Beer brewers of Korea throw down for Daegu Stout Smackdown

Dave Kim, owner of Wildcat Brewing Busan, Zachary Hooker and Andreas Meyndt of Turmbrau Brewery Busan sample Hooker's homemade Italian Pilsner at The Key Craft Bar in Daegu, April 20. Courtesy of Kevin Grabb

As my train pulls into Dongdaegu Station, I ask myself, “Why don’t more people leave Seoul?” Daegu is a major metropolis with a lot to offer. For me specifically, it’s Korea’s premiere home-brewing competition — the Daegu Stout Smackdown.Started by homebrewer-turned-pro Jared Hatch, this annual competition gives homebrewers in South Korea a chance to flex their skills on all beers dark: stouts, porters, Russian imperial stouts, vanilla stouts — the list is numerous.This competition began in 2015, shortly after Hatch won Best in Show at Seoul’s first homebrew competition. “I wanted something local [to Daegu] and wanted a way to hone my beer judging skills. My friends and I would practice every week to learn the Beer Judge Certification Program guidelines,” said the beer enthusiast.And from those humble, guerrilla-style beginnings, where does he see this competition as being currently? “Oh, it’s much bigger and there are many more Koreans participating,” Hatch claims. “We also have a lot more professional brewers involved and helping out with organizing.”As I enter The Key Craft Bar in Suseong District, there is nary a seat to be found. Every year this event seems to draw in capacity crowds wherever it’s held. The time to enjoy some black, pitch-tar, roasty beverages has begun.

But what exactly is a stout? Many laymen may immediately call to mind Guinness and they would be right. But this is not where it ends. A stout is essentially a beer with a high percentage of roasted grains. This roasting of the grains not only darkens them, but also adds that roasted “chocolate/coffee flavor” to the beer.And what makes a good stout? In a sea of beer experts, I went and probed further. The word “balance” became a keyword here. Ryan Blocker of Galmegi Brewing Busan said, “A balance of roasted notes but with a creaminess.”This was seconded by Patrick Mackay, one of Korea’s most prolific and respected homebrewers: “A balance is nice. Like, the richness of a chocolate or a coffee, but with the cream of a nice espresso.”Andreas Meyndt, German owner of TurmBrau Brewery, acknowldges his country’s lager-heavy history before offering his take: “I’m certainly not an expert on stouts, but not too much roast.”It seems the key here is to balance a nice “burnt” roasted flavor with the “body” of the beverage.I wade through the crowds for another drink. “Seoul Brewery Robust Porter han-jan juseyo.”The crowd becomes larger. People get a little louder, in volume and in numbers. Hatch makes it known that it is almost time to announce the winners.There shall be nine lucky winners tonight. This competition boils down to three categories: low alcohol, high alcohol and spiced. There are first-, second- and third-place prizes for each.Hatch brings out his stack of certificates. “Spiced will be announced,” he yells over the din of merry 카지노사이트킹 revelers.

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