Market

World-class chocolate bia now brewing in Vietnam

16:32 SGT December 6, 2017
World-class
At the heart of District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City lies a brewery famous for its award-winning chocolate stout and other flavoured beers using exotic local ingredients

Pasteur Street Brewing Company (PSBC), which has been slaking the thirst of beer lovers in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, has been blending the best of Vietnamese ingredients with professional American craft-beer skills since 2014.

With more than 200 distinct beers developed and three taprooms from which to enjoy them, PSBC has put Vietnam in the spotlight when it won gold in the 2016 World Beer Cup for its Cyclo Stout, a chocolate dark beer crafted using locally available cocoa ingredients.

According to Mischa Smith, brand ambassador and account manager of PSBC, founder John Reid’s vision was to marry classic American brewing techniques to Vietnam’s fruits, flavours and spices — producing distinctive beers that PSBC has become known for.

“The main thrust of the idea was to make something uniquely Vietnamese and share it with the world,” he quips.

Ingredients for its Cyclo Stout include cocoa nibs sourced from local farmers in the Mekong Delta through the brewery’s partners at Marou Chocolate (a Vietnam-based chocolatier).

“We use locally sourced passion fruit, lemongrass, jasmine, ginger, cacao, coffee beans, pomelo, dragon fruit, and more. We even made a durian beer once! We use them to make real Vietnamese craft bia (beer). We want to showcase the fresh local ingredients that this wonderful country has to offer.”

Ingredients for its Cyclo Stout include cocoa nibs sourced from local farmers in the Mekong Delta through the brewery’s partners at Marou Chocolate (a Vietnam-based chocolatier).

Since its launch, PSBC’s chocolate beer has been collecting accolades. “It won a bronze at this year’s US Beer Open in the chocolate beer category, a silver at last year’s Asian Beer Medals in the strong ale category.
Incidentally, our double IPA won gold in that category — we essentially lost to ourselves,” Smith relates.

“The big one was gold at the World Beer Cup last year in the chocolate beer category — this event is recognized in the industry as the most prestigious beer competition in the world and is only held every two years.”

Working closely with the experts at Marou, Smith says PSBC’s brew masters tirelessly tasted cacao nibs from across the country until they developed the perfect secret blend. “We then add these nibs to our Imperial Stout with a touch of Saigon cinnamon and hint of fresh vanilla beans from Mui Ne. The result: chocolate transcendence,” Smith declares.

With more than 200 distinct beers developed and three taprooms from which to enjoy them, PSBC has put Vietnam in the spotlight when it won gold in the 2016 World Beer Cup for its Cyclo Stout, a chocolate beer crafted using locally available cocoa ingredients.

OTHER WELL-LOVED BEER FLAVOURS

Smith says its India Pale Ale (IPA)- style drinks are popular with the local crowd, and ideal for keeping cool in the hot weather.

“Our two biggest movers are definitely the Jasmine IPA and Passion Fruit Wheat Ale. We brewed the Jasmine IPA for the Vietnamese climate,” he says. “It’s a well-balanced IPA with a floral jasmine aroma and a nice citrus punch on the flavour.”

Another great drink to stave off the heat is the Passion Fruit Wheat, as it has a “nice mix of sweet and tangy, like the fruit itself, and just super drinkable and refreshing”.

“We have been getting a lot of good feedback lately as well on some other IPAs that we’ve been brewing a little more regularly; Pomelo IPA, Double IPA and Thai Iced Tea IPA have all been big hits! The local market seems to be expanding in their love of hoppier beers — as we have seen in most major craft beer markets,” Smith says.

“On the funkier side of things, our dragon fruit Gose has been a big hit and won a couple of international awards as well. Gose is a style of beer brewed to be both salty and sour, and the addition of the dragon fruit gives it a deep, dark pink colour that turns heads in bars.”

 

WINNING FANS IN OTHER PARTS OF ASIA

Currently, PSBC exports its beers to other Asian markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. Smith says, generally, the beers that have sold well in Vietnam have also done well in other markets. “We just brought some Triple IPA to Beertopia in Hong Kong and we sold out of it within two hours of the two-day event starting,” he says.

Despite its growing popularity, there are no current plans to set up breweries in other countries in the region, as PSBC still relies heavily on the fresh local ingredients found in Vietnam. The beers would necessarily be different if brewed in a different country, Smith explains.

“Our beers, quite literally, could not be made anywhere else. Having said that, could we set up a brewery in China (for example) and make beers unique there by using local Chinese ingredients? Maybe we could. But again, no plans currently to brew outside of Vietnam,” he reiterates.

“We will keep making good beers and expanding as quickly as our development allows us to. We would also continue experimenting with different styles and keep the customers happy by giving them more options so that there is always something new in our taprooms and for all of our export markets,” Smith concludes.