Saigon craft beer festival in Vietnam

Saigon craft beer festival 27 august 2016

outcast saigon craft beer festival 2016

In 2013 there were no craft breweries in Vietnam. Just a few home brewers making craft beer for friends and smaller occasions. Today there are craft beer festivals and the boom has started and it´s going fast. The craft beer festival is arranged by Saigon Outcast and will take place in Ho Chi Minh City 27 August 2016. Following craft breweries are attending the fetsival;  3 On a Bike, Phat Roosters, Lac Brewing, Fuzzy Logic, Platinum and Pasteur Street Brewing Company.  All of them are active in Saigon on places such as Rogue Saigon Quan Ut Ut, Bia Craft (soon opening a new bar with 30 taps) and Malt.

East West Brewing Company

Opening in November at 181 – 185 Ly Tu Trong Street in District 1 East West Brewing Company will contribute to the Craft beer boom in Saigon.Their Head Brewer, Sean Thommen brings with him 10 years of Brewing professionally in Portland, Oregon. Portland is regarded as One of the top Cities for craft beer in the US. Brewing equipment will also be visible like at Hoa Vien Brauhaus and Goldmalts microbreweries. East West Brewing Co is a  American Style Craft Brewery & Restaurant and their beers will be available both on bottle and tap.

EWB1       American-Style craft beers, traditional German and Belgian beers will also be brewed by EWBC

New Craft beer pub in Hanoi

Still there is a difference between the two cities. While craft beer is booming in Saigon, it has just started in Hanoi. Hanoi has also a different beer culture with more Bia Hoi and about 20 microbreweries making Czech and German lagers. Craft beer pub at 26 Hang Buom opened recently in the middle of the Old Quarter and will be the place where you can get both regular lagers and craft beer on tap for a very resonable price.

IMG_9085.jpg               Craft beer Pub Hanoi opened in 2016, has eight taps and a good selection of bottled beers 

Craft beer in Vietnam

Craft beer Pub is not only a place for beer; late night partys on weekends and different DJ:s will make it a good spot for late summer evenings.

 

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New beers & breweries in Vietnam 2016

This year will be very exciting for beer lovers in Vietnam. The first craft brewery Pasteur Street Brewing and the first brewery making ale, Platinum beer did open in 2015. The concept with tap rooms and bars selling craft beers is also introduced to the beer loving people in Vietnam. One good example is BiaCraft Artisan Ales that opened in august 2016 in Ho Chi Minh City, offering their own brewed craft beer with guest taps and imported craft beer on bottle. Bia craft are currently serving five of their own beers on tap; Đừng Chọc Tao Pale Ale, Lùn Mà Láo Blonde Ale,  Xấu Mà Chảnh IPA,  Biết Chết Liến Double IPA and Ngu Mà Lí Amber Ale.

Gold malt Hanoi

Czech styled beer brewed and served at one of 45 microbreweries in Vietnam

Vietnam in a global context. The question is if the local crowds demand for craft beer will rise fast like in Russia, where new breweries and tap bars are opening almost every month or a more moderate increase like in Germany. In Germany traditions come before curiosity and in most craft beer bars you will meet a lot of other nationalities than German. While Russian craft beer bars are dominated by Russians going nuts on all craft beer they can try. The beer industry is taken by surprise when Russia sailed up as a much more progessive nation compared with Germany when it comes to craft beer. What will happen in Vietnam? As it is right now, the beer market is moving very slowly when it comes to variety despite the massive volumes of beer beeing consumed.

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Craft beer is exploding in Russia, a few years ago it was non-existing. Now most breweries covers a wide range of styles and tap rooms can be found at more than 40 places in Moscow.  

Craft beer and local microbreweries in Vietnam

Many breweries will open in 2016 in Vietnam but is it the traditional Czech and German styled breweries or craft breweries that will attract the new beer consumers. The Bia Hoi beer and bottled lagers got widely distributed during the 1950s in Vietnam. When the communism collapsed in Europe, the Vietnamese that returned home from East Germany and Czechoslovakia in the 1990s brought with them recepies and technology. That’s why there are about 45 Czech and German styled microbreweries in Vietnam. People can relate to German and Czech culture, which you can understand with all Czech and German motives surrounding the beer halls.

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The year of the horse, 2014 was the year of change in Vietnam. Home brewers and beer consumers was ready for a renewal. The phenomenon with beer clubs, attracting the younger crowd became widely popular and importers started to look at other beer nations than Belgium. The first craft brewery opened in 2015 by american expats and a few places started to sell craft beer despite it was five times more expensive than a local beer.

The three main microbrew chains in Vietnam are Goldmalt and Hoa Vien Brauhaus with Czech beer and Legend beer with German. Some of their brew pubs are more like franchised and not part of the chain. Goldmalt have small breweries are building their own brewery systems and has recently installed a microbrewery in Japan. Legend beer have a handfull of places and have a central distribution. Hoa Vien is the only importer of pilsner urquell on keg and has put much effort on design and decoartion of their beer halls.

Legend Beer, Long Bien, Hanoi

Long Bien is situated on the other side of the Red river if you are in Hanoi city. Take a cab or local bus to the Aeon shopping mall at Co Linh street, about 20 minutes from Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi. This has a similar style as Legend beer in My Dinh in Hanoi with modern and fresh design.

Legen beer long bien

Legend beer has five places in Hanoi. Not all of them brewing on site. The oldest one at 4 Vu Ngoc Phan in Hanoi has a huge beer hall with the brewery inside.

 

Legend beer at 4 vu ngoc phan has been in operation almost 20 years and is crowded on weekends, often with live music.

Goldmalts new spots

Goldmalt has many ongoing projects and a new brewery has opened outside Ho Chi Minh City. Unclear exactly where. There are also rumours that at least one more has opened in central Vietnam. The old Goldmalt, a few hundred meters from the aiport in Ho Chi Minh City has opened again.

goldmalt airport saigon

Make a fast check-in and have a few beers before taking your flight

 Goldmalt Tan Son Nhat is a 10 minute walk from the airport. Address: 2 Bach Dang 2,Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam.

Brewery Nhu Y

Restaurant Nhu Y (means Italian) is not new, but unknown outside Ninh Binh. Ninh Binh is a few hours drive south of Hanoi and is famous for the beautiful landscape. Beer is brewed at the restaurant and the beer style is defined as Czech lager.

frony

Address: Trang An 2, Tan Thanh, Ninh Bình.

As the other local microbreweries, Czech craft beer is brewed accompanied with a extensive menu to be consumed in a big beer hall.

There is also another brewery in Ninh Binh. Vissai Brewery has two beers on tap and was installed in 2015. Vissai has two beers on tap and the brewery is just an arm’s lenght from your table.

German beer Ninh Binh

             Beer brewed by your table

Most craft beer is today consumed by expats in Vietnam, mainly in Ho Chi Minh City. It is understandable when the average monthly salary in Vietnam is 150 US $. A glass of bia hoi costs about 30 cent, a bottled 33 cl Hanoi or Saigon beer costs 1 US $, while a glass with craft beer costs about 4 US $.

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Book release: Beer guide to Vietnam

Full title: Beer guide to Vietnam and neighbouring countries                                             Author: Jonathan Gharbi  language: English

This is the first book about the amazing beer culture in Vietnam. The result of more than two years of travelling and beer drinking in Vietnam. The book describes every microbrewery and brew pub in Vietnam and a few other beer establishments. There is also a interview with a brewer, history behind the beer and important facts you should know if you are having a business meeting in Vietnam. Short summaries about each place are combined with pictures and interesting facts. It contains details and pictures of 51 establishments all over Vietnam.  It has also short descriptions of beer culture and breweries in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, Indonesia, North Korea, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Philippines and Japan.

beer guide vietnam vietnam beer

Where to buy it?                                                                                                                      You can buy the book online at amazon.com or at Vulkanmedia.se , you also buy it as PDF for Kindle on amazon. It will be available in the middle of May at Bookworm in Hanoi and Zeds Threads on 51a To Ngoc Van street in Hanoi. You can see a example from page 69 in the book below and a few more pictures.

insidan bok

Is it easy for a foreigner to find these places?                                                                 It is often very difficult just to find the breweries and they do not market themselves towards tourists. This is the first book that have listed every brewery in Vietnam. A few other guide books mentions a few of them, for example Lonely planet has listed five breweries. Most breweries just gathers the local crowd but after reading the book you will know how to drink the local way and understand the shouting and cheering that goes on from lunch time to late night.

Legend bia Vietnam

Brewery Hanoi

Brewery Vietnam

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Home brewing equipment in Vietnam

Start to brew your own beer

Finally, for the first time it’s possible to buy brewing equipment in Vietnam. The shop is opened by the home brewing club in Saigon. Read more about the home brewers in a earlier post here.  Visit their online shop and buy everything from hops to brew kettles.

Earlier you had to bring hops in the hand luggage, running through the security check afraid of ending up in a Vietnamese prison accused of smuggling marijuana. Making brewery equipment was complicated and due to the language barrier, a complicated mission.
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Home brewing, is it legal in Vietnam?                                                                               If visiting Vietnam you will be invited by many to try their home made rice wine which is a tradition and is mostly destilled of rice. Vietnamese call it Ruou gao and is served in every restaurant. Some is industrial made but a lot is home made. It is a accepted habit to brew rice wine at home for family and friends. So it’s not a problem until you start to compete with the local beer place.

Visit hobby brewer Saigons homepage if you want to find out more about home brewing and beer related matter. http://hobbybrewer-vietnam.de.tl/

Until then, watch a short video clip of one of the bigger microbreweries in Hanoi at beervn’s youtube channel.

 

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Book release of: Beer guide to Vietnam

The complete beer guide to Vietnam is finally in print and will be available within a few weeks. Title of the book is: Beer guide to Vietnam and neighbouring countries. The focus is on the Vietnamese beer culture and the microbrewery culture. You learn how to drink beer in Vietnam the local way. There is instructions like how you toast and why you never should say no to a beer.

beer guide vietnam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The book covers more than 40 breweries, brewpubs and relevant beer places in Ho Chi Minh City, Phu Quoc, Mui Ne, Nha Trang, Da Lat, Da Nang, Dong Hoi, Hai Duong, Hai Phong, Ninh Binh and Hanoi. Every microbrewery has one page with a short description and short facts. You can find about five of them in other guide books but most of them are only mentioned in this beer guide over Vietnam.

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The guide also includes neighboring countries with a brief resume of breweries and beer market in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, China, Hong Kong, North Korea, South Korea and Japan.

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The book will be published in end of March and available as a hard copy and e-book.

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New craft brewery in Vietnam, Pasteur Street Brewing Company

Pasteur street brewing company is the newest brewery in Vietnam and the first to produce a wide range of handcrafted beer located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City.

craft brewery Saigon

The team behind Pasteur street brewing company is Alex Violette and Bethany Lovato from Colorado along with John Reid; an American who has been living in Vietnam for a few years. There are many who have tried to open a brewpub like this one in Vietnam but this is the first one to succeed. It’s really difficult for foreigners to run small scale businesses in Vietnam and requires a lot of patience and a strong dedication.

Alex and Bethany were working at Upslope Brewing Company in the United States which offers a wide selection of beer on tap. A few beer styles that Upslope makes are: Pale ale, craft lager, pumpkin ale, christmas ale, thai style white ale, india pale ale, brown ale, belgian style pale ale, foreign style stout, imperial pale ale and brown ale.

making craft beer in Vietnam

Currently, their tasting room is the only location to try their beers which is open Friday-Sunday from 11am-10pm. The menu will change frequently and they will also debut a small food menu to pair with their beers soon. The ingredients used are a combination of local specialties and international malts and hops. As of today all breweries in Vietnam import malt and hops, only the rice is produced locally. Most pale lagers in Vietnam has a mix of rice and malt; Pasteur Street produces their beers exclusively with malted barley in order to get full bodied flavors.

craft beer Vietnam

Beer history is made in Vietnam

There are about 45 local microbreweries in Vietnam making Czech and German style lagers but the trend with Ale and IPA (India Pale Ale)  has been waiting until 2014 to make its entry into the beer history in Vietnam. The first brewery that had an Ale on tap in Vietnam was Luoisiane Brewhouse in Nha Trang and the second was Platinum ale that came out with the first mass (delivering to more than 10 places) produced ale in Vietnam 2014. Platinum ale can be found at many beer clubs in Ho Chi Minh City. Pasteur brewing Company is the first one that serves several different beer styles on tap with a more experimental approach. Pasteur Street brewing is added to the Vietnamese beer map below and expect to hear more from them later on.

breweries in Vietnam

Address: Pasteur brewing company, 144 Pasteur street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. http://www.pasteurstreet.com/

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Guinness in Vietnam?

A frequent question about beer in Vietnam is if you can get hold of a Guinness or any other stout or porter. But why drink a expensive imported beer when you have many tastier local beers with more malt and taste?

Legend beer, My Dinh

 There are many microbreweries that make black beer with imported malt and hops. Black beer served at Legend Beer (German style brewery) in My Dinh, Hanoi.

Local commercial beers in Vietnam                                                                                  There are a good number of locally produced lagers in Vietnam that you can get on both can and bottle. The only commercial black beer in Vietnam is Dai Viet super on can which is a black lager, easy to find at most supermarkets like Fivi Mart or Big C. You can also find Guinness on 33 cl can at some of these places. But the best option is to visit one of the local microbreweries in Vietnam for a tasty black beer.

Beer Vietnam

The beers above are the most common “local” commercial beers produced in Vietnam.

Top five best black microbrew beers in Vietnam                                                    There are about 45 microbreweries in Vietnam and most of them produce a blond and a black beer. All black beers in Vietnam are made of black malt, chrystal malt and pilsner malt imported from Czech Republic, Austria or Germany. The amount of malt is higher than in a Guinness and has stronger notes of coffee and chocolate.  Here is a list of microbreweries that make really good beers. You can only get the beer direct from the tap, none of them have cans or bottles. There are many more black beers to try but these are the strongest and most full bodied.

1. Hoa vien Brauhaus at 16 Pho Quang, Ho Chi Minh City   (Czech style beer)     There are five Hoa Vien Brauhaus in Vietnam, two in Hanoi and one in Mui Ne.

Black beer at Hoa Vien         

2. Goldmalt at 65 Ngo Thi Nam Hanoi             ( Czech style beer)                                 There are 11 Goldmalts in Vietnam, 10 in Hanoi and one in Ho Chi Minh City.

Black lager at Goldmalt3. Bidega at 848 Tran Hung Dao, Ninh Binh             (German style beer)                This is the first microbrewery in Ninh Binh and opened 2014.

Beer in Ninh Binh4. Mai Vien Brauhaus, 145 Trung Hoa, Hanoi                                                               This brewery makes two full bodied beers and can sometimes have three  beers on tap.

Mai Vien Hanoi5. Bia Tuoi Tiep at house A2, Nguyen Co Thach, My Dinh district Hanoi        This microbrewery is situated about 10 km from the old qaurter in Hanoi.

Czech beer HanoiFor a more information about location take a look at each brewery on Beervn.com’s youtube channel. Here is a short clip from Bia Tuoi Tiep in My Dinh, Hanoi.

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Video clips of microbreweries in Vietnam

Watch video clips from more than 30 microbreweries in Vietnam at beervn.com’s youtube channel. Short clips from microbreweries in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Phu Quoc and Ninh Binh. A list of all 47 microbreweries in the country can be found here.

Ho Chi Min City

There are 25 microbreweries in Hanoi and about 10 in Ho Chi Minh City. There are many to choose from and all make Czech or German style beers. All the ingredients except the yeast are imported and most of the knowledge comes from experienced brewmasters that spent many years brewing in Czech Republic and Germany. The average price of a beer at one of these breweries are 35 000 VND which is less than two USD.

Ninh Binh

Ninh binh is a popular tourist destination in Northern Vietnam and has since 2014 a microbrewery that have two German style beers on tap.

Vietnam is a great country for beer enthusiasts and you can also find ale and a few others beers too. There are more microbreweries here than in any country in the region.

Goldmalt beer

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Octoberfest in Vietnam 2014

This is the guide if you are a big fan of German beer and happen to be in Vietnam in October. Here is a list of German style breweries and events to attend.

Ho Chi Minh City                                                                                                                     The German Business Association has arranged a October Festival with start 10 October in Ho Chi Minh City at Windsor Plaza Hotel. This year all guests can have Schneider Weisse and Krombacher beer together with German sausages and saucer kraut. There is also a smaller Octoberfest at Funcity in District 6 with start 3 October.

beer Vietnam

Until then you can visit some German style microbreweries in Ho Chi Minh City. Start with Lion brewery at 11-13 Cong Truong Lam Son and taste their two Geramn style beers on tap.

Lion Saigon

Lion Brewery has German brewing equipment and easy to find in Ho Chi Minh City

Big Man beer is closer to the airport and has one black and one blond beer on tap. The style is a bit lighter than at Lion brewery.

Vinaken Vietnam

 Big Man Beer at 4 Phan Dinh Giot in District 12 has two beers on tap

Hanoi                                                                                                                                                                The October fest in Hanoi will take place at the newly built  JW Marriot Hotel 23 and 24 October. Last year it was Bitburger that delivered the beer and this year its Paulaner.

german beer hanoi

 

There are a few Legend beer microbreweries making a blond lager and a black German style beer in Hanoi. Visit the oldest one at 4 Vu Ngoc Phan ( coordinates 21.013667, 105.811979 ).  which is the closest you can come to a German beer hall.  If you want to have a few beers before the beerfest at JW Marrriot you can visit the newest Legend beer which is in My Dinh. The address is: D4, The Manor, My Dinh ( coordinates: 21.014976, 105.776494 )

legend beer Hanoi

Legend beer import malt from Germany and Austria at 4 Vu Ngoc Phan, Hanoi

Legend bia Vietnam

Legend beer Vietnam

Legend beer in My Dinh has many Korean customers and is only two years old

Ninh Binh                                                                                                                                             Ninh Binh is called the Halong Bay on land and is a good two hour drive from Hanoi. If you happen to be around in Ninh Binh, make a visit here to celebrate October fest with two tasty beers, one black and one blond beer, both one of the most full bodied German style beers you can have in Vietnam. Bidega brewery is situated close to Vissai hotel in Ninh Binh at 848 Tran Hung Dao. The brewery was built in 2014.

German beer Ninh Binh

This brewery has their own style and the beers have more malt than a regular German lager. The brewery belongs to Vissai Hotel. 

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10 breweries and pubs in Ho Chi Minh City

Brewery and pub crawl with 10 places in 8 hours

My mission was to visit at least 8 beer establishments this day and maybe more. I landed in Saigon by 11 am and i jumped on the rented motorbike and started my mission.

Big Man beer, German styled lager

I started with the closest three establishments that was a about 1-2 km from the aiport. First i visited the first Big Man beer in Saigon at 4 Phan Dinh Giot and tasted their beer. Big man beer is a German inspired brewery that has establishments in Saigon, Da Lat and Hai Phong. Big man offers a Vietnamese menu and basic service and many of their brewhouses are quite small except in Saigon.

Czech styled beer Saigon

Hoa Vien brauhaus

Hoa Vien Brauhaus (youtube clip here) at 16 Pho Qang had their first brewery in Saigon in 1995 and has since then opened up in Hanoi and Mui Ne, in total five establishments. This one opened in June 2014. All are big and well managed with english speaking managers and staff, despite that you still have a 300 ml beer for 34 000 which is the average price in most microbreweries. Both beers are more full bodied and stronger than previous Big Man beer, hints of cacao in the black beer and a slight fruitiness in the blond one.

Restaurant serving Gammer beer

Czech styled lagers in Saigon                   

Nha hang 85 at 85 Thang Long, Tan Binh serving Gammer beer (youtube clip here). I drove passed this place two times before finding it, it looked so simple so i couldn’t imagine that this place had Gammer beer on tap. This is typical for Vietnam, you cannot judge by the appearance here, it is the inside that counts. Gammer beer has a restaurant both in Hanoi and Saigon and also this outlet. No one spoke english here so the visit was very short and i moved on to the next place.

Nao Beer Saigon

Nao beer at 247 Hoang Hoa Tham is a small pub that has one blond and one black beer on tap for a very cheap price, only 15 000 vnd for a 300 ml glass. Beers are lighter and good refreshers when its very hot outside but much value for the money. Both beers are more dry than fruity and a shorter finish. The name of the beer is Budman beer but are quite similar with Big Man beer.

Lan Anh club Saigon

 

Lan Anh sport clubAfter this i aimed at Golden Prauge at Lan Anh club, 291 Cach Mang Thang, district 10 (youtube clip here) which was a long ride. I switched from bike to taxi here after after all beers. Here i got surprised to see that they have green beer on the menu except the regular blond and black Czech styled beers that they brew. The green beer is a blond with blue curarao liquer in it and served at festival times which take place every week. Staff were dressed in some Czech insired cloths and you can rest your eyes on a old wolkswagen if you get tired of watching all the dancing. The beers are good and price too, just below 30 000 vnd, both are little more than 5% strong.

Big man beer 1 Pham Viet Chanh

I reach Big Man beer at 1 Pham Viet Chanh (youtube clip here) and this one is easy to find, just in a big roundabout. This one was also very easy to visit, after presenting my self and a paper on vietnamese about beer tasting and my blog, staff got nervous and asked me to leave when they saw my camera. No English speaking staff here either, so i gave up and moved on towards district 7 and a newcomer in town.

Czech beer Vietnam

Goldmalt at 40 Nguyen Thi Tap  (youtube clip here) is brand new and situated in a quiet area by a small river, i also saw a group of guys training their falcons here in the park. Fresh air, fresh beer and a fresh place, The brewery is already in action but the kitchen is not ready yet but will be soon. Goldmalt has 10 brewpubs in Hanoi and have been expanding lately. Their concept is smaller breweries and has plenty of local regulars. For people who like Guinnes, ales and stouts, Goldmalt and Hoa Vien are good options in Saigon while if you prefer lighter lagers and German black beer, Big Man Beer, Gammer and Lion could be your choice.

Mr Long, Goldmalts owner

Here i also met the legendary owner of Goldmalt, Mr Long who has spent 20 years in Czech Republic before he started to build a company here in Vietnam. He lives in Hanoi but this day he was here to meet the water supplier. Goldmalts water is brought from a dwell in Hoa Long about 80 km from Saigon. Mr Long explains that the water in Saigon has high levels of iron and clour which still affects the taste despite that they filter the water before brewing.

Lion Saigon

Lion brewery Saigon                                                                                                                                                            Lion at 11-13 Lam Son Square is the most central brewery and easy to find. Here they brew two German styled beers in a big beer hall. Come here during evenings and weekends to enjoy a buffet or just a few beers, you wont meet so many locals here, more tourists and expats due to the central location. Black and blond beer, lighter body than in Hoa Vien and Goldmalt and more dry than fruity with good strenght and off course a nice foam to attract all foam-loving Germans who can’t to drink beer without foam.

German brewery Saigon

A short ride from here you can visit Brauhof Nguyen Du at 97 Nguyen Du which is another German inspired brewery but much smaller. Prices are higher here and you can have German styled beers on tap and basic service, a good paus before you head for the next place.

Gammer beer

 

Gammer, czech styled beer

Gammer at 107 Pasteur (youtube clip here) beer is intense but quite cozy and more what you expect how a brewpub shall look like. Here you can see the brewing set in the middle of the restaurant and you can also sit outside. But make sure to book a table here during weekends, it can be quite busy here and specially when they have live perfomances and loud music played outside. Both beers have a dry after taste and reminds a bit of the dryness in Belgian beers and has about 5 % ABV. There is also a Gammer beer in Hanoi (youtube clip here)

Czech food in Vietnam

On my way back i was a bit hungry so i made a stop again at Hoa Vien and had some ribs and delicious potato patties together with a couple of beers before the flight back to Hanoi. I drank mostly the black beer which i found more tasty than a Guinness and good with food. Service here was excellent. I took a Xe Om and was at the airport 7 PM, just to experience that the flight was delayed. At the airport I drank a half can of tiger beer but couldn’t finish it after having so many better beers during my day.

Jonathan Gharbi                                                                                                         www.beervn.com

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