The BBC has an article with a series of satellite images of North Korea. Surprisingly, there’s a few shots of the Taedongang brewery in there and a little writeup about it.

Satellite image of the Taedongang brewery, NK

Satellite image of the Taedongang brewery, NK

This unprepossessing building houses the Taedongang brewery on the outskirts of the North Korean capital. It was once the Ushers Brewery in Trowbridge in the UK. It was bought from the owners in 2000 and dismantled on site in a matter of weeks by a team of North Koreans and British engineers. It was shipped over to North Korea and was up and running 18 months later. But rather than traditional ale, it now brews a variety of lagers.

“The North Koreans, like the Japanese, like their beer,” says Dr Smith who is Professor of Resilience and Security at Cranfield University. But as sanctions have taken their toll, the key ingredients for brewing are not always available. “The chaff from the harvest is used in brewing. Nothing is wasted,” says Dr Smith.

The distinctive entrance to the brewery

The distinctive entrance to the brewery

Curtis Melvin says he located the brewery “after a tourist sent in a picture of the entry gate which is a very unusual shape. From the air it looks like a large M which I matched to a photograph from an official publication.”

Brewing kettles inside the brewery today

Brewing kettles inside the brewery today

He says the lager he tried when he was last in Pyongyang “had a full flavour” but others are less palatable. “Ryesong beer is pretty awful, leaving a distinct metallic taste,” he says, adding: “In the capital, they drink a lot of beer but outside in the countryside, they prefer their traditional spirit drinks.”

North Korean television recently broadcast an advert for Taedong River Beer. Dubbed the “Pride of Pyongyang”, the advert showed young women in traditional Korean dress serving trays of beer to men in western suits. Kim Jong-il visited the brewery in 2002 where he “(watched) good quality beer (come) out in an uninterrupted flow for a long while,” according to North Korea’s state news agency.

The more I read about North Korean, the more I want to go back there. I can’t honestly remember what this beer tasted like other than a standard national beer like Tsing Tao.

Advertisements