Saigon Beer Scene.

Vietnamese Beer With an American Soul. Craft Beer Culture in Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnam now has one of many fastest-growing craft beer scenes in Southeast Asia. Alongside contemporaries Korea, China, and Hong Kong, the nation is experiencing a craft beer renaissance.  I lived in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon, because the locals want to say) between 2016-2020 as the brand new craze took root — when new artisans and breweries appeared virtually month-to-month. Now, the town is awash with proficient producers, all capitalizing on a Vietnamese beer revolution. 

Beer BBQ in Viet Nam.

Image credit score: Benjamin Rice.

From Banh Mi to Bubble Tea

Saigon Taxi view.

Image credit score: Benjamin Rice.

A typical night time out for any customer to Saigon will encompass cellular avenue meals stalls promoting something from banh mi to bubble tea, cute feminine hostesses guiding males into bars, and consuming areas with tiny plastic seats. Getting across the metropolis is simple. Uber as soon as operated in the town however was purchased out by Malaysian agency Grab, which now controls the gig financial system for transit.

Within the downtown district, dozens of venues promote a whole bunch of locally-produced Vietnamese beers, normally in beer towers. Any vacationer has a world-class taproom or beer home inside a brief stroll if staying in District One, although bike taxis are an inexpensive (if considerably precarious) technique to benefit from the metropolis’s vibrant night time vistas.

Where It All Began

Shortly after arriving in Vietnam, I attended the Saigon Craft Beer Festival, which began my love affair with Vietnamese craft beer. The competition takes place every September, bringing dozens of up-and-coming craft beer makers to advertise their merchandise.

Since my first introduction to the microbrew ethos in the town, I’ve sampled beers that rise up towards any in the world. The Saigon Craft Beer Festival is simply an emblem of a motion that grew exponentially for the reason that metropolis’s first taproom opened in 2013. East-West, Pasteur Street, and Fuzzy Logic Brewing Companies had been the face of the avalanche that engulfed the nation, starting in Vietnam’s most populous, southern metropolis.

Saigon Outcast, No.188/1 Nguyen Van Huong, District 2

Saigon Outcast.

Image credit score: Benjamin Rice.

The venue for this competition was Saigon Outcast. This out of doors bar is north of downtown in District Two, so it requires a taxi. Saigon Outcast has transformed transport containers and tables under with a skateboard ramp, a fully-functioning climbing wall, and a strong beer choice. The venue is greatest visited on a weekend or after they placed on particular occasions.

Flanked by beautiful mansions in Thao Dien District’s unique, rich neighborhood, Saigon Outcast is filled with Vietnamese and expatriate Saigoneers, typically dancing to dwell music or watching some type of leisure. The venue’s open-air ambiance makes it good for out of doors occasions — such because the craft beer competition, a weekly flea market, or numerous meals celebrations.

A Bullish Beer Market

Until 2013, worldwide and Vietnamese beers managed the market in Vietnam, a rustic whose French colonists introduced many European customs and delicacies that also thrive at present. Beer turned standard when the nation opened its markets to worldwide manufacturers. 

Fast ahead to a decade later, and there at the moment are dozens of high-profile artisan brewers in Anthony Bourdain’s favourite nation. Most of them have taprooms or big out of doors beer gardens. In Saigon, the service is at all times beneficiant, pleasant, and swift. 

Brewers supplying the market don’t have any scarcity of locations to promote their merchandise. Some of the best bars inventory quite a lot of craft beers from everywhere in the nation and past. 

Rooster Beers, 40 Bui Vien Street, District 1


Image credit score: Beervana.

One of the busiest scenes for al fresco consuming and consuming is Bui Vien Street, the beating coronary heart of Saigon’s nightlife. This thoroughfare as soon as straddled a busy highway, which meant taxis and bikes brushed previous vacationers, ensuing in a couple of drunken accidents.

Since then, metropolis officers pedestrianized the road, mockingly resulting in even much less strolling area. Just off the principle drag, you will see Rooster Beers, one of many earliest names in the craft beer hat.

Rooster Beers taproom affords a singular setting, its flagship bar having fun with the heavy footfall of Bui Vien’s mad crowds — assume younger boys respiration hearth and humorous outdated males providing head massages as you watch backpackers inhale laughing fuel. The bar is the proper spot to take pleasure in downtown Saigon’s ambiance — and the tastiest fried hen wings wherever in the town.

From Ohio to Ho Chi Minh City

Ohio native and long-term Saigon resident Rob Stevenson is an unbiased brewer who rode the wave of craft beer demand on the time, founding The Mekong Brewing Company in 2014. 

He began out brewing as an unofficial home based business in the “Wild West” days of brewing earlier than authorities regulation made issues not possible at such a small scale. “It was no longer feasible to run a 200-liter underground operation,” explains Rob in an interview. “So, I switched to contract brewing.”

He now commissions brewers in Long An District to make his ensemble of beers, together with his unique Blue Elephant IPA, Vietnamese ginger-infused Bengal Ambush Blonde, and his private favourite: a Citra hop-heavy Albino Rhino Double IPA.

Keeping The Locals Happy

Now, dozens of South Vietnamese distributors inventory Stevenson’s beers, which is an achievement contemplating his firm’s roots. “We had freezers in the apartments; we were picking up empty kegs, sending trucks back and forth from the apartment to the bars,” the entrepreneur recollects. “It was stressful!”

One of Rob’s challenges was getting native individuals on board and having them discover worth in this beer, contemplating it’s rather more costly than the worldwide manufacturers and Vietnamese beer they’re used to in the area. However, with entry to such superb “ingredients, spices, and fruits,” Rob loves what he does, and who is aware of: perhaps he’ll open a taproom at some point. 

For an evening out sampling Saigon’s greatest, Rob recommends Saigon Craft in his dwelling district, Phu My Hung.

Saigon Craft, 68 Ly Long Tuong Street, Tan Phong, District 7.

Saigon Skyline.

Image credit score: Benjamin Rice.

Run by a pleasant Kiwi (affectionate slang for somebody from New Zealand) and his Vietnamese spouse, Saigon Craft sits in one of many extra upmarket areas of D7, also called Phu My Hung or, to the locals, Korea Town.

Set beside a mangrove-flanked tributary of the Saigon River, Saigon Craft is on the town’s southern fringes. This good little spot has an spectacular array of artisan beers, ciders, and different drinks, many sourced inside a brief distance. 

The suburban setting makes for guests preferring a extra laid-back different to the high-octane hustle of Saigon’s downtown district. On most evenings, the suburban setting means the loudest noise you’ll hear is the occasional tugboat, the whine of a passing bike, or the cicadas over the river. 

Owner Matt, whose gross sales background allowed him to journey in Asia, began the bar in District 7 because of the neighborhood’s informal ambiance. The bar additionally serves a preferred menu of high-quality gastropub meals to match its voluminous drinks menu.

Brewing The Dream

One of the extra profitable brewers in Saigon is John Pemberton, who arrived on the scene in 2016, following in the footsteps of pioneers Pasteur Street, Fuzzy Logic, and Rooster Beers, who he says “paved the way” for the remainder.

“I got out of England when I was twenty-one with a one-way ticket to Thailand and a hundred bucks in my pocket,” John recollects. “I never looked back — I’m still technically on that trip.”

A stint residing in New York City on the flip of the millennium impressed his love of American craft beer. Later, the Australian-born Englishman labored in procurement for Ikea’s Asian market, which introduced him to Vietnam. He fell in love with the nation and is now constructing an spectacular legacy. 

Heart of Darkness Brewery, 31D Ly Tu Trong Street, Ben Nghe District.

Heart of Darkness Brewery Viet Nam.

Image credit score: Mervyn Fing Teng Lee.

John’s named his product Heart of Darkness after his favourite e-book by Joseph Conrad. The flagship taproom in bustling District One options 9 core beers and different seasonal choices. Depending on the time of yr, prospects can attempt something from a passionfruit mojito bitter to a chili/cucumber pilsner — all with native substances.

Heart of Darkness Brewery has an modern chef with a menu to match the bar’s award-winning beers. So, in case you are on the lookout for Saigon’s greatest New England Pale Ale to scrub down your Cajun Seafood platter, Heart of Darkness is the place for you. Moreover, the brewery just lately opened its first taproom outdoors Vietnam in Singapore.

A Full-on American Craft Beer Experience

“We really want Heart of Darkness to be a full-on American craft beer experience, especially for the locals,” John explains when discussing the respect for the Saigoneer ethos. “We also want anybody, local or foreign, who may be traveling alone to feel welcome in our bars — our cheeky Vietnamese staff is warm and funny.”

Joseph Conrad’s novel is central to the brewer’s branding. Furthermore, the particular labeling displays the connection between Francis Ford Coppolla’s epic Vietnam War film Apocalypse Now (John’s favourite, naturally), which is predicated on Conrad’s novel and shot in Vietnam. 

Curiously, the Heart of Darkness story has an aspect of destiny. “We opened our taproom on Joseph Conrad’s birthday,” laughs John. However, he reveals one thing resembling future. “We didn’t even realize until a year later on the one-year anniversary!” 

BiaCraft, 1 Le Ngo Cat Street, Phuong 7, District 3

Finally, BiaCraft wants a point out right here. Biacraft (bia is the Vietnamese for beer) boasts “the most extensive craft beer collection in Vietnam,” with 15 of its personal merchandise starting from creamy stout to strawberry Berliner Weisse to its personal honey mead. The brewers additionally inventory different native producers’ drinks.

BiaCraft affords prospects an unmatched alternative — 43 totally different draft beers, ciders, and stouts; 56 bottled drinks (together with two Mekong Delta merchandise) and 38 cans. If that wasn’t sufficient, the bar menu is designed to go together with their beers, with suggestions for every plate.

If you’re keen on craft beer and when you love vibrant, out of doors metropolis life, you’ll love consuming in Saigon.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks Travel.



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