(Hongdae, Seoul, SK)
I’m quickly coming to the realization that Korea doesn’t really believe in flights/samplers/tastings. It’s quite common to see a “sampler” on the menu for $25- $50, which consists of 4 -10 full sized pints. I don’t really have a logical reply for this: If you want me to just order a full glass of each one of your beers I will, but I’d much rather sample a few and then drink a dozen pints of my favorite. This also makes it hard to write one of these articles. Nonetheless, this past weekend I had a great time on a self-guided, mini bar crawl in Mapogu, Seoul. There are quite a few German-style and Czech-style pubs serving up food, Cass (Korean bud light) and half a dozen house brews: Two very popular examples are to follow.
Castle Praha is Czech style brewpub with a Bohemian church feel smacked dab in the middle of Korean style- stores, on stores, on stores. We ordered some sausages and schnitzel (duh) and a few pints. I had the weizen, the Merlin Cerny, and the stout.
The weizen was your typical, unfiltered, Bavarian wheat: sweet, hint of banana and cloves- nothing special, but it was drinkable and paired well with the food.
I tried to find out if Merlin Cerny or just Cerny was a style I have just never heard of before. Turns out it’s the beer name and Cerny is actually a common Czech name meaning dark. This brew had similar characteristics of malty, American brews. No real aroma here, but a nice balance of toffee, malt, and hops. Merlin Cerny earns some additional style points for being thicker and creamier than the stout that followed.
I will argue with anyone in the greater Eurasian multi-continent: America makes the best stouts. Flavor is one thing and I’ve had a few that can keep up, but the mouthfeel is another, and they don’t hold a candle. I want my stout to be more like lunch. Rant over.
The food and beers were alright, but being transported away from seeing ‘the same, but different’ of everyday Korea gave Castle Praha the opportunity to squeak out a higher rating. I give an 8.0 out of 10.
Queen’s Head Brewpub has a similar feel, but rather than the in-your-face effect of the Castle they have a bit more of a nestled, secret hideaway vibe going on. Queen’s Head mustered the German equivalent of the Czech castle with a pilsner, weizen, and dunkle. I refrained from the first.
The weizen was filtered, making it crisper and cleaner, but where it lacked in body it also lacked in flavor.
The dunkle was one of the best beers I have had in Korea. It was truly rich and creamy, with a chocolate, nuttiness that caused me to order the biggest one they had.
The nachos tasted like Lunchables chips and cheese dip and the weizen was subpar in comparison to its predecessor, but the dunkle was real quality- earning Queen’s Head an 8.1 out of 10.