The Atlantic: Getting Drunk in North Korea

The Taedonggang, named after Pyongyang’s river, is one of the city’s most notable nightlife stops, producing seven types of beer. Although these are named with typical Soviet flair — Beer Number 1, Beer Number 2, Beer Number 3 and so forth — the equipment used in their brewing actually comes from a well-regarded, though now defunct, British brewery. “When I was visiting North Korea, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of their Taedonggang beer, of which we drank quite a lot,” recalls Alistair Humphrey – or “Humph” – whose father was chief brewer for the British ale makers Usher’s of Trowbridge, before he died and the brewery was sold. “When we got back to Beijing, I went out with Nick [Bonner] and Simon [Cockerell] of Koryo to the Great Leap Brewery, and the subject of Usher’s came up. They asked if I knew what happened to the brewery, exchanging conspiratorial looks. ‘It folded. I think it’s now a supermarket,’ I said. ‘No!’ said Nick, gleefully. ‘It was sold to the North Koreans – they’ve been using it to brew the beer you were drinking last week!’ So the equipment my father bought to brew English ales lives on in Pyongyang.”
The Atlantic: Getting Drunk in North Korea