Vietnam is well-known for its incredible food culture. But did you know that Vietnamese beer forms a significant part of this?
Vietnam loves its beer and is officially in the world’s top ten markets for beer consumption. With a balance of strong foreign influence and indigenous inspiration, the beers Vietnam brews up provide an incredibly colourful and fascinating experience for any beer-lover.
Vietnam’s Beer History
The creation of beer in Vietnam began in the late 19th century. The French started Vietnam’s first breweries during their colonial rule over Vietnam. Beer started to become a popular drink for soldiers, foreigners and locals alike in both Northern and Southern Vietnam around similar times. In Saigon, the foundations of Sabeco were formed.
In Hanoi, Habeco breweries were formed. Both continue to dominate the industry with Vietnam’s most popular beers today. In the 1990s microbreweries selling European styled beers like Czech Pilsners began to form. In 2015 to the present day, microbreweries started to pop up rapidly and a craft beer culture began to rise in popularity and become an integral part of Vietnam’s food and drink culture.
Vietnam’s Beer Culture
Vietnamese beer has become a vibrant and significant part of local culture. It’s no doubt that the citizens enjoy the drink as in 2016, it was reported that the average person in Vietnam consumes 42 litres of beer annually.
Beer is affordable and accessible to all different types of people so the joy of the beverage is shared widely throughout the country.
Interestingly, beer is not only an important part of partying and relaxing in the country but also serves as a significant feature of doing business in Vietnam. Yes, most business lunches include indulging in Vietnamese beers and the snacks which typically go along with them such as balut (fertilised duck embryos). It’s seen as a sign of good form and companionship!
The Most Popular Beers In Vietnam
Bia Hanoi reigns supreme as one of the most consumed Vietnamese beers, its light crisp taste and fairly low 3% alcohol percentage make for an easy-drinking, refreshing experience that proves to be beloved by all – particularly in the North.
Saigon’s classic rice beer called “333” is also a highly popular choice amongst locals and visitors alike and is most popular in Vietnam’s Southern regions. Netherland’s Heineken is also widely consumed and brewed in Vietnam and proves to be a standard beer choice all over the country.
Other Major Vietnamese Beer Brands
Saigon beers, also commonly known as Sabeco, produces three types of popular beers that citizens festively enjoy on a regular basis: Saigon Red, Saigon Green and Saigon special. Saigon red has a slightly higher alcohol content. Biere Larue was established in the early 1900s and proved to become popular in the war, particularly amongst American soldiers. It still remains a beloved lager today amongst the Vietnam population.
Huda beer is another popular Vietnamese beer brand that is valued for its delicious traditional beer qualities and flavours. Vietnam’s favourite pale lager, Zerok, is also popular for it’s low calorie content and easy-drinking nature.
Tiger Beer In Vietnam
Tiger Beer forms a significant part of Vietnam’s vibrant beer culture. Made in Singapore, the beer is exported to Vietnam and earns its popularity partially through it’s cheap price which makes Tiger Beer one of the most affordable international beers you can buy in Vietnam.
Tiger Beer also actively hosts festive music events in Vietnam as a creative way of marketing. These events are enjoyed thoroughly by locals and further strengthens the bond between Tiger Beer and Vietnamese citizens. Tiger Beer is an easy-drinking pale lager.
Heineken In Vietnam
Heineken Beer is extremely popular in Vietnam. In 1991, Heineken started brewing in Vietnam from the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. Today, Heineken in Vietnam employs over 3500 people and contributes to 0.9% of the whole country’s GDP.
Some of the beers made at Heineken like Bia Viet are crafted exclusively for consumption in Vietnam whilst others like Heineken are enjoyed all over the world. Heineken is well-renowned for its delicious flavour and quality which continues to strike up consistent popularity amongst both locals and foreigners in Vietnam, making Heineken a significant part of Vietnam’s beer culture.
Which Beers Did Soldiers Drink In the Vietnam War?
Back in the day, beer and combat went hand in hand for soldiers fighting in the Vietnamese war. The humidity of Vietnam of course helped with the high demand for the refreshing taste of beer. When Americans couldn’t drink their own beer which would be imported, they would indulge in local favourites- particularly “333” for its affordability, availability and refreshing taste.
Different Styles Of Vietnamese Beer
Vietnamese Beers boast a wide range of styles. Beers in the Habeco range is a combination of rice beer style and American adjunct lager. Sabeco’s most popular beer is a bottom-fermented-pilsner style beer. Both Heineken and Tiger beer lagers.
Whilst 333 Premium export is a rice beer. Many of the beers in Vietnam take inspiration from European or American beers but add their own unique methods and touches of authentic Vietnamese flavour to the creation.
Vietnamese Beers To Try
There are a wide variety of exciting Vietnamese Beers to try but a good place to start is the ones that are most well-beloved amongst locals. Bia Hanoi is a must-try with its cheap prices, low alcohol percentage and refreshing taste which both visitors and locals enjoy due to the humid conditions of the country. Iconic rice beer “333” is another beer that should be at the top of your list to try due to its traditional history and popularity in the country. Zorok and Huda are two local beers that are also absolutely worth indulging in due to their cheap prices and unique flavours.
Craft Beers To Try In Vietnam
As of recent years, Vietnam’s craft beer scene has grown immensely and there are plenty of interesting creations to choose from!
One of them is Pasteur Street Breweries Passion Fruit Wheat Ale which is well adored for its perfectly balanced fruity flavour. Furbrew’s Bia Pho will provide a highly interesting tasting experience as this beer was designed to replicate the taste of Vietnam’s national dish, Pho. Other Vietnamese craft creations to enjoy are C-Brewmasters Lemongrass Ale and Winking Seal Beer Co’s Nam Nam Nam Cream Ale.
Best Vietnamese Beers to Pair With Pho?
Beer Pairing is a fun way to enjoy both your beer and food whilst making the most of the flavour within each. Vietnam’s classic “333” beer goes well with the national dish Pho.
“333” also pairs well with summer rolls and light stir-fries. The meatier dishes like Thit Nuong pair well with lagers like Vietnam’s beloved Heineken. To ask for a beer in Vietnam you say “cho tôi xin một ly bia được không?”
Enjoy Your Vietnamese Beer Experience
To order a beer in Vietnam you just need to know this short phrase: Xin cho một ly bia!
At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with indulging in Vietnamese Beers. The variety is wide, the flavours are abundant and unique and the beer culture ensures good vibes all around.
Jake has been a craft beer and homebrew enthusiast since his college days. He loves scouring Europe for unique and unusual hops to add to his beers.
Founder of Jake’s Brew Haven – he currently hosts beer-tasting sessions at select local pubs in Baltimore.
Jump To a Section Below
- Vietnam’s Beer History
- Vietnam’s Beer Culture
- The Most Popular Beers In Vietnam
- Other Major Vietnamese Beer Brands
- Tiger Beer In Vietnam
- Heineken In Vietnam
- Which Beers Did Soldiers Drink In the Vietnam War?
- Different Styles Of Vietnamese Beer
- Vietnamese Beers To Try
- Craft Beers To Try In Vietnam
- Best Vietnamese Beers to Pair With Pho?
- Enjoy Your Vietnamese Beer Experience