Caligari Brewing Company
(Itaewon, Seoul, South Korea)
Our most recent trip to Itaewon for some shopping and food-related purposes yielded an accidental delight. The menu said established in 2016, but we’ve been to this particular area of the city twice now and I SWEAR I did not see this brewery either of those times. Regardless, a pretty chill vibe and a nice beer setlist made for an easy decision to pop in. We were heading to dinner after, so we didn’t partake, but they do have what looked like some decent pup-grub options. I got a flight of 5 of the year-round offerings and The Editor got a seasonal saison release.
The first offering in this cabinet was a sweet-tart of a wheat, citrus bomb named Dr. Filed in Failure. Though its name has me a bit skeptical of the good doctor it does give me faith in the local brewers. Not an overly thick wheat, but the fruit forward grapefruit was a nice change of pace with many of the Korean beers on the scene.
Next up was Banana White. This white ale was an interesting take on the style. While it was creamy throughout and finished surprisingly tropical it was milky and almost lacked effervescence completely. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it, and I think it may be a nod to the typical spiced white ale without overwhelming a Korean’s palate.
The third victim was Saab; session IPA. I’m not a huge fan of session IPAsin general and I don’t want to bash them, but I truly don’t get the point. If all you’re trying to do is drink it to save on alcohol and not get too drunk then I guesssss I get it, but my experience is that the lower ABV of a session IPA tends to be coupled with less flavor. This one was no different.
Fourth on the list was Incheon Porter. Much like how the airport with the same name takes me away to sweet escapes, this porter brought me back to a place where the flavor profile and texture actually matter. The mouthfeel of this porter was thicker than every stout I have had in all of southeast Asia to date and the balance between bitter cocoa and sweet malts was perfection. Seriously well done.
Last up on the flight was Sleepwalking IPA. Not quite as good as the other beer I’m about to mention, but still a fine brew. Sleepwalking IPA is very similar to a DFH 90 minute. The sweet and malty while still pungent hop character brought my taste buds to Delaware immediately. I’m not going to insult them and say I think this was a recipe clone, but if DFH’s a dollar I’d call Sleepwalking a 98 cent version.
At this point, I wish we had stopped with the flight. We were really happy with 4 out of 5 beers on the flight and the last two, in particular, were fantastic. Despite being very impressed with Hasey being in a taiku glass (#propperglassware) nothing else with this one was impressive. A poor attempt at a west coast, piney IPA at best.
Despite ending on a sour note, overall, our Caligari experience was awesome. Overall, I give them an 8.8 out of 10.