Is this the coolest brewery in Asia?

Ask travelers about the best things to drink in ...

Posted: Nov 15, 2018 5:22 AM
Updated: Nov 15, 2018 5:22 AM

Ask travelers about the best things to drink in South Korea and they might mention soju or green tea.

However, that image could be changing thanks to a small-but-dedicated craft brewing community that's sprung up in the country.

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Sid Kim was born in South Korea but grew up in California, giving him an equal appreciation for all things kimchi and guacamole.

He is now the proprietor of Vatos Urban Tacos, Seoul's first Mexican-Korean fusion restaurant, which is in the expat-friendly neighborhood of Itaewon.

He also loves craft beer and went on an adventure with CNN Travel to track down some of Korea's brewing innovators.

Among Kim's destinations was Magpie Brewing Co on Jeju Island, which is located in a former tangerine warehouse. (Check out his entire journey in the above video.)

The Hawaii of South Korea

Jeju Island, off the south coast of the Korean peninsula, is known as the Hawaii of South Korea. It's where many of the country's finest teas and skincare ingredients come from and a popular vacation destination for locals and tourists alike.

Magpie's pioneering female brewer, Seolhee Lee, shows Kim around when he arrives.

"The thing about this island is that it's really small," Lee explains. "That means you can be friends with the eco-farmers."

She and her team source many of their ingredients, from cinnamon to peanuts to (fittingly) tangerines, locally on Jeju.

"It's like farm to table but farm to bottle," adds Kim, who raves about Magpie's peanut beer, a brown ale called Little One, saying it reminds him of peanut butter.

Magpie is known for innovating with its flavor combinations and was also the first brewery in Korea to make a sour beer.

While sours are popular in Belgium and the United States, the style is still relatively new in South Korea and throughout Asia.

It's also rare to see women brewing and producing their own beer, making Lee a trendsetter in more than one way.

If you want to try one of Magpie's beers for yourself, you don't necessarily need to book a flight to Jeju.

The brand's signature pale ale is now on tap -- where else? -- at Vatos Urban Tacos.

Vatos Urban Tacos, Itaewon-ro 15-gil, Itaewon 1(il)-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea; +82 2-797-8226

Magpie Brewing Co, 1261-7 Samdoi-dong, Cheju, Jeju-do, South Korea; +82 64-720-8227

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