One of the questions that I often hear is “What is Korean beer like?” To which I reply, “It’s very beer-like,” seeing as I have no sense whatsoever about what makes a beer good. To me a good beer is the one that I’m drinking. Preferably in the early afternoon. However I decided to challenge myself to try as many beers as I could and review them for your viewing pleasure.
Since I didn’t know the first thing about reviewing beer I looked on the trusty internet and found that there are specific things that beer reviewers look for when judging a beer: appearance, aroma, flavor, body, and drinkability. Here are some brief definitions from the internet.
Appearance: What the beer looks like. Whether the beer is clear or cloudy, the color, the head, and the lace on the sides of the glass.
Aroma: What it smells like. (I know what your thinking, beer smells like beer, but it turns out that the true aroma disappears quickly after opening or pouring the beer, so you have to be fast.)
Flavor: The taste. (Simple enough.)
Body: The mouth feel. Whether the beer is thin and watery such as an American lager, or full and chewy like an imperial stout. (Beer Protip: if your beer is chewy then stop drinking it. Get a new beer.)
Drinkablility: Your impression, what you think.
Research completed, I was eager to get started. However I felt that it wouldn’t be fair to only use my opinion so I invited my friend Rich over to drink many beers with me. FOR SCIENCE!
First we headed to my local supermarket, or mart, as Koreans call it. The top shelf had all kinds of delicious looking Korean alcohols, but we stuck with the beer for this trip. We bought as many different kinds of beers as possible, in bottles when available, or cans when not.
Here you can see the cast of characters. It should be noted that we decided to pour each beer into a glass and create the largest amount of head possible, as opposed to drinking them straight from the bottle/can. And now for the first contender...
According to the bottle: Since 1933. Clean and Pure taste
Appearance: Clear, no apparent carbonation, no head. I think Coke has more head.
Aroma: Sweet, sugary
Flavor: Mild, dry
Body: Watery, you can feel the carbonation once it’s in your mouth.
Drinkability: Not bad. It actually tastes quite American, the Korean Budweiser perhaps? It is very easy to chug, although I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
According to the bottle: All malt beer. Rich and full bodied taste made from malt and fine cascade hop.
Appearance: The same as Hite.
Aroma: The same as Hite.
Flavor: The same as Hite. Rich says “Ever so slightly darker than Hite. Still mild though”
Body: The same as Hite. Maybe a little fuller.
Drinkability: I know I said that this is the same as Hite in most respects. However after finishing the beer I have to say that it is a little fuller than Hite. I wouldn’t be able to chug nearly as many of these.
Name: Hite Dry Finish
According to the bottle: Refresh your spirits. Break away from the daily grind. Dry Finish is brewed with our exclusive Dry Finish Process using the select dry yeast.
Appearance: The same as Hite
Aroma: Sweet, plastic
Flavor: Wow it is actually dry like it claims. Still mild though.
Body: Tongue tingling dry.
Drinkability: Not bad but I couldn’t drink it all night. Rich says “This actually makes me thirstier.”
According to the bottle: Authentic German Style 100% malt beer. Crafted from golden malt and selected aroma hop with Oriental Brewery’s tradition of perfection.
Appearance: This one appears a little darker. Dare I say amber? This is also the first beer that managed to produce any head.
Aroma: Honey, Rich says “Potato chips.”
Flavor: This one tastes much different. It actually has flavor! Potato chip flavor, that is, but flavor is flavor.
Body: Much fuller than the others so far, nice aftertaste as well.
Drinkability: Good, although too many would make me very full.
According to the bottle: Sound of vitality. 100% non pasteurized beer provides ultimate refreshment with fizzy and crisp taste.
Appearance: Water-like, I think the camera actually gives it more color than it has.
Aroma: Nonexistent, I truly mean that it doesn’t even smell like beer.
Body: Water, it’s slightly fizzy water
Drinkability: You could slip this into my water bottle and I wouldn’t notice. Rich says “I know it’s not water because it’s fizzy. That’s it.”
Name: Cass Light
According to the bottle: Great taste, less calories. Refreshingly smooth taste, brewed by ice crystallization process using finest malt and triple hops.
ABV: We both couldn’t find the ABV on the can maybe that’s why it’s 33% less calories, it uses some kind of cancer causing Nu-alcohol
Appearance: The same as Cass. Maybe even lighter if that’s possible.
Body: It has more carbonation than Cass, but still no flavor.
Drinkability: It’s 33% less calories with the same non-taste of Cass, so it you’re going to drink shitty beer then why not?
Appearance: The same as Cass Light.
Body: Very watery.Drinkability: This is very much like Cass light and Cass, I think you would be hard pressed to choose which was which in a blind taste test.
Name: Cass Lemon
According to the bottle: Cool refreshing and brisk taste with the taste of lemon.
Appearance: Pale, same as Cass
Aroma: Lemony, in fact unnaturally so. Rich says “cleaning fluidy.”
Flavor: Lemony, Lemons, Fake lemons
Body: Watery lemon juice
Drinkability: This contains .05% lemon juice yet tastes like it’s 90% lemons. Something here isn’t right. I also have a strange desire to drink more of it.
Name: Cass Red
According to the bottle: Savory taste of high alcohol beer made from the finest aroma hop.
Appearance: Dark amber, it actually looks reddish.
Aroma: Rubbing alcohol, my brain is in fact giving me the do not consume signal.
Flavor: Barf. It tastes like beer mixed with vodka.
Drinkability: This one was actually painful to drink, I dreaded every sip. Rich says “ I’m never going to buy that ever again. It’s just nasty. Do we need the extra alcohol?”
According to the bottle: Smooth and refreshing taste, the superior quality beer.
Aroma: Smoky, oddly enough
Body: Standard, quite nice
Drinkability: It’s the Korean Corona. Korona?
Name: Black Beer Stout
According to the bottle: Lager type
Appearance: Black, cola like
Aroma: Slight coffee, bur more beer than coffee. Rich says “I’d never guess it was a stout.”
Flavor: Rich says “it has more of an after taste than an actual taste.”
Body: Watery, it looks thicker than it is.
Drinkability: I didn’t mind this really but Rich was offended. He says “It’s not flat, not creamy, how is it a stout?”
That was the last of the individual beers that we had purchased from my local mart. We then moved on to drinking from giant plastic bottles, know as pitchers, and just talking about movies, books, and how bad Cass Red was. We learned a lot from this noble experiment. In the end I decided that I prefer Hite as my go to “drink a beer” beer. Cass Red is vile and have no idea how people could drink it. I think that OB would make a great cooking beer. I also developed a craving for the chemicals that are in Cass Lemon. One thing is for sure though, drinking beer of any sort with friends will remain one of the best ways that I can think of to spend an evening.
Update: So Hite has decided to try and make some beer with flavor. At least that's what I got out of the five minute long ads they keep sneaking into the Youtube Starcraft 2 videos that I want to watch. Dubbed "Queens Ale" they have two varieties: "Blond Type" and "Extra Bitter." I picked some up at my local LotteMart the other day and was very pleasently surprised. Here's the breakdown.
Name: Queen's Ale "Extra bitter type"
According to the bottle: Queen's Ale is the Queen of Ale loved by preferred customers. Extra bitter possesses strong hop quality in aroma, flavor and full bodied bitter is more pronounced than in other Ale. This is made by triple hopping process.
Appearance: Dark amber. Reddish brown hue. Has a head.
Aroma: Hoppy, coffee-like
Flavor: Bitter, like it says, but in a good way. Like a nice coffee, though it doesn't taste like coffee.
Body: Feels slightly thicker than average.Drinkability: Wow, this tastes completely different from the other beers. Completely different. It has flavor and everything. This is a beer that you could drink one of after dinner and be satisfied.
Name: Queen's Ale "Blonde type"
According to the bottle: Fruity, floral and citrus-like hoppy flavor with well balanced hop bitterness made by triple hopping process.
Appearance: Slightly lighter than its extra bitter cousin. Orange amber like hue. Has a head.
Aroma: Bread-like, with hints of corn?
Flavor: Really good?!? Is this what a a full-flavored beer is supposed to taste like?
Body:Average beer thickness.Drinkability:Delicious. Is this what beer is like in other parts of the world? Is it better? My mind has been blown. This is easily my new favorite beer. If somewhere gets this on tap then that's where I'm going.
(Rich has a film blog where he often reviews Korean movies. Check it out at http://r8w7.wordpress.com/)