Beers of Vietnam

VIETNAM

333 [pronounced – and I hope they weren’t fibbing, as we’ve since asked for it in the local lingo – ‘Ba ba ba’]

Boring. Bland. Even razor-sharp taste buds would struggled to register any taste readings from this. Only seems to come in a can, and seems to be what the locals drink mostly.

4/10

BGI

If SodaStream had made a beer flavour it would taste like this when you were low on beer-flavoured syrup.

4/10

Saigon

Insultingly bland and flavourless. This is like Bud Light Light. Oddly the most common beer on menus, and can be bought for as little as 12 pence a glass in Hui An, which doesn’t represent good value for money. At least the bad beers in Nepal tried (and sadly failed) to experiment with flavour.

3/10

Saigon Export

A very slight improvement on the above, but only due to the additional alcohol. Still another vanilla ice cream of beers.

4/10

Hanoi

An attempt at some flavour, but sadly falls short. Comes in two labels – one for tourists (below) and one for locals ‘Bia Ha Noi’.

5/10

La Rue

Same again. Indistinguishable from BGI or 333, really. Just Carling-standard ‘refreshing’ rubbish.

4/10

La Rue Export

The slight extra strength does work – to an extent – but this still is Division Three beer.

5/10

Viet A

At last a beer with a difference! This is the locally made homebrew that they call ‘Fresh Beer’, which is manually pumped out of a large cannister at the front of riverside bars in Hoi An. It costs 12p a glass in most bars, but one bar had the cheek to try and charge 15p – and paid the price through lack of customers. It’s fizz is slightly different – finer bubbles, which taste more like they are from over-ripe fruit that has gone alcoholic. Has a citrusy finish, and is well rounded.

6/10

Huda

The standard beer of Hue, the old capital of Vietnam. Proudly explains that it is brewed ‘by Danish technology’, and even has a green label as a further nod to probably the world’s most bland popular beer. Although it’s probably not even as tasty as its idol.

4/10

Festival

Wow – a properly decent beer! Not very gassy – a bit like Cobra – but very mellow, smooth and well balanced. Can taste the hops, and is malty too.

7/10

Hue Beer

Tastes a lot like Hanoi Beer. You could pick it out from a line up, suggesting there is a bit of taste somewhere in there, but it’s not great. Just another bland watery disappointment.

5/10

Ha Long Beer

Tasted better for being on a boat in stunning scenery, but just another middle-of-the-road rice-heavy beer. It does seem that malted rice is a poor substitute for barley malt, but barley is hard to come by round here.

5/10

Beer Saigon Special

This is Saigon Beer’s attempt at a Premium beer, and it is much smoother, and with the extra alcohol there is more substance to their bland ingredients.

5/10

Halida Beer

Expectations weren’t high for this one, and with good reason. Bit stronger this, but just another Carlsberg Export wannabe.

5/10

Vietnam final score:              4.6/10

********************

Other beers in Vietnam

The following are beers brewed and sampled in Vietnam, but brewed by foreigners in micro-breweries. They have not been included in the overall scores as they by no means represent the true beer of Vietnam. They are brewed by foreigners in foreign styles often using foreign ingredients.

Louisiane Pilsner

The Louisiane bar, restaurant and micro-brewery on the beach in Nha Trang is run by an Aussie who brews German, Czech and English style beers, and does an extremely good job at them. This is the pick of the bunch – absolutely delicious, with perfect balance of bitter hops and sweetness. Faultless.

10/10

Lousiane Witbier

Beers at Louisiane in Nha Trang

Their version of a German wheat-beer. Very floral and bursting with flavour.

9/10

Lousiane Red Ale

A nutty and bitter ale, the colour of autumn leaves. Delish.

9/10

Louisiane Dark Lager

Not as bitter or heavy as a stout or porter, but a lovely burnt finish and surprisingly light and tasty.

9/10

* * *

Legend Lager

From a German-run microbrewery in Hanoi, this is a delicious Pilsner-style lager, with a flavoursome bitter end notes.

8/10

Legend Donkel

Not as tasty as the Louisiane dark beer, but a good nutty and well rounded beer nonetheless.

8/10

Legend Munich

A German-style ‘witbier’ is the pick of the Legend bunch. Smooth and fruity, quite strong but lots of flavour punch.

9/10

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