Korean beers you can pick up at grocery stores in ROK

Photos by ChiHon Kim
Photos by ChiHon Kim

Korean beers you can pick up at grocery stores in ROK

by ChiHon Kim
Stripes Korea

Below, I’ve sampled five craft beers perfect for social distancing and video chats with your friends you miss meeting up with. Find these at the local convenience store or Korean supermarket.


Inseng Pale Ale, Platinum Brewing Co.

Seoul's craft beer scene has matured nicely over the last couple years with more additions of breweries and craft beer tap rooms. And Platinum Brewery is believed one of the pioneers of  this beer renaissance.

This great pale-ale (ABV 5.2%) made its debut 17 years ago at a tap room in Gangnam, Seoul. Two months ago, it finally made it to CU convenience store shelves, taking its unique taste across the country.

This brown-hued brew carries nice froth with a medium body and a strong bitter and hop profile. The alcohol content is noticeable, but the flavor of the beer provides warmth and comfort, and a hint of a light flower taste round out this pale-ale. As the beer cup medal winner logos on the label suggest, this delicate, brown beer provides a pleasant balanced flavor and will not disappoint. Look for this brew GS25 and CU convenience stores.


Mr. Bock, Platinum Brewing Co.

Another great offering from Platinum, Mr. Bock is one I often find myself seeking out. Mr. Bock (6.7ABV) is a lager with a soft mouthfeel that combines sweet and bitter flavors. The sweetness is balanced well with the strong coffee roast that kicks in right after the malty attack. Mr. Bock brings a relatively light body, which is smooth and easy to drink. Find Mr. Bock at Lotte Mart and 7-Eleven convenience stores.


Joker Pale Ale, Playground Brewing Co.

Founded in 2015, Playground is an emerging brewery in the North of Gyeonggi-do brewery scene, becoming one of the most recognized due to its high-quality brewing skills.

I visited one of the outlets of Playground in Imjingak earlier this year for my roundup of breweries to visit but couldn’t sample since I was driving. Now, I can buy Playground’s beers at my local grocery store and taste the craftmanship from the comfort of my home. 

Joker Pale Ale is smooth, with a slight hoppy flavor. The finish is still smooth but with a sweet and woody flavor. A sip of this beer lingers long enough to beg for another and another. A fine choice from Playground. Homeplus, Lotte Mart, and food sections of major department stores stock this brew.


Jeju Wit Ale, Jeju Beer Company

Located in Hallim in Jeju, the Jeju Beer Company is an affiliated company of Brooklyn Brewery and the Jeju Wit Ale was born with the help of the Brooklyn Brewery’s technology. It is 5.3 ABV and made with organic Jeju orange peels, which gives a fresh and bright flavor to the beer.

The hazy, golden colored beer has a light body with a white head. The wit ale carries little aroma but has the bright citrus flavors of tangerines with hints of coriander, bananas and wheat. This basic Belgian-style wit has a crisp finish perfect for a summer refreshment. Jeju is available at GS25 and CU convenience stores.


Hoptandu (bomb) IPA, KABREW

Founded in 2000, KABREW is a pioneer in South Korea’s craft brewery scene. As the unique matte finish can and its name imply, the beer with a 6.3 ABV also has a heavy hop bitterness. Though it’s labeled as an IPA, Hoptandu tastes more like a Double IPA.

To me, the heavy bitterness completely overpowered the malt and hop flavor, so it barely carries toasted grains and earthy flavors. I can’t say I enjoyed this beer, but hop heads will probably love this. Look for Hotpandu at Homeplus, Lotte Mart, and food sections of major department stores

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