The Great Korean Beer Festival, Yongsan

This weekend my friend was still in town so he invited me out to The Great Korean Beer Festival in Yongsan.  As the name suggests, it was a beer festival but specifically it focused on craft beer from Korean microbreweries.

I was originally planning on going to Seoul this weekend anyway to go to a Palace, so I thought I would hit both in the same day.  Then I started thinking about how I would hate to have to lug my camera bag around at a microbrew event.  Then I started wondering if any hotels were available.  So the morning of I jumped on Priceline and lowballed the Gangnam area and scored the Marriott for 100 bucks.

As I slogged through my morning I was quickly starting to realize I needed to hurry up in order to make it to the palace on time and make it down for the festival.  I needed to get money, so that was an odyssey in and of itself, and then when I went to call a taxi the text message they sent me said “sorry, no taxis in your area, try again later.”  What.

I finally made it to the train station and barely missed the train, so I had to wait for 40 minutes for the next train, standing room only.  By this time my hopes and dreams to catch the palace had withered away, so I decided I would go straight to my hotel and drop my bag.  I guess I could have gotten off at Yeongdeungpo  but my understanding was you have to leave the subway at Noryangjin and cross the street to the gold line, and so I figured going all the way up was more beneficial.  Now that I think about it, I think you end up wasting a good 15-20 minutes crossing the river only to turn around and cross the Han again when you go south to your hotel.  Oh well you live and you learn.  When I finally surfaced from the subway I was like, THE DAY IS ALREADY ALMOST OVER!  The sun was already starting to set.

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I finally made it to my hotel and what I find mind boggling is the fact that check in is still so slow in this day and age.  I had to fill out some piece of paper with a bunch of my information on it and it was a good 10 minute check in process, not counting the 10 minutes I had to wait for the person in front of me…  With the technology that exists here I feel that the process could be more expedient.  I mean when I was at Dunkin Donuts the pager they gave me literally played commercials on a tiny screen while you waited for your food to get made.  If they can pull that off they can get me my room key faster.  Obligatory room and view photo.

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Anyway, I dropped my bag and turned around and met everyone at their hotel and we left and looked for a ticket for me.  There are a bunch of restaurants/breweries that joined together to make the event happen, so for 30,000W you could buy a ticket at a local establishment, or for 50,000W you could buy the ticket at the door.  Hmmmm hard decision.  So we got my ticket at some random place on the western side of Itaewon.  So if you exit Noksapyeong and head north (exit 2) and walk all the way up to Hoenamu-ro (it’s where the underground walkway is- go down the stairs, turn right then left and go up the stairs) and look a few meters down and it’s this brown wood facade place.  Super small, but you can buy tickets there.  The only reason why I’m mentioning it, especially since the event is already over, is because it smelled really good in there and you should definitely try it out.  Seriously, it smelled really, really good.  I have no idea what they make there.

The event is between two stations, Noksapyeong and Samgakji, so if you’re already at Noksapyeong just walk there.  Otherwise, exit Samgakji and go east.  This year they had it at the War Memorial out in their west pavilion.  I’m going to apologize in advance for blurry photos; it’s not my fault that Samsung phones can’t focus in the dark.  😡

Great clear night to see the tower!

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I’ve seen it a few times, but I still don’t understand the relevance of this monument.

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So on to the Great Korean Beer Festival.  Your ticket gets you 10 “tickets” which you can use at the event for food and drink.  So in actuality, you pay 20,000W for admission and each ticket is 1,000W.  You can purchase more tickets if you want as well.  They give you a 5oz taster cup that you carry with you everywhere as you sample all these different places and their beverages.

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They also had a few food tents.  By a few I mean three.  The longest line was for French Sausage Baguettes, so naturally you gotta get those.  These were real, bonafied french dudes.  I was wondering what they were doing here, when I caught myself and realized, what am I doing here?  It’s weird to think about it; you’re so used to being surrounded by a homogenous society that when you see foreigners you wonder what their story is and why they are here, but it’s the same exact question being asked about YOU because you’re a foreigner too!  It was a weird thing to think about.  Anyway, the sausages were really, really good.  They had this sauce that was seemingly a mix of spicy mustard and grey poupon with some herbs thrown in.  No complaints from my end.

20141025_190646 (1) 20141025_191037 (!)The place next door to them was doing sliders, so they had chorizo as one option and pulled pork as the other.  We overheard chorizo pronounced as “chozario” which was…weird.

20141025_203237 (!)The event was centered around a courtyard, and they had a band that played for awhile and the booths lined the courtyard.  It was a pretty cool event, and I was surprised at how much english I heard.  My thinking is the craft beer movement here is being pushed by foreigners, not by Koreans, so it’s really no surprise that it was a foreign friendly event.  Koreans need to start drinking more craft beer though I’m getting sick of what they call beer.  😛

But in all seriousness, We stayed until they closed it down because it was a great ambiance with good food (it would have been better if there was more) and great beer tasting!

20141025_221730 (1)We caught the subway afterwards.  Subways close at 12 on weekends (makes no sense) and I knew, with all my heart, that no taxi driver would know my hotel, so it was for the best.  Plus my dogs were barking (my feet really hurt) so it felt good to finally sit/lay down!

If they do this next year, go!  It’s a fun event!

Also: always be wary of empty subway stations.

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