Fighting for craft beer
One of the key players in the beer renaissance currently sweeping the nation is Troy Zietzlsberger, part owner-barkeep of Reilly’s Taphouse in Itaewon, and one of the only cicerones on the peninsula. A most auspicious whim brought the Michigan native to the republic three years ago, when he was living in Bangkok and decided a change of scenery was in order.
His subsequent work at Reilly’s probably best exemplifies the great changes happening around us. “I’ve fought the good fight for craft beer since I arrived here, and it seemed the only option besides the typical soulless mass-produced lager (that is) Hoegaarden and Guinness,” he says. “I’m hoping I’ve had an influence; I’ve certainly put in a lot of effort.”
But the most “hoptastic” selection of draft handles and their own craft concoctions aren’t the only ways this expat is making malty waves locally; he has also started an import company named 6°. “We are currently importing the craft brewery BrewDog, with a few others on the line,” he says. Unlike most expat misfits, he actually seems to be utilizing his business degree (in international business and marketing) in a non-roundabout manner. Although the community is justified in rejoicing at the fruits being reaped these days, Zietzlsberger is quick to clarify that there is still a long way to go for Seoul to really hold its own among international beer markets. “The main thing that needs to change now for the beer scene to continue to get better is (that) these outrageous taxes that both importers and breweries have to pay need to continue to decrease.”
As if the pub, brewery and importing weren’t enough, he’s got other endeavors filling his schedule as well. Zietzlsberger also studied acting in New York and Chicago and is trying his damnedest to make sure his training didn’t go to waste. Luckily, it’s a fine time to be a foreign face in Korea’s slowly diversifying film and TV market. “There are now increasingly more opportunities for foreigners to act on TV. You just need to be able to speak Korean, which is another reason why I’m making time to study whenever and wherever possible.”
Picking up the local language, too? It appears Mr. Zietzlsberger isn’t planning on resting on his laurels any time soon, and we can expect much, much more from this influential expat. “I’m going to go for my residency visa in a couple years, (so) I’ll be in and out of Korea for the rest of my life. I love it here. I’ve been presented with a lot of great opportunities. The only bad part is I have to see my family through Skype and not in person. However, I do make it a point to get back home a couple times (each) year,” he says. “My plans for the future? I’m going to open a brewery and continue to pursue acting. All in due time.”