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Keeping it localBrewer retrains Jeju palates
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승인 2010.02.25  13:08:23
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Boris de Mesones has taken the phrase “keep it local” and made Modern Times bar and brewery a success. So much so that de Mesones has opened a second micro brewery in the City Hall area. Modern Times first opened in 2006 in Shin Jeju, where it offers a selection of beer to challenge the palates of Korean Cass or Hite lager drinkers. De Mesones said that the Hite or Cass commonly found in the country’s many marts is the preferred beverage for most Korean beer drinkers. The lagers are sweeter than other types of beer, such as the more bitter pale ale and stout. Most days Modern Times offers six beers on tap, which include Jeju Boris, Pilsner, Pale Ale, Wheat, Stout and Double Bock.

According to de Mesones, Koreans are very similar to southern Europeans in the type of beer they prefer - warmer countries tend to drink lighter beers. He said their relationship with beer is somewhat basic. Unlike in the United States and northern Europe, where there are multiple small breweries producing a variety of specialty beers, Koreans are unfamiliar with the different tastes. Until 2002, micro breweries were not allowed in South Korea so the peninsula is still catching up on many Anglo Saxon and German styles. De Mesones said that for this reason, Koreans are learning, little by little, that the bitterness of a beer is actually something very special.

“For example, when we started in the beginning everyone was complaining, ‘Oh the beer is bitter, there is something wrong.’ I tell them, ‘No, there is nothing wrong. The beer is just bitter.’ The more they drink the bitter beers the more they stop drinking the sweet beers,” he said.

The success of a micro brewery is largely determined by its location, he said.

“You need to focus on the market niches, so if you want to focus on people who like special beers, you have to produce a special beer and you have to develop it yourself - you cannot depend on someone else to do it for you. Here in Korea it is different, you have to get local.” Mesones said that means buying local Korean barley, which requires a much different brewing process than the Germans or Anglo Saxons use.

“Initially some 200 micro breweries started after the 2002 World Cup, today all but 40 have gone bankrupt and only 10 are making money.”

▲ Brewer Boris de Mesones is introducing Jeju drinkers to micro-brewed beer, one glass at a time. Photos by Brian Miller

He believes that was because Korean micro breweries were relatively inexperienced.

“When Korea began to build brew pubs, they brought German brew masters over and once they set up all the equipment the locals thought brewing was very easy and they fired the brew masters and they started doing everything themselves. So the quality started dropping little by little and they were unable to use local products because they didn’t know about the process.

“They were following the process of the Germans and this and the Anglo Saxon process is very different,” de Mesones said.

The current law in Korea allows micro breweries to only sell their product at their premises. Micro breweries pro-duce less than 15,000 barrels or 1.7 million liters per year. Corporate brewing companies like Budweiser and Oriental Brewing (OB) produce about 1.8 billion liters per brewery. De Mesones said new legislation is expected in July overturning the law which prohibits him from selling his brews by the bottle. If that change occurs, he expects to become a busy man.

The newest Modern Times location, which opened in November 2009, currently offers only commercially brewed bottled beer as de Mesones is still in the process of purchasing and placing brew tanks. He expects the beer brewed there will have a slightly different taste because of the new equipment but believes it will be as good as, if not better, than that he currently brews. The two-story building is itself something of a landmark in Jeju, and was constructed by an artist from wood logs and carvings. The food on offer is traditional anju, or Korean snacks, at present but de Mesones intends to introduce a Spanish tapas menu. (Tapas are small portions of traditional Spanish-style dishes.) If the tapas are well-received by customers, the Spanish menu will be extended.



Modern Times, City Hall area
382-14 Ido-2dong Jeju City
Tel: 064-726-4141
Modern Times, Shin Jeju
263-6 YeondongJeju City
Tel: 064-747-4180

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