it at another booth without that booth noticing(we kept the ticket as a souvenir). We bought a cup, which is bigger than the taster, and it was worth it. I’ve had this beer before because they sell it at the Shake Shack in Gangnam and I love it. The initial flavor is very mocha then bitter. The bitterness stabilizes and the other flavors diminish, but I like the bitterness in this stout because it still has flavor to it.

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We took a much needed food break because I didn’t want to stumble around drunk and I wanted to taste the beers. The food wasn’t great, but it sobered me up a bit. I looked a hot mess, but I’m sure no one noticed.

After we took a rest we went to the Ark booth and had Last night. I wasn’t really into this ale. It had a fruity bitter taste, if that makes sense, and the flavor disappears quickly. I felt that it was a forgettable ale because it doesn’t have a taste that distinguishes it from any other beer. It’s not something I would willing drink again.

Brewdog Punk IPA – My partner and I both liked this beer. When you first taste it the flavor intensifies, then comes down slowly. It has a long lasting flavor so I would drink this beer slowly. It’s definitely not something you want to throw back on a night out. This beer is meant to be appreciated and enjoyed.

Brau Breitbach BB Stout – This one was just ok to me. I thought the bitterness lasted too long and the flavors weren’t very well balanced. Even though they topped it with a lot of foam it was a little flat. I don’t know anything about their ales, but I pass on this stout.

Brewery 304 Cinema Houston Stout – This was my favorite beer of the festival. It was chocolaty, but not overpowering or sweet. The bitterness actually intensifies and then slowly melts away. It was very creamy and smooth and not overpowering like I feel most stouts are. I am definitely going to find a store that sells this beer. It was the best stout I’ve tasted.

Art Monster Ultimate Luck – I thought that this ale was refreshing and very light. The aftertaste lasted very long, but it still remained fresh. I think this is another beer that’s great for summer because it doesn’t make you feel weighed down and it remains light. I’m going to try it agin on a hot day and see how I feel about it then.

The Ranch Saison De Siegel – This ale had a long-lasting flavor. It’s a little difficult to describe the flavor because it felt very complex, like there was a lot going on, but it was well balanced. My partner said it made her mouth feel a little numb like a spice that they use in Northern Chinese cuisine. We both felt that it wasn’t the best tasting beer, although it was good, but it was so well balanced that it made my partner’s top 3.

Jeju Beer Company Jeju Wit Ale – I didn’t really care for this one. I’m not sure if they have other brews but this one was the only one on the menu. It was carbonated well and it does taste better than the cheap local beers we’ve had before, but it wasn’t different or special. The only real difference in taste were subtle, but nothing that made me want to drink more.

After several hours and 13 beers, we were finally ready to go home. The festival was still crowded and there were a few hours left, but I was very satisfied with the day and super proud of my cup collection. It may not seem like a big event or something special, but I felt blessed to have spent the day doing something that I enjoyed and sharing it with my partner. Part of my path is enjoying life and sharing experiences with the people I love. I cherish those memories and I hope that I can continue to share new experiences with my partner.

 

Author: Witch Hazel

Hi, I’m the Witch Hazel. I’m a queer, Caribbean-American witch currently living in Asia. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I would like to share my experiences and thoughts on my solitary path, as well as my travels and any other things I see as interesting. May the goddess guide us 🌒🌕🌘

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