Koreans love to drink. I read this before I got here, and locals have confirmed this. The national drink is Soju, some sort of fermented rice wine. But for a country that is known for enjoying the drink, Korea's beer selection is pretty limited. The only beer you can get here is really marginal macro-brews. Even the imports available are pretty average; Budweiser, Guinness, Heineken, Hoegaarden, a few Australian beers...nothing that you couldn't get at an Applebee's in the States.
While there aren't any beers that have thrilled me yet, its like Sting said, you have to make the best of what's around. Here is my analysis of the beers that are local to Korea in no particular order.
slogan: Power of Beer
Hite is the Bud Light of Korea. It is watered down, it has a low alcohol content, and is overpriced for what it is. The makers of Hite produce most of the beers, if not all of them, that you'll see in this analysis. It needs to be really cold to be consumed. It isn't bad by any means, but it has nothing to distinguish from any other light beer you've ever had. When I looked up this beer to find an image, the website said "THE HITE!!" like it was a disease or something.
slogan: Delicious Idea
bonus tag line: Rich and full bodied taste beer made from all malt and fine cascade hop.
Max, I guess, is Korea's answer to Budweiser. It does have more flavor than most beers here but it still isn't very interesting. You can buy most of these beers in a plastic 1600ml bottle (think Gatorade) so that lessens what you think of it as well. Max must use the "finest cascade hop" as it claims because it is always a bit more expensive than Hite.
"Black Beer Stout"
Another product of the Hite brewery, this beer easily has the most flavor of any of the Korean beers that I've tasted. I can't say it tastes much like a stout, more like a black lager (which for me is a good thing). Again, it is priced higher, and typically you can only find this one in cans or 12oz bottles. The rest of the Hite line up comes in bigger bottles. I actually enjoy this beer, as opposed to most of the others. It has a lot more flavor.
slogan: Beer with dietary fiber
bonus tag line: Smooth & light premium beer exclusively designed for well-being of young generation
Of course, I had to try this the first week I got here. Who wants a beer that will help with a bowel movement? This tastes a little bit worse than Hite, but I imagine if you worked your way through a six pack of this it would be pretty fun, laughing harder at the silly slogan with each successive can. By the way, the "S" is for "Stylish." Of course, a "stylish" beer would be more expensive than a regular one. I can't think of what beer it would be competing with because of the extra fiber content.
slogan: Sound of Vitality
This beer is awful. I haven't had all the varieties of Cass (Red, Lemon, Light) but the "Fresh" must be Korea's answer to Michelob Ultra, a bland and tasteless beer. It may be worse because I don't know if it has the low carb thing going for it. I will stay away from Cass "Fresh" and all other Cass products if I can help it. I couldn't borrow (steal) any images from their website, but you should go look at it. Everyone's beers are spilling (coming) out of the glasses, some weird beach party is going on, and everyone is simply delighted. It's like a hyper-real Budweiser/Miller commercial. The website is also a Flash nightmare.
I hope that in the future I can post about some excellent beer that I found here, but it doesn't look like that will happen. For now, i will try to enjoy the Hite that the store downstairs carries, and occasionally splurge for a Black Beer Stout.