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Ah Korea – we had so many ideas of what it might or could be, mainly based on a mix of Psy’s Gangnam Style, kimchi and an America’s next top model episode. We croakily walked off the plane (because after that much time sat in economy it’s the only way to describe how you walk) with a whole heap of jet lag and we tried to get ready to tackle the metro system. Fun fact, when you press the help button on the Seoul underground gate terminal, you’re treated to an electronic version of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony that blasts out throughout the entire station.
Luckily for us, we were staying in the bustling university district of Hongdae – the best place for a night on the tiles in Seoul and definitely worth a wander around at night. Of course we wanted to get a taste of some authentic Korean food so we made our way to a Jokbal restaurant. Jokbal is essentially fatty pork slices served warm, but there are variances – an ultra-spicy version and a shredded mellower one. Accompanied with the traditional Kimchi, a spicy noodle salad and our first set of metal chopsticks for the trip. Prices seemed reasonable and the food was very tasty. Best of all was the surprise at selecting the ‘pale ale’ off the menu to be handed a bottle of Mikkeller – happy days!
Magpie Brewing Co. was our next stop – a great little craft brewery with a tap room in Hongdae. There was a good selection of styles on offer, with their gose being by far the best, we headed back to our hostel as we were nodding off in to our pint glasses.
Timing was so that we managed to hit up Seoul’s craft beer week, hosted by The Booth Brewing Co. a local Seoul brewery with a number of taprooms around the city. There was a range of great guest breweries including Alesmith, EvilTwin, 8 Wired and To Øl. Not bad hey? Local lineup included Magpie – who we had visited the night before, The Booth, Galmegi and a number more.
The Mikkeller bar we visited was pretty packed, with a strong beer list and plenty of solo female drinkers (bravo!) which was great to see. Run by two locals who fell in love with Mikkeller in the US, it’s 30 taps are a haven of craft in a bustling city. Our final stop was Pong Dang Craft Beer Co. a 10 minute walk from Mikkeller.
Pong Dang was a large bar with a healthy number of taps, serving a good range of local and a few imported beers. They also produced a great gose and a decent porter as well. Tucked in the corner of the bar was a few old school arcade machines and the place was absolutely packed with locals, another cool craft beer stop in Seoul.
Overall Seoul is by no means a comparison to the big international destinations for craft beer, but it’s always good to know you can get a good local or international pint if it takes your fancy, especially in a city as awesome as this one.