7brau CEO set to find niche with craft brewery

By Kim Tae-gyu

Although the corporate tiles changed a few times due to reasons such as mergers and acquisitions, the domestic beer market has been dominated by Hite-Jinro and OB since 1930.

Hundreds of foreign brands have tried to carve out a niche over the past two decades but they still account for a small fraction of the market, in the neighborhood of 5 percent.

In this climate, the country’s first small-sized brewery, 7brau, is attempting to make a dent in the time-honored duopoly by offering alternative craft beers, which were permitted to be distributed just two years ago.

“We were the first player to win a government license last year after the Seoul administration allowed craft beer companies in 2010 to boost the economy,” 7brau founder and CEO Kim Kang-sam said.

“Based on our flagship product India Pale Ale (IPA) produced with super-clean water from Gangwon Province, we are poised to storm the market. Responses have been good thus far.”

The original pale ale refers to a beer first produced in the United Kingdom in the 19th century. As the British colonial empire expanded into places such as the Indian subcontinent, the beverage was also shipped to the colonially administered territory. But the long voyages compromised the original taste of the pale ale that arrived in British India.

To address this, the hops content was increased to produce what has become known as IPA. It succeeded in maintaining its unique taste during the voyage to India from the U.K.

Kim’s company currently produces three beers, an IPA, pilsner and stout. It started marketing canned IPA at Home plus earlier this month.

Some 30 stores of the country’s No. 2 discount chain put the new beer on their shelves and the number is expected to increase to 50 later this year and to more than 100 by 2013.

“Presently, the canned IPA is available mainly at Home plus outlets in Seoul and its vicinity. They almost sold out in less than a month despite a higher price tag than other major brands,” he said.

“By next year, they will be available throughout the country to compete in the high-end segment.”

With only 11 employees and about 10,000 liters in daily capacity, 7brau is a minnow compared to its mammoth competitors of OB and Hite-Jinro that each boast a capacity of more than 1 million kiloliters.

Yet, Kim is resolutely determined to grapple with the challenge before him.

“The beer industry costs a lot through investment. As a result, small-sized outfits tend to struggle in competing with mega-sized established companies,” the 54-year-old said.

“Yet the eased regulations, coupled with government support for medium- and small-sized enterprises are of help. We are doing well so far, largely in part to the collective support of our workforce.”

Kim expects more new entrants into the industry down the road.

“Various imported brands have gained popularity of late, which shows Korean consumers have turned their sights to alternative options and the trend is expected to accelerate with the advent of craft beer companies,” he said.

“Many others are likely to jump into the ring and as a trailblazer, I think 7brau is required to play an important role while taking big responsibilities.”

Kim has been in the beer industry throughout his career. He opened brewpubs in Seoul in 2003, which caught on with several end users.

He expanded the pubs, dubbed 7brau, to other regions near Seoul and has prepared for his craft beer company through such efforts as inviting a brewmaster from Europe.


Korea’s first production-licensed craft beer company launches its canned IPA in Homeplus

Until now, ale in the can or bottle was a niche market restricted to imported brews. India pale ale ― that hopped-up brew hailing from 18th and 19th century England ― even more so. Then one South Korean brewery changed the course of history last Thursday with the launch of its very own IPA in cans.

7brau (also known as Sevenbrau) ― a craft beer company that first made a name for itself with draft beers sold throughout bars in Seoul ― is a pioneer in more ways than one.

Not only did has it released its domestically-produced IPA in Homeplus stores throughout Seoul and Gyeonggi Province, it is the nation’s first mid-to-small-sized beer company to nab a standard beer production license that allows it to brew beer that can be sold in more than one establishment. From a larger perspective that essentially means domestic craft beer is no longer a brew that can only be primarily enjoyed at a microbrewery or brewpub. 7brau obtained its license a year ago. Now the company is taking the first steps to going mass market with an unlikely brew. Rather than canning its pilsner ― which is a lager, and therefore more familiar to Korean consumers ― 7brau opted for ale.

“We wanted to differentiate ourselves from the crowd with our initial launch and the IPA is quite possibly something novel to Korean consumers, though that may not be the case overseas,” 7brau director Kim Kyo-ju, 38, said over the phone.

7brau’s IPA, at its 2,600 won per can price tag, is a pretty good buy for fans of this style of beer. Complex, this is a brew to be savored, not chugged, and it is a good stand-alone libation.

The strong suit of 7Brau’s IPA is in its well-executed interplay between bitter, fruity and creamy notes. Just when the bitterness of the hops seems to be stealing the spotlight, aromas of mango and pineapple rush in before being softened by a lush hint of cream.

“We want a balanced flavor that is not too bitter,” said Kim. “We want it to be robust.”

Kim explained that 7brau was going for an American-style IPA, which makes sense, considering the style’s popularity on an international level.

While IPA originated in England in around the 18th and 19th century, where it was made for export to European consumers in India, American craft brewers have been producing their riffs on the style for years now.

For 7brau’s version, Cascade hops are used, which gives the beer its floral and fruity notes. The beer is brewed in Gangwon Province from water from the region.

To properly enjoy it, Kim recommends refrigerating the beer for two to three hours and then pouring it into a glass before drinking.

The IPA is currently sold in 30 Homeplus outlets throughout Seoul and Gyeonggi Province, with plans for expansion to stores nationwide by next year.

A Homeplus representative said that consumer response had been good thus far and of the decision to sell 7brau, added, “We believe that 7brau’s beer has a competitive edge.”

“It is the third beer company to come into being in Korea,” the representative said over the phone. “It is a domestic, premium beer of good quality.”

The other two firms the representative was referring to are domestic beer goliaths Oriental Brewery and Hite Jinro, whose history goes as far back as the 1920s and 1930s. 7brau obtained its beer production permit approximately 80 years after the two got theirs during the Japanese colonial period.

Unlike its predecessors, 7brau is much smaller-scale craft beer company. Director Kim predicts that more mid-to-small sized breweries like 7brau could jump into the beer-in-a-can market in the future, giving way to a mass-market, domestic artisanal beer movement.


맥주 시장 판도 달라지나?‥지방 맥주시대 연다



현재 우리나라의 맥주시장은 이처럼 오비맥주와 하이트진로가 양분하고 있습니다.

모두 라거 종류의 맥주들이라 그 맛이 비슷한데요.

최근 들어 프리미엄급 국산 맥주를 표방하며 제3의 맥주업체가 등장해 관심을 모으고 있습니다.

횡성에 있는 이 맥주업체의 공장에 양윤경 기자가 다녀왔습니다.


강원도 횡성의 맥주 공장.

국내 세 번째로 맥주 제조면허를 딴 중소기업이 횡성의 지하 암반수로 맛을 내겠다며 터를 잡았습니다.

지난 해 맥주 제조시설 기준이 완화되면서 78년 만에 등장한 제3의 국산 맥줍니다.

고온에서 발효시켜 과일 맛의 진하고 깊은 맛을 내는 이른바 에일 공법으로 승부를 보겠다는 계획입니다.

◀INT▶ 김강삼 대표/세븐 브로이

"이태원, 강남, 홍대 젊은층과 외국인들의 입맛을 사로잡은 자신감에 캔맥주까지 생산하게 되었습니다."

현재 국산 맥주 시장은 오비맥주와 하이트 진로가 55대 45로 양분하고 있습니다.

하지만 비슷한 공법에 획일화된 맛은 국산 맥주 애호가들에게 아쉬움으로 꼽혀 왔습니다.

◀INT▶ 강명주

"국산 맥주는 좀 맛이 다양하지가 않은 것 같고요. 그리고 다들 비슷비슷한 맛인 것 같고."

반면 수입 맥주는 가격이 두 배가 넘는 프리미엄 시장을 공략해 점유율을 5년전 3%에서 5%까지 올렸습니다.

일본, 네덜란드, 미국산이 절반을 차지하는 가운데, 체코 등 유럽 맥주까지 종류가 450개가 넘습니다.

◀INT▶ 이상민

"맥아의 그런 맛을 느낄 그런 것도 있고요. 단맛이나 이런 것 개성적인 맛 여러 가지가 있잖아요. 그러니까 그것을 여러 류로 맛보는 것 자체가 그런 것도 색다른..."

독과점 체제가 지속돼 온 국산 맥주 시장에 수입 맥주의 공세가 강화되고 있는 상황.

중소기업표 맥주에 이어 제주개발공사에서도 제주보리와 제주물로 만든 '제주도표' 맥주를 선보이겠다고 나서고 있어 국내 맥주 시장의 판도가 어떻게 변할지 주목됩니다.

MBC뉴스 양윤경입니다.


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  • 세븐브로이맥주 'KPA' 수제맥주로 수제맥주 본고장인 미국 시장 본격 진출
  • 세븐브로이맥주, 안중근 하얼빈 의거 110주년 기념 '독립 1909' 선봬
  • 일본 술 불매운동 장기화...국내 수제맥주 ‘잘나가네’
  • 세븐브로이맥주, `강서Rose Tap`캔 출시

인기 게시물 5개

  • [지역맥주 인기]강서맥주·달서맥주, 편의점 매출도 해당 지역서 고공행진
  • [2018 대한민국 퍼스트브랜드 대상] 강서·달서맥주, 한국 최초 수제맥주 제조기업 세븐브로이맥주
  • [특이한 기자들] 판 커지는 수제맥주 시장…규제 완화 업고 '훨훨'
  • 김강삼 세븐브로이 대표 “신문읽다 무릎 탁… ‘대통령 맥주’ 대박 있게한 스승”
  • “우리 경쟁 상대는 OB?하이트가 아닌 프리미엄 수입 맥주”