Are we missing your favorite brewery or craft beer destination in Busan? Email John Dunphy, Craft Beer Asia’s Busan section editor, at email@example.com.
*updated Nov. 24, 2017
South Korea’s second biggest city, located in the southeastern tip of the nation, is more than just the beach (although there are several here that are pretty great). It’s also a cultural and commercial giant in its own right. While Busan came later to the craft beer party than its big brother several hours north, it has spawned since 2014 several highly-praised breweries and numerous tap houses offering beers from The Land of Morning Calm and beyond.
The Gwangalli Beach area, accessible from both the Geumnyeonsan and Gwangan stops on Busan Metro Line 2 (the “green line”) is arguably Ground Zero for Busan’s burgeoning craft beer scene. It is where Galmegi Brewing Company set up shop and where their flagship location is today. It is also home to Gorilla Brewing Company, which moved into bigger digs here in early 2017, and where other options for proper suds abound.
This directory also includes craft beer locations elsewhere beyond Busan that can be reached via the Busan metro system, including Gimhae City.
Devil’s Door Brewery (Centum City, inside Shinsegae Department Store, also two locations in Seoul)
부산 해운대구 센텀4로 15 신세계백화점 센텀시티몰 7층, 051-745-2066
Operated by Shinsegae, the corporate giant responsible for E-Mart and the Shinsegae department stores, Devil’s Door Brewery is styled after the industrial chic brewpubs popular in the United States. Burgers, pizzas and more are offered with a small selection of traditional craft beer styles including IPA, stout, pale ale, lager and a dark weizen called “Haeundae” that is only available at the Busan location.
Galmegi Brewing Company (Gwangan, with locations in Haeundae, Seomyeon, Nampo, Pusan National University area and Kyungsung University area)
Galmegi is where craft beer began in Busan. Opening near Gwangalli Beach as a contract-brewed bar in 2013, the folks at Galmegi opened their own brewery nearby a year later and have since become synonymous with craft beer in the city. With their success has come expansion. Today, Galmegi’s beers can be enjoyed not only at their brewery but also at a number of other bars around Busan and at five other franchise locations, in Haeundae, Seomyeon, Pusan National University (PNU), Kyungsung University (KSU) and Nampo.
Gorilla Brewing Company (Gwangan)
125, Gwangam-ro, Suyeong-gu, Busan, 051-714-6258
Gorilla Brewing Company moved on up from their significantly-smaller location in nearby Millak-dong in early 2017 to a much larger, warehouse-chic second-floor location (which includes a first-floor “takeaway” bar). In addition to their robust selection of beers, Gorilla offers about a dozen others, all from other brewers in South Korea. Live music, fish and chips on Fridays and free yoga on weekends are just some of Gorilla’s extracurricular activities.
Praha 993 (Mangmi)
Located next to Costco in F1963, a former wire-manufacturing plant that now hosts art exhibits, Praha 993 offers beers made in the traditions of those found in the Czech Republic, the home of the brewery’s founders. Besides several beers, including pale ales and stouts (as well as a very well-received seasonal pumpkin ale), a rotating menu of Czech foods and other familiar tastes can be enjoyed at their brewery. Several of Praha 993’s beers can also be enjoyed at several other locations in Busan.
Akitu Brewing Company (Nampo and Yangsan)
Offering flavorful, well-balanced beers in a number of popular varieties, Akitu’s beers can be enjoyed at a number of bars throughout the city and at two taphouse locations, in Nampo-dong and in nearby Yangsan, just north of Busan.
Finger Craft (Oncheonjang, with outposts in City Hall and Choryang-dong)
Finger Craft, despite having a name that translates a bit awkwardly into English, is a very lovely place to relax and have a beer or three. Customers are offered a fruit plate with their beers, and their flagship location, in what formerly stored milk, feels classic rather than worn out. Last time I checked a year ago, they were being contract brewed. Not sure as of October 2017 if that is still the case. Either way, the stuff’s enjoyable and so is the location.
Review (in Korean):
Hirshimchung Brau (Oncheonjang)
Who says you can only get a German beer hall experience in Germany? Located on the first floor in the Hotel Nongshim, Hirshimchung Brau produces several beers in the traditional German style and offers occasionally-authentic (but often generally tasty) foods and fun live entertainment to wash them down. Their annual Oktoberfest outdoor event nearby, featuring unlimited pours of their tasty beer, is always a raucous time.
Tetrapod Brewing Co. (Seomyeon)
Owned by the same guy who owns Galmegi’s Seomyeon location, Tetrapod Brewing Co. is located literally ’round the corner from that other craft beer destination. A hip, low-key layout, with contract-brewed house selections, guest beers from other Korean breweries like Wild Wave and Hand & Malt, as well a decent bottle selection.
Three Monkeys (Seomyeon)
Contract-brewed house beers in a fun place that plays their music quite a bit too loudly. Located a short walk from Joseon Kalkusku, also known as the “Penis Maekgeolli Bar” for the huge wooden penis at its entrance.
Wild Wave Brewing Company (Songjeong Beach)
In 2017, Wild Wave Brewing Company opened their own brewery a short walk from the Songjeong stop on the recently-opened Donghae Line, a 10-minute walk from Songjeong Beach and a 10-minute drive from the heart of popular Haeundae Beach. Previously known as “Wild Waves,” what started primarily as a sour beer project by Pooh Brews of Craft Brewer (an awesome homebrew shop near Gwangalli Beach and their original tap house location), Wild Wave Brewing Company has expanded beyond sour beers, offering a wide range of popular styles including kolsch, IPA, stouts and, yes, sour ales.
CRAFT BEER DESTINATIONS
Besides breweries, there are plenty of places in Busan and its surrounding metro area to grab a better beer.
Cafe Marjorie (Gimhae)
A gem of a cafe located a 10-minute walk from the Gimhae National Museum stop on the Busan-Gimhae Lightrail Transit. Its chef/owner, who hails from Australia, gained some notoriety in Korea a few years ago for his participation in Korea’s version of Masterchef. Besides carrying an excellent selection of craft beers from the likes of Brooklyn Brewery, Brewdog and North Coast Brewing Company, Cafe Marjorie offers a fine selection of wines by the glass and bottle, coffee beverages, teas and some of the best food available anywhere, in or out of South Korea.
Craft Brewer (Gwangan)
Wild Waves’ old tap house location in Gwangan lives on, just with their other name, “Craft Brewer,” their brewing supply company. Several Wild Wave varieties on tap, as well as others from around Korea. Pretty much the same exact layout as when it was Wild Waves, just with Craft Brewer branding.
HQ Gwangan (Gwangan)
One of Busan’s most-popular expat bars, HQ has several varieties from Seoul’s Platinum Beer on regular rotation, several bottles from New Belgium Brewing and Stone and has recently begun to serve local brews by Galmegi and Praha 993. A hearty menu and regular events make it a popular destination all year.
Owl and Pussycat Bottle Shop and Tap Room (Gwangan)
OPC, located within beer-drinking distance from Gwangalli Beach, offers both a hearty selection of drafts from other purveyors of the craft as well as themselves, and a robust selection of curated bottles to take home. A small menu also features several dining options like pizzas, chicken and other foods that pair well with beer.
Slice of Life Taphouse (Gwangan)
4F, 153, Gwnganhaebyeon-ro, Suyeong-gu, Busan, 051-757-4278
Slice of Life, a New York-style pizzeria, first began in a small location in the Kyungsung University/Pukyong National University area (KSU/PKNU) in 2014, gaining enormous popularity almost instantly. Two years later, they opened the much-larger Slice of Life Taphouse, on the fourth floor of a building offering an incredible view of Gwangalli Beach, their incredible pizza and an incredible list of top-tier craft beers. Their rotating list of selections range from stable staples from places like Galmegi and Gorilla, to big, bold imperial stouts from around the world.
Thirsty Monk Taphouse (Gwangan, nationwide)
153, Gwanganhaebyeon-ro, Suyeong-gu, Busan, Korea, 051-753-6751
Seoul-based taphouse franchise that specializes in beers from Germany’s Weiheistephen, the oldest brewery in the world. Guest taps, liquor and wine are also available. The Gwangan branch, located on the first floor of the same building as Slice of Life Taphouse, also offers canning service.
Abnormal Taphouse and Cantina (Haeundae)
The Wolfhound (Haeundae)
This Irish-themed pub offers the usual bar fare (burgers and fries, fish and chips, which they offer in a 2 for 1 deal on Tuesdays) to go with five of Gorilla Brewing Company’s beers — IPA, stout, pale ale, blonde and a seasonal brew. They also offer Indica IPA, from Lost Coast Brewery of Eureka, California.
Facebook: Wolfhound Busan
Einheit Pub (Kyungsung University/Pukyong National University area)
A very relaxed place where friends can enjoy a few pints from a decent selection (which has included stuff from Goose Island, Brooklyn Brewery, Gorilla, Hand & Malt and ARK Brewing, among others), or something from their very nice bottle shop selection (a modest fee applies to bottles if consumed in the pub).
August 2017: Went on a whim. Was very pleased with this place. Cool vibe, with music that’s not too loud, and a staff that seems to enjoy what they do. Recommended.
Facebook: Einheit Pub
ACEGIK Craft Beer Taphouse (Nampo)
Tia Pub (Nampo)
From their website, translated from Korean: “Tia is the first new complex in Busan that allows you to enjoy pubs and bottle shops at the same time. There are 18 kinds of Draft beer and 160 kinds of Craft beer.”
Basement (Pusan National University area)
An institution in the PNU area, the original expat friendly downtown in Busan. A quintessestial dive bar experience, Basement offers cheap drinks, various bar games and live music. Several varieties of Gorilla Brewing Company beer are also on draft.
Someday (Pusan National University area)
Fun, warm and hip without being fussy, this popular local bar had been open since 2011 as a single-story dive bar but was renovated and reopened in early 2017 as a two-story establishment that is extremely active in Busan’s music and art scenes. Craft beer is among their drink selection, including several tasty varieties from Goose Island.
An:nyeong Pub (Seomyeon)
A popular destination for craft beer geeks. Local and imported beers can be found on tap, as well as an extensive bottle selection. Lots of interesting, very hard to find elsewhere stuff here, owned by people that clearly love beer.
Bronx (Seomyeon, with locations nationally)
A craft beer chain with beers from Goose Island, in-house (likely contract-brewed), something called “Bibi” and from a German-themed beer hall in Seoul called “Octoberfest.” Goose Island beers cost closer to 8,000 won but their in-house and other beers are really cheap, between 3,900 and 5,000 won. Happy hour prices from 5-7pm are 2,500 won, which is cheaper than most places charge for lousy Korean macrobeers these days. A friend recommends this place, so I will be checking it out before I condemn it/praise it thoroughly. But, for now, wow, cheap!
Facebook: Bronx Seomyeon
Daily Beer – 생활맥주 (Seomyeon, Hadan and Haeundae)
A nationwide franchise craft beer taphouse that offers a good selection of beers from Korean brewers such as Gorilla, Hand & Malt, Wild Wave and Praha 993 (at the Seomyeon location. Beer selections may vary depending on location).
Oct. 2017: What a pleasant surprise this was! Located almost right next to Galmegi’s Seomyeon location, Daily Beer is a great alternative to what I feel is one of Galmegi’s weaker franchise locations (the same great beer, but their location is too cramped and it too often loses the tested relaxed vibe of Galmegi in favor of the “youthful” Korean vibe. Read: they turn the music up way too loud and you can’t talk to your friends). Daily Beer’s volume is much more reasonable, their beer selection is great, and the food I saw folks enjoying looked really good. The fries I ordered were nice and it’s generally a fun place to enjoy some drinks and snacks.
Fishhead Brewer (Seomyeon)
15, Dongcheon-ro 85beon-gil, Busanjin-gu
Despite having “brewer” in their name, this place specializes in Scotland’s Brewdog selection of beers. Fully embracing the industrial-chic aesthetic, Fishhead Brewer offers a large variety of Brewdog’s beers, both in the bottle and on draft.
Sept. 2017: visited during their September Brewdog “Punk Night” promotion. Early in the evening was decent. They were offering discounts on the beers, which are decent (I’m not a huge Brewdog IPA fan as it’s pretty ordinary compared to a lot out there. But, Fishhead has a lot on offer). However, as the early evening began to bleed into evening, their sound system got louder, and louder, and my group left before it got even louder, which it likely did. Would consider going back on a weeknight to see if they can keep the volume low enough so you can chat with friends over beers instead of shout at them.
Skoll Pub (Seomyeon)
Opened in November 2017, Skoll Pub offers an extensive range of craft beers on draft, including their own house-branded line. Skoll also has a full menu.
Cerzeza Ale & Espresso (Yeonsan)
Operated by the same folks who own the Crossroads bar in the Pusan National University area. Offers several craft selections from popular brewers including Lost Coast, Brewdog and The Booth, of Seoul. As their name indicates, they also serve coffee products.