True American-style craft beer finally arrives in Saigon, courtesy of this relaxed downtown brewery. By Michael Tatarski. Photos by Vinh Dao.
If there’s one thing that can unite almost every expat in Saigon, it is disdain for the beer available in the city we call home. To be sure, several breweries have made an effort to improve the selection here over the past few years but craft beer similar to what has taken over bars in the U.S. was still missing. Until now, that is.
Even though it has only been open on weekends since January, the Pasteur Street Brewing Company has already made quite a splash. The response to its opening has been so enthusiastic that they have even run out of beer on several nights. The tasting room, nestled up a staircase down an alley, is narrow and long, with a mural on one wall and tasteful wood finishing, while excellent rock music provides a suitable acoustic backdrop for beer drinking.
Of course, beer is obviously the main focus here, and head brewer Alex Violette, who came over from Boulder, Colorado, is creating some amazing brews. He uses as many local ingredients as possible to curate a rotating menu, with at least one or two new beers on offer every weekend. When I visited last month the options were Vietnamese Wit, a Belgian style wheat ale; Jasmine IPA, which sold out quickly; a Belgian Blonde Ale; and the Civet Coffee Brown, made with coffee beans from Dalat. My personal favourite was the coffee brown with its full-bodied flavour and rich texture. These truly are beers that wouldn’t seem out of place at a craft beer bar back in the States. Prices are reasonable, at VND 95,000 for a full pour, VND 35,000 for a taster and VND 125,000 for a tasting flight.
According to Bethany Lovato, the brand manager, patrons should always expect an IPA on tap, as these are very popular, particularly among Americans. She also assured that their staff has been highly trained in order to explain the various beers, as many Vietnamese and even Europeans have not seen these flavour profiles before.
As of publication food will be available as well, with dishes prepared by newly-arrived chef Ryan Davenport, who left a five-star place in Nashville for Pasteur Street. He plans to use local ingredients to create small plates that match the beers and there will be pairing events in the future. Davenport also hinted that one dish on the menu may be a Nashville favourite called hot chicken, the simplest description of which is spicy fried chicken.
Pasteur Street will begin using a second, bigger brewery soon, and they plan to expand to full hours later this month. Currently they can’t produce enough beer to last a full week. In the meantime, enjoy the most unique brews in Saigon on the weekends.