Story and pictures by guest writer Mark Chambers who lives in Central Highlands of Vietnam. He reports from Da Lat, Nha Trang and Mui Ne.
Despite only a population of about 200,000 there is a very small but popular microbrew bar in the Central Highlands town of Dalat.
Its not easy to find though and you’d probably want to get a taxi and keep your eyes peeled. From the V Cafe or Sinh Tourist office, head north on Bùi Thị Xuân till you read the roundabout near the University. Head north on Phù Đổng Thiên Vương and after about a kilometre you’ll go past a petrol station on the right. Keep looking to the right and you should see the bar. If you see an Agribank, turn around you’ve gone too far.
Here’s an accurate map.
The benefit of being hard to find means that a) you know its only locals inside and b) you have an excuse to stay longer, just in case you don’t make it another time. It seems to open early afternoon and stay open late (which means after 10pm in Dalat). They sit 40-50 people and its often hard to get a table about 7-8pm.
They serve two beers – a gold (vàng) and a dark(đen) – which can be bought in 0.3l or 0.5l. Its all cheap and way better than a tin of 333. This is probably the lowest price ever in a Big Man Beer, lower than the price of Bia Hoi. There’s a large food menu, in Vietnamese, though a couple of the staff speak enough English that you can order basic dishes. A dictionary on your smartphone helps too.
My vague and unreliable tasting notes:
The Gold was cold but should probably have been colder. Not a strong aroma but a hint of citrus can be detected. It tastes like a lager (which is never my drink of choice), sweetish and floral and isn’t overly bubbly. I could probably drink a few on a hot day.
The dark was warmer and less gassy but thats not a bad thing. It smells a bit like a bonfire. It has a stronger flavour than the gold but manages to taste watery. A bit like a basic homebrew beer. Its best described as a dark malty lager.
We also ordered prawns in beer which came raw, over a flame and we watched it cook on the table. It was yummy and a bargain for 75,000. They have a huge menu, broken down into food types, and all pretty good value. Hot pots were 130,000d.
The beer is brewed in Ho Chi Minh and shipped up here so not a brewery bar but still, its nice to see draught beer and the fact its busy every time I walk past shows the locals think so too. Big Man beer is brewed in both Saigon and in Vinh Phuc province in northern Vietnam.
Mark Chambers, Da Lat. Beervn.com’s guest writer from Central Highlands