There are good brewery tours around the world. It's a form of a sightseeing stop where you can look around how beer is brewed and taste freshly brewed ones. For beer lovers, this can be the most attractive stop that's second to none.
There is hardly anybody who has been to the factories or breweries of domestic beer like Cass or Max. Kloud seems to have a program but the difficulty of visiting these programs comes from their locations in small cities around the country. This means that anybody looking to simply look around the factory needs to travel hours. Even for a beer lover, this may not really worth it. So there are urban legends about Cass tasting better when tasted at the factory but it's difficult to see anybody who actually has been to one of them. Maybe it has to do with relatively short history of beer drinking history of Korea. In Jeju, the city furthest from Seoul, anybody can make quick online reservation and learn a thing or two about beer. And drinking freshly brewed beer is a major plus.
Of all the beer brewery tours in Jeju, with a companion, I visited the youngest and most aggressively marketed beer tour that catched the eyes of young generation recently.
Jeju Beer is a newly developed local beer made by internationally renowned Brooklyn Brewery. Brooklyn Brewery has implemented their identity and tweaked their brand to create a unique beer in Jeju.
As mentioned earlier, beer factories or breweries are usually located in much suburban area too far for urban visitors to make a one-day visit. But Jeju at its core is an island people come for tourism which makes it ideal for tourists to drop by for a tour of the brewery during their stay. Jeju isn't an island dedicated just for experiencing beer so as non-beer lovers can enjoy the rest of the island like the beach, Oreums or other tourists' stops and this makes it perfect option for everybody.
Even for Jeju, this brewery is also located in industrial zone away from other generic tourist areas. But Jeju is nonetheless an island. You can easily reach the brewery by a car or a bus.
Once you're in the neighborhood, you can see that it's some industrial zone in some suburban area. After passing the walls of cold cement, suddenly a modern and eclectic brewery stands that looks and feels completely different from the rest of the area to tell you that it's time for you to taste some wonderful beer.
Inside the brewery, a sophisticated interior design with a lot of intricate details welcomes every guest. To reflect the purpose of the space, the metallic decorations inspired by the fermentation tank are easily found around the reception area.
To the third floor, there is a pub where you can try different types of beer or buy different merchandises. By the main reception area, the neighborhood you thought was such rural makes an interesting contrast to the inside of then brewery. After browsing though some of the souvenirs and merchandises, the alpha and the omega of this trip, or the beginning and the end of this trip, the drinking begins even before the actual tour. Once you verify your reservation, you will be given a wristband like the one you get at a club or theme park and this is your ticket to try one free beer. You can choose between regular and non-alcoholic beer. Of course my company and I chose the regular.
What a beautiful sight of the shiny silver tap and the simple and rustic tap handle where with a touch of your hand gives you that golden fluid. My heart was pounding just by the sight of this machine and the freshly brewed beer I am about to taste.
With my first sip, my entire body has been awakened for how the truly good glass of beer is supposed to taste like. This was my first experience of truly good beer since my visit to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. Don't tell that I've only been to two breweries in my life. ;)
Jeju Beer is a type of witbier. A witbier is a type of beer brewed with with wheat which the proportion of amount of wheat must be larger relative to the amount of malted barley by 50%. The flavor of Jeju Beer should technically be categorized as a Belgian witbier. But if I say this, this all feels like you're reading a page of encyclopedia that says, "the Gothic style principally with the pointed arch, the vaulting supported by intersecting arches, and the flying buttress," so let us take this a little more casually.
Some of the most popular Belgian witbier for the general public would be Hoegaarden from Belgium, Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc from France. If you are a beer enthusiast, beers like Edelweiss, Blue Moon might ring a bell and if you are a beer expert, you will think of Celis White, Hitachino Nest White Ale.
With this much explanation, some may expect the flavor of Jeju Beer and some may not. Belgian witbier is known for its fruity fragrance and subtle herbal notes like coriander. With its refreshing and gentle flavor, it is one of the commonly recommended beers for those starting to venture away from larger for the first time.
The first fruit that comes to mind when in Jeju is tangerine so it must have been a natural decision for the development team to craft it as a Belgian witbier with citrus flavors of tangerines.
As a resident of Jeju, I had opportunities to taste craft beer at different pubs but in freshness and flavor, Jeju Beer was undoubtedly at the top.
It is told that beer and food pairing Jeju Beer or the "mariage" in French is told to be very important. And Jeju Beer is said to go well with the local delicacy, sashimi and other various seafood. It is a reasonable suggestion as the brewmaster, Garrett Oliver, who was also in the development phase of Jeju Beer explains the importance of food and beverage pairing. But disappointingly, the only thing brewery provided for the guests was thin breadsticks at the corner of the pub inside the brewery. Small snacks are welcomed here to enjoy with your beer so bring them in advance if you'd like. But please be mindful how it says, "small snacks," so no to large plate of sashimi.
Do you see the twinkling bubbles living and breathing inside that beer? After drinking 3 glasses of beer and achieving my inner purpose of this trip, my motivation to see the entire tour of the brewery was low but we decided we might as well since we are here guided by the tour guide to explain things in detail.
In any brewery tour around the world, the process of brewing beer is pretty much the same so what stands out are the interior design, the tour course or the cleanliness of the facility. And at Jeju Beer Company seemed to have done it right. With the modern interior design, there are apparatuses that look like they are from science labs. They are enough to make it feel like the grownup's version of Children's Museum of Science. Now as an adult, we are sniffing the fragrance of the hop and in awe of the chemical processes of making beer. I guess you never really grow much.
As mentioned earlier, the wonderful thing about this tour is that there is something for everybody. If you have come to Jeju, you probably have gone to see the ocean, Oreum, and cafes. And once that one cycle of tour is over, the rest is nothing but a tautological copy and paste. But if you put a tour like this in your itinerary, you can enjoy your trip so much better where you get to experience delicious craft beer and see the joy of exploring new flavors. Oh and a side note, the canned Jeju Beer has a wonderful design as well. It would be a great souvenir to remember Jeju by. I leave you with several anecdotes I have heard that Jeju visitors buying cans of Jeju Beer for gifts and drinking them all for themselves.