It’s a pretty great time to be in South Korea if you are a craft beer drinker.
The craft beer industry is blowing up all around the world. While it’s still pretty young in South Korea (especially here in Busan), that newness and freshness are really exciting. Especially for those of us who have been here for at least a few years and remember the times when there weren’t more than a few options beyond the bland, light American-style lagers that have dominated much of the beer-drinking world here.
It’s also great to have the input of Jiyoung Moon, my Korean editor and co-writer for this piece. With Dynamic Busan, what’s starts is her Korean story, which is then translated by our capable translator Sangmin Kim. Then, it comes to me. Besides cleaning up the text to better read like native English-written text, I consult with Jiyoung on what else should be added and what can be taken away. It has been a pretty (sorry) dynamic team effort.
The story can be found below and at the Dynamic Busan website. If you’re ever in Busan, South Korea, definitely consider grabbing a pint!
BETTER BEERS ARE HERE IN BUSAN
While the craft beer industry is booming worldwide, it has seen particularly solid growth here in Korea. This is partly because it is just so different from what has been available for as long as any beer could be bought here.
The government, for its part, is helping keep up the momentum. Busan last year designated craft beer as a local business it wants to see succeed and supported craft beer-related brand design, advertisement, promotions and more as a result. Korean craft beer is not only gaining traction here, it’s getting recognized beyond the country. Rate Beer, a well-known beer evaluator from the United States, highlighted four Busan-based craft beers during “The Best Beer in Korea” in 2016. They recognize greatness. Beer enthusiasts traveling from across Korea to Busan for its brews recognize greatness. Now, it’s your turn. Are you up to the challenge?
Busan Craft Beer Festival
Head to BEXCO in Centum City Sept. 5 through 9 for the inaugural Busan Craft Beer Festival. More than 50 businesses including Busan brewers, other domestic breweries, importers, food trucks and more are expected to participate in this festival. People will be able to taste 100 different kinds of craft beer during the festival and enjoy various music performances. Beer brewing lectures are also expected to be conducted. A busanbeerfestival.com website is expected to launch soon.
*Galmegi Brewing Company
Minsik Seo, Jiwon Jeong, Steven Allsopp and Ryan Blocker are making magic happen at Galmegi Brewing Company.
The galmegi (seagull) is not only the symbol of Busan. It has become the symbol of the emerging craft beer market here, as well. Busan craft beer began with Galmegi Brewing Company. In 2013, Galmegi opened Busan’s first western-style brew pub, located within shouting distance from Gwangalli Beach. Their beers that first year were contract brewed, which is when a business works with an outside brewery to make their beers, often using their own recipes. But, with immediate success brought rapid growth. The brewery opened a short walk away in 2014.
Their hard work has paid off. Besides the brewery in the Gwangan area, there are five Galmegi franchises, in Nampo, Seomyeon, Haeundae, the Kyungsung University/Pukyong National University area and in the Pusan National University area. Galmegi Brewing Company’s beer is also available in a number of tap houses in Seoul. Galmegi has an assortment of beer styles that range from light to dark, slightly sweet to unapologetically bitter. India Pale Ales, ambers and stouts can be found on regular rotation. But, more unique, seasonal choices are available, as well, including a ginger-infused beer, a boozy triple IPA and a refreshing beer brewed with Korean yuja fruit.
-Location: 58, Gwangnam-ro, Suyeong-gu
-How to get there: Geumnyeonsan Station (Metro line 2), exit 5. Walk down the cobblestone road toward the beach. Cross the street at the next main intersection and turn right. Walk until you see the brewery on the left.
*Gorilla Brewing Company
Most breweries offer samplers of their selections.
Gorilla Brewing Company has been busy. Opening in a small space in Millak-dong (neighbor-hood) in January 2016, the owners of this British-style craft beer brewery quickly realized expansion would be necessary. The following year, Gorilla moved to Gwangan, in a larger two-story location a short walk down the road from Galmegi’s brewery. Gorilla Brewing harvests its hops, the flower that is a key component in beer making, from a farm in Gyeongsangbuk-do (province), which allows them to maintain a fresh taste that is very local. About 10 different beers are brewed by Gorilla, including their enormously-popular Gorilla IPA, Busan Pale Ale and more. Special beers have included Tiramisu Extra Stout and the FM Coffee Stout, brewed utilizing coffee beans from the popular FM Coffee shop in Jeonpo-dong. Their brew pub also has a number of other Korea-based brews on constant rotation, allowing visitors a condensed opportunity to taste what all the fuss over Korean craft beer is about.
Saturday visitors to Gorilla Brewing Company can check out live music every Saturday night, as well as free yoga classes at noon.
-Location: 125, Gwangnam-ro, Suyeong-gu
-How to get there: Geumnyeonsan Station (Metro line 2), exit 1. Walk straight toward the beach. Turn left at the next intersection and walk straight for about five minutes. Gorilla Brewing is on the left.
*Wild Wave Brewing Co.
What began as a sour beer project in Gwangan has headed east to Songjeong Beach. While Wild Wave Brewing Co.’s Surleim sour beer is still one of its most popular brews (and available in bottles), they have expanded their choices beyond sour into other realms of deliciousness. The brewery’s regular rotation includes Surfing High, a highly drinkable kolsch-style brew, the full-bodied and flavorful Bella IPA and Hazelnut Ale, an Irish red ale made with maple syrup and hazelnuts. Enter their Songjeong brewery and the impressive array of oak casks immediately catches the eye. Wild yeasts and lactic bacteria from the air in these casks result in the sour, tropical flavors that have made Wild Wave famous. Order from their favorable menu of various pub grub, order a couple pints and prepare to have a fantastic afternoon that is only a short walk away from Songjeong Beach.
-Location: 106-1, Songjeongjungang-ro 5beon-gil, Haeundae-gu
-How to get there: Songjeong Station (Donghae line), exit 1. Cross the street and turn right down the alley near the bus stop.
A visit to F1963 in Mangmi-dong can fill up an entire afternoon. There are regular art exhibits, a bookstore, even a coffee shop. There’s also delicious Czech-style beer. Launched in 2017, Praha 993’s origins begin in its founders Czech Republic homeland. Its beers range from pilsners (which originated in the Czech Republic) and stouts to India Pale Ales and seasonal specialties like pumpkin ale that are brewed on-site. These pair well with an assortment of both Czech-inspired and pub-familiar meals including fish and chips and Koleno, savory slow-roasted pork knee that is a quintessential Czech feast. The number 993 in their name comes from the year beer is believed to have been produced for the first time in the Czech Republic. Beer drinkers can experience more than 1,000 years of beer history at not only their flagship location, but also in their Seomyeon branch and at other fine pubs across the city.
-Location: 20, Gurak-ro 123beon-gil, Suyeong-gu
-How to get there: Suyeong Station (Metro lines 2 or 3), exit 5. Take bus 54 and get off at the Sanjeong Apartment stop. Walk uphill toward F1963.
Hurshimchung Brau has brewed their beer in a fun German-style beer house in Nongshim Hotel since 2004. Hurshimchung Brau uses imported German malt for its beers, which include familiar German styles like pilsner, weizen and dunkel.
Enjoy an array of German/Korean beer hall food fusion favorites such as Haxen, a German-style jokbal (braised pig’s feet), deep-fried octopus and more. Their great hall holds regular live performances and offers a view of the brewery. Hurshimchung Brau also holds a popular Oktoberfest outdoor event every year that features unlimited servings of their sensational suds.
-Location: 23, Geumganggongwon-ro 20beon-gil, Dongnae-gu
-How to get there: Oncheonjang Station (Metro line 1), exit 1. Walk straight to public parking lot for two minutes. Cross the main road, then follow Geumgang gongwon-ro for three minutes. Cross the street at the intersection and Nongshim Hotel is on the right.
A former home and commercial milk storage building has been converted into Finger Craft, which refers to wanting to be the number one place for beer. Besides their warm and inviting flagship location along the Oncheoncheon Stream, Finger Craft has two other locations near City Hall and in Choryang. Six different contract-brewed craft beers are available utilizing their own recipes including Osige Ale, a beer created with coffee supplied by the popular Momos Coffee, also in the Oncheonjang area, the hearty Black Finger, the citrus-infused Mosaic Finger and more.
-Location: 7, Oncheoncheon-ro, Dongnae-gu
-How to get there: Oncheonjang Station (Metro line 1), exit 2. Walk toward Myeongnyun Station five minutes. Their Captain Hook-style signboard will be seen on the left.
-Information: @fingercraft on Instagram
*Owl & Pussycat Taproom
“Good people drink good beer.” It is sound advice that adorns the wall of Owl & Pussycat Taproom in Gwangan.
This craft pub and bottle shop offers both an impressive selection of bottled beers from around the world as well as both local and international drafts. All of this with a breathtaking view of Gwangalli Beach. Owl & Pussycat Taproom features nearly a dozen different kinds of tasty contract-brewed beers created from their own recipes, including the aromatic Suri Saison, the coffee-infused Gwangan Brews, an India Pale Ale and more. Snacks that always pair well with beer such as pizza, sausages and fried chicken are also available.
-Location: 2F, 38-1, Namcheonbada-ro, Suyeong-gu
-How to get there: Geumnyeonsan Station (Metro line 2), exit 3. Walk toward the beach. It is located in the same building as Ediya Coffee.
Tetrapod offers customers house-branded contract-brewed beers and other beers from around Korea. From its stylish interior to curated design focus, those especially interested in design and branding will find something to enjoy. Their design aesthetic even garnered an iF product design award from International Forum Design of Germany. Familiar favorites like IPAs, pale ales and stouts are available.
-Location: 2F, 77, Jungang-daero 680beonga-gil, Busanjin-gu
-How to get there: Seomyeon Station (Metro lines 1 and 2), exit 6. Turn right after passing Electronic Land. Walk one more block and enter the alley on the left. Walk straight a little further, then walk toward the building with a brick wall on the left.