The craft beer industry has been booming in Europe and North America for close to a decade now. From old-timers to young beer lovers looking for something more than the established names can offer, the customers keep coming and the breweries keep opening. Now Vietnam is getting in on the action.
Craft beer is still a new industry in Vietnam. The first brewery began production in Ho Chi Minh City two years ago and the southern city now has seven micro-breweries, each creating its own style of beer. The largest of them, Pasteur Street Brewery, exports to several countries in the region.
Hanoi has some catching up to do. Furbrew has seen the opportunity, and is aiming high.
Crafting the Culture
Since opening in early July, they’ve already made their mark on Hanoi’s emerging craft beer scene. From their modest brewery in Tay Ho, they’ve put together an ever-expanding selection of beers ranging from the classic and easily accessible Chinook IP (VND90,000 per 375ml glass) to more acquired tastes like their dry, malty hopped to the extreme Early Bird brown ale (VND90,000) — originally inspired by Brew Dog’s 5AM — and their notorious pho beer. Yes, a beer that tastes like pho bo.
Man behind the scenes Thomas Bilgram is confident that Vietnam’s craft beer industry is about to take off big-time.
“We’re competing with two other craft breweries in northern Vietnam, but there’s room for at least five more,” says Thomas, a seasoned veteran of beer making.
“We help each other out; craft brewers are more family than they are competitors. I still plan on making Vietnam’s best beer, though”.
And they’re on their way. Their Bee Prepared (VND110,000) honey ale is an intensely refreshing brew, addictive for those with a sweet tooth and their light and creamy Beach Beer (VND80,000 / 375ml glass) is ideal while evening temperatures are still high.
“We change the beers on tap with the seasons,” says Thomas. “In the summer you want a light and refreshing beer, and in the winter you want something warmer and heavier.”
They have food delivery available from four nearby restaurants as well, a service that shows how the different businesses in the area are willing to help each other out.
Open Air Beer Garden
The bar — located in the heart of Tay Ho — is a modest, comfortable area with black and white floor-tiling and wooden benches. Outside is a small seating area, and, in total, the bar can accommodate around 50 people.
While Thomas and I talk, midweek commuters fill the benches outside, loosening their top buttons and sipping on tankards.
In September Furbrew expanded their reach — and seating capacity — by opening a large open-air beer garden behind the flower market off of Au Co. The site is the same premises that they brew the beer on, giving you a reminder of how local this brew is.
The garden — called the 100 Garden — can seat 170 people in lines of wooden benches, in a clean and well-designed open space surrounded by palm trees.
They’ll be hosting the 50th anniversary of the Hash House Harriers running club there next month. The “drinkers with a running problem” will have their party accompanied by a spit roast and as much of Furbrew’s beer as they can handle (which will be a fair amount).
Local and Genuine
There’s nothing like a tasty beer with close friends, especially after a long day.
What Furbrew has to offer is good craft beer in a relaxed and friendly environment.
Furbrew is located at 8B/52 To Ngoc Van. The 100 Beer Garden is located behind the flower market off of Au Co
Photos by Theo Lowenstein