Vietnam’s beer industry has grown in fits and starts — a home-brew here, a beer club there, a draft beer somewhere else. Now, Pasteur Street Brewing Company is bringing Vietnam its first American-style craft brewery, and Alex Violette is the man shaking the kegs. Photo by Francis Xavier


At Upslope [the Boulder, Colorado brewery where Alex was head brewer], we… had close relationships with our craft beer community. It was never just about our business, but promoting the craft beer industry as a whole. There were so many clusters of breweries located in the same town and we all appreciated one another. Collaboration beers became popular because of this and always started with two brewers sharing ideas over a pint.


Meeting John [Reid, six-year Saigon expat and partner in Pasteur Street] was… spur of the moment. He was in Colorado in June looking for a brewer, and came into Upslope while my girlfriend, Bethany, was working behind the bar. After hearing about his idea for Pasteur Street, she wanted to introduce us in the hope I could help him find someone for the job. The idea became more intriguing the more I found out about it. Just two days after meeting John, Bethany and I decided to move to Saigon and start a new adventure.


Moving from the centre of the craft beer universe to Saigon has been… a refreshing experience. We weren’t sure what to expect from the market out here but we have seen a surprisingly high demand for craft beer. There has been massive support for Pasteur Street and we have been selling out of beer every weekend!

In the production phase, we’ll add... bottling for export. Many of the ingredients we use are not readily available elsewhere in the world. Our plan is to deliver these flavours through our beers.


The creation we’re most proud of is... the imperial stout infused with fresh cacao nibs. It is by far the best chocolate beer I have ever brewed. When I had previously brewed beers with chocolate, there was no choice of which chocolate nibs you could use. I could only find one supplier and they just sold ‘nibs’. Here we were able to source fresh, local nibs from Lam Dong Province. You can really taste the difference.


The local ingredient I’m most excited about is... whatever fruits are in season! As soon as we enter our production phase I will begin brewing beers and ageing them anywhere from six months to a year using a unique strain of yeast. After ageing, they will be infused with local fruits.


Bia hoi is... the great beer drinking culture that Vietnam is well known for. It comes down to the idea of sitting with friends and throwing back a few pints.

My favourite mass-produced domestic beer is... best served with ice! Prior to coming to Vietnam I had never considered putting ice in my beer. Now, I don’t think I can go back (for adjunct lagers at least).


Pasteur Street will be place-specific to Vietnam in... the flavour of and inspiration for our beers. Our beers focus on using local fruits, herbs, spices, coffee, chocolate or whatever else we can find. Food has always been a source of inspiration for the flavour of beer, and we will continue in those footsteps.


In Vietnam’s future, we see craft beer becoming... a fun option for beer lovers who live and travel here. The intention of craft beer is to welcome those who appreciate the flavours without forcing them upon anyone.


Ed Weinberg

Ed Weinberg is a writer with passing interest in psychedelic realism, indie comics, jaunty coming-of-age tales and those crazy Russian writers. After graduating from McGill University in 2004, he's worked in magazine editing, freelance writing and odd jobs. He is currently living in Ho Chi Minh City and working on a longer thing about two months spent looking for the largest, oldest (fake) pyramid in the world in small-town Bosnia. Follow his whimsicalities at @presidentninja


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