Most visitors to Vietnam spend at least a few days in the country’s largest and most populated city, Ho Chi Minh City (previously known as Saigon). HCMC, as it is lovingly called, is famous for its beautifully restored French colonial architecture, cosmopolitan buzz, and mouth-watering street food.
What many travellers don’t know is that Ho Chi Minh City also has a thriving craft beer culture that rivals any major city in the world.
Saigon’s love for craft beer has been driven in part by a large number of expats who have relocated to the metropolis for its year-round warm weather and low cost of living.
For craft beer lovers, the city offers a chance to sample some exotic flavours (think dragon fruit, beetroot, and passionfruit) in large, modern, lively tasting rooms.
The craft beer scene in Ho Chi Minh City is growing so quickly that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all the choices. Here are some locally brewed Vietnamese craft beers that will appeal to both rookies and experienced guzzlers alike:
- East-West Pale Ale: A well-balanced mix of German malts and American and New Zealand hops, this light golden craft beer with 6% ABV is bursting with aroma and flavour.
Rooster Beer IPA: Best known for their blonde and dark craft beers, the IPA from Rooster is very drinkable with clean, crisp notes and no wacky flavours.
During my first trip to Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh back in 2011, was the only local beers you could find, Saigon Beer or 333, and the numbers of craft beers breweries in the city was precisely Zero.
But now, in 2019 and my second trip to Vietnam did it seem like every street had its own Microbrewery around Ho Chi Minh city, making the city a must-visit city in Asia for craft beer lovers.
HERE´S MY PICK OF THE 10 BEST CRAFT BEER BARS IN HO CHI MINH CITY
1. EAST WEST BREWING COMPANY.
American run and owned brewery by Sean from Portland with over 20years of crafting beer.
Unlike most craft beer pubs in town that tend to be small and intimate, East West Brewing Company features a large beer hall and some of the best local craft beers in Ho Chi Minh City.
There are eight brews on the menu, all made on-site in the big tanks behind the bar.
Try their coffee-vanilla porter or low-alcohol-content fruit-flavoured beer. East-West also offers a tour around their brewery from the beginning of their brewing process to the beer is ready to get served.
181-185 Ly Tu Trong Street, District 1.81-185 Ly Tu Trong Street, District 1.
2. LAC BREWING CO.
Away from the frenetic energy of downtown Saigon, Lac Brewing Co. in District 7 is the place to chug a cold one in peace. Popular with residents as well as visitors to Saigon, this craft beer bar has a chilled vibe, minimalist décor, and soft music that encourages conversation. Featuring a lovely outdoor patio free from traffic noise, the bar has friendly staff who can help novice beer drinkers make a choice.
169/7 Nguyen Duc Canh, District 7.
3. BIACRAFT ARTISAN ALES.
This contemporary bar, popular with tourists and expats, is an amazing place to drink locally made beer here in Ho Chi Minh City. Prices are on par with most joints in town. The options are endless, with more than 50 brews on tap. Get a table on the massive, airy terrace for a relaxed night out.
1 Le Ngo Cat, Phuong 7
4. Winking Seal Beer Co.
Probably the cutest craft beer place in Ho Chi Minh city, small and cosy bar in Discrit one on a rooftop and happy hour. Has a great selection of exotic craft beer, what about a Lemon Grass IPA? Or a beer with Dragon fruit taste.
50 Dang Thi Nhu street, Phuong Nguyen Thai Binh Ward.
Located in downtown Saigon, Malt has a constantly evolving menu of foreign and local craft beers. Ideal for a fun evening with a refreshing line-up of beers, friendly service, a lovely open-air patio, and entertainment options such as shuffleboard and dartboards.
46 Mac Thi Buoi, District 1
6. ROGUE SAIGON.
Boasting of a rooftop bar with enviable views, Rogue Saigon is a trendy pub in Saigon city center. Pair your craft beer with an artisanal burger from the extensive food menu. This beer bar hosts fun competitions and music trivia nights, making it a great place for a night out with friends.
13 Pasteur Street, Phuong Nguyen Thai Bin
7. ONG CAO.
Located in the heart of Saigon’s backpacker area, Ong Cao caters to budget-conscious tourists with daily discounts on various beers. Step in for a selection of locally brewed craft beers and sip a cold one as you watch the world go by.
240 Bui Vien, Phuong Pham Ngu Lao
8. NONG TRAI KHOAI.
To hang out with the hip crowd, head to the ruin pub Nong Trai Khoai where they serve some of the best craft beer in Saigon. Choose between internationally renowned names and local home brews. There’s also a good selection of western and Vietnamese food.
89 Pham Viet Chanh, Ward 19, Binh Thanh District
9. PASTEUR STREET BREWING.
Credited with changing Saigon’s drinking scene, Pasteur Street offers a range of craft beers with Vietnamese flavours. This award-winning brewery has a casual atmosphere and is the ideal place to sample some of the best craft beer in Ho Chi Minh City.
144/3 Pasteur Street, District 1.
10. HEART OF DARKNESS.
Very quickly after opening in 2016, Heart of Darkness became a favourite with craft beer aficionados in Ho Chi Minh City, offering everything from light and crisp IPAs to rich and creamy stouts. The bar has several locations in Saigon, but the one in District 1 is by far the most popular.
31D Ly Tu Trong, Ben Nghe
CRAFT BEER IN HO CHI MINH CITY
When you’re in Vietnam, Saigon Red and 333 don’t have to be your only choice for local beers. There’s a craft beer boom that is gaining steam and more than a dozen brewers are making local craft beers in Saigon. Ho Chi Minh City is the best place to try something new from a bevvy of options.
If you want to experience the boutique beer scene in Saigon with a local expert, there are beer tours where you’ll have the chance to learn, taste, and visit some of the best places to enjoy craft beer in Ho Chi Minh City.