The English Brewery That Relocated To North Korea

Few in the Western world know much about North Korea — a country that mostly tends to keep to itself — let alone about its cuisine. According to World Travel Guide, those who are already familiar with South Korean food have a decent idea of what North Koreans eat. This is because of the two countries' shared history and cultural heritage. One could expect to see meat, rice, and veggies in their dishes dining in North Korea. Specialties include bulgogi (marinated grilled beef), gimbap (sushi), japchae (stir-fried sweet potato noodles), kimchi (fermented cabbage or radish in brine), miyeokguk (seaweed soup), and tteok (sticky rice cakes).

Despite being similar to South Korean cuisine, there are some differences, per Young Pioneer Tours. Based on its geographical location, North Korea receives more influence from Manchurian/Chinese cuisine and relies more on crops that fare well in its mountainous environment. It also fishes nearby waters for seafood often. The country also has its unique, contemporary take on Western food. In terms of flavor profile, it can be said that North Korean food is less spicy and more sour than that of their southern neighbor.

What about drinks? Some of the common beverages are daechucha (jujube tea), makgeolli (sweet rice wine), and soju (a clear spirit like sake but made from barley or sweet potato), per World Travel Guide. As noted by Young Pioneer Tours, Beer is a relatively new addition to North Korean menus, one that's catching on.

Taedonggang Brewing Company offers seven types of beer

Per Atlas Obscura, the North Korean government decided to buy a foreign brewery and make it a state-run establishment around the turn of the millennia. The brewery in question was Ushers of Trowbridge, which according to Independent, had been in business for nearly two centuries. This British brewery was once well regarded for its "Best Bitter" and "Founders Ale" drinks, but eventually, business slowed down, so it went up for sale. That's how the North Korean government was able to dismantle, ship, and rebuild the factory and all of its equipment in their country. The Ushers of Trowbridge brewmaster spent weeks teaching North Korean workers how to replicate his creations.

The establishment is located in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, and it's known as Taedonggang Brewing Company, as noted by Atlas Obscura. It offers seven styles of beer, ranging from the dark and chocolatey "Beer Number Seven" to the light pilsner "Beer Number One." Across the street from the factory is a restaurant bar where locals can drink Taedonggang beer (via Koryo Tours). It's technically possible for foreigners to tour the brewery, but only if they're industry specialists. There are exports of Taedonggang Beer in other countries, but it's not widely available. The best bet consumers have of finding Taedonggang beer outside North Korea would be in Korean supermarkets in China. For those of us in the West, that may be too far to travel for a drink that was once brewed in merry old England.