The Vietnamese Alternative Beers We Should All Be Drinking

The Vietnamese Alternative Beers We Should All Be Drinking

Our friends across the Pacific and in the land of Vietnam have been busy with their own craft beer brewing business. Thanks to Mark McGrath for forwarding this story that is available on

The reporting is by George Schiefer.


Alternative beers.

© HOT TABLE. Photography by Mi Nguyen (unless credited otherwise).

Summer has reached us in Vietnam, and in the next few months most of us will find ourselves wasting long, hot afternoons in the sun with a cold beer in hand and eight more on the way. Most of the time, a beer menu will consist of an exciting choice between Bia Hanoi and Bia Saigon, maybe a Tiger Crystal if you’re lucky. Some of us, however, prefer an alternative option – a craft beer per se. Vietnam isn’t short of options when it comes to pale ales and IPA’s. Pale ales are crisp and refreshing with just the right punch of bitter bite for a summer afternoon. For many people, this is as far as they will ever venture into craft beer, however there are a multitude of options out there in Vietnam for those who want to be a little bit more adventurous. Here are five alternative beers to try this summer.

Te Te Beer. Alternative beers.

Te Te White. Photo courtesy of Te Te.

First Up in the Must Try Alternative Beers List – A Vietnamese Wheat Beer

Wheat beers are a far departure from hoppy IPAs. They are more mellow and much less overpowering in flavour. They are a good choice for an all-day session, as they are a refreshing beer that isn’t too heavy. A Vietnamese wheat beer that shouldn’t go amiss is  Tê Tê White – a Belgian style wheat beer known for its hints of coriander and bitter orange peel. Pair with a spicy Thai curry, and thank me later.

Pasteur Street Brewing Company - HOT TABLE Alternative Beers

Pasteur Street Brewing Company.

Think Salt Water and Bitter Lemon With Sour Beer

Generally in Vietnam, you will find two styles of sour beer – the Gose and the Berliner Weisse. The Gose, originally from Leipzig, gains its sourness from the use of salt water in the brewing process. The local river in Leipzig was salty, and due to the strict purity laws in Germany, brewers could not filter or alter the water. Instead, by working with the natural water, they developed the beer to be sour. The second variety, the Berliner Weisse is acidic with a lemony citrus flavour. Sours make a good break when enjoying a heavier beer full of hops. They cleanse the palate and reinvigorate your taste buds for the next refreshing beer.

Pasteur Street does a great Gose. Their So It Gose is a beautiful example of the style, and Heart of Darkness’s White Surf Passion Fruit Berliner Weisse is a mellow sour reminiscent of green apples.

Furbrew Saison Alternative Beers

Furbrew Hanoi Saison. Available at Hanoi’s 100 Beer Garden.

The Saison is the Working Man’s Beer

Saison – a French-Belgian beer that was originally made for men tending to the fields on long hot days. The once humble beer has now been resurrected by craft brewers around the globe. Generally, they are tart like green apples, but not as sour as the White Surf Passion Fruit Berliner Weisse previously mentioned. They tend to be more bitter than sour, and often have a semi-dry feel much like white wine or champagne.

If you consider yourself to be a representation of the everyday working man, or woman, Pasteur Street’s Spice Island Saison and Furbrew’s Hanoi Saison are the beers for you.

Thom Brewery Alternative Beers

Thom La Reina Pilsner. Available at Thom Brewery, Hanoi.

Pilsners – A Lighter Alternative to Pale Ales

You’ve probably had a pilsner before. They are a staple Czech beer from the bohemian city of Pilsen and they also find their way into the complicated history of German brewing. Pilsners are great stand-ins for pale ales as you still get a fair amount of hoppy bitterness, but they are generally lighter in taste. In other words, perfect for warm weather. The more traditional styles have a slight earthiness, while some Pilsners can also be slightly floral in aroma and taste without much of the associated sweetness.

Hanoi’s Thom Brewery has La Reina Pilsner for those with a taste for something Czech.

Lac Mango IPA. Alternative Beers.

Lac Mango IPA. Photo courtesy of Remotelands. Available at Standing Bar, Hanoi.

And Lastly…Fruit Beers

OK, this one is cheating, but let us talk about pale ales again. Many brewers these days are always thinking of new ways to play around with traditional styles. Many have done this through the addition of fruit, and often this is done to pale ales since they are usually receptive to additional flavouring. The fruit adds a level of complexity to the traditional pale ale as it still manages to maintain its hoppy signature that many look for. Lac’s Mango IPA is a shining example of this, and Winking Seal currently has a Dragon Fruit Pale Ale for those craving something a little more fiery.

Hanoi’s Standing Bar offers beer classes for lovers of all things craft and draught with Coleen Monroe-Knight (pictured above).

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