The Problem with Craft Beer Pubs in Seoul
|Summers were better, St. Bernardus Abt 12 on draft at Pudagi|
If I think about Seoul National University and the areas around its vicinity (excluding Nokdu), I can already think myself naming a whole host of pubs and restaurants that now sell craft beer. First stop, you can't miss Pub86, then you have a couple of 맥주장고s around the newly opened "elephant" which itself serves selected foreign brews, Alley Way Pub, then you have Lala, the dark, mysterious bottle shop, then Lingo of course, the original "Corner tap house" at real corner, the newly opened, jazz playing Cups, the pricier Pudagi and a couple of more pubs along the nakseongde market. It's quite something considering the university is not located at a prime area.
And I haven't even mentioned places where Indica's been sold.
It sure goes to show that craft beer is the real deal now in Seoul. Everyone wants a piece of it. Everybody's talking about it. It's not just ordering beer but what specific beer you want to order that's important.
I remember going with a friend of mine outside and I asked him what he wanted and he replied "beer man" and I asked him again "what beer?" and he looked at me as if I was stupid and he annoyingly exclaimed "beer man! BEER!" ...you have to feel sorry for that guy for missing out.
That's no longer accepted now.
The thing is, Pubs tend to take advantage of this, like so many things in business, when they charge premium on sub standard beer while not really caring about the quality of service given to the customers. Charging a glass of beer $10 (The tax doesn't help but still) is not a f**king joke, so you expect the service to be to top tier too.
Only that you find them to be horrifically failing.
In the last two months, I have had two glasses sent back. One being a completely wrong order, another being a completely shattered glass. When you have stout poured on a broken glass, it's kind of hard to notice in the beginning. And that was in a place like The Booth who are probably like THE SHIT in brewing business in Korea right now buoyed by all the collaborative brewing they have done with Mikkeller. Quite the big deal they are.
And when its served to the guest who you bring along to show them a good time, you can see why I lose patience.
It's not just beers though, the hastiness and the measure of indifference pubs tend to show when they serve a meal accompanying the beer; for instance not caring about placing insects on fries or consistently placing hair on the pizza while charging exorbitant amount for something that tastes tame is quite unacceptable. It did cost me my relationship with my ex when I lost my temper with the cook who deep fried a couple of mosquitoes with the fries he served her.
It's not just money or quality I am talking about here.
Look, here's the thing. I understand people make mistakes and that happens. But in a business where you charge a premium by making the restaurant and pub "look fancy" and serve sub standard, disappointing food with brews that are not properly taken care of, then I do have a problem. And that pisses me off big time.
In my opinion it's best to be part-educated on beer styles and brew serving/tasting issues before you head out to a pub for a drink next time. The brewer's association of US has succinctly summarized some of the issues that these brew houses tend to go through (applicable anywhere including Seoul) and I will have the information posted below along with an article on www.craftbeer.com [HERE] which has a guide on refusing a beer served to you.