Saigon's New Microbrewery
Now you can slap that Made in Vietnam label on the region's hottest drink—craft beer. By Diana Hubbell.
Published on Feb 20, 2015
What do you get when you cross the French godfather of yeast fermentation with a cornucopia of Indochinese herbs and flavors? Vietnam's first American-style microbrewery, Pasteur Street Brewing Company. Since Violette left his position as head brewer at popular Upslope Brewing Company, in Boulder, Colorado, and moved to Saigon with his marketing-savvy girlfriend, Bethany Lovato, he joined forces with John Reid, an American expat who had been living in Vietnam for six years. The trio has scoured the country for ingredients and inspiration.
A microbrew tasting.
It's not like they were entering an untapped, if you will, market. Vietnamese salarymen love their curbside icy brews, and a recent wave of more upscale beer halls has brought drinkers in from the street—and given women a license to imbibe. But the options remained limited to watery, mass-produced lagers and the occasional pricey import. Pasteur Street, which offers tastings in a mellow, blonde-wood space, "wants to make our beers unique to our region," Lovato says, pointing to their initial few varietals as evidence. Their Vietnamese Wit is brewed with basil, lemongrass, ginger, black pepper and lemon peel from local markets; the Civet Coffee Brown uses Kopi Luwak coffee from a small farm in the highlands of Dalat.
Violette is sticking to small batches for now, but his ambitions are big: he hopes to export around the world so that, perhaps, someday soon the folks back in Boulder may be sipping a tall, frosty one from Saigon. In the meantime, he's getting the best of two different worlds. "While sourcing ingredients," Lovato says, "we have been able to see some very beautiful parts of Vietnam." And with results this refreshing, we wish them many happy returns. 144 Pasteur, Dist. 1, Saigon; +84 90 551 4782; pasteurstreet.com.