세븐브로이
 

불붙은 마트發 맥주 전쟁… 가격·맛 다양해져

라거 일색인 국산맥주시장서 에일맛 내는 제3맥주社 등장, 가격도 수입제품의 절반 불과


마트가 獨맥주회사와 손잡고 가격 확 낮춘 상품 내놓기도

지난 10일 강원도 횡성군의 세븐브로이 공장. 맥주 주입(注入) 라인은 떡집 마냥 더운 수증기가 가득했다.

"찬 맥주를 넣은 뒤 캔 표면에 수증기가 달라붙지 않게 하는 작업입니다. 수증기가 맺히면 포장이 젖으니까요."

이 회사 김강삼(54) 대표는 포장 중인 맥주 캔을 들어 보이며 말했다.

세븐브로이는 정부의 맥주 제조 규제 완화에 따라 작년 10월 맥주 제조 일반면허를 받았다. 1933년 동양맥주(오비맥주 전신)와 조선맥주(하이트진로 전신)가 면허를 받은 뒤 78년 만에 탄생한 제3의 맥주회사다. 국산 맥주가 청량감이 강한 맥주인 '라거(lager)' 일색인 반면 이 회사는 쌉쌀한 맛이 강한 '에일(ale)' 가운데서 고급으로 분류되는 '인디언 페일 에일'을 만든다. 현재 하루 평균 500L를 생산해 수도권 30여개 홈플러스를 통해 판매한다. 10월 초에 홈플러스로 출하된 355mL짜리 캔맥주 2만개 중 3분의 2가 일주일 만에 팔려나갔다는 게 김 대표의 설명이다. 그는 "이제 큰 도화지에 바늘구멍 하나 낸 수준이지만 소비자들의 맥주 입맛이 까다로워지고 있고, 수입 에일 맥주에 비해 가격이 절반 수준(2600원)이어서 해볼 만하다"고 말했다.

진로하이트와 오비맥주가 80년 가까이 양분해 온 국내 맥주 시장에 균열이 생기고 있다. 제3의 맥주회사가 등장하는가 하면 대형마트가 외국 맥주회사와 만든 '마트표 맥주'가 시장에 쏟아지고 있다. 아직 생산·유통량이 기존 맥주 회사의 3% 수준인 '틈새시장'이지만 싸고 다양하면서 질 좋은 맥주를 마시려는 소비자들 사이에서 인기가 높아지고 있다.

대형마트들은 수입 맥주 가격을 낮추면서 이런 흐름을 증폭시키고 있다. 롯데마트는 18일부터 '엘(L) 맥주' 3종을 출시한다. 독일 1위 맥주회사인 웨팅어가 만들었다. 500mL 캔 가격이 1600원으로, 롯데마트가 기존에 팔던 웨팅어사 맥주보다 400~1000원 내렸다. 같은 용량의 국산 맥주보다 10% 저렴하다. 롯데마트는 난색을 보이는 웨팅어사를 박리다매(薄利多賣) 전략으로 설득했다. 연간 300만캔을 들여와 롯데마트 등에서 판매할 예정이다. 300만캔은 롯데마트에서 지난해 팔린 수입 맥주의 60% 수준이다.

대형마트의 수입 맥주 가격 인하 경쟁은 지난해 한-EU 자유무역협정(FTA) 발효로 본격화됐다. 수입 맥주 가격이 국산 맥주 수준으로 떨어졌고, 일본(아사히)·네덜란드(하이네켄) 중심이었던 수입 맥주 시장에 유럽산 맥주가 대거 들어왔다. 현재 팔리는 수입 맥주만 100여 종에 이른다. 이런 와중에 지난 7~8월 하이트맥주와 오비맥주가 제품 가격을 6% 가까이 올리면서 수입 맥주 수요가 크게 늘었다.

이마트의 경우 올 1~9월까지 전체 국산 맥주 판매는 작년 대비 0.5% 감소한 반면 수입 맥주는 53% 늘었다. 롯데마트의 올해 수입 맥주 판매도 작년보다 25% 늘어났다. 한-EU FTA로 기존 관세(30%)가 매년 3.75%씩 인하되므로 수입 맥주의 가격 경쟁력은 더 커질 전망이다.

기존 맥주 업계는 수입 맥주나 중소기업 맥주를 아직 '찻잔 속의 태풍'으로 여기는 분위기다. 전체 국내 맥주 소비량 중 수입 맥주 비율은 아직 3% 선에 불과하기 때문이다. 세븐브로이가 일년 내내 공장을 가동해도 작년 하이트진로 맥주 생산량의 0.4%에 불과하다.

하지만 이런 변화가 조만간 맥주 시장의 티핑포인트(tipping point·사회적 조류가 바뀌는 순간)로 이어질 수 있다는 분석이 나오고 있다. 이영은 롯데마트 주류 담당은 "동네 바(bar)나 해외여행을 통해 다양한 맥주를 경험하는 인구가 급증하면서 색다른 맥주에 대한 소비자 수요가 폭발적으로 늘어날 것이란 관측이 많다"고 말했다.

http://goo.gl/OmBlq

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.

http://goo.gl/hvcgGH

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.

http://goo.gl/GBpFR1

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