Korea is the world leader in alcohol consumed per capita. While traditional alcohols like soju and makgeolli are highly popular, beer is also often enjoyed. The capital of Seoul has developed a vibrant craft beer scene that we are exploring in this guide.
Only two decades ago, Korea’s beer options were rather limited. If you asked people back then what their favorite beer was, the answers would have been Cass or Hite split equally among the people questioned. It was only when a group of expatriates got together with local Koreans to brew their own beers that Seoul’s craft beer scene was born. Two of the largest and oldest craft beer bars in the city, Craftworks and Magpie’s, contributed greatly to this Korean beer evolution. The new flavors quickly caught on with local Koreans and the foreigner community living in Seoul’s expat district of Itaewon, and today Seoul is filled with craft beer bars offering delicious and innovative brews.
“Craft Beer Alley” in Itaewon
It is no surprise that most of Seoul’s largest and highly successful beer bars are located in Itaewon. The expat neighborhood is also home to the best international cuisine restaurants in the country. If you are looking for new beer variations, head to Kyungridan’s Craft Beer Alley.
Having been around since the beginning of the beer revolution, Craftworks is the pioneer of Seoul’s craft beer scene. Offering delicious food and cozy seating arrangements, the bar is also considered a homey restaurant. Try your way through their homemade brews named after Korean mountains, and you’ll even learn about local geography. They offer anything from pilsner, IPA, dark ale and a lot more.
Haebongchon (HBC) Neighborhood
The long-time foreigner neighborhood of Haebongchon, also called HBC, is also home to a great selection of beer bars. Some of the establishments are quite new and love experimenting with different flavors to create fusion brews.
Located in a homey basement, Hidden Cellar is one of those trendy hipster bars in town. The owner works hard to offer high-quality drinks at affordable prices to keep his customers coming and build a loyal base of regulars. Besides delicious beer selections, Hidden Cellar also offers first-class wines.
If you thought you could only enjoy a glass of delicious craft beer in Itaewon, think again. In fact, we have seen an impressive increase in beer bars around the Hongdae area in recent years.
In the game since the start, Magpie’s is an established beer bar in Craft Beer Alley that expanded all the way to Hongdae. Today, it counts a large fan base and regular visitors. They are most famous for their delicious pale ale but also offer high-quality IPAs and porters. Seasonal brews are offered regularly to keep things interesting.
Seoul’s craft beer scene wouldn’t be as large as it is if there weren’t any premier beer bars in Gangnam. The posh neighborhood has it all – even craft beers.
For many, a trip south the Han River to Gangnam is far and tiring but the 12 craft beers on tap at CraftBros are worth the journey. Besides the taps, they also have a large selection of bottled beer available. Arrive early if you want to get a seat, as the small bar gets busy really fast on the weekend and even during the week.