Canadian craft beer brewery, Mission Springs Brewing Company, has found it’s audience all the way in South Korea.
Co-owners Brock Rodgers and Ken Brookes opened Mission Springs Pub in British Columbia, Canada in 1988. While the company grew they added a brewery and restaurant in 1996. Currently, Mission Springs offers 19 exotic craft beers such as Lemon Ginger Radler, Big Chief Cream Ale, Bombshell Blonde Ale, Trailblazer Pilsner and Fraser Valley IPA.
In 2012, Rodgers visited Santino Sortino in Korea, and local importers suggested opening a pub style restaurant with Mission Springs beers on tap. A year later Rodgers and Brookes opened Springs Tap House in the Itaewon district. Since then business has been booming, and a second pub opened only four months later in Seoul. A third pub location is in the works for Cheongdam, and a fourth location would be in Busan. There has even been discussion to open a brewery in Seoul in the next few years.
“The one that’s in Itaewon is, like, a party zone. It’s packed every single night, just rammed full of people, and it’s on one of the main strips.” gladly expresses Rodgers.
Half a pint of beer goes for $10-$11 Canadian dollars, and has brought a slew of questions from Korean customers about their other beers on the menu, how the beer is produced, and what ingredients are used. Ian Rodgers, Brock Rodgers son, confessed the most popular beers at Springs Tap House are strong dark beers, light lagers, and hoppy IPAs.
Why has Canadian craft beer become so popular in Korea? Aaron Um, manager of Springs Tap House, says it’s because Koreans are embracing the new and unknown flavours. Craft beer is a new trend amongst Korean beer drinkers, and they quickly want to know and taste more.
“We had to add an additional 300 per cent to our manufacturing capacity and are currently installing a new kegging, canning, and bottling line. I just ordered eight new fermenters to quadruple our production.” explains Rodgers.
In March the Canadian and South Korean governments debuted a trade agreement that would lower tariffs on goods imported from Canada. Additionally, Canada and Korea want to eventually eliminate a 30 per cent tax on Canadian beer over the next seven years.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture calculated in 2012 that South Korea imported $73.5 million dollars worth of beer from countries all over the world, which was up 26 per cent from 2011.
As for the Missions Springs Brewery, they are very excited for their future in Korea as they have become the primary craft beer at the Museum of Modern Contemporary Art in Seoul.
“The acceptance and success of these facilities in Korea has far exceeded our expectations, and we look forward to opening more.” added Rodgers.