Gorilla Brewing Co Q&A on the Eve of Their Tap Takeover of Seoul

Gorilla Brewing Co. is a brand new brewpub located in Busan’s hip new craft beer mecca near Gwangalli Beach. They are being hosted this week in Seoul at Pong Dang (Thursday, March 3rd) and Hop Mori (Saturday, March 5th).


All photos courtesy of Gorilla Brewing Co.

1) Who is Gorilla Brewing Co? How did it start?

The Gorilla Brewing Co project started in early 2015 when beer enthusiasts and friends (from Korea, Britain, Ireland, etc.) set out to take their passion for craft beer to the next level. The team was built, and Gorilla Brewing Co soon materialized. One of our members, Calum Bennett, is the head brewer from Crate Brewery in London. We are all very excited about what the future holds.

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Anne’s Adventure at Brewfest MNL 2016

By Anne Paye – Craft Beer Asia’s Manila Correspondent

Remember life is too short to drink bad beer. That’s why Ninkasi (The ancient Sumerian tutelary goddess of beer) blessed us with the gift to brew and to brew great tasting craft beer. For every mood there’s a type of beer that matches and the same goes with food. There’s a pairing that goes to every meal and individual taste bud.

The growing beer festivals that are popping up around Asia are a good introduction to the (craft) beer revolution that is growing in Asia. That’s why I enjoyed the first beer festival in Manila of this year 2016 because it has brought not only brewers from Asia but also brewers from around the world to create and share their passion and skill as the display in our home town of the Philippines.

Brewfest MNL allowed Manila Craft Beer Fans to enjoy local and imported craft beer.

Brewfest MNL (Manila, Philippines) showcased several local craft breweries including Pedro Brewcrafters pictured above.

Welcome to Brewfest MNL!! It was a perfect forum for introductory drinkers to be educated and the more versed to just enjoy great beers. This forum actually was a more quaint neighborhood gathering of some of the main brewers here in the Philippines. The line up showcased local hometown brewers including The Bottle Shop, Turning Wheels, Joe’s Brew, Nipa Brew, Baguio Craft Brewery, Juan Brew, Pedro Brewcrafters, Crazy Carabao Brewing Co. and The Brewery at the Palace to name just a few.

First stop on my fabulous beer adventure was Turning Wheels. This was a brewmaster based in Los Angeles, California “Michael Nikkel” a very spirited chap in his 30’s from Cebu which was compelled to bring his love of his craft with his Filipina Partner because he also heard the fresh venue and brewers in our country. My friend you are right with your decision!!!! 👍👊 He’s basically a new up and coming craft brewmaster with a very complex palette. I specially liked his Double IPA which would go well with any lamb or beer dish. He puts the hip in his hops. Very hoppy in the end and bitter delicious good after taste which I particularly like! He’s a very spirited person thats not shy to educate and share his personal stories. I asked what his logo stands for? It’s basically a 1800 type of bike you would see. Each of his beers are not just based on his love for beer but cycling as well. Each one of his beers is named for his passion for biking – for example, Red line means when he wears red he goes fast. Which is kind of fitting because he is in the fast track to become legendary if he keeps up his pace. “So happy trails to you in your journey Well be with you every turn of the way.”

Craft Beer in The Philippines Turning Wheels Cebu

Michael Nikkel from Cebu’s Turning Wheels Craft Brewery. Craft Beer from Cebu.

I really wanted to experience the more “green brewers” which was established less than 2 years ago. My next stop was Juan Brew which was established in 2014. Watch out for these guys, because they are new doesn’t make them greenhorns. The only thing green about them is their label and their environmental consciousness about the earth. Their brewery is 100% solar powered. Wow! Talking about walk the walk. Their brewery has the capacity to maintain over 12 houses. I spoke with Chi the marketing coordinator and what a colorful  personality, full of life but a very fast talker but she has a lot to say. I was impressed because first of all their beer are outstanding and they market them to fit more to the Filipino budget without compromising the flavor. You got my intention Juan Brew who ever you are. Haha!

Craft Beer advocate and Juan Brew Marketing Director, Chi.

Chi from Juan Brew, the solar powered craft brewery in The Philippines. Craft Beer Asia salutes you.

My last stop before night-night time was the “Bottle Shop” to check out their arsenal of beer selections. Put these bottles in a belt and you ready to win a war. All I can say is WoW!!! Sophisticated and master of the craft. They have beers for every occasion or any palette and also make craft beer that i can happily drink all day long. Truly a Guru that all the brewers have noticed and appreciate. He (Jim Araneta) is also one of the pioneers of the Philippines for Craft Beer revolution and he supports well known brewmasters as well, up and coming brewers.

A good example of one of those brewers that The Bottle Shop supports would be the Bier Ranger.  His one of the people you’ll see at all the events in Metro Manila. You can’t miss him as he sometimes wears a mask like some superhero. Something you might not know about him is that he is a University of the Philippines student with a passion to make great beer. Their beer has a growing fan club around the campus and no doubt soon in the industry. He likes to keep his name and associates a secret but shh😉 I tried the “Alamat Craft Brew”! And damn what a great beer! I have no doubt that his beer wont be a secret for long but it will shortly be a well known label. Keep it up guys i know you’ll be a big success!

Bier Ranger - Mascot of Filipino Craft Beer

The Bier Ranger can be found wherever Craft Beer is showcased in Metro Manila. The Mascot of Filipino Craft Beer.


I noticed that other bloggers have famous phrases so thought I would make one for fun. Comment and tell me what you think. Keep calm and drink craft beer! Here is my handle. “Here is my stout “Bitches” haha!” 🍻

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Meet the Brewer: Shanghai’s Boxing Cat Brewery Visits Mikkeller Seoul Tomorrow

MJ-BCB Brewhouse

Boxing Cat Brewery has been a craft beer staple of Shanghai since 2008. With three locations in Shanghai, plus another kitchen and taphouse, Boxing Cat is coming to South Korea tomorrow (Feb 20th, 2016) for the first time—at least for a little while.

Tomorrow, beer geeks from Seoul get a chance to try Boxing Cat’s most popular beers and meet their brewer, Michael Jordan. Originally from the U.S. (by way of Denmark), Michael has been the brewer at Boxing Cat since 2010. You can check out Craft Beer Asia’s interview with him from this past summer.

Starting at 3pm tomorrow in Garosu-gil, Mikkeller Seoul will be hosting the Meet the Brewer event. The Booth Itaewon will also be hosting a Boxing Cat Tap Takeover event tomorrow at 2pm.

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Summary of the Korean Craft Beer Scene in 2016

It’s alive!

That’s really the shortest way to put it. The craft beer scene in Korea hasn’t fully grown or developed yet, but there’s no denying that it’s alive.


When I started writing for this blog in the summer of 2013 with my first summary, I really didn’t know where to get craft beer outside of Craftworks and Magpie. It was mostly Cass, Hite, and some big brewery imports. There were other ways to get your hands on good beer known only by savvy expats and Koreans; ways to find  a bottle of Lost Coast or Anderson Valley or even some good homebrew. But for most people, you had to go to Kyungridan.

Ever since then, the scene has been expanding noticeably about every 3-6 months. Soon after I wrote the first summary, Itaewon starting exploding with craft beer. Reilly’s Taphouse had a big selection of imports and almost every hip foreign/fusion restaurant had Lost Coast’s Indica IPA or something similar. Today there’s a zillion places to get a great selection of beer.

I live in Gangnam. Although it’s arguably one of the liveliest and richest neighborhoods in Korea,  I just didn’t know where to find craft beer. I was over the moon when the Star Super grocery store at Dogok Station started selling some imports. Fast-forward two years and I can go to Band of Brewers, three different locations of The Booth, Hopscotch, Funky Taphouse, Boutique B, Pong Dang, or Craftbros.

Areas all over Korea are being infected with the craft beer bug. Busan’s Gwangalli Beach is a new haven that rivals any neighborhood in Seoul. Gwangju, Gangneung, Daejeon, Daegu, Incheon… they all have craft beer.

And there’s tons of places that I, as a non-adventurous foreigner, will never hear about. Places that sell Platinum, Ka-Brew, or 7Brau. There’s hundreds or even thousands of people in the business of craft beer now and it’s become impossible to keep up.

More new breweries are opening up soon. Magpie and Craftworks are both expected to open breweries this Spring. Platinum just opened a Korean location. The Booth is re-launching their brewery this January. There’s more and more Korean spots opening up that I can’t keep track of. There’s still too much re-branding, cross-contract brewing, and beers that don’t advertise where they’re from. It’s still a bit of a jungle. But the fact that there’s so much of it, after just 2.5 years since I’ve started looking, is incredible. And within the scene there’s so much good stuff.

As this is what it comes down to. What’s there to be excited about? For someone who’s just visiting or has just moved to Korea, what’s the bottom line?

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Spotlight: Redpoint Brewing Company – Taiwan

Many countries in Asia are growing thirsty for craft beer. Although developments have not been as rapid in Taiwan, more homegrown breweries are churning out vessels of their brews as we speak. Over time, craft beer has caught up, with a band of 20-ish breweries open today and growing. Numerous bars and venues are adding craft beer to their list of offerings.

Redpoint Brewing Company was founded in 2014 and have come to open a full fledged brewing facility today with a capacity of 50,000L/month. 2 Americans who began as homebrewers, successfully made the leap to professional brewing. Here’s Spencer and Doug with their story.

Redpoint 1.jpg

“Scaling new heights!”

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Spotlight: On Tap Fresh Beer

On Tap fresh beer has been raising some froth in Singapore lately. Following up on Smith Street Taps lead in draft beers cum hawker fare, they have established themselves at a number of locations – ex Newton, Serangoon Gardens, Chinatown Complex in addition to the production joint in Bukit Batok.

Production facility? Yes, we’re getting there – they do brew their own beers locally. I sat down with Mario Nube – their Brewmaster, who was happy to share with me his thoughts on brewing beer.

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Best of 2015 in Korean Craft Beer

Craft Beer Asia’s Best of 2015 for Korea

Since starting the Korean part of this blog in the summer of 2013, a lot has changed in the Korean Craft Beer scene.

This list is a tip of the hat to what I think were the highlights of this past year. This is not an official list or a consensus. I didn’t try all the beers or visit all the pubs. And perhaps some of the candidates were more 2014 than 2015. Deal with it. This is just my personal favorite things in 2015. It is biased, in a sense, but there’s no craft beer place or person in the country that I have a grudge against.

Best Pub of 2015

The First Alleyway (Gwangju)
Pong Dang (Garosu-gil, Seoul)
Galmegi Brewery (Gwangalli Beach, Busan)
CraftBros (Seoraemaeul, Seoul)
Four Seasons (Itaewon, Seoul)

Lots of great, great places that I love have been left off this list. I love going to Reilly’s, Maloneys, Magpie, The Booth, and many more. Plus, there’s lots of great places I haven’t visited yet. The inclusion of The First Alleyway might surprise many who haven’t heard of it or read my pub crawl in Gwangju. I love it because it’s just my favorite space in the country. The food, the friendliness, the games! Galmegi, CraftBros, and Four Seasons all do their own beer. Galmegi has amazing pizza. CraftBros is probably the best bottle shop in the country. But my winner for 2015 is Pong Dang.

Pong Dang has the craziest rotating tap selection in the country. They seem to have a new tap takeover every other week: Magpie, Ballast Point, Upright, Barrel/cask aged imports, etc. They also serve their own contract brews and have been one of the only places in Seoul I’ve been able to find Galmegi and Wild Waves. Throw in a Street Fighter II Turbo arcade game and my bias towards Gangnam locations and we have a winner!

Best Korean Craft Beer of 2015

Maloney’s Combat Zone 2.0
Galmegi’s Hallabong Gose
Hand & Malt’s Chyung Pyung Harvest Ale
Magpie’s The Last Train Baltic Porter
Hand and Malt’s Barrel-Aged Mocha Stout

I’m hugely biased here. I clearly favor Hand & Malt, Magpie, and Galmegi and if I made this list a top 10, probably at least 8-9 spots would go to those three breweries (Maloney’s is brewed at Hand & Malt). It’s hard to leave off the Hand & Malt’s Slow IPA, which many would think is a better choice than the Barrel-aged Mocha Stout which was a little too strong on the bourbon but was new and daring. Also, I love many of the contract brews available at CraftBros, Four Seasons, and Pong Dang. Craftworks did a solid job with their summer series. And my personal favorite might have been Galmegi’s Doljanchi IIPA which didn’t even make the list.

The Combat Zone relaunched at Phillies this year with a little more balance in the hops, bringing more to the aroma and less to the hop bite. The Hallabong Gose is, I think, the single best introductory sour ale with its very light sour and salt touch rounding out the beautiful hallabong citrus and peachy yeast notes. The Chyung Pyung Harvest Ale, the first made with Korean hops, was underwhelming at first. I thought it was slightly vegetal at the launch. After trying it again at Reilly’s, I was surprised with how much more floral and balanced it was! Always give a beer a second chance! What you ate, the time of day, or anything else can change your perception of it. But my winner for 2015 is Magpie’s The Last Train Baltic Porter.


From Magpie’s Facebook page. Magpie also has the coolest artwork for their beers.

Magpie’s Porter was among the first true Korean Craft Beers and remains a very solid choice in today’s crowding market. The Last Train seems to ramp up all that roasty gorgeousness to the max, weighing in at 8%. Fermented slowly at lower temperatures, this is a gorgeous beer. I almost picked Magpie’s A Bird in the Hand RyePA, but realized that was more of a 2014 beer.

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