Whether you're headed to Seoul, South Korea for work or fun, don't worry, you don't need to leave craft beer behind. Here, Noble Brewer recommends the five best places to enjoy great beer while you explore Seoul. You might even miss these breweries upon your return home!
- Craftworks Taphouse - Noksapyeong, Itaewon metro stations
Craftworks is Seoul, Korea's first foreign-owned brewery and a go-to for beer-loving foreigners and locals in the city.The brewery specializes in Bavarian beers, which are mostly named after local mountains like Bukhansan and Baekdusan. There are four different locations to choose from, including in the foreign district of Itaewon, but if you have to go to just one, choose the original "Namsan" location near Noksapyeong station. (That area has a special name: Haebangchon, or HBC for short, and it's the craft beer mecca of Seoul.) The bar and restaurant is open-air space, leading seamlessly into backyard seating with bamboo and soft lighting. The staff is mostly foreign and most everyone speaks English- which is helpful for those that don't speak Korean. It's an easy place to strike up a conversation, make new friends, eat some tasty sliders, and of course, drink delicious beer.
Craftworks' Noksapyeong location offers fantastic ambiance - and great burgers.
2. Castle Praha - Hongdae, Itaewon metro stations
Castle Praha offers up world-class Czech beer in two locations: Hongdae (the fun university district) and Itaewon (the fun foreign district.) Each location has a distinct vibe. Hongdae's Castle Praha is located in the cellar of a faux-castle, while the Itaewon location is more modern. People don't flock to Castle Praha for the food, but the beer is worth it! If you go to the Itaewon location, the upper-level balconies are a perfect place to sit and enjoy the atmosphere of this vibrant neighborhood.
3. Magpie Brewing Company - Noksapyeong, Itaewon metro
After Craftworks opened, the HBC experienced something of a craft beer revolution. Magpie is one of three craft breweries in the area, and is known for its Porters, Pale Ales, and rotating seasonal recipes. Another cool fact about Magpie: it is co-owned by a Korean-American woman, Tiffany Needham, who started as a homebrewer. They've recently opened up another location in Itaewon, the other beer mecca of Seoul, and only brew from their own recipes and even offer homebrewing classes, something that we at Noble Brewer appreciate greatly!
Shabby chic vibes at Magpie
4. The Booth - Gangnam, Noksapyeong, Bangbae metro stations
The Booth specializes in beer and pizza. Its original location in Noksapyeong is conveniently located next to Magpie Brewing. Their Bill's Pale Ale is both affordable and one of the more-recommended beers in the entire city. If you take a day or weekend trip down to Busan to hit the beach, make sure to stop by The Booth's other location.
5. Moon Jar - Apgujeong metro
Moon Jar serves something other than beer: it specializes in a Korean fermented rice wine called makgeolli. This drink is white to off-white in color, sweet, mildly fizzy, and is 6-8% alcohol by volume. Visitors can enjoy ambient electronic music while relaxing in Moon Jar's simple space. Located in the Apgujeong district, which is known for its high fashion, Moon Jar is a great place for people watching.
Makgeolli is served in tea pots at Moon Jar!
Try pairing a makgeolli sampler with the kimchi pancake for a delicious and satisfying combination. The prices are higher than you might like, but well worth it for the atmosphere and the experience of trying a high-quality local drink. It's also possible that you will be the only foreigners there, but an English-language menu is available and the staff also speaks English.
If you happen to fall in love with makgeolli, you can also buy a large bottle for about 3,000 won (approximately $3) in any convenience store. It won't be as full-bodied as what you tried in Moon Jar, but it will be a delightful drink to enjoy during an afternoon bike ride along the Han River.
This article was written by Cathy Trainor, the Community Outreach Lead at Noble Brewer, a subscription-based beer club whose members receive quarterly shipments of beer inspired by local award winning homebrewers.
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