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Vietnam is renowned for its beer culture, yet you’d be mistaken for thinking that its various pale lagers are the only beverages worth sampling. From bitter wine to blended whiskey, there are many alcohol brands you’ll grow to love as you drink your way through Vietnam.
It’s no secret that beer is beloved in Vietnam. However, the country’s slowly emerging wine and liquor markets are also producing new and noteworthy brands that are definitely deserving of a taste. Trying these Vietnamese alcohol brands might just lead to the discovery of your new favourite tipple – and even if that’s not the case, it will certainly be an experience.
The infamous 333, or ba ba ba, beer is lovable in part because its name is fun to say. Formerly called ‘Beer 33’, the brand became a firm favourite among American GIs during the Vietnam War and its popularity has endured. This cheap-and-cheerful beer might never win any awards for its outstanding flavour, but its iconic red-and-white label will certainly be a welcome sight on a sweltering hot day.
Don’t let the name fool you: Wall Street alcohol has very little to do with New York’s financial district. It’s actually a blend of Scotch and local Vietnamese spirits that has become widely available throughout the country. It’s not technically a whiskey but is, for all intents and purposes, treated as one. Starting off sweet before delivering a kick, this liquor is enjoyed by tourists and locals alike.
Hue’s famed lager brand is actually a silver medalist several times over, having won numerous prizes at international beer competitions. Brewed and bottled in the ancient capital, Huda can be found mainly in Central Vietnam, where it is a local favourite and a source of great pride.
Founded upon its eponymous street in Saigon in 2014, Pasteur Street Brewing Company quickly grew into one of Vietnam’s premier craft beer brands. The company combines local Vietnamese ingredients with American brewing styles to truly delicious effect. Pasteur Street produces over 200 different beers, but its Jasmine IPA is undoubtedly the jewel in its crown. With its floral flavour and jasmine aromas, this exquisitely refreshing brew has become a firm favourite among Vietnam’s craft beer crowd. We challenge you not to fall in love with it.
Available in Green, Red and Special varieties, Saigon beer is one of Vietnam’s stalwart alcohol brands. The differences between the three labels are slight, and you’ll find at least one of them in almost every bar – as well as in the hands of many a happy customer. Ubiquitous throughout Vietnam, Saigon beer is always a reliable choice of beverage. Its taste might not be the most exciting, but it’ll never let you down.
Despite declaring itself a ‘wine of Chile’, Passion is very much a Vietnamese creation. The brand has the ambitious aim of becoming the number one wine in Vietnam by 2020, with hopes of encouraging the country’s budding ‘wine culture’. It’s the cheapest drinkable wine on most supermarket shelves, and for that it deserves a place in the heart of Vietnam’s wine drinkers.
Another of Vietnam’s local beers, Bia Ha Noi is unsurprisingly most popular in the north. Much like Saigon beer and Huda, it’s a pale lager that the city’s locals greatly enjoy. Bia Hanoi was the first of these local beers to enter the market and remains well-loved. No trip to the capital is complete without a sip of this proudly local product.
By far the cheapest wine available in Vietnam, this local brand hails from the mountainous region of Dalat. Thanks to its temperate climate, Dalat is one of the few areas of the country where vineyards can thrive. However, Dalat grapes are notorious for their bitter taste, giving this wine a very distinctive flavour, to say the least. Drinking it will certainly be memorable, thus it’s difficult not to feel some sort of ironic affection for this brand.
Produced in – you guessed it – Hanoi, this local brand of vodka is one of the country’s most dependable. It’s not exactly a premium liquor, but Vodka Hanoi is a spirit of reasonable quality given its relatively low price. Although it won’t blind you, it still might give you the mother of all hangovers if you go overboard. A liquor as widely available and reasonably priced as this one will undoubtedly draw repeat customers in spite of the consequences, earning its place in the hearts of many.
Traditionally, Vietnamese rice wine has been homemade in small distilleries and, unlike the Korean and Japanese varieties, was not a player on the global liquor stage. Son Tinh Premium Spirits are on a mission to change this with their modern adaption of the traditional moonshine. The expat-owned company are determined to challenge perceived prejudices against Vietnamese brands and prove that the country produces high-quality products. Their delicious rice wine is available in a range of novel flavours that cleverly encapsulate Vietnamese culture – a real experience for the taste buds.