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[Herald Review] Hanmac: OB comes up with a fairly good rice-based lager

Oriental Brewery‘s new rice-based lager Hanmac (Oriental Brewery)
Oriental Brewery‘s new rice-based lager Hanmac (Oriental Brewery)
Oriental Brewery unveiled its new beer “Hanmac” late last month, boasting it as “Korea’s representative lager project.”

As the label suggests, the company, famous for its pale lager Cass, set the bar high for itself.

”Some lagers are more than just beers and represent their regions as they do in Germany, Belgium, and the Czech Republic. We hope that ‘Hanmac’ will captivate consumers with its refreshing flavor of Korean rice and become a true ‘K-Lager’ that will represent Korea,“ said Yoo Hee-moon, vice president of OBC.

And to live up to its expectations, Hanmac is brewed with rice, which the company explains, symbolizes the country that was necessary to create a “Korean flavor.”

Having signed a direct contract with local farmers, it only uses “100% home-grown” high-quality rice which has 4.6 percent ABV. Research and tests on the products have been conducted at the Innovation Center located inside OB’s Icheon brewery, as well as a consumer feedback test before its release, which was reflected in the final product.

How does it taste?

At first glance, you are forgiven to see the green bottled beer and be reminded of Terra, a popular beer from South Korea’s second-largest beverage company HiteJinro. But it is worth noting that while the latter is made from malt grown in Australia’s Golden Triangle, the former has been touted as entirely locally produced.

When you crack open the beer, an unmissable wheaty scent arises – not too strong to a point it becomes overpowering but just enough that you know it is there.

When you finally drink it, it tastes surprisingly decent. It has what many would describe as a “clean” taste, rather than rich but it also maintains some depth to its flavor. The aftertaste is not bitter either, though there is room for improvement where smoothness is concerned.

Given its freshness, the clean-tasting beer goes well with spicy dishes such as kimchi fried rice or mapo tofu for instance.

Korea has seen a rise in the number of beers available at not just supermarkets but convenience stores as well, ranging from better known mass-produced beers like Cass to more niche options like Jeju Wit Ale, which means drinkers have more options now than ever.

And against this backdrop, Hanmac comes with the right balance between fresh and rich. And for that alone, it might be worth giving a go.

By Yim Hyun-su (hyunsu@heraldcorp.com)
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