For the past couple of months, I have started to become bored of the beer choices Korea has to offer. Essentially, you can either choose from lager number 1, lager number 2, or lager number 3, all produced by conglomerates. Micro breweries are essentially unheard of in Korea. Understanding that many people have more sophisticated tastes for our fine friend hops, the series entitled “Finding the Best Beer in Seoul” will attempt to find the best Brew Pub in Seoul. The first venue reviewed on the list is “Big Rock Brewery”.
Located on a side street next to exit number 7 at Gangnam Station, the first thing you noticeabout it is that it is underground. The only thing that is above ground is the door and the sign. After you make your way down to the Pub, you will immediately see the bar on your left with several American sports arcade games and a foosball table to your right. The owner, Andy, greeted me and promptly took us to our booth. I looked at the beer selection and asked him a few questions. He and I had a warm discussion about their beer tastes, manufacturing, and quality for approximately 10 minutes. Not only this, but he had given me his time even though an international camera crew was also at the Pub filming a segment about Big Rock Brewery. I will make it a point that I did not tell him that I was reviewing his restaurant, he talked to me because he wanted to and was passionate about his work. However, he did tell me one disappointing thing about the Brewery; it is not actually a brewery. The brewery is in Alberta Canada and they send the Beer to Korea.
With that said and done, let’s get on to the important things: the beverages and the food. Big Rock has a selection of 10 craft (microbrewed) beers that were far better than I had expected. Every beer I tasted had a unique and hearty flavor. My 3 favorites were the traditional ale, which had a slight caramel flavor, the McNally’s Extra Ale, hoppy and a chance bitter, and The Dry Apple Cider, which tasted oddly similar to Martini Asti Spumante. The reason I have selected the Cider as one of my favorites is because it would be an excellent alternative for non-beer drinkers who still want to drink with friends at a pub. The Cocktail list was 27 items long, with prices ranging from $6-$7, and they also had seasonal cocktails like egg nog for those who miss the alcoholic traditions of western countries.
The menu was extensive and had a few items not typically served in North America. I decided upon fish and chips, teriyaki buffalo wings, and the standard buffalo wings. The standard buffalo wings were a bit dry for me and tasted different from all other buffalo wings that I have tried. Instead of marinating after the wings were cooked, it appears that they basted the wings either before they cooked them or when they were partially done. It seemed like this cooking method was also used on the teriyaki wings. The teriyaki wings had just the right amount of sweetness while also not being too salty. I was pleasantly surprised by these. Western restaurants tend to over sweeten teriyaki but Big Rock seems to have stayed closer to the traditional Japanese style of teriyaki. The fish and chips were decent. The batter seemed a bit undercooked and a bit supple. However, the chips, both jojo style and standard, were delightful and fried for just the right amount of time. I was pleased with the food and although the fish and chips disappointed me, all 3 of my items were still significantly better than most of the western-food offered in Seoul.
The atmosphere in Big Rock is fresh, familiar, and relaxing. Its mud-yellow walls and bar with garlic and onions braids hanging from the ceiling made me feel comfortable and for a while I forgot that I was in Korea. TVs were playing one of the games from the NCAA tournament and light modern or light jazz could be heard from the speakers.
Although Big Rock’s food selection did not enthrall me, their beers, exceptional service, and atmosphere have done so. I will likely return to Big Rock in the coming weeks to again partake in their quality beverages and services.
- Owner speaks fluent English along with one of their waitresses
- Excellent Craft (microbrewed) Beer
- Real Western Atmosphere
- Excellent Service
- Great Location
- They often have live music
- Food was not exceptional, although still better than typical western food in Korea
- Not actually a brewery
- Stout was a bit weaker than what I am used to
- 818- 8 Yonjeong bldg. Yeocksam-dong Kangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Phone : 02-539-6650
Map and Directions: (From Gangnam Station Exit 7)
View Big Rock Brewery Gangnam, Seoul in a larger map