A Taste of Hanoi's Thriving Craft-Beer Scene

Theres more to Hanoi than just bia hoi bars – craft ale is also thriving in Vietnams capital
There's more to Hanoi than just 'bia hoi' bars – craft ale is also thriving in Vietnam's capital | © Ivan Okyere-Boakye Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
Chiara Cui

In recent years, microbreweries have found new popularity in Vietnam, with more than 20 craft-beer bars opening between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) alone. Though HCMC may have had a head start, Hanoi is quickly catching up and proving itself to be a thriving craft-beer destination. Read on for where to find the perfect pint in Hanoi.

In Hanoi, busy bars overflow into the narrow streets

On any given night in many of Hanoi’s bustling streets, you’re sure to find locals and tourists alike, squatting on tiny plastic stools – look closely and you’ll see them sharing glasses of ‘bia hoi’, the capital’s famous freshly brewed draught beer known for being light both in alcohol content and on the pocket, with some places charging as little as 5,000 dong (£0.20) a pop. While the humble beverage definitely helped kickstart Vietnam’s interest in golden ale, it certainly hasn’t stopped there.

The rise of craft beer should come as no surprise. Vietnam is one of Asia’s biggest beer consumers, drinking 3.8 billion litres (6.7 billion pints) a year in 2016. While mainstream brands like Bia Hanoi, Saigon Beer and Tiger still rule the streets, artisanal brewers are now providing tasty alternatives to the tried-and-true mainstays, ushering in more nuanced and perhaps challenging flavours compared to the lighter fare locals are used to.

Craft ales are taking off in Hanoi, Vietnam’s busy capital

1. Turtle Lake Brewing Company

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Named after Hanoi’s iconic Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Turtle Lake, the expansive brewery-slash-pub is actually situated in the expat neighbourhood of West Lake. Turtle Lake opened its doors in 2018 and, since then, has become a hugely popular watering hole, holding regular quiz nights, charity events and even drag brunches. The beer menu is as wide-ranging as the events, offering everything from potent IPAs and lighter lagers, to cheeky yet strong ale like the surprisingly hard-hitting Mango Smoothie.

2. Furbrew

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Co-owned by Thomas Bilgram and Phan Thanh Trung, Furbrew prides itself on creating beer that fulfills its three ‘uns’: unconventional, unexpected and untraditional. With beers like Lime Leaf, Mandarina and its famed pho-flavoured beer, it’s safe to say it’s stayed true to its ethos. Furbrew has two locations, both in Tay Ho (West Lake) and on either side of Au Co, one of the city’s main traffic arteries. It’s also recently launched its own gin that’s made using leftover beer.

3. Thom Brewery

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Thom Brewery’s beers stand out for the brand’s commitment to utilising as many Vietnamese ingredients as it can in its beers. Co-owners Nguyen Tuan and Pham The Manh, both former government officials, wanted to make sure they did right by local farmers and helped the communities that were growing the produce they used. As such, the beers include ingredients like local buckwheat and cinnamon, coffee and black pepper from the Central Highlands, and cacao and fruits from the south.

4. iBiero Craft Beer Station

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Located in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem District, iBiero Craft Beer Station’s interiors pay homage to German beer halls, with an in-house brewery that boasts strong lagers and a meat-centric menu, with dishes that come in decidedly heftier portions than you’ll see elsewhere in the city. It’s also got a beer and food-pairing menu, which matches house ales to different cuts of beef.

5. Homie Brewhouse

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The brainchild of Le Tran Thanh and wife Cam Tho, this humble brewery began operating in 2016, born out of an obsession with craft beer and many late-night brewing sessions. Compared to other Hanoi-based breweries, the selection may be relatively modest, with only four beers to its name, but in this case, less is more. It’s even been championed by Standing Bar, one of Hanoi’s most beloved craft beer pubs, when its proponents named Homie’s IPA one of the best beers made in the city.

6. Barett at Hang Vui Craft Beer Restaurant

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For most, brewing beer is a passion that’s born of a love for the beverage. In the case of Quang Van, Barett’s founder, it was in his blood. In 2013, after completing his studies and graduating with a finance and economics degree, Quang began brewing beer inspired by American craft-beer brewing techniques. It was a natural progression as his family had already been distributing ingredients to commercial breweries for over two decades. Though the beer can be found in bars around Hanoi, it’s best consumed straight from the tap at its brewery, just 30 minutes south of the city centre.

7. Hanoi Cider Company

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Hanoi’s craft beer isn’t the only thing worth writing home about. The city’s cider scene is also making waves, particularly Hanoi Cider Company’s craft cider, which joined the scene back in 2016 with its unique take on a beverage that’s usually under-represented in Asia. Though it’s been a major player for a few years now and is sold in bars across the city, Hanoi Cider Co recently opened its own bar on Nghi Tam, smack dab between Tay Ho (West Lake) and the Old Quarter. Apart from menu mainstays, the cider house also features seasonal flavours such as pomegranate.

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