4 must-try craft beer pubs in Seoul and vicinity, as recommended by experts

From Itaewon to Ilsan, these are the hottest spots in town you’ve got to have a taste of.
By Ahrim Won |
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Seoul’s craft beer scene is quickly burgeoning with many taprooms around the city catching on the global trend—and more importantly, with those who are working hard to bring in skills and expertise. 4 beer experts, who are pub owners, veteran managers, beer magazine publishers and/or certified beer judges themselves, each recommended a spot based on the personality and creativity of the beers and overall concept. Check out these spots to discover the most exciting craft beer offerings around the city right now.

Bars

Playground Brewery

icon-location-pin Gyeonggi-do

The only brewery located outside of Seoul on this list, Playground Brewery is what everybody in the Korean craft beer industry is talking about. Located in Ilsan, Playground Brewery’s spacious interior and locally-brewed beers make for a one-of-a-kind experience . . . By converting recipes to include mostly domestically-sourced ingredients, the brewery was able to produce a wide variety of distinctly Korean craft brews. The seasonal Ruby Saison, for example, showcases delicate aromas of bokbunja (black raspberry) grown in the local Ilsan region. The cultural significance extends beyond the beer itself in the creative design of the logos. The playground logo of the brewery evokes fond memories of many childhoods in Korea as well as the playful craft spirit, while the reinterpreted hahoetal (traditional masks originated in Hahoe Folk Village) designs of the craft beers tell uniquely Korean yet deeply universal stories to an international audience . . . If you truly love beer, this trip outside of Seoul will be well worth it. 

Bars

Sour Pongdang

icon-location-pin Itaewon

Brewed for centuries in Belgium and trending in the past few years in North America, sours are relatively new in the Korean market. And there’s no better place to start experimenting with your taste buds than at Sour Pongdang, the first bar in Asia to specialize in sours. Recommended by none other than Lee Inho, owner of Pyrus Taproom & Bistro, Sour Pongdang exudes a distinct personality in Seoul’s craft beer scene. Headed by BJCP-certified manager Jo Ye-lim, Sour Pongdang guides you through the infinite world of sour beer. 

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Bars

Can Maker by Craftbros

icon-location-pin Seocho-gu

Looking for gift ideas for that one friend who loves beer? Jo Ye-lim, a veteran manager of Sour Pongdang, thinks you’ll definitely find something at Can Maker. In her words, its "execution of ideas is simply brilliant". While you can try over 40 different kinds of craft beer from all over the country in-store, you’ll probably want to take some of these specially-designed cans home as well. Indeed, many come to this spot in Seorae Village for the unique souvenir that comes with each can. The design tells a whimsical story which can only be appreciated after realizing how each can is a visualization aptly representing the specific beer contained inside.

Bars

Pyrus Taproom & Bistro

icon-location-pin Itaewon

There are some places you visit once and remember for a long time. The Pyrus Taproom & Bistro located in Itaewon is one of those places. A must-visit for a smooth introduction into the Seoul craft beer scene, the casual tap room is headed by Lee Inho, one of Seoul's innovative cerevisaphiles that have led the movement to promote craft beer diversity in a relatively homogenous market. This no-frills bar and restaurant celebrated its 3rd anniversary this May, a testament to the quality of the beer and food you’ll find here.

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