Brewing it right in Korea

by Liam Ring
Groove Korea (

The old Lao Tsu saying about thousand-mile journeys beginning with the first step could certainly apply to Bryan Do; a man who began his beer journey with a Mr. Beer kit in 1997. Coining the name of his company based on his attention to detail allied with the ingredient that he feels is the backbone of many beers, Bryan researched American breweries extensively to try and discover what separated the best from the rest. “Dedication to the beer from the owner and the brewer.” That may sound simple, but can easily get lost in a world as confused by economies of scale and profit margins as any other.

The company has worked hard to meet numerous manufacturing demands since the very beginning. While craft beer seems to be everywhere these days, and the temptation for some might be to cut corners in the search for profit, the demands for the right ingredients arriving at the right time, coupled with a rigorous manufacturing process, means that this is not an industry to enter into lightly. “Our motto is ‘Quality and Consistency’ and I demand and support that however which way I can.”

Feeling that they should begin with a beer that would be easily drinkable, Bryan and his team settled on a Belgian Wit as the perfect choice. A “gateway” craft beer that many people could enjoy, it was a beer that customers could easily become accustomed to, thus introducing them to the brand. The dedication to bringing craft to the masses has led to other quality brews such as the Extra Special Ale (Bryan’s go-to beer) which comes with a malty taste combined with a bitterness derived from English hops and more recently their Chung Pyung Harvest pale ale. “This is getting a lot of attention because it’s Korea’s first commercially brewed beer made with locally grown hops.” The hops are harvested on the day of brewing to ensure as fresh a beer as possible – a feat not easy anywhere. The challenge of using locally produced ingredients is a tough one, but the bar is also promising a Belgian Dubbel in mid-October using Korean yeot (a traditional sweet) instead of Belgian candy. This work with traditional Korean produce doesn’t mean Bryan has forgotten his state-side knowledge, however, with the brewing company’s mocha stout barrel-aged using Woodford Reserve craft bourbon barrels. “I wanted one of my favourite Kentucky bourbons to line the taste of our beer with oak and vanilla flavours and a distinctive aroma.

Fancy trying some of the product? The Hand and Malt have a taproom on-site so people can get up close to the beers during the tours. Tours were limited over the summer due to the brewery being so busy – surely a good sign – but they have an unofficial taproom at Hopscotch in Gangnam and there are plans afoot to open a taproom up north exclusively for Hand and Malt beers in the near future. With so many other breweries working to bring craft to the Korean public, Bryan is confident that the future is bright for both the Hand and Malt and craft brewing in general. “More breweries will add to the increased quality of beers being made locally.” While the Korean market may not be educated enough to discern quality craft from bad, Bryan Do’s team is confident this will change in time.

Groove Korea website

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