Apart from soju and makgeolli, maekju or Korean beer is also a huge part of South Korea’s drinking culture.
After gaining popularity across the globe, Korean brewing companies expanded, and local microbreweries started to promote craft beers. But despite its influential success, Korean beer stayed exceptional with its unique flavors and consistently low alcohol content.
The 10 Best Korean Beers You Need To Taste
If you’re curious about what Korean beer tastes like, you’re in luck! In this article, we will guide your taste buds in exploring the realm of Korean beer. So without further ado, here are the 10 best Korean beers you would try:
- OB Golden Lager
- Magpie Pale Ale
- Jeju Wit Ale
- Black Stout
Hite is one of the best-selling beer brands in the Korean market. It’s popular for its clean, crisp, and refreshing taste that’s best enjoyed when chilled, especially during summer.
It’s a golden-colored beer with balanced sweet, bitter, and citric flavors that goes well with Korean spicy food. Since it’s brewed with rice, its ‘grain sweetness’ lingers in the mouth. And it has a nice sweet aroma of light malt and grains.
Hite is a light-bodied beer containing only 4.3% ABV, so it’s the best option if you just want to chill after a tiring day!
Alcohol by volume: 4.3%
Kloud is manufactured by Lotte Chilsung Beverage – a leading soju manufacturer in Korea. Its name combines ‘Korea’ and ‘cloud’ as it forms a thick, frothy white foam when poured.
It is a European-styled lager beer made of malt, hop, and yeast and has low alcohol content (5% ABV). Instead of water dilution, it uses a unique brewing method called the ‘gravity method,’ where hops are injected in several steps to bring out a rich taste.
Compare this to an American lager, and you’ll clearly taste the difference as it highlights a malty, bitter finish.
Alcohol by volume: 5%
Brewed by Oriental Brewery, Cass is one of the well-known Korean beers you can find in every Korean bar and restaurant around the world. With its low alcohol content of 4.5%, it has long been a favorite of Korean young adults.
It comes with a light yet rich-tasting flavor that leaves a slightly bitter taste that most beers have. While most people drink it as it is, somaek enthusiasts mix it with soju to make it even more rich and tastier.
It’s best served with Korean food, snacks, and even American food, so it’s a great option for night outs with friends!
Alcohol by volume: 4.5%
Cafri is another beer brewed by Oriental Brewery. It has a spot in the best-selling Korean beers as it’s affordable and commonly sold in convenience stores, supermarkets, and restaurants in South Korea.
Also known as the ‘soda beer,’ it is also one of the lightest Korean beers with almost water-like taste. So if you’re not a fan of beers with a bitter aftertaste, then this is your best bet.
It’s also a great starting point for those who are new to the beer scene!
Alcohol by volume: 4.2%
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5. OB Golden Lager
OB Golden Lager is a refreshing premium beer similar to Hite – only lighter, sweeter, and more on the malty side. With low carbonation action, it only forms a thin foam head that dissipates quickly and leaves a dry, light, and crisp feeling.
It’s a golden yellow-colored beer with a hint of shine, hence its name. During its brewing process, the ‘tower-malting’ method is used to roast malt. Although beer enthusiasts conclude it lacks bold flavors, it’s still a decent Korean beer that you should definitely try!
Alcohol by volume: 4.4%
6. Magpie Pale Ale
If you’re looking for a Korean beer with an American influence, Magpie Pale Ale will satisfy your tastebuds!
Magpie Brewing Co. started as a tiny brew shop. With innovative craft beers, it became a successful micro brewing company in South Korea. They offer a great selection of their own signature and seasonal beers, but Magpie Pale Ale stands as their flagship beer.
It impresses with a burst of citrusy flavor, fruity-apricot aroma, and a slightly bitter finish. So, if you’re craving something different, then this might be your new go-to beer!
Alcohol by volume: 4.8%
Of all beers on the list, we say Max beer is exceptional because of its smooth, creamy mouthfeel combined with a refreshing tropical aroma that leaves the drinker refreshed and satisfied. Also, it forms a thick foam, so be careful as you pour!
Fun fact: it’s the first authentic all-malt Korean beer that boomed in the market. To put a twist, its brewing company, HiteJinro, releases a special or limited edition annually.
Alcohol by volume: 4.5%
Terra is well-known for its “clean and crisp” taste among people in South Korea. At first look, you might think it’s an imported product as its packaging looks slightly similar to Heineken, a popular beer from the Netherlands.
But Terra is also brewed under HiteJinro in South Korea. However, it uses 100% pure malt grown in Golden Triangle — a prime agricultural region in Australia for cereal crops. Also, compared to other beers, it only has 100% real carbonic acid from the fermentation process.
Drinkers describe this beer as a refreshing drink best served with Korean food, so it became one of the most requested beers in Korean restaurants.
Alcohol by volume: 4.6%
Read More: 10 Korean Drinking Games
9. Jeju Wit Ale
South Korea’s leading craft beer maker, Jeju Beer Company, releases a beer series: Jeju Wit Ale, Jeju Pellong Ale, and Jeju Slice. But among the three unique beers, Jeju Wit Ale takes the spotlight for most drinkers.
Jeju Wit Ale is the type of beer you want to drink at the beach. It’s a light-bodied fruit-flavored beer made with peels of Jeju gamgyul (mandarin orange), so it somehow tastes like fruit juice.
But when chilled, its ‘beer taste’ stands out, making every gulp refreshing, so it’ll surely be your number 1 beer choice during the summer season, especially if you love citrus-flavored beers!
Alcohol by volume: 5.3%
10. Black Stout
The list won’t be complete if we won’t mention HiteJinroi’s premium black beer, Black Stout.
This beer might remind you of the Irish dry stout, Guinness, but before you think it’s the Korean version of the mentioned drink, know that it’s a lager-type beer made with high-quality roasted German black malt.
Also, even though its black-colored package screams ‘strong’ taste, most drinkers say it’s oddly light and a little bit sweet for a “dark beer.” Still, Black Stout is favored by many with its full and rich taste!
Alcohol by volume: 5%
After reading through our list, we hope you’ve discovered Korean beers that perfectly suit your preference. Even though most Korean beers are low in alcohol content, always remember to drink moderately!
If you need more guide about alcoholic drinks, you might also read: The 12 Most Popular Alcoholic Drinks In South Korea.