What may appear to be a portal to Hong Kong in its glory days is actually just the extravagant entrance to Art Monster’s new venue in Gangnam. The playful, and plentiful, neon signs lead you from an ordinary side street to a unique pub with self-serve beer and boutique pizza and chicken dishes. Welcome to Gangnam, Art Monster!
We’ve previously visited Art Monster’s venues in Ikseon and Seongsu, and we got an invitation to visit their newest venue in Gangnam at the opening night on November 29th. This is the first Art Monster venue to utilize the self-serving wristband concept, a worldwide trend also followed by Tap Public in Seoul, paired with self-order screens for the food menu. Once you get your wristbands, you’re free to help yourself to whatever catches your eyes.
Art Monster’s own beers dominate the taps, and if choosing from the name alone is not enough, you can also read a detailed description in the provided menus. Naturally, you can also go and pour yourself a little taster of each beer before filling up a big glass to bring back to the table. As stated on their website, “super value” is part of the Art Monster palate, and so food and drinks are quite affordable even in such a premium location. It makes it easy to choose beer based on your taste and not on your wallet.
The interior of the new venue is a kind of retro Hong Kong style. Of course, on the opening night everything is brand new and doesn’t have that rustic look, which we think means that the place will wear and age nicely to fit the concept. It is also a lot more attractive than the common “vintage” interior found in many gentrified craft beer venues around town, with veneer rescue wood and purposely banged up steel lamps. EDM music, lots of chatter from a diverse crowd, this is a Gangnam place for sure and their neon sign entrance may become a local Instagram spot as well.
But we’re not only here for our Instagram, we are here to enjoy some freshly brewed beer! We went on a brewery tour at Art Monster’s brewery in Gunpo where we got to taste what was to become some of their new beers. Their new rocket fuel stout, with the fitting name Evil Calling, is a tremendously rich American imperial stout with an impressive 16 % abv to suit. Go easy on the tap with this one! Genesis is another new beer, a tasty well-made Blueberry Sour w
Another of the more recent Art Monster beers is Genesis, a wild sour ale with a generous amount of blueberries. Not too bitter, not too sweet, the blueberry flavor is prominent, but not dominating, a well-balanced sour at a crazy good price for Korea. Both Genesis and Evil Calling bring the Art Monster beer lineup to new extremes, much in line with the general craft beer market in Korea. What started with basic imported IPAs (Lost Coast Indica was EVERYWHERE a few years ago) and stouts in Western-style venues is now outcompeted by original concepts and fresh local beers. Great!
As part of the opening event, each guest could get one glass of Gangnam Ale for a special promotion price. This was a sweet and enjoyable hefeweizen with fresh initial carbonation, balanced mouthfeel and a sweet body. A classic at Art Monster, the Suda Sponsor grapefruit IPA, has gone through a few iterations before landing on what is now a very solid fruity IPA. Its got great spunk and just enough carbonation to bring out the hoppy and fruity, but not overly sweet, grapefruit body. Great smell and color too!