Korean beers have come a long way over the years, and the beer scene in South Korea is now a bubbling mix of mainstream favorites and craft brews that offer a diverse range of flavors and styles.
Whether you’re a beer aficionado or just curious about what the Korean beer world has to offer, sit back and let us take you on a journey through the 20 best Korean beers of 2023.
- Explore the 20 Best Korean Beers, from mainstream lagers to craft beers.
- Discover a range of flavors to pair with traditional dishes such as spicy food and Korean BBQ.
- Enjoy an elevated experience with the unique beer culture in Korea.
Top 10 Mainstream Korean Beers
South Korea’s mainstream beer brands have remained popular for years, and for a good reason. They offer crisp and refreshing flavors that pair well with a wide variety of Korean dishes.
From large-scale producers like Oriental Brewery to budget-friendly options, let’s delve into the world of the top 10 mainstream Korean beers.
These beers range from light lagers to dark ales, and each has its own unique flavor profile. Some of the most popular brands include Hite, Cass, and OB. Hite.
Cass is a household name among Korean beers. With a market share of 36%, it’s easily found in most Korean bars and restaurants. This light lager is known for its mild hops flavor and a deeper taste than other major Korean beer brands, making it a popular choice in the Korean craft beer scene.
With an alcohol content of 4.5%, Cass is perfect for cooling down after a plate of spicy Korean food. While it may not be the first choice for beer connoisseurs, it’s a reliable option with a crisp and refreshing taste that can be further enhanced with a lemon wedge.
Cass is a great choice for those looking for a light and refreshing beer that won’t overpower the flavors of their beer.
Hite Beer is another popular Korean beer, widely available and often enjoyed with spicy Korean food and barbecue. This clean and crisp beer has an alcohol content of 4.3% and is crafted from premium cornstarch, yeast hops, and spring water, giving it a heavy malt aroma with a subtle hint of hops.
The fresh taste of cracked grain and the light-bodied, buttery texture make Hite a great choice for washing down spicy dishes or cooling off on a hot summer day.
Kloud is a premium Korean beer that takes inspiration from German-style Pilsners, resulting in a smooth, rich flavor. With a malt, hops, and bread aroma, Kloud offers a unique taste experience that sets it apart from other mainstream Korean beers.
Available in lager, weizen, and IPA varieties, Kloud is a versatile choice for beer lovers who appreciate a smooth and sweet taste with a light bitter finish.
Pair it with lightly salted or bitter side dishes to fully enjoy its complex flavor profile.
OB Golden Lager
OB Golden Lager, introduced in 2011 by Oriental Brewery, is a classic Korean beer with a refreshing taste and strong presence in the market. With a market share of approximately 50%, OB Golden Lager is easily one of the most sought-after beers in South Korea.
The beer has a 4.8% alcohol content and is made from cornstarch, hops, rice, and premium malt, giving it a refreshing and hoppy profile.
The hops used in OB Golden Lager are sourced from Hallertau, a city in Germany, adding to its unique flavor. While not the most exciting beer on the list, OB Golden Lager offers a dependable, crisp taste that’s perfect for those just starting to explore the world of Korean beers.
Max stands out in the Korean beer market as the first all-malt beer, crafted by HiteJinro. Made with 100% newly harvested hops from New Zealand, Max offers a rich and full-bodied taste that’s perfect for those who enjoy a more complex flavor profile.
The exceptionally creamy texture, combined with a balanced blend of malt and hops, makes Max a delightful option for beer enthusiasts who prefer something a little different from the standard light lagers.
Terra is an organic Korean beer brand that’s gaining popularity for its unique taste and commitment to quality ingredients. A sister beer to the well-known Hite brand, Terra is crafted from Australian-grown malt and a carbonic acid developed solely through fermentation.
With a 4.6% alcohol content, Terra is accessible in virtually every region of Korea and offers a distinct flavor that’s both refreshing and satisfying.
Terra is a great choice for those looking for a unique beer experience. Its light, crisp taste and low alcohol content make it a great choice for any occasion. Whether you’re looking for a refreshing refreshment or you’re looking for a refreshing refreshment.
Hanmac is a new Korean beer brand on the rise, known for its clean taste and use of home-grown rice. With a 4.6% alcohol content, Hanmac Lager offers a clean and neutral taste with a slightly sweet aftertaste that’s not overpowering.
Available at a cost of 2300KRW for 500ml, Hanmac is an up-and-coming option for those looking to try something new in the Korean beer market.
FiLite is a budget-friendly Korean beer that doesn’t skimp on taste. With a 4.5% alcohol content, this light and refreshing beer is low in calories and perfect for casual gatherings.
FiLite’s highly carbonated profile sets it apart from other Korean beers, offering a palate-cleansing experience that’s great for washing down flavorful Korean dishes.
Priced at 1600KRW for 500ml, FiLite is an affordable option for those who enjoy a light and easy-to-drink beer.
FilGood is another budget-friendly Korean beer that’s perfect for social events and pairing with Korean dishes. With a 4.5% alcohol content, FilGood is more palatable than FiLite due to its smoother and more consistent flavor.
Whether you’re new to the world of Korean beer or just looking for an easy-to-drink option, FilGood is a great choice that won’t break the bank.
Top 10 Korean Craft Beer Brands
The Korean craft beer scene has been flourishing in recent years, with local breweries and pubs offering a wide selection of unique and flavorful beers.
From IPAs and stouts to sour beers and seasonal brews, there’s something for everyone in the world of Korean craft beer.
Let’s take a closer look at the top 10 Korean craft beer brands that are making waves in the beer community.
Magpie Brewing Co.
Magpie Brewing Co. is a force to be reckoned with in the Korean craft beer scene, offering a variety of traditional and innovative brews that cater to a wide range of tastes.
Their flagship Magpie Pale Ale is the flagship Magpie Pale Ale. Ale is a testament to their commitment to quality and innovation, boasting a distinctive flavor profile that sets it apart from other craft beers.
With a focus on modern beers with a marked American influence, Magpie Brewing Co. is a must-try for any craft beer enthusiast.
Jeju Beer Company
Nestled on the picturesque Jeju Island, Jeju Beer Company is a craft brewery that prides itself on using local ingredients to create refreshing and unique beers.
Their Jeju Wit. Ale, crafted with locally grown tangerines, is a prime example of their commitment to quality, offering a rich taste with a slight citrus aftertaste and a light body.
A visit to Jeju Island wouldn’t be complete without sampling the delights of Jeju Beer Company. With its unique flavor and commitment to quality, Jeju Beer Company is sure to provide an unforgettable experience.
Galmegi Brewing Co.
Located in the bustling city of Busan, Galmegi Brewing Co. has established itself as a frontrunner in the Korean craft beer scene, offering a solid line-up of beers that includes seasonal brews and unique flavors.
With options ranging from the revitalizing Galmegi Pilsner to the full-bodied Espresso Vanilla Stout, Galmegi Brewing Co. has something for every beer lover.
And if you’re feeling adventurous, why not try their barrel-aged sour ale, The Godfather, for a truly unique flavor experience?
Malpyo is a Korean craft beer brand that’s been gaining popularity for its smooth English Porter, featuring coffee and chocolate elements in a balanced and mildly bitter taste. With a range of flavors available, including fruit, coffee, caramel, chocolate, and nuts, Malpyo offers a diverse selection of beers that cater to a wide range of tastes.
As the brand continues to grow in popularity, you can expect to see more of their unique brews popping up in bars and pubs across the country.
Gompyo. Beer is a clean tasting wheat beer with a unique flavor and low-alcohol content, making it a perfect choice for those looking for a lighter option in their Korean craft beer journey.
With a distinct flavor that’s both saccharine and slightly astringent, Gompyo Beer offers a refreshing alternative to heavier beers without sacrificing taste.
Give it a try if you’re in the mood for something different and enjoy the lighter side of Korean craft beer.
Gwangwhamun. Beer is a traditional-tasting Pale Ale. Ale that captures the essence of Korean beer culture, with a rich malty flavor and orange peel aroma that’s both deep and bitter. This beer offers a unique flavor profile that will delight those who appreciate a more complex taste in their brews.
The combination of the malty backbone and orange peel aroma creates a satisfying and well-rounded beer that’s perfect for sipping on a warm day.
Hanok Village Ale
Hanok Village is a Hanok Village. Ale takes you on a journey through the heart of traditional Korea, offering a deep ale beer with a slightly bitter taste, notes of coriander, and floral scents. This complex flavor profile is perfect for those who enjoy a more intricate and layered beer experience.
With a 5.0% alcohol content, Hanok Village has a 5.0% alcohol content. Ale is a strong yet well-balanced beer that’s perfect for pairing with a variety of Korean dishes.
Y Black IPL
Y Black IPL is a fruity yet pleasantly bitter Korean craft beer with a unique flavor profile that sets it apart from other offerings in the market. With a full-bodied Indian pale lager taste, Y Black IPL offers a rich yet balanced experience that’s perfect for those who enjoy a more complex and layered beer.
The pleasant grapefruit aftertaste lingers on the palate, making this beer a memorable choice for any craft beer enthusiast.
Jin Lager is a full-bodied malt lager with a slight sharpness that makes it a great companion to Jin Ramyun and other Korean dishes. With a robust malty flavor and a subtle, pleasant bitterness, Jin Lager is a satisfying choice for those who enjoy a more complex and flavorful beer.
The 5.0% alcohol content ensures that Jin Lager remains a strong and enjoyable option for any beer lover.
Pairing Korean Beers with Food
Pairing Korean beers with food is an excellent way to enhance the taste of both the beer and the dish, creating a unique and delicious experience. Whether you’re enjoying a spicy meal or indulging in some Korean BBQ, there’s a Korean beer that’s perfect for every occasion.
In this section, we’ll explore some recommendations for pairing Korean beer with various types of Korean food, from spicy dishes and Korean BBQ to seafood.
When it comes to spicy Korean dishes, light and refreshing beers like Cass and Hite are a match made in heaven. Their crisp and clean flavors help balance out the heat and intensity of the spices, providing a palate-cleansing effect that’s perfect for enjoying alongside fiery Korean cuisine.
Next time you’re indulging in some spicy Korean food, don’t forget to enjoy the complementary spicy food experience by reaching for a Cass or Hite.
Korean BBQ is all about bold flavors and succulent meats, so it’s only fitting that the beer you choose to accompany it should complement these tastes. Beers with a clean and crisp taste, such as Kloud and OB Golden Lager, are perfect for enhancing the flavors of Korean BBQ.
Their refreshing profiles help to balance the richness of the meat, making them an excellent choice for washing down your favorite BBQ dishes.
Seafood is a staple in Korean cuisine, and pairing it with the right beer can take your dining experience to new heights.
Light and flavorful beers like Max and Terra are ideal for pairing with seafood dishes, as their complex flavor profiles help to enhance the delicate and fresh taste of the seafood.
Whether you’re enjoying a plate of grilled shrimp or a bowl of seafood stew, a Max or Terra beer will make the perfect companion.
Korean Beer Culture
Korean beer culture is a fascinating blend of tradition and innovation, with the growth of the craft beer scene introducing new and exciting flavors to the market.
Meanwhile, mainstream Korean beer brands continue to dominate sales, offering reliable and refreshing options for beer lovers.
With a wide range of beers available, from light lagers to rich stouts, there’s never been a better time to explore the diverse world of the best Korean beers, including the all malt Korean beer.
From the well-known mainstream brands to the innovative craft breweries, the world of Korean beers offers a diverse range of flavors and styles to suit every palate.
Whether you’re a seasoned beer connoisseur or just looking to dip your toes into the exciting world of Korean brews, there’s a beer for everyone in this thriving scene.
So why not embark on an adventure through the 20 best Korean beers of 2023 and discover the unique and varied tastes that Korea has to offer?
Frequently Asked Questions
What does Korean beer taste like?
Korean beer, such as Oriental Brewery’s OBOBOB Lager, is a crisp and refreshing pale lager, rich with thick malt taste and flavor. Crafted using German hops and enriched with rice, this beer is reminiscent of traditional Bavarian brews, making it perfect for any occasion.
It has a light golden color and a smooth, clean finish that is sure to please any beer lover. With its unique flavor and aroma, OBOBOB Lager is a great choice for any gathering or celebration. Whether you’re looking for a good deal or a good deal, we’re here to help.
What is the most popular beer in North Korea?
The most popular beer in North Korea is Taedonggang Beer, named after the famous river that flows through Pyongyang – the political, industrial and transport center of the country.
This beer has become a symbol of national pride for its people and is widely considered to be the best of North Korean brews.
Why is beer so popular in Korea?
Beer is a popular alcoholic beverage in Korea due to its prevalence in the country’s drinking culture. Drinking beer and soju after work is an accepted and encouraged social practice, leading to a high demand for both beverages.
This increased competition among brewers has resulted in more convenient availability of beer, helping to make it one of the most popular drinks in Korea.
What is the most popular beer in Korea?
Based on various reports, the most popular beer in Korea is Cass. Its reputation as an affordable and light beer has made it a preferred beverage among Koreans.
What are some popular mainstream Korean beer brands?
Considered among the most popular Korean beers are Cass, Hite, Kloud, OB Golden Lager, and Max. All five offer distinct, unique tastes that make them an ideal accompaniment to any meal.
Lead marketer, brewer, dad, and husband. Pretty much an all-round awesome guy. I’ve been homebrewing for +20 yrs, an aspiring pro-brewer and micro brewery owner!