From Korea to Canada: Han Kang’s craft beer journey

Han Kang (front, centre) and members of Team Beerlionaire at Playground Brewery in Go-yang, South Korea. Contributed photo

One of the things about my job that I love is listening to people tell me about how they discovered and fell in love with craft beer. I recently got an email from South Korean student Han Kang, who is currently visiting Canada to learn more about the craft beer industry here as part of his university program. I love Han’s story, and I think you will, too: he is genuinely passionate about beer and he provides an interesting outside perspective on our plucky little beer scene.

Anyways, here’s Han’s story, I hope you enjoy it.

–Rob Mangelsdorf, editor



Han Kang at the Great Korean Beer Festival. Contributed photo

My craft beer journey began before I entered mandatory military service. I went on a trip to Europe alone and happened to taste beer that I had not been exposed to in Korea. Not only the various flavours of the ingredients and the delicate flavours of the yeast, but also the way they enjoyed beer was very impressive.

That’s how I got into beer and I learned about beer by reading Randy Mosher’s Tasting Beer inside the guard fence.

After I was discharged from the military, I worked at a bottle shop and began to homebrew, in order to develop an understanding of beer.

As I got more experience, I started to share my beer with my classmates at university. Last summer, I convinced four of my classmates to form Team Beerlionaire with me, so we could spread the appeal of craft beer in Korea through food pairing and promotion. Our university selected Team Beerlionaire to take part in a program to travel overseas and explore the craft beer industry.

Our theme was called “Value Overflows the Beer Pint.” The main idea was to propose cooperation among different colleges in Korea through the medium of beer, as part of our business administration major. We wanted to manufacture a granola bar out of beer byproduct at a food science college, while planning, marketing and distributing would be done at our business administration college. Simply put, we wanted to see how the local community and beer could interact positively.

Although these ideas might not seem very fresh for highly developed Canadian beer readers, it was a hot topic enough to attract judges in Korea, where craft beer is rapidly developing, yet still lacking in interest and related skills.

Teem Beerlionaire’s project proposal. Contributed photo

All of the team, of course, wanted to leave for North America, the holy place of craft beer, and we arrived in Portland last July.

As we slowly worked our way north to Vancouver, all of the team was excited. In fact, our team’s most interesting subject was exploring how local communities and beer interact, so we were waiting for the day to arrive in Vancouver the most.

Vancouver is well known for its natural environment and abundant food ingredients, so I wondered what the beer and food pairing would look like.

However, due to unexpected circumstances, all team members except me returned to Korea and I crossed the Canadian border alone.

When I arrived in Vancouver, it was a great despair to me that I could not buy liquor at convenience stores or markets.

For students who use public transportation, there was no time and too much distance to visit all of B.C.’s breweries. However, this problem was resolved as soon as I visited the liquor store’s beer section. I was able to get relatively distant breweries from around the province at the liquor store in Surrey. I was very satisfied that I could not only drink year-round beer, but also seasonal beer.

Coasters from the breweries Han Kang and Team Beerlionaire collected while in North America. Contributed photo

Moreover, every restaurant also had a quality beer selection and the food pairings were perfect. I even went to see a Vancouver Giants hockey game, and the arena was equipped with a Trading Post tap.

While I was in Canada, beer went deeper into my daily life.

I have been to more than 100 breweries since last July and the most satisfying breweries were in B.C.: breweries with a well-paired food menu to support the beer lineup, such as Yaletown, Hearthstone and Postmark Brewery; breweries that have their own unique identity, such as Andina, Electric Bicycle and Storm Brewing; breweries with their own sustainability activities, such as Green Leaf and Dogwood Brewing.

Because of these factors, breweries can serve as a healthy centre for the local community. In other words, good beer exerted its good influence on the local community.

During the past six months, I have visited numerous breweries in BC to learn about the taste, aroma and good influence of beer. At the same time, I felt so much at home in Canada, especially B.C.

From now on, I want to introduce craft beer to Korea, not only for the many various flavours, but also so it can have a positive influence on the community.

–Han Kang

You may also like