4 Outstanding Saigon Craft Breweries in District 1 You Shouldn’t Miss
I have no trouble admitting that the purpose of my first trip to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, was to visit Saigon craft breweries. With a large expatriate community, it’s no surprise that craft beer has taken off there and the city boasts some cutting edge breweries. I had only one weekend, however, so I visited only four of them. If you’re just as pressed for time on your visit, read on!
I’m pretty sure I will get laughed out of town if I try to generalise how each brewery’s beers taste. I’m no cicerone after all; I’m only a beer tourist. Please accept my humble, non-authoritative description of what you can expect.
Saigon craft breweries that Rambling Feet visited
185 Lý Tự Trọng, Phường Bến Thành
Sun-Wed: 11 a.m.-12 a.m.; Thu-Sat: 11 a.m.-1 a.m.
Probably the first on the block and where the revolution started with an in-house microbrewery. I loved the coffee vanilla porter but their other ales are great for the hot weather. Smoking was permitted in the part of the pub that was closer to the street; I found it detrimental to my appreciation of the beer and hope the situation has since changed. On that day, moving further inside closer to the tanks helped. They also ran a brunch menu when I visited on Sunday.
31D Ly Tu Trong, Phường Bến Nghé
Daily: 11 a.m.-12 a.m.
2016 was a good year partly because Heart of Darkness came along. The taproom is dark, moody and serves up plenty of core beers and one-off specials. One can get a tasting flight of four or six beers but take note that each portion seems to be larger than usual (around 8 ounces). There’s food, including packets of pork jerky infused with their chilli pilsner, and live music on weekends too. My picks of the core range are the fruity Dream Alone pale ale and the Director’s cacao nib porter.
144 Pasteur, Phường Bến Nghé
Daily: 4 p.m.-12 a.m.
They also have a newer taproom at 26A Le Thanh Ton that serves lunch hours. You’ll even find it in Hanoi and Hoi An. What I enjoyed the most about their brews is the use of local ingredients. I could truly taste the passion fruit in the wheat ale, the dragon fruit in the gose, the pepper in the saison and the chocolate in the Cyclo Stout. Some of the flavours diminish by the time they reach Singapore’s craft beer bars, so tasting them fresh was a revelation.
50 Đặng Thị Nhu, Phường Nguyễn Thái Bình
Daily: 3 p.m.-12 a.m.
The next closest brewery to the Ben Thanh market. The food menu is courtesy of Café Marcel and they bring it over, but it is not available on Mondays. Sailing Club is a tasty and refreshing pale ale with red dragon fruit, but I also enjoyed their limited releases.
Commuting between Saigon craft breweries
The four breweries above are all within 30-minutes’ walking distance from one another. Yeap, you read that correctly and that’s what I did. Walking along the streets over 3 days in Ho Chi Minh City was not as scary as some people make it sound. However, you should still be on your guard for thieves on motorcycles. If you prefer to take transport, you can get a lift on a scooter using the Grab app. It’s convenient because it works across the rest of Southeast Asia, but there are also local operators.
Rambling Feet will be back to visit these HCMC craft breweries
90 Đường Nguyễn Văn Thủ, Đa Kao
Tue-Sun: 4 p.m.-11.45 p.m.