Several years ago, a young Korean entrepreneur reached out to us about his dream to start a craft brewery in South Korea. It is not unusual for people to approach us with their ideas. Some are bad, many are crazy. Others are interesting, but the solicitors flake out and we never hear from them again.
After my first meeting with Hyukkee Moon and his partners, I wasn’t sure which camp to place them in. The idea of starting a craft brewery in Korea, a market dominated by a duopoly of big brewers, with complicated and protectionist alcohol laws, and high taxes, didn’t initially seem obvious. But these guys had a passion and determination we could relate to and appreciate. Would we hear from them again?
We did, and 3 years later, we can proudly announce our partnership in the founding of Jeju Brewing Company.
Jeju Brewing Co. marks the next chapter of our Brooklyn Brewery Projects, following the development of Nya Carnegiebryggeriet, in Stockholm and E.C. Dahls in Norway. As in our other sister breweries, we have locally based partners to help create a new line of beers, this time under the new brand of Jeju Brewing Co. On Jeju Island, we will brew craft beer by traditional methods inspired by local culinary customs and ingredients under the leadership of Brooklyn Brewmaster Garrett Oliver and the rest of our team. Here in Brooklyn, we have the good fortune of easy access to food from all over the world. Korean food ranks high on that list and we’re eager to brew beers to match. (And we’ll keep you posted on those beers here on the Brooklyn Blog.)
If this is all starting to sound a little too wild, let us clarify some obvious questions. First off, what and where exactly is this Jeju Island? Picture this: along with over 12 million tourists each year, we were drawn by Jeju Island’s lush tropical landscapes and miles of beachfront reaching to greet the warm South Sea off the Korean coast. All this natural beauty steals the show from perhaps the island’s greatest treasure: pure, undisturbed ground wells filled with water that has filtered unhurriedly through the volcanic island’s interior, forming a unique water source famed throughout Asia. (The island’s second greatest treasure is, of course, its sprawling erotic sculpture garden. That link is definitely not safe for work.)
Now, about the foreboding Korean beer market. When I looked into it further, I found that in many ways, the Korean beer scene is similar to that of New York City when Brooklyn Brewery was founded 28 years ago. While Korea does have a storied history of interesting and flavorful spirits such as soju, takju and traditional flower wines, the Korean beer market largely consists of light lager. Recently, Korea has started to become exposed to American craft beer through a few start-up breweries, exports and Korean student travel in the United States.
As with the Nya Carnegie brewery, we will hire a team of brewers and train them in Brooklyn. There will be a constant circulation of brewers from all four of our teams from Brooklyn, Stockholm, Trondheim, Norway, and Jeju, making up what could be the most interesting and varied craft brewing super group to ever land on the charts. We’re actively hiring a brewing team for Jeju. All of the job postings will be launched here and on the Brooklyn Brewery Job Opportunities page.
Ultimately, our partnership is about helping to start a craft brewery in a burgeoning market. Among the Brooklyn Brewery’s core value are entrepreneurship, community, and education. This project has all three. We are excited to participate in this bold venture and further our mission of promoting craft beer globally. Hopefully, one day soon, you’ll join us for a beer on Jeju. And maybe we’ll hit the erotic sculpture garden too.
- Robin Ottaway, Brooklyn Brewery PresidentBack to all blog posts