It’s that time again. Time to drink every beer a country has to offer and separate the good, the bad and the ugly. Round four is dedicated to the beer loving paradise that is Vietnam, with some very surprising microbreweries showing that the Vietnamese quite possibly make the best beer in South East Asia. Read on to find out what we loved about the beer of Vietnam.
HoaVien Pilsener (?.?%) – My absolute favourite beer found in Vietnam came from the Saigon location of this incredible Czech style Bräuhaus. If you’ve ever been to a brewery in Plzeñ in the Czech Republic, you’ll know exactly what this beer tastes like. At 10,000 square foot with 460 seats, it’s actually their smallest in the country! Their brewhouse in Mui Ne seats 1000, and is right on the beach. They produce both a light and dark pilsener made from imported Czech barley and hops, and they also make a bottle conditioned version of each which are even better. I don’t know the percentages of each, just that everything was great, especially the dark stuff. This is beer at its finest, and I thank the gods of beer that this place exists! If you find yourself near any of their bars, do not miss them.
Louisiane Brewhouse – Almost equal first, are the beers at this incredible beach front brewery in Nha Trang. They do a Pilsener (5.0%), a Dark Lager (5.0%), a Witbier (4.8%) and three seasonal ales of which the Red Ale (5.0%) was on tap whilst I was there. The Pilsener and the Red Ale were stand outs for me probably in part due to their higher IBU rating (in terms of Asia I’d call 30 high). Aside from the good beer and beach views, they also have a swimming pool and WiFi which you can use for free. A brewery on the beach… did I dream this?
Bia Hoi (?.?%) – All over Vietnam you will see signs for Bia Hoi/Fresh Beer. This simply means draught beer from the local brewery, and it is always sold at criminally cheap prices (EIGHT PENCE A GLASS!!!). Bia Hoi is often served without you even knowing which brewery it’s from, and it’s not exactly the greatest tasting beer, but at this price it deserves all the credit it can get. It’s also just a lot of fun to sit on tiny stools getting sloshed with locals at Bia Hoi joints! A cultural experience not to be missed.
Bia Saigon Export (Red) (4.9%) – The king of Vietnamese rice lagers. I used to drink this in Vietnamese restaurants in the UK and I still enjoy it. Nothing special, just very easy drinking and only 40 pence a bottle.
Bia Ha Nôi (4.6%) – Packaging entirely in Vietnamese so I have no idea about this one marketing-wise. I like it though. A bit more flavour than some, a little similar to Thailand’s Singh at a lower cost. Much more readily available in the north, and available at bia hoi stands all over Hanoi.
Hue Beer (5.0%) – This somehow tastes a bit dirty… but in a good way. I guess any flavour is good flavour in these watery lagers. I think a ten year old created the label in MS Paint, but I quite like it, unlike the city of Hue itself which didn’t do much for me.
Đại Việt Super (5.9%) – Ooooooh a German purity law abiding dark lager! This is actually decent, despite how much the can made me think it was going to taste like battery acid. I’ve just tasted malt from a can for the first time in ages. I didn’t manage to find this again for the rest of the trip sadly. Will need to investigate further next time.
Bia Saigon (Green) (4.3%) – Slightly cheaper and slightly weaker than the reds. Laura preferred this one. It also comes in a tiny bit bigger bottle. Incredibly common in Saigon. Rice lager is rice lager at this point of the trip!
Bia Saigon Special (4.9%) – What’s special about it? It turns out the fact that there is no rice in it. Yet it’s actually less tasty than it’s rice laden siblings. It’s not bad, but it’s more expensive and not as good as the other two.
Festival Beer (4.5%) – A slightly less Carlsberg tasting version of Huda which comes out of the same brewery. Named for the famous Hue festival. At least it’s not Huda.
Huda (4.7%) – Made by Carlsberg. Tastes like Carlsberg. Might as well just call it Carlsberg, I couldn’t tell the difference.
Biere Larue (4.2%) – Lager. Owned by Fosters so you know it’s bad. Unthreateningly camp tiger on the can. Boring.
Biere Larue Export (4.5%) – I left this in the freezer a little too long and it became a slurpee. So icy, so cold. Pretty sure it just tastes like a slightly stronger version of the standard one since Export means ‘for alcoholic foreigners’.
Halida (4.5%) – Why is this so bad? Did I get a bad can? It’s like the elephant on said can has pissed in my mouth. Horrible, vile elephant piss. I want to go back in time and never drink this again.
That’s all for this edition, however join us next time as we drink our way around… UGANDA! (I can taste the Nile Special already.)