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Beer me, please: A look at Reilly’s Taphouse (Itaewon, central Seoul)

December 27, 2012 - Chris Backe

What’s that, you ask? You like beer too? You’d like to enjoy some good beer without feeling a beer snob or needing a degree in Beer to make a good choice? Make a beeline (beerline?) to Reilly’s for some good beer, good grub, and good conversation.

Despite the impressive beer list, there isn’t any pretentiousness about the served suds. There’s simply quiet confidence and knowledge, especially from the first Certified Cicerone (pronounced ‘sis-uh-rohn’) in Korea, AKA Troy Zitselberger. If you’re aware of what a wine sommelier does, this is actually pretty close – a cicerone serves beer, recommends food pairings, identifies beers by taste, have a good understanding of beer’s ingredients, and recognizing what flavors are appropriate and inappropriate. Simply put, he knows the beers so you don’t have to.

So which one to try? You’ll notice first off that there are no mass-market Korean brands on the menu – simply put, they simply don’t sell them. The most likely ones you’ll know are from local brewers:

This is one of two chalkboards featuring the available selections, most of which are available in draft form. If you’ve visited Craftworks or Magpie’s locations (just around the corner in the Haebangcheon neighborhood), some of these beers will look familiar. You can also suggest the tastes you’ll like and trust the man to get you something along your preferences. If that’s a bit too much trust to put in a bartender, the sampler paddlers offer tastes for a manwon.

YUP – some of Korea’s best draft beer in all its goodness… Speaking of which, ask about the beer boot challenge – it’s not a drinking competition, but a dice game played amongst your table. Suffice it to say the loser pays for the two-liter boot of beer, but there is some strategy involved to the game.

As for the food, expect appetizers, salads,  entrees, and sandwiches – all done a notch up from your usual pub grub. Elsewhere, the fish and chips are beer-battered; here, the beer used is Hefeweizen. Each menu offering comes complete with specially selected beer pairings.

Not a Philly cheese steak, but a Bulgogi Philly featuring shaved beef, gochujang, and fontina cheese. A bit spicier than expected, but otherwise quite good.

If you’re looking for cheap meat-and-potatoes, go to a college area – this is perhaps the best place to celebrate a victory in a classy way, or perhaps to enjoy the upscale pub like you did back home. It’s a notch up in price, however – expect a sandwich / entree and beer to be 20,000 – 30,000 won per person.

Highly recommended.

Directions: Itaewon station, line 6, exit 2. Walk 100 meters to the Smoothie King and look up – you should see Reilly’s as pictured earlier on the third floor.

 

Disclaimer: Chris in South Korea did *not* receive any freebies in writing / researching this post. #firstworldproblems

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