28 (Fri) May 2021
-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-
with the Family
GMTD World Series of Pilsner (4 of 5) (see also WSP)
This project is to taste-test pilsner-style lagers from around the world, mass-market brands widely available in Korea. 16 contenders: 4 from Korea (none really worthy, but anyway), 4 from Europe, 5 from Asia, 3 from the Americas (would’ve preferred an even 4×4 regional spread, but only 3 contenders were deemed worthy from the Americas, so I included a 5th from Asia). The contenders are placed into 4 groups each comprising 1 randomly selected Korean beer, 1 European beer, 1 Asian beer, 1 American beer. The beers are blind-tasted on a 4-point scale for taste and for texture, repeated, tallied to a maxim score of 16 points. In case of a tie, the tying beers would be tasted a third time to determine the favored beer. The winning beer moves on to the final round, along with winners from the other testing groups.
- Asahi Super Dry (Japan): The flagship beer of Asahi Breweries, which was founded in 1889 and yet is only the 4th oldest brewery in Japan. From my experiences 20 years ago helping out at my uncle’s sushi restaurant in San Diego, where Asahi, Sapporo, and Kirin were on the menu, I recall that Kirin was hoppiest and most European in character (my favorite), Asahi was lightest and most refreshing (good for end-of-shift), Sapporo was most balanced (best for food). Asahi Super Dry is currently the most widely available Japanese beer in Korea.
- Beck’s (Germany): My favorite beer when I was a freshman in college, exactly 30 years ago, when I was rushing a fraternity, when “favorite beer” seemed like an important part of one’s character. For no particular reason, I don’t really drink Beck’s these days.
- Kloud (Korea): Produced by Lotte Chilsung, launched in 2014, a major player in the domestic market, 1 of 3 beers mostly likely to be served in restaurants (others are Cass, Terra). According to the website: “Kloud is made with fermented concentrate without dilution with water, using the original gravity method. It is made with raw materials chosen through a strict selection process, providing an authentic European-style beer flavor.” My initial impressions of Kloud have been favorable, making it my current go-to beer in local restaurants.
- Tiger (Singapore): Launched in 1932, when Singapore was still a British colony, now the country’s flagship beer, even though it’s owned by the Heineken group and produced throughout the world. I have extremely fond memories of drinking Tiger in Singapore (see for example 4.265 Chilli Crab), as well as on a liveaboard in the Maldives (see 9.185 Chili Spaghetti).
- Tiger (5.5+6.5)(12.0): rich flavor with a hint of barley, crisp finish – the only non-European to win the group!
- Beck’s (7.0+4.0)(11.0): balanced, dry flavor, solid finish – exactly as I remembered it.
- Kloud (5.5+5.5)(11.0): honey + hoppy, tangy aftertaste – the highest score of all Korean beers tested, though in retrospect I wonder if I was a bit generous in the numbers.
- Asahi Super Dry (6.0+4.5)(10.5): hoppy + bitter, full long finish, but strangely sour in the second tasting – solid performance, even if it came in last.
I have to disclose that bias may have played a role in Tiger’s win. Because I conducted the test by myself, I had to look at the brands after the first tasting to assign the scores. I was thus aware that the “hint of barley” was Tiger, which was easily detectable in the second tasting. I don’t know if I gave a higher score as a result (6.5), though at the time I did recognize the potential bias and tried to be objective. Even if it had received the same score as in the first tasting (5.5), it would’ve tied for first, at which point it likely would’ve won in a tie-breaker.
Puradak is a Korean restaurant chain. Founded 2014. Specializes in fried chicken. The name is a portmanteau of “pura (pure) + dak (chicken).”
The eponymous Puradak Chicken is awesome. Initially oven-roasted then deep-fried, the meat is juicy and the skin is crispy. Seasoned in what seems to be a delicate soy-based sauce, no additional condiments are needed, though the package comes with a sweet chili dip and a creamy mayo dip. This is now our go-to brand.
(See also BOOZE)
(See also FOOD GLOSSARY)
(See also RESTAURANTS IN KOREA)