Despite laws seemingly designed to do otherwise, Seoul’s craft beer scene is flourishing. Artisinal ales on tap or top notch imported bottles are never too far away. With this wild market upswing and a romantic passion for fine beer, local beer devotees Sunghoo Yang and Heeyoon Kim, opened Mikkeller Seoul in June, becoming the fourth international outpost for Denmark’s trendsetting microbrewery. Renowned for its quality and mad-scientist penchant for experimentation, Mikkeller offers Seoul’s rabid beer enthusiasts an incomparable tasting experience.
Mikkeller Seoul maintains a tap list of 30 beers that are in constant rotation. The list is gloriously and somewhat intimidatingly itemized on a chalkboard above the bar. Mikkeller offers no menu or description for the draft beers. Do your homework or roll the dice. Taking a quick peek at a site like Beer Advocate can cut down on any ordering anxiety. Seeking advice from the dutiful and friendly staff, whose English is sound, should also do the trick. Beers come in two sizes: a standard pint or a flute-like tasting glass, measuring about 1/3 of a normal pint. The latter size invites you to choose your own beer adventure and take some risks.
To start, dark beer lovers will want to dive into Mikkeller’s famed Beer Geek series. Taking either an oatmeal or imperial stout as its base, this collection of decadent drafts offers versions aged in bourbon or scotch barrels or that are spiked with espresso. The result is a velvety liquid with a malty character and a bit of whiskey’s signature burn. Sour beers, the recent darling of true rim-sniffing aficionados, are also present and numerous as a part of the Spontan series. High alcohol pours include the Spontan Cherry, Black Currant, and Lingonberry varieties.
Offerings from like-minded breweries fill out the already dense beer menu. Fellow Danish brewery, To Øl’s newest number trumpets autumn’s arrival. Sai Kaki-Son is a persimmon saison, orange-gold in color and pleasantly yeasty. Also present is Evil Twin’s Yang, an imperial IPA typical of muscular, piney American ales.
Not to be forgotten is Mikkeller’s Taedonggang, a collaboration with Seoul’s pizza-and-craft beer empire, The Booth. It’s a highly affordable and drinkable pale ale.
Mikkeller entices you to linger and drink seriously so fortunately the bar also makes an astounding grilled cheese sandwich. The sandwich comes classic (just cheese), or with house-cured bacon. Both are mountainous prone to substantial cheese ooze. In addition Mikkeller currently offers a fall special, a pastrami-and-brie sandwich.
Mikkeller Bar is the beer temple where you want to be worshipping. The warm, open Scandinavian interior design lends itself to breezy spring meetups as much as wintertime huddling. The bar’s location, a couple of streets off of Garosugil, strangely makes for a more democratic, low-key location than the already craft saturated Itaewon. This is the world class beer bar Seoulites have been waiting for.
33 Dosan-Daero 17-gil