Wednesday, 25 May 2011


Since we first moved to Korea one of my biggest complaints has been the poor quality of Korean beer and the lack of much imported variety. So after spending 10 months putting up with Hite and Cass (The two Korean beer brands that account for about 90% of the market) I decided that enough was enough and I should start making my own beer. The first step was discovering the wonderful homebrew korea forums, I was pleased to see that there was already a vibrant community of homebrewers in Korea. After posting a thread asking for advice on getting started a very kind guy in the American military offered to help me with ordering equipment from a site in the states. There are a few homebrew supply websites in Korea but they are pretty expensive and the selection isn't great. Military guys out here can get cheap shipping so ordering from abroad made good sense. When I managed to get the kit back from central Seoul where I picked it up and was so excited and opened it up and got brewing the very next day.
Opening up the pack and looking at the ingredients with assistant brewer John. (Note that I already had a glass of beer on the go, essential for any brewing operation!)
John pouring hot water though some malted grain to extract all of the malty goodness.
The brew pot, I origninally brought this pot for cheese making but since I found Korean milk is not much use for cheese making it's become a multi purpose giant pot.
The pot merrily boiling away, the apartment was full of steam by the time we'd finished boiling for an hour.
The big pour! Me adding the wort (that's what un-fermented beer is called) to the fermenter.
Next stage, top it up to five gallons with bottled water.

Finally I add the yeast.
Sealing it up and the difficult part, waiting three weeks while it all ferments.
While it was fermenting I left it out on our nice, cool back balcony, this was back in the spring when it was easy to find a cool place. Now it's summer it's a lot tougher try to find a place with a good temperature for fermentation. After just under three weeks of fermenting and settling the beer was ready to be bottled, probably the messiest and most labour intensive part of the process. It also had the unfortunate side effect that I had to drink and save lots of bottles of beer, I actually ended up with lots more than I needed!

Siphoning the beer into old beer bottles, while being very careful not to spill any, or at least that's the threory, in my case I got it all over the floor.
The finished product, I named it Homer as it was an American ale made in Korea and the Simpsons are an American cartoon drawn in Korea.
The whole brewing process took a little longer than I hoped, including bottle conditioning it took about 6 weeks to go from ingredients to a drinkable beer, but the result was worth the wait. I was pretty pleased with what I made, the competition from Korean beer is pretty minimal so its easy to make something better than that. I shared the fruits or my hard work with neighbours and friends and most people seemed to like it. I even saved one bottle up to share with some far more experienced homebrewers from the homebrew Korea forums and they seemed to think it was a decent beer. So over all I'm considering my first foray into homebrewed beer a success, I just wish there was more of it!

Since brewing my first beer I haven't made any more actual beer but I've brewed a couple of batches of mildly alcoholic ginger beer which have gone down well. I'm currently making plans for the next brew using some ingredients I plan to pick up back in England. I'm planning on making an English bitter, in the style of one of my favorite beers from back home, Woodfords Wherry. Stay tuned to see how it turns out.


  1. Rowan... keep on brewing, dude. Glad to read your post. Bill (wamille on HombrewKorea).

  2. Thanks for your comment Bill I sure will, your beer and others from HBK showed me what could be achieved and inspired me to get started, I owe you a massive debt of gratitude. I put a new ginger beer in the fermenter just today and am making plans for ingredients to bring back from England for making some bitters in the near future.

  3. Hey Rowan! First beer was good, get to work on the second already. Have fun back home!