The Craft Beer Compass
With a plethora of craft beers available around the city – and indeed all around the country – it can be difficult to weigh up where to find the best craft beer experience. A firm selection of beers from independent brewers have continued to proliferate around Korea, to offer craft beer brewers, craft beer houses and craft beer pubs (to name a few). However, with one main staple in common (that being craft beer, of course), Groove Korea took a little look around town to bring you a Craft Beer Compass of establishments.
Platinum Beer Pub
Station: Hongik Station: Line 2, Exit 9
Craft Beer: Platinum Beers
Good for: A European Experience
Platinum’s beer house, located in Hongdae, brings all the European fantasy of a pub to the middle of Seoul. From the European style décor of the pub’s exterior, the theme continues over the three floor establishment and even boasts a roof for special occasions. The first thing to note is the symbolic first keg that the brewery produced which sits above the door of the pub. Add to that the French-style windows that look out over the quiet alleyway of its entrance and any customer will see Platinum’s inviting retreat to escape the Hongdae Hub, just a couple of streets parallel. Platinum Beer Pub has all five of the brewery’s main tipples on tap and offers a fully fledged beer menu, channelling a pub grub menu with chicken and chips, chilli fries and pizza for the peckish. For those cooler evenings, head upstairs to the canopy-covered roof-top, which can be booked for special occasions. The roof has a great view of Seoul and seating for 25 people to while away an evening with pint in hand. Platinum: The Hongdae choice for the ultimate European pub experience.
Station: Anam Station: Line 6, Exit 3
Craft Beer: Platinum, Maloneys, Hand & Malt
Good for: A Local Experience
Nairobi may only be a year old, but is already establishing itself as a place to meet friends, banter with the locals and experience a number of breweries in just one spot. Opening last October, owner JinSung Park has brought inspiration from his two favorite things, his hometown Nairobi and love of craft beer, to this local tap house. With no less that seven regular brews (two Platinum, three Hand & Malt and two Maloneys) on offer, Nairobi also has five guest beers changing every fortnight to bring brew enthusiasts the best from the keg. Nairobi is nestled in the middle of Korea University’s Anam district, with an un-crowded and spacious main area seating eight groups comfortably and ceiling to floor bay-style doors which open up onto the street to offer patio-esque seating. The fridge is fully stocked with between 50-60 cans and bottle beers of every variety from every country and a big screen is available for some sporting events on request. Snacks include double-fried crispy chips and a small bowl of pretzels, puffs or chips on arrival, although adopting an Australian mindset that welcomes outdoor food if customers prefer to bring their own. Nairobi: The local experience with your favorite independent brewers
Station: Gangnam Station: Line 2, Exit 11
Craft Beer: Platinum, Maloneys, Hand & Malt
Good for: A Luxury Experience
Alibi is Gangnam certainly oozes that luxurious style with its outdoor seating, elaborate fridge area and an open kitchen in view. The bar has two bars over two floors and with 18 different taps offering a mixture of light lager, weizen and wheat beer, medium flavoured ales and fuller flavoured IPAs, porters and stouts, there’s a brew to suit all tastes. The aligning fridges on the basement level offer a delectable 160 types of international bottles alongside a full pub grub menu with favorites fish and chips, authentic burgers and pizza. Seating for 120 people includes a patio area, which is also available for rental to host year-end company and New Year parties and more intimate seating available in the area downstairs. With chef Lee Jin-ho at the kitchen helm and experienced sommelier Suyeon Lee bringing the ultimate gastropub experience, there’s no reason to mix a little Gangnam-style with the traditional pub experience from back home. Alibi: The luxury pub experience with all your food favorites.
Station: Noksapyeong Station: Line 6, Exit 2
Craft Beer: Craftworks
Good for: An Expat Experience
The familiar craftworks logo was perhaps one of the first to spring into the central Kyunglidan area and has become an established watering hole in the neighbourhood. Opening in November 2010, Craftworks Namsam continues to serve its seven signature memorably named brews (which take after Korean mountains) with Namsam Pilsner and Jirisan Moon Beer IPA the most popular choices. These beers alongside a tasty America dining menu and an expat theme remain admirable in the five-year-old establishment. All servers speak English and have some experience of living the expat life abroad, bringing that international atmosphere to Craftworks as soon as the threshold is crossed. An outdoor patio area with high and low tables coupled with a similar spaced indoor area is perfect for any reservation, random meet or quiet drink after work. Craftworks Namsam also offers daily weekday discounts with its popular happy hour in place between 4-6pm (KRW 2,000 off all craft beers) and a sampler set available for those who are simply spoilt for choice. The pub also has daily specials and invites expats of all nationalities to enjoy a weekend brunch, 11 for 11 (11 lunch choices for KRW 11,000, that is) and an evening Hweshik menu special for groups of 4, 6 and 8 to entertain their peers. Craftworks: The original expat experience in the heart of Seoul.
Groove Korea website