While the craft beer revolution is well underway in Seoul, it might surprise people how much it is spreading to the other corners of South Korea. Led by Galmegi Brewery, one of the country’s finest beer producers, Busan is having its own craft beer revolution. As one of the nation’s top vacation destinations, it is no surprise Busan is dipping its toes into a seaside slice of the craft beer market. Similar to how the Itaewon area served as an incubator for Seoul craft beer experimentation, Busan’s craft scene finds its heartbeat near Gwangalli beach, or “Gwangan” as the area is often called for short.
Galmegi leads the craft beer scene in Busan as the first and only North American-style brewpub in the area. Both the Gwangan Taphouse and Galmegi Brewery serve delicious brews in the vicinity of Gwangalli beach. The Galmegi Brewery is gorgeous and offers food that’s as good as the beer. The pizza is a masterpiece and the beers are all priced between 5,000-7,000 won, a reasonable price for a pint of craft in Korea.
I fell in love with the Doljanchi IPA. It’s brewed with special yeast that gives off beautiful peach highlights. For such a strong IPA (9% ABV) it wasn’t too sweet or bitter. Galmegi does a great job of producing clean, drinkable beers. My travel companion tried his first sour beer there—the Hallabang Gose. Most people take time to warm up to sour beer, and some never take to them. However, Galmegi’s sour beer retains subtlety. It lacks the sting that drives many away from the style.
Nearby Galmegi’s two locations one can find other great spots for enjoying craft beer. The cozy 6 Pack Taphouse and Bottle Shop offers a wide selection of imports. Their tap list is even better and features highly-regarded Danish brewery To Øl. Similar to The Tasting Room in Seoul, 6 Pack serves small 200ml samples which allow the customer to sample lots of exotic and sometimes pricey beers without going bankrupt.
The Gwangan area also has a homebrew supply shop larger than any in Seoul. The shop is called Craft Brewer and it offers a brewing area that can be rented out. The space also serves as a bottle shop. The owner offers free samples of his own home brew for customers to taste while they browse. The bottle selection is fairly limited, but still a nice bonus.
The Owl & Pussycat have two locations occupying the Gwangan area. Right next to the beach is The Owl and Pussycat Kitchen gastropub. The OPC Kitchen has a wide selection of craft beer on tap and wonderful food in its own right, as well as great views of the Diamond Bridge and ocean. Closer to Galmegi Brewery is the OPC bottle shop which offers a more limited and less exotic selection than 6 Pack.
This neighborhood is certainly a place to keep your eye on as craft beer continues to take root all over the country and Busan emerges as another force in the budding Korean beer market.