I lived in Seoul for a month. While I was there I searched for craft beer. Here’s what I found:
Itaewon = Craft Beer Central
Most of the craft beer scene is in Itaewon. It’s a pretty central area in Seoul and is also where the US military base is located. Here you will find most of the craft beer bars and local brewery taprooms. Also unique to this neighborhood is the large number of convenience stores selling bottles of USA craft beer (with lots of west coast representation) and European imports (mostly German and Belgian).
They are the best of the best in Seoul craft beer right now. They have two locations, this one, and another one in Hongdae, which I did not visit. This location has two parts: a ground level bar, and a basement in the adjacent building. It looks like they brew 1-barrel batches on site, but they don’t – their beers are contract brewed somewhere else.
The regular lineup includes a pale ale, porter, and amber ale. When I was visiting they featured the “Terrible 2’s” IPA, brewed for their 2nd anniversary, which was by far their best beer. Might have been a limited time offer, unfortunately. You can order pizza in the basement, and it’s excellent. Great ambiance, no TVs. Highly recommend everything about this Magpie location.
Local brewery, good selection of beer styles, large food menu.
Find them in Itaewon near Noksapyeong station; website
651, Itaewon 2-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
They brew their own, the standard lineup of American styles. Their beers are fine, a solid offering, and they brew a stout, which isn’t as popular of a style in these parts.
The Bottle Shop
Great selection of import (USA and Belgian) bottles.
Find them in Itaewon from Noksapyeong station, near Magpie; Facebook
705 Itaewon 2(i)-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Made in PONG DANG
Find them in Itaewon from Noksapyeong station; Facebook
222-1 Noksapyeong-daero (561 Itaewon-dong) Yongsan-gu, Seoul South Korea
Local and import craft selection, nice staff.
Find them near Itaewon station; Facebook
130-4 Itaewon-dong (7 Bogwang-ro 59-gil) Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Small place serving Korean craft (Magpie), USA west coast imports, and fries.
Large election of Korean and import craft, large food menu.
Find them at Itaewon station; Facebook
123-32 Itaewon-dong Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Large place serving Korean craft (Magpie, Platinum), USA craft, and sometimes Japanese craft (Coedo). Large menu of standard American food, sometimes with a Korean twist (e.g. kimchi nachos).
Apparent attention to detail, selection of import craft, pizza.
Find them in Itaewon near Noksapyeong station; Facebook
341-12 Itaewon 2(i)-dong Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
I didn’t actually visit Lovibond because I only found out about it on my last day in Seoul. It looks good, so check it out for me!
Craft beer, excellent food and ambiance.
Find them in Gangnam-gu near Gangnam-gu Office station; Facebook
113-20 Nonhyeon-dong (35 Eonju-ro 134-gil) Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Serves Korean craft beer (Magpie), USA imports, bottles of European craft, and whiskey. Good food, a bit pricy, definitely the most expensive place on this list. Excellent ambiance, no TVs, and they play jazz music.
Craft beer selection and good food.
Find them in Mapo-gu near Hapjeong station; Facebook
396-32 Seogyo-dong (45 Yanghwa-ro 6-gil) Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Serves Magpie + others (I forget) and tasty Indonesian food.
Try their own recipes.
Find them in Haebangchon (“HBC”) from Noksapyeong station
26-10 Yongsan 2 ga-dong Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Small place with a handful of taps serving Platinum and 7brau. The owner told me they’ll soon be serving their own, contract-brewed recipes. Fries only for food.
While not as good as a proper craft beer place, in a pinch a “self beer bar” is better than nothing. You can find these all over Seoul, including in Itaewon and Gangnam. They are bottle shops, usually serving some pub food, where you can choose what you want to drink directly from the refrigerators. These places tend to stock a lot of German imports.