The only brewery located outside of Seoul on this list, Playground Brewery is what everybody in the Korean craft beer industry is talking about—including Kang Ki-moon, the owner of Can Maker by Craftbros. Located in Ilsan, Playground Brewery’s spacious interior and locally-brewed beers make for a one-of-a-kind experience. If you truly love beer, this trip outside of Seoul will be well worth it.
Founded in Jan 2016, Playground Brewery’s rapid success may come as a surprise, but the brewery had been in the works for years with many institutional hurdles delaying its launch. In fact, the brewery would not be where it is today if not for the trio behind it all: CEO Chun Soon-bong, who spent years in the beverages industry, and his partners, Brewmaster Richard Kim and Creative Director Keunha Kim. Realizing the limits of brewing with imported ingredients in Korea, the team decided to make use of the country’ resources as much as possible. 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 (Korean 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 and Byeongsan Village, North Gyeongsang Province) designs of the craft beers tell uniquely Korean yet deeply universal stories to an international audience. Beyond just a brewery, CEO Chun Soon-bong has a greater vision for the craft beer market as a whole. “We’re going to keep trying. One of our goals is to create a sustainable environment for R&D and investments toward the domestic craft beer industry,” says Chun.
The brewery’s efforts to reach a wider audience is evident in its clientele, who come from a wide demographic range. On a recent visit, a 50-year-old cyclist sat down at a table after a day’s ride. He, along with many living in the Ilsan area, is one of the regulars at the brewery. At another table sat Dairín and Kieran, an Irish couple settled in Ilsan. “We love the beers here. We used to drive to the tap house, though, so my husband would sit, talk and wait while I enjoy my IPA’s [laughs]. But now it’s easy to use chauffeur services—you can just ask the staff—so, we’re drinking together now. We also get crowlers for bike rides to Paju or camping trips with friends,” Dairín says with a smile. “It’s good value.” Indeed, whether you enjoy the beer inside or outdoors, the appeal of the brewery is evident in the value of a single visit; a pint of beer comes at an exceptional price of 4,500 to 5,000 won and the food, created by a Le Cordon Bleu-educated chef, ranges from 1,000 won to 15,000 won. “You can ride a bike from Yongsan to the brewpub,” the cutest couple on a date kindly adds for those living in Seoul. “The brewery team put in a lot of work to make this work.” A source of pride for many locals and a locale of curiosity for many Seoulites, Playground Brewery offers a quintessential trip for beer lovers everywhere.
|Venue name:||Playground Brewery|
|Opening hours:||Mon - Sun 11:30am - 10pm|
|Transport:||Daehwa Station (Ilsan Line) Exit 4, 10-minute cab ride; 056 Bus (Daehwa Station - Dochon), 6-minute walk.|
|Price:||Signature beers from 3,500 won, Brown rice cracker with avocado dip 4,000 won, Candied walnut 4,000 won, Truffle fries 4,000 won, Playground popeye 4,000 won, Playground salad 6,500 won, Playground chicken 15,000 won, Playground burger 12,000 won, Playground stir fried pork 10,000 won, Lemon mayo shrimp taco 10,000 won, Cuban sandwich 9,000 won, Playground curry with tortilla 12,000 won, Fried calamari 9,000 won, Orange granitas 1,000 won, Bourbon banana cream mousse 4,500 won|