Vietnam, a country known for its rich culture and tantalizing cuisine, also boasts a thriving Vietnam beer scene that is as diverse as its landscape. From local brews to international brands and innovative craft beers, there is something for every palate.
But what sets Vietnam beer apart from the rest? And where can you find the best beer experiences in this captivating country?
In this blog post, we invite you on a fascinating journey through the enchanting world of Vietnamese beer culture, revealing its history, unique flavors, and customs, as well as the best places to indulge in a cold Vietnam beer.
- Vietnam’s beer culture has evolved significantly, offering a variety of domestic and international brands.
- Vietnamese top beer brands such as Saigon Beer, Hanoi Beer, Tiger Beer & Biere Larue offer distinct flavor profiles to cater to various palates.
- Vietnam is home to unique craft beers and cherished customs that have been passed down through generations for the enjoyment of its people.
The Evolution of Vietnam’s Beer Culture
The story of beer in Vietnam dates back to the 19th century when the French introduced this refreshing beverage to the local population.
Since then, beer has become an integral part of Vietnamese daily life and socializing, with the rise of domestic beer brands such as Habeco (Hanoi Beer) and Sabeco (Saigon Beer).
The Vietnamese beer industry has grown significantly over the years, creating employment opportunities and contributing to the country’s economy.
Today, Vietnam consistently ranks among the top 10 beer-consuming countries globally, with famous brands like Saigon Beer, Hanoi Beer, Tiger Beer, and Biere Larue leading the way.
The popularity of beer in Vietnam can be attributed to its affordability, availability, and the country’s warm climate, which makes enjoying a cold brew an irresistible proposition on hot summer days.
The Vietnamese beer market has evolved over time, with improvements in beer production systems, modern tools, and equipment, resulting in a diverse array of delicious brews to choose from. From crisp pilsners to full-bodied lagers, there is a beer for every taste in Vietnam.
But it’s not just the local brands that have made a mark in the Vietnamese beer scene. International giants like Heineken have also carved out a niche, contributing to 0.9% of Vietnam’s gross domestic product.
The presence of global players has further fueled the growth and diversification of the beer industry, paving the way for a vibrant and ever-expanding beer culture in the country.
Diving into Vietnam’s Top Beer Brands
As we delve deeper into the world of Vietnamese beer, let’s take a closer look at the country’s most popular brews and their unique characteristics.
The most popular Vietnamese beers include:
- Saigon Beer
- Hanoi Beer
- Tiger Beer
- Biere Larue
Each of these beers offers a distinct flavor profile and brewing process that reflects the brand’s heritage and expertise.
These bottled beers cater to a wide range of palates, ensuring that every beer lover can find their perfect match.
Saigon Beer: The Pilsner Powerhouse
Saigon Beer, a pilsner-style lager brewed in the bustling city of Saigon, has made quite an impact on the Vietnamese beer market.
With a variety of offerings like:
- Saigon Beer Special
- Saigon Beer 333
- 333 Premium
- 333 Export
- Saigon Beer Large
There’s something for every beer enthusiast to enjoy. The brewing process of Saigon Beer involves a higher proportion of hops and malts, providing a more complex flavor compared to German beers and a refreshing aroma.
Living up to its motto, “Quality creates trust,” Saigon Beer focuses on product quality while continually adjusting its design to keep up with the latest trends and incorporating the essence of Vietnamese land and people into its products.
Ranked third among the most consumed beverages in Vietnam, Saigon Beer has certainly made its presence felt in the market. A 24-pack of 330ml cans of Saigon Beer costs approximately 240,000 VND (USD 10.36), making it an affordable choice for beer lovers.
Saigon is a beautiful city. Beer’s range includes:
- Saigon Gold: a rare and costly beer for those with a taste for luxury
- Saigon Green: a lighter brew with a 4.3% ABV
- Saigon Red: a slightly stronger option with a 4.9% ABV
With such a diverse line-up of beers, it’s no wonder Saigon Beer has become a pilsner powerhouse in Vietnam.
Hanoi Beer: Northern Vietnam’s Pride
Hanoi Beer, a famous beer brand and symbol of pride for Northern Vietnam, is known for its slightly sweet taste and pale lager profile. With products like:
- Hanoi Draft Beer
- Hanoi Red or Blue label beer bottle 450ml
- Hanoi Beer Premium
- Truc Bach Beer
Hanoi Beer caters to a wide range of tastes and preferences. Quality and cost are crucial factors for Vietnamese beer consumers, and Hanoi Beer delivers on both fronts. A box containing 24 cans of Habeco beer is priced at approximately 245,000 VND (USD 10.58).
Draft beer first appeared in Hanoi in 1960 and quickly became a popular choice among locals and tourists alike, thanks to its low alcohol content (typically less than 3%) and foamy texture.
Hanoi Brewery also offers the premium Truc Bach Beer, crafted from the finest imported ingredients like Saaz hops from the Czech Republic and spring season barley from France and the Czech Republic.
With a slightly bitter taste complemented by the sweet taste of premium malts, Truc Bach Beer is a testament to Hanoi Beer’s dedication to quality and flavor.
In Vietnam, beer is often enjoyed communally, and Hanoi Beer is no exception. Sharing a glass of this iconic brew with friends and family is a cherished part of Vietnamese beer-drinking culture, and the popularity of Hanoi Beer is a testament to its ability to bring people together.
Tiger Beer: Roaring Success
Hailing from Singapore, Tiger Beer has roared its way to become the second most favored international lager in Vietnam. Known for its golden color and full-bodied flavor, this strong lager has captured the hearts of beer aficionados across the country.
Tiger Beer offers a traditional brown bottle beer, a tall and slim Tiger Crystal with a luxurious design and transparent glass bottle, and a light beer specifically designed for female consumers.
Tiger Crystal, with its elegant design and transparent glass bottle, is a popular choice among female beer drinkers, offering a lighter alternative to the traditional Tiger Beer. Meanwhile, Tiger Platinum Wheat Lager boasts a fresh flavor with hints of orange peel, catering to those who prefer a more citrusy golden beer.
With a box of 24 cans priced at 333,000 VND (USD 14.25), Tiger Beer remains an affordable option for beer lovers in Vietnam. Its popularity and wide range of products have solidified Tiger Beer’s place as one of the leading international lagers in the country.
Biere Larue: A Taste of Tradition
Established in 1909, Biere Larue is an iconic Vietnamese beer brand known for its traditional characteristic flavor, reminiscent of French beer. With a dark yellow hue and a robust flavor derived from high-quality components and a proprietary European brewing technique, Biere Larue offers a taste of tradition in every sip.
This classic beer is not only a testament to the rich history of beer in Vietnam, but also a symbol of the country’s enduring love for the beverage.
A 24-pack of 330ml cans of Biere Larue costs approximately 235,000 VND (USD 10.15), making it an affordable choice for those seeking a taste of the past.
The deep yellow hue and renowned tiger image associated with Biere Larue are a reflection of the brand’s enduring popularity and commitment to quality. This time-honored brew continues to hold its own in a market filled with newer and flashier competitors, proving that tradition never goes out of style.
The Craft Beer Movement in Vietnam
Since the mid-2010s, the craft beer movement in Vietnam has gained significant momentum, fueled by a growing demand for unique and innovative brews.
As a result, an increasing number of craft breweries have sprung up in major cities like Hanoi, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City, offering beer enthusiasts a wide range of local and imported craft beers to choose from.
From Pasteur Street Brewing to Winking Seal Beer Co. and BiaCraft, these microbreweries are pushing the boundaries of traditional beer-making, incorporating local flavors and ingredients to create truly unique brews.
In Saigon, the craft beer scene is constantly evolving, with new craft beer bars opening regularly. Local flavors such as lemongrass, passionfruit, dragon fruit, and durian fruit are often used in craft beer in Saigon, giving these brews a distinctive taste that sets them apart from their mass-produced counterparts.
As the craft beer movement continues to expand, it is reshaping Vietnam’s beer culture, offering beer lovers a diverse selection of high-quality, locally-produced brews to enjoy.
This growing interest in craft beer has also led to an increase in Vietnamese craft beer and lagers being imported into the US, including brands like:
- Saigon Beer
- Hanoi Beer
- Tiger Beer
- Biere Larue
- Pasteur Street Brewing
- Winking Seal Beer Co.
As the craft beer movement continues to gain traction in Vietnam, beer enthusiasts worldwide are sure to benefit from the unique and innovative offerings of this burgeoning beer scene.
Pasteur Street Brewing: Fusing Local Flavors
Pasteur Street Brewing, located in the heart of Saigon, is a craft brewery that cleverly combines local ingredients and Asian beer flavors to create one-of-a-kind beers. Their innovative approach to brewing has earned them a loyal following both locally and internationally.
Some of their popular beers include:
- Passionfruit Wheat Ale
- Jasmine IPA
- Lemongrass Wheat Ale
- Dragonfruit Gose
The Passionfruit Wheat Ale is a particular favorite among patrons.
This craft brewery is not afraid to experiment with unique ingredients, as evidenced by their use of jasmine, pomelo, and dragon fruit in their beers.
This dedication to fusing local flavors with traditional brewing techniques has set Pasteur Street Brewing apart from its competitors and solidified its reputation as a must-try destination for beer enthusiasts.
Whether you’re in the mood for a refreshing Passion Fruit Wheat Ale or a bold Dragon Fruit Gose, Pasteur Street Brewing offers a diverse selection of innovative brews that are sure to delight your palate and showcase the best of Vietnam’s local flavors.
Winking Seal Beer Co.: Crafting Quality
Located in Vietnam, Winking Seal Beer Co. is a craft brewery that prides itself on providing high-quality brews made from locally sourced ingredients and traditional brewing methods. With a taproom situated in Ho Chi Minh City, Winking Seal Beer Co. has become a popular destination for beer lovers seeking unique and flavorful brews.
Some of the popular offerings at Winking Seal Beer Co. include Mekong Mashup and Dragon Fruit Pale Ale. These distinctive brews showcase the brewery’s commitment to quality and innovation, making Winking Seal Beer Co. a must-visit destination for those looking to explore the world of craft beer in Vietnam.
In a market increasingly dominated by mass-produced beers, Winking Seal Beer Co. stands out as a beacon of quality and craftsmanship, offering a diverse selection of unique brews that are sure to satisfy even the most discerning beer aficionado.
BiaCraft: A Hub for Hop Lovers
BiaCraft is a large outlet. It stocks a wide selection of local craft beer from various breweries such as Pasteur Street, Phat Rooster and East West Brewing Co. As a hub for hop lovers, BiaCraft offers beer enthusiasts the opportunity to sample a diverse range of local craft brews, all under one roof.
In addition to offering a wide selection of beers from other breweries, BiaCraft also manufactures its own artisanal ales, including changing seasonals.
With a reputation among beer aficionados and gourmets for its comprehensive selection of craft beers, BiaCraft has become a go-to destination for those seeking to explore the best of Vietnam’s craft beer scene.
Whether you’re new to craft beer or a seasoned connoisseur, BiaCraft offers a unique opportunity to sample a wide variety of local brews and discover the distinct flavors and craftsmanship that set Vietnamese craft beer apart from the rest.
Vietnam’s Unique Beer-Drinking Customs
In Vietnam, beer-drinking customs play an important role in socializing and fostering connections. It is common to drink beer when extending invitations for various occasions such as:
- conducting business
- attending events
- reuniting with friends
Pouring beer into one’s glass is a popular Vietnamese way of expressing hospitality, and sharing a cold brew is a cherished part of the country’s beer-drinking culture.
Given Vietnam’s tropical climate, it is common for locals to enjoy beer in mugs with ice cubes, a custom that not only keeps the beer cold, but also adds a refreshing twist to the experience.
When it comes to beer snacks, Vietnam has a diverse array of delicious options that pair perfectly with a cold brew.
Some examples include:
- Shells and snails
- Salted fish
- Fried rice
- Deep-fried salted chicken feet
These tasty treats can be enjoyed alongside a beer in Vietnam, or you can explore the variety of beers in Vietnam.
These unique beer-drinking customs not only showcase Vietnam’s vibrant beer culture, but also offer a glimpse into the country’s rich history and traditions.
So, the next time you find yourself enjoying a cold beer in Vietnam, remember to raise your glass and toast to the unique customs that make this beer-drinking experience truly special.
Navigating Vietnam’s Beer Destinations
Whether you’re a local or a visitor, finding the best places to enjoy a cold beer in Vietnam is an adventure in itself. From street-side “quan nhau” establishments to upscale Western-style bars and sky bars, there is a beer destination for every taste and budget.
In Ho Chi Minh City, Bui Vien Street, Truong Sa Street, and Hoang Sa Street are some of the renowned streets for beer restaurants, while in Hanoi, you can find numerous beer establishments in the backpackers’ streets like Ta Hien and throughout the Old Quarter.
For those seeking a more upscale experience, Vietnam is also home to numerous sports bars and trendy sky bars that offer a wide selection of both local and international brews.
No matter where your beer journey takes you in Vietnam, you’ll be sure to find a unique and unforgettable experience that caters to your taste buds and leaves you with a newfound appreciation for Vietnamese beer culture.
From its humble beginnings to its current status as a thriving and diverse beer scene, Vietnam’s beer culture offers a fascinating glimpse into the country’s rich history and traditions.
With an array of local and international brands, innovative craft breweries, and unique beer-drinking customs, there’s no better place to embark on a beer adventure than Vietnam.
So grab a cold beer, raise your glass, and toast to the captivating world of Vietnamese beer.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the popular beer in Vietnam?
Saigon Beer is the most popular beer in Vietnam. It comes in two varieties, green and red, with the latter being stronger at 4.9% ABV.
It’s also relatively inexpensive to purchase, starting from 15,000 VND per bottle.
What beer did American soldiers drink in Vietnam?
American soldiers in Vietnam drank the local beer, “Ba mui ba” (also known as 33 Beer), which was renowned among GIs during the war. It was pronounced “Ba Mi Ba” in Vietnamese, translating to “thirty-three.”
How much is 333 beer in Vietnam?
A bottle of 333 Lager (Ba Muoi Ba) can be purchased for around VND 14,000 – 15,000 (70-75 cents) in Vietnam. Prices can go up to around VND 95,000 in more expensive pubs and restaurants.
When was beer first introduced to Vietnam?
Beer was first introduced to Vietnam at the end of the 19th century by the French.
How do Vietnamese people typically enjoy beer?
Vietnamese people typically enjoy beer in mugs with ice cubes to cool down on hot days.
It’s a popular way to beat the heat and enjoy a cold beverage.
Lead marketer, brewer, dad, and husband. Pretty much an all-round awesome guy. I’ve been homebrewing for +20 yrs, an aspiring pro-brewer and micro brewery owner!