This new bar showcases some of the finest new craft ales and beers. Review by Lorcan Lovett. Photos by Vinh Dao
A network of independent brewers has been strung together in a new craft beer bar which promises to showcase the most attentively made tipples in Saigon.
Customers to Bia Craft in Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, will first notice its large, stylish logo on the shopfront that would not look out of place in one of London’s hipster hideouts.
In the bar a glowing ‘Ice Cold Beer’ sign sits above blackboards featuring the latest draft beers – eight all together – with the aim of keeping about five regulars and rotating the rest.
Despite opening in mid-August, Bia Craft has already captured a friendly, effusive atmosphere thanks to a flow of locals from District 2’s expat community.
Owners Albin Deforges, Tim Scott and Mark Gustafson have plans to utilise the food cart out front by feeding the crowd bar snacks such as gyoza, spam fries, and hotdogs, priced from VND 60,000 to VND 100,000, that incorporate beer in the ingredients.
The men, who launched popular American barbeque joint Quan Ut Ut in District 1, acted on people’s insatiable thirst for quality beer in a city without many options.
Among their offerings, the owners have delightfully hoppy pale ale Fuzzy Logic which grew from its origins in the kitchen of two expats to having 4,000 litres made at an established brewery on the city’s outskirts.
Platinum Brewery has commissioned an exclusive golden ale, Phat Rooster has an amber ale, and Pasteur Street Brewing Company has joined the party with its farmhouse ale Saigon Saison.
Bia Craft also has five of its own specially developed ales that will rotate, including an 8.1 per cent Double IPA and seven per cent pale ale Xau ma Chanh (Ugly, yet Vain); the latter tipped as a bestseller. Prices for these ales are around VND 40,000 a sample, VND 60,000 a regular, and VND 90,000 a pint.
“To us, craft beer is similar to buying a very nice bottle of wine,” Deforges says. “It’s something done with attention, detail, and brings a specific flavour.”
Bia Craft’s partnership with importers Zebrafish means the bar’s fridge is always packed with other goodies such as British and Swedish cider, Australian sparkling ale and beers from Lost Coast Brewing Company of Northern California.
It’s all very well pouring craft ale to expats who’ve lapped it up back in their home countries, but Bia Craft aims to get the less familiar Vietnamese market involved too by opening in a new undisclosed location soon, so cheers to that.