Rocky Mountain Vibe in the Heart of Gangnam
Its breathtaking scenery was enough for Clint Eastwood to shoot his Academy Award-winning masterpiece "Unforgiven" in the surrounding area. Brad Bitt was so spellbound while filming "Legends of the Fall" that he opted to come back to try and capture it in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford." Countless TV and film production crews continue to send location scouts to the region every year.
This captivating place is none other than the Canadian province of Alberta. More specifically, it's the expanse of land west of Calgary where the area's loping foothills build up to the nearby Rocky Mountains. Among its visual splendor, a massive glacial rock rests southwest of the city and is loosely referred to as “O’kotok” by the local Blackfoot tribe. But to Ed McNally and the rest of the English-speaking world, it’s referred to as “Big Rock.” When the Calgary-based McNally decided to open up a craft brewery, he was sure that the Big Rock’s mystique and allure would be the solid foundation for a brand and product.
Big Rock Brewery began to make inroads into the local beer scene in 1985, but they didn’t rise to prominence until a big brewery strike in 1986 that saw the beer giants of Molson and Labatt close for the entire summer. The business-savvy Big Rock responded to this event by pushing its quality to the forefront and hasn't looked back since.
On the strengths of their beers like the English-style Traditional, the citrusy-Grasshopper and the bitter Pale Ale, Big Rock whipped up the region into a cult-like frenzy.
Korea’s Andy Lee worked with Big Rock in Canada and also became caught up in the hype- so much so that he struck a deal with Big Rock to ship that mystique and allure to his Big Rock Brewery establishment in the heart of Seoul’s affluent Gangnam district. Using the same commitment that McNally showed in the brewery’s coming of age, Lee has helped Big Rock brew to be sold in over 40 bars throughout Korea and is now about to celebrate the seventh anniversary of his Gangnam location. Using the Big Rock mentality to keep pushing forward, he consistently seeks to raise the bar, and his new interior upgrades and menu overhauls are yet another example of this. He is now bringing Big Rock’s popular Scottish-style Heavy Ale to his menu, along with new recipes such as Prosciutto Ham Pasta, Herb Roasted Chicken and other concoctions that his new chef, with a talent honed from various Itaewon eateries, has come up with.
Many craft breweries have sprouted up since Lee first brought over that taste of Alberta to make a frothy footprint in Korea, which he gratefully welcomes. The craft beer concept becoming further accepted into Korean drinking culture? That's a "Big" win for everyone.