Boxing Cat Brewery Stops Over in Seoul
While drinking beer in Taipei, The Booth and Mikkeller Seoul co-founder, Sunghoo Yang, happened upon Boxing Cat’s beers. Due to Chinese regulations on microbreweries, Boxing Cat doesn’t make it outside of its home turf in Shanghai very often. However, Yang isn’t shy about reaching out to people to make things happen. This February, Michael Jordan, the head brewer of Boxing Cat, accepted Yang’s invitation to haul some of his beers to Seoul for the very first time.
Jordan is American and looks the part of a craft beer devotee despite sharing his name with an NBA legend. Jordan’s Meet the Brewer event at Mikkeller Seoul attracted a lot of attention in the Seoul beer geek scene.
A crowd crammed into Mikkeller Seoul’s tiny location to hear the man from Shanghai talk about beer and, perhaps more importantly, to try some of his brews.
Jordan is a self-pronounced “hop head” who takes pride in his pale ales and IPAs. The Sucker Punch Pale Ale had a nice tropical taste while Boxing Cat’s flagship beer, the TKO IPA, was like a ramped up version of the Sucker Punch. However, Korea does not lack for strong IPAs, so these beers weren’t exactly revelatory. Instead, Boxing Cat stands out for doing beer types that are still scarce in the Korean craft scene.
Boxing Cat’s Sugar Daddy Imperial Stout was inspired by crème brûlée and features coconut, vanilla beans, coffee, caramel, and chocolate flavors. It’s aged four months in French cognac barrels before it is ready to drink. Surprisingly, the beer wasn’t strikingly sweet, well-balanced enough to drink all day. At an astounding 14.5% ABV, the Sugar Daddy could be called the Cassius Clay: a heavyweight that’s light on its feet.
The other three beers Boxing Cat had on offer all hit their mark. The King Louie, an 8% ABV Imperial Stout, packed a powerful porter taste with satisfying smokiness. The number two standout behind the Sugar Daddy was the Funky Barrel Full Nelson Saison. It evoked apple and was refreshing and bright like a light sour beer. It had a clean, smooth, green apple front with a slightly tart “brett” (or sour) finish.
As warmly as Michael Jordan was received here in Seoul, he seemed just as grateful to see the city for the first time. “It was my first trip to South Korea and I really enjoyed the experience. The staff at The Booth showed us around after the event as we had some amazing food and then visited a couple beer spots before wrapping up the night at Magpie Brewing.” Jordan predicts that the next two years will be huge for beer in Asia: “The quality of beer is rising and the consumers are more in tune with craft beer than ever before. It’s a super exciting time.”
Boxing Cat looks forward to a big 2016 as it launches more barrel-aged and bottled beers, and looks to share more brew with Shanghai, China, and Asia in general. For now, you can find Boxing Cat in Shanghai at their three brewpubs and their new spin-off location, the Liquid Laundry Kitchen and Brew.
Rob Shelley writes about craft beer and keeps a Korean Beer Directory and Upcoming Events page at www.CraftBeerAsia.com/Korea.