THE RISE OF CRAFT BEER
2014 is seen as the year when craft breweries started to take off in Vietnam. Fuzzy Logic by Americans Colin O’Keefe and Max
Crawford (which actually started in 2012), and Platinum Premium Beers by Michael Comerton introduced ales into the predominantly lagers market. Beer-loving Americans John Reid and Alex Violette through Pasteur Street Brewing Company, produced American style techniques and beers, such as IPAs and goses, with Vietnamese ingredients.
Very rapidly within the last 2 years, craft breweries and craft beer bars have proliferated around Saigon and Hanoi with brands such as Tê Tê, Phat Rooster, Furbrew, Winking Seal and Heart of Darkness to name just a handful. Some are within walking distance from each other. The latest openings are East West
Brewing Co with its three-level brewpub in November 2016 and Phat Rooster’s sister branch Hen House right across the alley to attract more foot traffic. There are currently 17 craft breweries and the number is growing fast.
Quán Ụt Ụt, an American barbeque restaurant with 2 outlets in Saigon, has complemented the craft beer drinking experience with their fall-off-the-bones barbeque dishes, sausages and sliders. The restaurant also runs Bia Craft in 2 locations, where they serve their own brand of craft beers brewed contractually as well as beers from other craft breweries in Vietnam.
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The rapid growth of craft beer demand has attracted Southeast Asia’s only annual Conference and Trade Fair dedicated to the brewing industry. The annual SEA Brew Conference this year was held in Ho Chi Minh City. The conference saw a gathering of craft beer industries from the region as well as internationally. With high production costs in neighbouring countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as the brewing restrictions in Thailand, craft brewers are looking for alternative locations to brew their beers.
Vietnam has its advantage in terms of cost and accessibility, and therefore makes an ideal brewing destination.