For the unfamiliar, OB produces a large percentage of Korea's beers, including the Cass and Cafri lines. Their chief competitor is Hite. Generally speaking, Korean beers are brewed with rice rather than barley malt, and therefore have a different flavor profile than Westerners are used to. Lighter. Weaker, some would say.
Well, different. At 4 to 5% ABV, certainly not less potent.
A little history: Oriental Brewery, "since 1933" as the logo says, was a victim of Japanese colonialism. Then the Doosan chaebol came along:
Oriental Brewery was re-established in the aftermath of the Korean War, emerging later as a reputable international brewer with a diversified portfolio that included construction, machinery, glass, beverages, media, and trade businesses.Indeed, today's Doosan Bears baseball franchise was originally the OB Bears, as we were reminded on baseball's opening day at Jamsil Stadium when the pre-game festivities celebrated 30 years of the KBO.
When Colonel Sanders brought Kentucky Fried Chicken to Korea in the early 1980s to popular acclaim, OB saw an opportunity to sell a lot of beer by marrying it to fried chicken, and opened hundreds of "chicken hofs" around the country. What better to wash down that delicious new Western golden fried meat than a crisp cold beer? What, indeed? It was a successful strategy that is no less successful today.
OB no longer shelters under the Doosan umbrella--bought by InBev a decade ago and shed to KKR in 2009, it is a back-bencher in the game played by the Big 10, who now account for 65% of the USD 300 billion industry.
So how is the OB Golden Lager? I wish I knew, but my sinuses have been decimated by the recent haze of yellow dust, I have a sore throat and occasional sneezing fits. Still, I'm taking one for the Dear Readers and trying to work my way through the six-pack as a taste test.
I can recommend it, though, because despite all that, it has a definite beer taste. It also has a nice head and a darker color than, say, Cass. E-Mart has had Carlsberg on sale, so I have been spoiled by a good Danish lager from the folks who isolated the species of yeast that makes pale lager and brought us the pH scale.