A mere stone’s throw away from Yeongdeungpo Station, Emokgub Taproom is conveniently located just off the busier streets. You do have to traverse more classic Korean scenery on your way, but the brick house with a steaming pipe positively stands out from the surrounding buildings.
No flashy signs outside this place, just a hand-drawn sign showing where all the beers are from, as well as emphasizing the absence of soju on the menu. The name of the game is local brews, and this place boasts an impressive selection of Korean beers, with breweries from most big cities. In addition to all the domestic beers on tap, there are a few foreign beers on the bottle menu.
With the outside temperatures reaching as low as -16°C, Emokgub has the patio covered with plastic and even boasts a real oven, providing a comfortably smokey atmosphere and more tolerable temperatures. We did still keep our coats on, as did most guests, but it was warm enough to keep us comfortable for the duration of our visit.
On the menu are a selection of craft beers from around the country, ranging from familiar hoppy ales to more unusual flavors, like the Pine Pilsner and Coffee Kölsch Ale. You can also get taps 1-4 and 6-8 in sampler sets and get a little bit of each. There is also a more or less experimental food menu with choices like fried chicken, S’more dip and even blueberry pizza if you want to give your tastebuds a shake. Maybe there are some excellent, unexpected pairing options on this menu for the braver guests?
We started off with the Pine Pilsner from The Table and the Hopster IPA from Andong. Both interesting brews, the Pine Pilsner being the fresh and foresty drink you’d expect, although a little on the daft side. Suits the place well with the real firewood smell, but gets a little boring around halfway through the glass.
The Hopster IPA is all I was hoping it to be, and is a classic, hoppy IPA. Fresh, fruity and a little bitter, but not as heavy as you’d expect. For the price it is an excellent choice if you like hoppy ales, and goes well with common bar food like the chili fries we got. The fries were not as crispy as they could have been, but the sour cream and sprinkled herbs make up for it. The meat was very well spiced, but might be a little too much if you don’t like spicy food. Most Koreans would probably not call these spicy at all.
Another domestic from their tap list, the Hopsplash from Playground is one of our favorite Korean IPAs. I would say this is a must for hop enthusiasts, but 10.000 won for a domestic beer seems a little stingy, Ilsan is not really that far away! However, fresh from the tap this beer is a delight.
A crowd pleaser at Emokgub, the house dog Jackson struts from table to table to the guest’s delight. There are signs instructing generous visitors not to give Jackson any human food, but it seems there are dog treats available. Nevertheless, Jackson seems to enjoy the attention and gives the place an even more cabin-like charm.
Speaking of charm, the oven is fired up with real wood, a rare sight (and smell) in Korean bars. The slightly smokey air makes for a rustic atmosphere, and warms our Scandinavian hearts. This smokiness might not be reserved for cold weather, there are some grills in the corner, so we hope to trek back here in the summer months to enjoy some barbecue.
As the pictures show, the Christmas tree is still up, supposedly it is normal to keep Christmas decorations until the Lunar new year in February. Though the fact that the little salty pretzels came in a pumpkin basket makes me suspect the festive decorations are year-round. The fairy lights and neon sign string the whole look together, and at least there is no Christmas music playing.
All in all, Emokgub presents the perfect blend between hipstery taproom and a pojangmacha, giving a kind of urban glamping feel. The music plays at a moderate volume, making it easy for guests to converse while keeping a lively atmosphere. Most of the seating is on the patio with only a few more seats by the counter. We saw a few people queuing shortly before getting a table, but it seems to be only moderately crowded.