Modern Time brew pub, Boris De Mesones, Jeju, South Korea
Although Korea is well-known for its kimchi, one skill it has left to master is that of brewing a good beer. When you head to your local Family Mart, you will most certainly find a good selection of Cass, Hite, and OB. If you’re not a beer connoisseur, this may suit you just fine. For others longing for a more palatable brew, this Korean beer will not do. Have no fear, as there is a beer oasis in this Korean desert.
Nestled in the heart of Shin Jeju is a little place I like to call Beer Heaven. Modern Time is a local brew pub that opened in 2006 and was the brainchild of a great man and his nephew. Boris de Mesones is originally from Spain, learned to brew beer in Germany, and resides in Korea. He’s fluent in 3½ languages and brews a hell of a good beer.
Who is Boris?
Boris was born in Spain to a Spanish man and German woman. While they raised him in Spain, they often visited family in Germany. Boris obtained a degree in Economics in Spain after his two-year mandatory military service as a paratrooper. When he was 29, he moved to England to study for an MBA. He didn’t speak English, so Boris took a very intensive course before starting school, went on to complete his degree, and got into the banking business.
In the meantime, Boris had become interested in brewing beer for fun in the mid-90s. He started off with books at home and moved on to frequenting pubs in the London area in search of knowledge while studying for his masters. When the banking business became boring, Boris decided that he wanted to formally study the art of brewing, and, after much research, settled on a brewing school in Germany. At 35, Boris began his brewmaster training and met his future wife, a Korean woman from Jeju studying for her PhD at a Berlin university.
Coming to Korea
Upon completion of his third degree, Boris moved back to Spain where he and his wife were married in the summer of 2003. They decided to move to Korea, and Boris began to look at his options for work. He then found the European Training Program in Korea, a very selective program set up by the EU that sends individuals to study at a university and set up a business in Korea to further business and economic relations between the two nations. He was selected as one of eight people for the program that year, and they moved to Korea in February of 2004.
Combining his hobby and business training, Boris decided to open a brewery in Jeju. With no suppliers, the production of his own product, no middleman, and constant cash flow, he had the perfect economical concept. At the time, his wife’s nephew, Jeon Bo-Su (전보수), was completing his masters in fermentation at Jeju National University, and the two of them collaborated ideas on how to put the business from paper into reality.
Opening Modern Time
They opened Modern Time in July of 2006, finished building the brewery and had their first batches of beer ready to sell by October. It takes four to eight weeks to make beer, and they have nine 1000L tanks to make this happen. Every ten days, Boris can be found brewing beer from only the finest ingredients, one of which is imported malt from Germany or Belgium. Amongst other key ingredients to add flavor and colour to the beers, such as the Stout or the Double Bock, Boris makes beer in an unusual way. He doesn’t use any filtration system, which is not a typical practice. When I asked how this was possible, he said that he couldn’t reveal any of his secrets, but that is does have to do with the proper yeast and temperature.
At Modern Time, you will find a very warm, welcoming environment in which to unwind with a frosty beverage. At any given time, Boris has at least six brews on the menu at very reasonable prices. These currently include the Jeju Boris, Pilsner, Pale Ale, Wheat, Stout, and Double Bock. When I asked Boris which of these is his favourite, he replied with, “You mean, which one is my favourite today?” Take it from the brewmaster to be sure and try several while you’re there, as each batch is different and becomes better with age.
Hours of Operation: Sunday-Monday, Noon-2AM
Getting there: From Jeju Grand Hotel and Casino, head up one block to Jaewon Ro (제원로) and take a right. Modern Time is on the second floor a few doors down on the right. You can’t miss their bold beer-colored sign and malting tanks residing in the window. You can contact Modern Time at 064-748-4180.
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