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Asia Beer in South Korea

Discussion in 'The Rest of the World' started by Hoppsbabo, Jul 2, 2012.

  1. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (804) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

    South Korea is not the beer wasteland I was anticipating (albeit 90% of bars offer nothing but the domestic piss) but I'm desperate for a bit of variety. So far I've only found one bottle shop in the whole of Korea, in Itaewon in Seoul, and it's okay but very limited. I'd love a Chimmay right now. Does anyone know of any other bottle shops, or even websites?
    odgerel and xxxxxxxxxxxxx like this.
  2. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (804) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

    Here's my personal beer guide that I posted on a Korea foreign teacher's blog:

    For anyone new to Korea, who hasn't had time to seek out the good stuff yet, here's everything I know:

    HOMEPLUS - The bigger stores in the bigger cities now stock a few American craft beers (Samuel Adams Boston Lager doesn't count!). In Gwangju I found Anderson Valley's Hop Ottin' IPA, their Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout, Boont ESB and a couple of others. I also found Lost Coast's Indica which tastes like pine needles (very nice). Up until recently these American beers were only available in Itaewon. They sold Duvel and Leffe Brune but it looks like they're being done away with now. There's a couple of Japanese craft ales availble called something like Hitachino Nest. All are okay, but not a patch on the aforementioned and they cost around 7 or 8k each. Larger stores stock England's Old Speckled Hen, which ain't half bad (but not great either), and Smithwick's Red Ale, which is also not unpleasant. Montieth's Celtic Red (New Zealand) is available in bigger stores and so too are Australia's Cooper's green and sparkling red. Oh, germany's Paulaner is available in all Homeplus stores of size.

    EMART - The big ones stock some of Germany's finest offerings, including pretty much everything from Weihenstephanen and the entire Schneider Weisse range, albeit it's never all in the same store at once and sometimes never at all. The Eisbock is back in stock. They have a few not bad German lagers like Hacker Pschorr and such. Yongsan Station Emart in Seoul has the best selection I've seen. Konig Ludwig Dunkel lager and Meisse wheatbeer are often available too (the latter is delicious).

    ITAEWON - The only dedicated bottle shop I've found in Korea so far is here. It stocks Belgium's Delirium Tremens and Nocturnum (yuck to the latter!), both in 750ml bottles, a couple of Floreffes including their triple and dubbel, Barbok Winter something, and a weird Belgian AIPA, and all the Anderson Valley, Lost Coast beers I mentioned earlier. It also has some Rogue beers. To find this place leave Itaewon subway from exit 3 and follow the main street past a petrol station. It's only a small shop so keep your eyes peeled. It sells wine, cigars and other types of booze as well. There's a downstairs HomeBase shop at the other end of the street on the other side which stocks all the aforementioned American beers. Not so cheap though. There's another couple of small shops which sell nice beers. They have some Japanese craft beers called Coedo Shiro which are okay.

    That's it for now. If anyone knows of anywhere else then please, please tell us about it.
    odgerel and FUNKPhD like this.
  3. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (804) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

    ITAEWON - Today I bought bottles of Fuller's London Pride, ESB, Porter and Golden Pride. Things are looking up.
  4. champ103

    champ103 Poo-Bah (3,821) Sep 3, 2007 Texas
    Beer Trader

    I was in Busan last year (well a bit outside the city), wandered into a bar that had 100 bottles. I ordered a London Pride. I don't remember if I saw a bottled on date, but I know it is an old bottle design, at least several years old. Tasted of vinegar and bread. :grimacing:
    yuichituba likes this.
  5. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (804) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

    Oh, that's not good. Do you mean the bar had over 100 different varities of bottled beer? !!!

    Young's Double chocolate stout is now available from Homeplus stores. Huzzah!
  6. swordfish123

    swordfish123 Initiate (0) Aug 5, 2011 India

    I did read Chimay on one of the store near Suwon Station. But i was in the bus. So couldn't go to the shop. Anyway i haven't had a good beer for sometime now. Itaewon is quite far for me from Suwon. Will try to find something decent in Homeplus.
  7. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (804) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

    Chimay, for real? I had a couple last week but I'd brought them with me from England. Do you have an Emart in Suwon? I can always find Weihenstephaner and Schneider Weisse in the Daejeon store.
  8. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (804) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

  9. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (804) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

  10. kpar

    kpar Initiate (31) Dec 26, 2008 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    You can always brew your own. I lived in Busan 2009-2010 and ended up brewing due to lack of and difficulty to get good beer. I was able to gather most supplies at a local market and modify them myself to work for brewing. At the time there was an online Korean brewing store. The owner spoke little or no English so I had a Korean coteacher call and order for me.
  11. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (804) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

    Oh, nice. I'd be well up for that. Can you give me any details about the comapanies?
  12. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (804) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

    Here's what I just posted on my beer thread in the Waygook forum:


    A much wider selection of quality Belgian ale is now available from the little shop in Itaewon behind the Hamilton hotel. On offer are:

    *Chimay Yellow
    *Chimay Blue
    *Trappistes Rochefort 6
    *Trappistes Rochefort 8
    *Westmalle Dubbel
    *Westmalle Tripel
    *Duchesse De Bourgogne
    *Corsendonk Blond
    *Corsendonk Pater
    *Malheur 10

    As you can imagine they are all really expensive. A small bottle of Chimay costs little under ₩16,000 and the cheapest on that list is the Duchesse De Bourgogne going for ₩9,900. The shopkeeper told me that Chimay was being sold for a whopping ₩46,000 per 33cl bottle in a nearby pub. There were dubbels and tripels but no quadrupels (much to my disappointment) but I put in a request for St. Bernardus 12. I spent ₩41,000 on the three bottles you see here. Call me a sucker but I have hardly anything else to spend money on in Korea.
  13. swordfish123

    swordfish123 Initiate (0) Aug 5, 2011 India

    Nice Info. But those are some really inflated prices. I guess i should be happy drinking Paulaner from the nearby HomeStop
  14. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (804) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

    Indeed. I've become very well acquainted with Paulaner and Leffe Brune since I've been here. Back in 2011 I could buy London Pride at my local medium-sized Homeplus but gone are those days. What a shame.
  15. erha2

    erha2 Disciple (327) Mar 29, 2007 New York
    Beer Trader

    Any updates on good craft beer in Seoul? There was a CNN online article about beerhouses in Seoul which listed Craftworks in Itaewon. I will be in Seoul early August and will probably bring some decent goodies out there.
  16. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (804) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

    Well hey, I saw this today:

    I still haven't made the pilgrimage to Craftworks but I've heard mixed reviews from patrons. There's another one called Magpie but I also haven't been there. Castle Praha have some nice brews but they're not cheap. The only shop I know of in the whole of Korea which has a serious variety of imports is Han's store behind the Hamilton Hotel in Itaewon. It's pricey though. Bring as much beer as you can fit in your bag. They're very lax about it here.

    Are you just visiting, teaching English or out on deployment with the US army?
  17. erha2

    erha2 Disciple (327) Mar 29, 2007 New York
    Beer Trader

    Just visiting until the 27th. Arrived yesterday and will be hitting up Magpie and Craftworks soon. Only brought a couple of bombers unfortunately which will probably be gone really soon.
  18. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (804) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

    Oh, have fun. Don't touch the domestic beer though! As for me, I'm off home for two weeks and I can't wait for that first pint. I also can't wait to get away from Korea, haha.
  19. erha2

    erha2 Disciple (327) Mar 29, 2007 New York
    Beer Trader

    Oh I can't get away from the domestic stuff. Nothing else to drink at most restaurants in Seoul. However I did hit up both magpie and craftworks. Both are definitely a good start in terms of craft beer in korea. Still a long way to go but craftworks ipa and magpie's pale ale and porter were both more than adequate by American standards.

    I have one more 22 oz. bottle which I brought from the states and will probably share with the staff at magpie.
  20. erha2

    erha2 Disciple (327) Mar 29, 2007 New York
    Beer Trader

    I stopped by Reilly's Taphouse in Itaewon the other day. They had Ballast Point beers on tap. The pricing was definitely a bit off. A 16 oz. pour of Sculpin was 12k won (approx $11 at around 1100 won/$1 USD) while Dorado (a DIPA) was a 16 oz. pour for 10k won (less than $10). Just odd. Their own Reilly's Jeju geul (clementine) IPA at 6.4% ABV was a 12 oz. pour for 8k won. Can't complain about drinking fresh taps of Ballast Point in Seoul but they will hopefully get their crap together. With that said, I'd happily drink there again while in Seoul considering the lack of quality beer bar options.
  21. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (804) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

    Dang, I couldn't find Magpie and I just haven't gotten round to trying out Reilly's. Next month maybe. What else did Reilly's have other than Ballast Point? Can you remember?

    By the way, I went to Beers of Europe (Britain's biggest bottle shop) when I was back in England and was appalled to find bottles of Hite amongst all the quality stuff!!!
  22. erha2

    erha2 Disciple (327) Mar 29, 2007 New York
    Beer Trader

    I originally had a tough time finding Magpie and Craftworks but they are about a 2 minute walk from each other. You can find them on Google maps. They are about a 5-10 minute walk off of the Noksapyeong subway stop Exit 2. You will be on the left side of the street. Walk straight about 200-300 meters. Craftworks is on the right side of the street in a little alleyway just after Hoenamu-ro. There is a small sign on the main street for Craftworks.

    Magpie is a tiny bit further north. Make a right at the Baker's Table and Magpie brewing will be right there on the left while Magpie basement is on the right.

    Reilly's had a wide variety of beers (probably 20 or so taps). Off the top of my head, the only other American beers I can recall were Rogue Yellow Snow IPA, and Lost Coast Indica. They had some of the Craftworks beers. I remember some typical German stuff like Weistephaner and Bitburger.

    Good luck and enjoy!
  23. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (804) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

    Hah, I've gotten to know Weihenstephaner very well seeing as it's the only thing worth drinking from my local Home plus. Thanks for the directions. I can't believe I've lived in Korea for two years and haven't hit up any of those places.

    I'll try to enjoy, haha.
  24. imbibehour

    imbibehour Poo-Bah (6,222) Mar 18, 2008 Maryland
    Supporter Subscriber

  25. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (804) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

    Thanks. What's crazy is that I've been here for two years and still haven't tried that place yet. Part of the reason is because my Korean friends are afraid of the Itaewon area.
  26. HokiesandBeer

    HokiesandBeer Initiate (0) Jan 10, 2013 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    I don't blame them, I hated the Itaewon area (and I'm not Korean.)
  27. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (804) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

    Indeed, it is a bit of a jungle. In its defence though it's the only place in Korea with half a beer scene and it's the only place you're not likely to find bars with "NO FOREIGNERS" signs in the window :angry:
  28. HokiesandBeer

    HokiesandBeer Initiate (0) Jan 10, 2013 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Yeah I hear ya. I just don't like going out and being surrounded by a bunch of 20 year old drunk Army dudes. I'm actually considering moving back to back Korea at the end of the year....need to find out if there is a home brew scene. I think I'd be able to make 1 gallon batches on the little gas stove most apartments come with but getting the ingredients might be tricky.
  29. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (804) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

    I've heard you can buy stuff off of G-Market although the ingredients are said to be low quality and expensive. I have a link to a homebrewers club's website but I'll be damned if I can find it. As a beer fanatic one of the hardest things about living here is the lack of quality imported beer. The good thing is I've gotten a lot more acquainted with foreign styles like Hefeweizens, Belgian pales and American IPAs, even though they are few and far between here.
    HokiesandBeer likes this.
  30. Bearpawsbell

    Bearpawsbell Initiate (0) Nov 4, 2013 Singapore

    i believe some of the big beer corporations are going to be coming out with tastier beer. hopefully it'll be out by the time the next time i visit korea. i'd love to give it a try.
  31. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (804) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

    They're already out. There's Max Hop+ and Hite's Queen's Ale – 'Not the 20's taste'. They're all absolutely terrible. In fact I'm given to believe the latter is flavoured with additives.
  32. HokiesandBeer

    HokiesandBeer Initiate (0) Jan 10, 2013 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    I'm moving back to Korea next week....going to enjoy real craft beer while I can....my goal today is to find some Lagunitas Sucks.
  33. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (804) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

    You certainly won't find that in Korea. There are a handful of micro breweries around such as Magpie & Craftworks but I'm yet to be impressed by any of their stuff. If I'm honest I thought Craftworks was a bit shite.
  34. HokiesandBeer

    HokiesandBeer Initiate (0) Jan 10, 2013 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Sorry I meant I'm going to try to find some Sucks before I head over. I'll actually be living pretty cose to Magpie though (Suwon right?)
  35. dphi

    dphi Initiate (158) Apr 14, 2013 Oregon

    Going to Seoul for a few weeks at the end of this month, anything new pop up this year? I was debating whether to bring along some beers to share with bar owners/other BA posters if there are any in the area - sounds like there's no problem with bringing a bottle into one of these places?
  36. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (804) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

    I've never had any problems bringing beer into Korea. The most I ever got in with was seven bottles but I know a guy who brought in way more. Make sure you declare but no one ever checks the declaration slips anyway. Things have really picked up a lot in the last year. Loads of places in Seoul now stock Sculpin and Rasputin, Weihenstephaner and a couple of others. Not cheap though.

    There are a few expat-ran microbreweries and I personally think they're all a bit shit. One of the worst beers I've ever had was from Magpie, who I've heard praised to the skies from other expats. Their IPA is pretty good but only when it's available. Generally though the beer tastes like bad homebrew.

    A lot of Korean "brewpubs" have been popping up in Seoul but again the beer is usually shit. Drinkable but way off the money.

    Most of the Korean brewing corporations have started making fake craft beer. It's all drinkable but a bit of a joke. Look out for Alleston, Queens Ale and Kloud. But honestly, don't waste your money. Sorry, a bit negative but I'm just telling it like it is.
    bylerteck likes this.
  37. endoderm

    endoderm Initiate (0) May 3, 2006 New York


    I am going to South Korea on July 1st and want to know how you brought beer in. I have homebrew that I want to bring as gifts to some host families. Thanks

  38. dphi

    dphi Initiate (158) Apr 14, 2013 Oregon

    After Hoppsbabo's post I really wasn't expecting much and was actually pleasantly surprised by what I found. I did go to a Magpie location where they only had one beer available, a porter that was more of a brown ale that wasn't anything special.
    Hidden Track was a really cool spot and the only place I went to that had an actual brewery on premises. Only three beers though and of the three, only the English IPA was any good. Still, I'd expect them to improve once they figure things out - they've only been open for a few months.

    The beers on tap at 4 Seasons were all really good though. The coconut stout in particular, but also the Nelson-hopped pale ale and the rye red ale. Reilley's taproom across the street wasn't bad, if overpriced. Their Jeju IPA was very good, this was apparently the newest batch and the brewer I talked to was pretty happy with how it turned out. The Booth had some serviceable beers on tap though it wasn't clear who brewed them - I know Reilley's does their sweet stout and pale ale, but I'm not sure about the pilsner and hefe they had.

    All in all, the scene there seemed promising to me with more Koreans getting into craft beer. Sculpin was definitely a favorite in the bars and some kegs of habanero Sculpin had just made it into town while I was there.

    Endoderm - I brought 2 750s, 1 375, and a 16oz can in my luggage. I don't think there are any rules against bringing in beer for personal consumption but it's not like your luggage gets inspected or anything when you arrive anyway.
  39. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (804) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)

    I carry my beer inside a cardboard box which fits neatly into my 70 litre backpack. I put each bottle into a ziplock bag then wrap them up in bubble wrap. I make sure they're not too tightly packed and I fill in the gaps with styrofoam and underwear. I but a couple of bin bags around the box and seal them with sticky tape. Then I pad out the backpack with clothes. I've done this half a dozen times without any problems. Otherwise you just need a hard suitcase full of clothes.

    I don't think homebrew should be a problem because, as has already been mentioned, customs are very lacklustre here and you can pretty much bring in as much as you can fit into your suitcase. I've only had my declaration slip checked once and the guy who checked my luggage couldn't give two hoots.

    One other alternative is to send it by post. I just had some arrive this week.

    Good luck, and ouch, it's going to be humid in July!
  40. endoderm

    endoderm Initiate (0) May 3, 2006 New York

    Thanks for the reply. So the liquid in the suitcase won't trigger any red flags like it gasoline or anything? I am just concerned about that but it would be cool to bring some as the beer there is terrible. How much was it sending by post? Any places to get a draft in Seoul, Daegu or Busan? Thanks again.
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