Hops, Yeast and a Million Motorbikes

Simon Stanley discovers how Ho Chi Minh City became the rising star of Southeast Asia’s craft beer scene.

As a country famous for its dirt cheap bottles of lager commonly drunk over ice as a remedy to the heat and humidity, you wouldn’t expect to find a world-class chocolate stout being brewed in Vietnam, not to mention the squid ink ale that also appeared recently. But in less than three years, Saigon, the country’s southern metropolis officially known as Ho Chi Minh City, has emerged as a major player on the regional (and global) craft beer scene. 

At last year’s inaugural Asian Beer Medals competition in Singapore, it was a Vietnamese brewery that took more gold awards than any other competitor. So strong and numerous were the country’s entrants that the event is set to relocate to Saigon this summer.

Born from a thirst for good beer rather than serious financial gain, it was a movement that began in the kitchens and bedrooms of a small but dedicated bunch of expat beer geeks. Faced with the usual line up of homogenous Asian and European lager brands, they yearned for quality, variety and, most importantly, flavour. 

“That’s how it started here,” says Chicago-born Mark Gustafson who, by many accounts, got the ball (or the keg) rolling for Saigon’s craft beer crusade. “You either carried something in in your suitcase, or you made it yourself.”

Continue reading here.

Published by Rice Media, February 2017
BiaCraft’s menu currently runs to around 30 locally-made ales and ciders.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Carlos Bravo says:

    Hi Simon, how are you?
    Thank you very much for sharing your experiences and knowledge of Saigon. It is a great help for those who visit the city. I have taken note of many of your recommendations.
    I want to ask you a question. I read in an article that you wrote in “Sapore di Cina” in which you discuss the option of exploring old apartment blocks. I am a photographer and I travel on the 17th of March to this city, and I want to discover the authentic Saigon, outside the tourist circuits, and to explore those apartments, could be very interesting.
    Could you tell me where I can find those old blocks?
    Thank you very much for your attention.
    A greeting.


    1. Hi Carlos,

      Thanks for your message. The best blocks are:

      1. The Catinat Building – corner of Ly Tu Trong & Dong Khoi, D1.
      2. 14 Ton That Dam Street, D1.
      3. Corner of Pasteur Street and Le Loi, D1 (opposite Liberty City Point Hotel)
      4. 158 Pasteur Street, D1 (home to The Secret Garden restaurant)
      5. 42 Nguyen Hue Boulevard (the walking street), D1 (above Fahasa bookshop)

      There may be many more, but these are a good start!

      Have a great time in Saigon and don’t forget to check out BiaCraft!



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