NORTH KOREA'S NATIONAL BEER TAEDGONGGANG HAS A VERY BRITISH ORIGIN
By Tony Zhu
Source: Korean Central News Agency
North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) recently published a story about the 20th anniversary of the popular Taedgonggang Brewery, but the news agency has failed to tell its readers that the original facilities of the brewery were actually transplanted from a disused brewery from the United Kingdom.
After twenty years of operation, Taedgonggang beers known for its crisp mouthfeel and clean finish, have achieved the status of North Korea’s national beer.
The KCNA report has emphasised that the factory was "built under the care of Chairman Kim Jong Il," with a view to “produce beer of the best quality for the people."
The report also said the current supreme leader, Kim Jong Un, has followed the brewery's progress, visiting the site several times to "encourage its officials and workers to further improve the flavour and quality of beer."
The Pyongyang-based Taedgonggang Brewery now produces 70 million litres of beer a year, using water from the natural springs in the Milim district and barley and hops grown in the north of the country.
The factory's beer has an alcohol content of 5.7 percent and is extremely popular among Pyongyang consumers who will flock to beer gardens to enjoy the beer in summer time.
However, according to German News Agency DW, Taedgonggan beers actually have deep roots in the west that KCNA has failed to highlight in the special report.
Relations between North Korea and the west was far better in 2000, when the Pyongyang government decided to build a brewery, and today’s economic sanctions were not in place.
With virtually no knowledge in making beer, DW said that North Korean officials decided to purchase a foreign beer-making facility.
Through connections in Germany, North Korea came to know that a plant operated by British brewers Ushers in Wiltshire had recently been shut down and the equipment were on sale.
"One day, these North Korean government officials and some brewers arrived, there were also some Russian engineers involved and, because of all the languages, it was a very complicated process," Gary Todd, the Wiltshire brewery’s head brewer, told DW.
"They were very impressed with the Ushers set-up and seemed excited that they were going to be able to move it all to North Korea and set it all up again," Todd said.
It was said the North Korean officials wanted everything in the building including plastic cups from the drinks dispenser and even the toilet seats.
Towards the end of the project, the North Koreans caught Todd by surprise. "They told management that they wanted me to go to North Korea to set everything up and start the brewing processes, but it would have been a two-year commitment, at least, and I had a young family at the time and I didn't want to go."
Some years later a journalist who had visited the plant in Pyongyang brought Todd a Taedgonggang beer, which Todd said: "It was crisp and with a good clean finish. It was very good, far better than I had expected, and I was impressed."
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