‘Strange Brew’

January 8, 2014
Boris de Meson

Boris de Meson

Spaniard says ”Jeju’s soft water bring out fine aroma in beer”‘


By Jun Ji-hye

JEJU ― Boris de Mesones from Spain, owner of brewpub Boris Brewery on this resort island, believes that the most important ingredient for brewing beer is passion.

“A good beer is the result of a brewer’s passion and this will be at its peak if he brews what he likes and enjoys the most,” he said in a recent interview. “Plus, Jeju’s soft water helps to bring out fine aromas contrary to common knowledge that says highly mineralized water will help.”

Mesones came to Jeju in February 2004 with his wife who is from the island. The couple met in Germany six years before coming to Korea.

“When we came here, the idea was to stay only for six months, but many new brewpubs were being built at the time. We decided to stay and try our fortune as well,” he said.

The Spaniard developed interest in brewpubs while working in London as a banking systems broker in the 1990s.

“Brewpubs attracted me from the first moment because it is a business where you do not have many suppliers, you can create a product that will have a brand name, and you can sell it directly to consumers,” he said. “The most amazing part of this profession is that any customer after consuming your product is happy instantaneously and the feedback is usually very interesting.”

He enrolled at the Technical University in Berlin to further enhance his brewing skills. After earning a degree in Brewing Science in Germany, he spent six months working for free in two brewpubs there and learned to build his own brewing equipment based on traditional German brewing equipment after returning to Spain.

“From that moment everything began to fall into place and what I learned started to make sense,” said Mesones.

He opened his own brewpub dubbed Boris Brewery on Jeju in 2009. Clients can see the kettles and fermenting tanks directly from their seats inside the pub.

“I bought the equipment second hand from a defunct brewpub in Busan and changed the design a lot to make it more efficient,” he said.

He recalled some of the most memorable moments in his beer-brewing career, such as when he was called to serve as a judge at the World Beer Cup since 2008 as well as receiving his first silver medal at the European Beer Cup in 2011.

He said that many people told him that it would be difficult or impossible for a foreigner to own his own alcohol producing business in Jeju. But the major challenges he experienced had to do with red tape as opposed to just being a foreigner.

“Korean law heavily taxes local companies that produce alcoholic beverages. In addition to this, we are not allowed to sell our beers outside our premises. These made us work in a very competitive circumstance. This is one of the main reasons why many Korean brewpubs went already bankrupt,” he said, adding that, “Luckily, it looks like we will be able to sell outside premises this year. This will change our future a lot.”

Hoping that he will soon be allowed to fill bottles, cans and kegs to sell outside the premises, he is now negotiating with potential partners for the expansion of his business.