Brewery and pub crawl with 10 places in 8 hours
by Jonathan Gharbi
My mission was to visit at least 8 beer establishments this day and maybe more. I landed in Saigon by 11 am and i jumped on the rented motorbike and started my mission.
I started with the closest three establishments that was a about 1-2 km from the aiport. First i visited the first Big Man beer in Saigon at 4 Phan Dinh Giot and tasted their beer. Big man beer is a German inspired brewery that has establishments in Saigon, Da Lat and Hai Phong. Big man offers a Vietnamese menu and basic service and many of their brewhouses are quite small except in Saigon.
Hoa Vien Brauhaus (youtube clip here) at 16 Pho Qang had their first brewery in Saigon in 1995 and has since then opened up in Hanoi and Mui Ne, in total five establishments. This one opened in June 2014. All are big and well managed with english speaking managers and staff, despite that you still have a 300 ml beer for 34 000 which is the average price in most microbreweries. Both beers are more full bodied and stronger than previous Big Man beer, hints of cacao in the black beer and a slight fruityness in the blond one.
Nha hang 85 at 85 Thang Long, Tan Binh serving Gammer beer (youtube clip here). I drove passed this place two times before finding it, it looked so simple so i couldn’t imagine that this place had Gammer beer on tap. This is typical for Vietnam, you cant judge by the appearance here, it is the inside that counts. Gammer beer has a restaurant both in Hanoi and Saigon and also this outlet. No one spoke english here so the visit was very short and i moved on to the next place.
Nao beer at 247 Hoang Hoa Tham is a small pub that has one blond and one black beer on tap for a very cheap price, only 15 000 vnd for a 300 ml glass. Beers are lighter and good refreshers when its very hot outside but much value for the money. Both beers are more dry than fruity and a shorter finish. The name of the beer is Budman beer but are quite similar with Big Man beer.
After this i aimed at Golden Prauge at Lan Anh club, 291 Cach Mang Thang, district 10 (youtube clip here) which was a long ride. I switched from bike to taxi here after after all beers. Here i got surprised to see that they have green beer on the menu except the regular blond and black Czech styled beers that they brew. The green beer is a blond with blue curarao liquer in it and served at festival times which take place every week. Staff were dressed in some Czech insired cloths and you can rest your eyes on a old wolkswagen if you get tired of watching all the dancing. The beers are good and price too, just below 30 000 vnd, both are little more than 5% strong.
I reach Big Man beer at 1 Pham Viet Chanh (youtube clip here) and this one is easy to find, just in a big roundabout. This one was also very easy to visit, after presenting my self and a paper on vietnamese about beer tasting and my blog, staff got nervous and asked me to leave when they saw my camera. No English speaking staff here either, so i gave up and moved on towards district 7 and a newcomer in town.
Goldmalt at 40 Nguyen Thi Tap (youtube clip here) is brand new and situated in a quiet area by a small river, i also saw a group of guys training their falcons here in the park. Fresh air, fresh beer and a fresh place, The brewery is already in action but the kitchen is not ready yet but will be soon. Goldmalt has 10 brewpubs in Hanoi and have been expanding lately. Their concept is smaller breweries and has plenty of local regulars. For people who like Guinnes, ales and stouts, Goldmalt and Hoa Vien are good options in Saigon while if you prefer lighter lagers and German black beer, Big Man Beer, Gammer and Lion could be your choice.
Here i also met the legendary owner of Goldmalt, Mr Long who has spent 20 years in Czech Republic before he started to build a company here in Vietnam. He lives in Hanoi but this day he was here to meet the water supplier. Goldmalts water is brought from a dwell in Hoa Long about 80 km from Saigon. Mr Long explains that the water in Saigon has high levels of iron and clour which still affects the taste despite that they filter the water before brewing.
Lion at 11-13 Lam Son Square is the most central brewery and easy to find. Here they brew two German styled beers in a big beer hall. Come here during evenings and weekends to enjoy a buffet or just a few beers, you wont meet so many locals here, more tourists and expats due to the central location. Black and blond beer, lighter body than in Hoa Vien and Goldmalt and more dry than fruity with good strenght and off course a nice foam to attract all foam-loving Germans who can’t to drink beer without foam.
A short ride from here you can visit Brauhof Nguyen Du at 97 Nguyen Du which is another German inspired brewery but much smaller. Prices are higher here and you can have German styled beers on tap and basic service, a good paus before you head for the next place.
Gammer at 107 Pasteur (youtube clip here) beer is intense but quite cozy and more what you expect how a brewpub shall look like. Here you can see the brewing set in the middle of the restaurant and you can also sit outside. But make sure to book a table here during weekends, it can be quite busy here and specially when they have live perfomances and loud music played outside. Both beers have a dry after taste and reminds a bit of the dryness in Belgian beers and has about 5 % ABV. There is also a Gammer beer in Hanoi (youtube clip here)
On my way back i was a bit hungry so i made a stop again at Hoa Vien and had some ribs and delicious potato patties together with a couple of beers before the flight back to Hanoi. I drank mostly the black beer which i found more tasty than a Guinness and good with food. Service here was excellent. I took a Xe Om and was at the airport 7 PM, just to experience that the flight was delayed. At the airport i drank a half can of tiger beer but couldn’t finish it after having so many better beers during my day.
Jonathan Gharbi www.beervn.com