Nov 032011


Hite and Cass have ridiculous advertisements

Either the worst ads or the best ads of all time. I can’t decide.

Ahh yes. The Big Question. Some feel that Hite and Cass are interchangeable, while some are loyal to their brands (I’m a Hite guy, but I didn’t really know why). Finally, we’re going to put this question to bed: WHAT IS THE BEST BEER IN KOREA?

We got our friends together to do a blind taste-test. There were eight of us.

It was basically a face-off between two brewing companies: Hite Brewery Company (which makes Hite, Max Prime, Hite Dry Finish and Hite Stout) vs Oriental Brewery (which makes Cass, OB Golden Lager and Cafri). For this taste test, Cafri and Stout were left out because of their type not having a direct competitor from the other brewery.

Note: In terms of sale by volume in Korea, Hite is #1, Cass is #2 and Max Prime is #3.

A Note on Perceived Coolness:

Cass Beer Logo, Korea

Cass: Great logo. Does it have the taste to back it up?

Hite is pretty cool, just because it says “The Hite” on their kegs and bottle openers. The article ‘the’ exudes awesomeness. In fact, Tom and I have often thought of changing the name of this very site to ‘The Busan High Five (Awesome).’

Oriental Brewery, however, has some pretty cool stuff of its own. First, the name is a lot classier and descriptive (what’s a Hite?). Cass actually has some very cool stuff going for it too. They use the phrase “Tok!” which I like, but I don’t know when it’s appropriate to use, though. Maybe when cheers-ing? They also have an awesome catch-phrase: THE SOUND OF VITALITY. Is Cass less filling? Does it taste great? Who cares; Cass sounds good. Also, check out their logo. Way cool.

The Methodology of the Taste Test:

(Dave, I don’t care; show me the results!)

All beer was imbibed out of mugs or plastic cups. To make it uniform, only canned beer was used. I’ve read that untrained palates can’t actually process more than two tastes at once, so we separated the taste test into three groups of two.

1. Simple beers: Cass vs Hite;
2. ‘Premium’ beers: Max vs OB Golden Lager; and
3. Dry beers: Hite Dry Finish vs Asahi*

*I realize Asahi isn’t Korean – but since a) Hite Dry Finish was made to directly compete for market share with Asahi and b) Hite Dry Finish (surprisingly) won an earlier taste test vs Asahi between my friends and I, it would serve as a re-match.

My fiance handled the pouring. It was done by an honor system of “close your eyes!” Participants weren’t told which round it was, but after every two beers, we stopped and discussed the tastes, and the real beers were revealed.

The Results:






Cass vs Hite
Unbeknownst to us, Cass was the first one poured. The taste yielded the same result from everyone: “Ew!” “Tasteless!” “Like cat piss, but… no flavor!” Hite was next: “A little more taste than the first.” “Not bad” and “Still shitty.”

WINNER: HITE, undisputedly




Max vs OB Golden
We didn’t know it, but Max was first. “Full taste” was the term that came to mind with most of us. All-in-all, we all agreed that it was actually pretty damn good. Then OB Golden Lager. It was clearly better and fuller than Hite or Cass, but not as good as the Max. Somebody might have mentioned “berries!” when describing the flavor.

WINNER: MAX, but OB is a good bet too




Hite Dry vs Asahi
Months before, we tried a taste test between these two, and much to everyone’s surprise, Hite D was the winner. Tom refused to believe it, so we had to have a re-match. The results, once again, put Hite D on top with the majority of us, although Asahi is still a pretty damn good beer. Hite D was found to be a bit more crisp, and the term “malt” might have been thrown around, although I don’t know if that’s even the right word. You can tell we’re real pros.

WINNER: HITE D, although both are pretty damn good
Oriental Brewery took a pounding; the clear winners of the night are all of the Hite beers: Hite, Max and Hite D.


The final results of the Battle of Korean Beers:

1. Max or Hite Dry Finish (depending on your mood)
3. OB Golden Lager
4. Hite
5. Cass



  11 Responses to “What’s the Best Beer in Korea?”

  1. Hey, Dave

    I love this post! the taste of most Korean beers are pretty same to me but my brother who is a beer lover comments that Cass is more bubbly than Hite so he feels its more refreshing!

    I’ve recently tasted OB Golden lager I like this one, frankly its fake version of German beer type but the taste is quite matured compared to Cass and Hite.

    Thanks for the taste test! 🙂

  2. Being totally sober reading this- I would say that this is the most awful beer ads I’ve ever seen. I live in Japan and that is saying a lot. However, I would say your review of all those beers is some of the best I’ve ever read. Now for the ultimate test- seeing if I still agree with my comments after I try them all out when I get there next month…

    • Haha thanks Gary. The dudes in the ads are just so… shiny. You’ll have to let us know what you think after you drink all of ’em.

  3. After a month sampling the local beers i have to say i am leaning towards OB but did have the pleasure of drinking a few Red Rocks last night which where surprisingly good with a caramel after taste….im not sure if they qualify i know ob is brewing it here but am unsure of country of origin still a def thumbs up if you are after a change from the main 5..
    loving the page by the way wish i found it earlier

    • I tried to do a little research on Red Rocks… I think it’s only made in Korea from what I’ve found. Still, made by OB, you’d think they’d distribute it to more bars around Korea? Thanks, Chris

  4. I would like to second the Red Rocks comment. By far my favorite of the “Korean” beers.

    • Last night, I had draft Red Rock with a pork cutlet at a Japanese restaurant near Kyodae Station, in Kangnam. The Red Rock was very nice, smooth but flavorful, slightly sweet and with a mild caramel taste. It went superbly with the pork cutlet and the accompanying sauce. I will buy a case of Red Rock if I can find it at Emart, where until now I have been buying German wheat beers.

  5. Having tasted both, I’m amazed they’re even called “beer.” Neither can hold a candle to a German lager or American craft ale.

  6. Hite rocks!! Probably the coolest beer in Asia!

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