Dexter’s Northern United Brewing Co. to Open Brewery in South Korea

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The owners of Dexter-based Northern United Brewing Co.— the makers of Jolly Pumpkin and North Peak— have partnered with two entrepreneurs from South Korea to open a brewery in Seoul, called Playground Brewery.

Mike Hall, brewer and partner at Northern United Brewing Co., says the relationship initially began when Richard Kim and Soonbong Chun, the partners behind Playground, reached out to the brewery for guidance more than a year ago.

Since then, Kim and Chun spent time at Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales in Traverse City and Dexter, where they learned how to brew craft beers. The relationship eventually expanded into a financial partnership.

Hall is now in South Korea assisting with the final phase of the brewery installation.

“We’ve installed a 37-barrel system that will allow Playground to brew beers that are currently unavailable in Korea,” Hall says.

Chun says Playground will offer high-quality craft beer along with an on-site bistro featuring chefs from Le Cordon Bleu.

“We are sure we will brew great beers that don’t exist in Korea’s market today,” Chun says.

He says beers scheduled for the opening Saturday include a pilsner, Saison, and a Korean IPA, among others. Chun says he’s looking to bring a variety of beers to South Korea, a market that predominantly features light lagers. Playground will initially offer only draft beers, but has plans to expand by bottling and distributing beer throughout Asia.

Northern United Brewing Co. is the parent company of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, North Peek Beer Co., Nomad Cidery, Civilized Spirits, and Bonafide Wines. 

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