I just spent 20 days traveling through Viet Nam … I was pleasantly surprised with the beer offerings. As I have found in most warm weather climates, the predominant beer style is the American or European-style lager. In Hanoi, Sapa, Hue, Hoi An and on Halong Bay I had the following beers … most of the larger cities just have beers with their names.
This premium lager, Hanoi Beer, was typical … a malt base with a rice flavor in support. Not overly bitter … just a crisp, refreshing beer.This was a “beer cocktail.” The first thing it should have is real beer. This Tiger crystal is terrible — it is a poor imitation of bud light. However, the Tiger beer itself is pretty good. It too is just a firm lager.This DaiViet (which means ‘Great Viet’ … the great Viet empire) is a dark lager, in the German Altbier style … I enjoyed it as a refreshing alternative to all of the light lagers I’d been drinking. This is considered the National Beer of Vietnam … 333. It has a long history in Saigon, where it was originally named “33 beer”– a very popular beer with American GIs during the Vietnam War. The government changed the name to 333 after the war. 🙂
Not really that great … just a typical lager.Another premium Lager … this one, yes, is from Ha Long.Finally, I had this beer in Hanoi although it is a made in Saigon. As with most lagers here, don’t you want yours poured over ice? Haha. If you thought it was watered down before … wow.
This, too, was another premium lager, but they do taste good on a warm day when you’ve been riding around the countryside .
In Hanoi, there was another option for beer — it was called “Fresh Beer.” It was basically a very locally produced beer cask conditioned in a keg. Typically, when placed in the Keg, it would last 5 days — once opened, the keg had to be finished in 24 hours. You could get a glass for 5,000 dong (about 20 US cents). I thought it had a very nice, fresh flavor. If you find a place serving it, definitely cheaper than the rest and just as good!
In Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), I was able to sample some local craft beers. The three breweries were: Heart of Darkness, Gammer, and Pasteur Street Brewing. I will have a separate post on Pasteur Street. I also had the local mass produced beer.
The Heart of Darkness beers were very good, but if you were concerned about what you were spending, these beers were between $4 and $5 dollars … if not concerned, I’d drink these all day long. The New England IPA just made me laugh …
We stopped for lunch one day in Saigon … at Gammer Brewery. Here’s a couple of pictures of their brewery setup. They specialized in German and Czech-style beers. I had the dark beer which was in the Schwarzbier style. Definitely recommend. Nice beer. The food was very traditional Vietnamese … and they don’t speak much English so be prepared! 🙂
When we arrived on the Mekong Delta and were cruising on board, the beer options were mostly Cambodian beers. That will be another post.
Overall, I would grade the beers a solid B and the craft beers were easily an A.