Fizzing through the centre of Saigon’s District 1, Pasteur Street cuts a few blocks from the harrowing War Remnants Museum, the stark Reunification Palace and edges onto the charming Parisian French quarter of Ho Chi Minh City. At the north end of the street you’ll find rickety family-run pho stalls and at the south you’ll find the worksite for the new subway, shadowed by the city’s growing skyscrapers. And in that shadow, you’ll see a round neon sign glowing with the words ‘Pasteur Street Brewing Co’. This is where you can drink the best beers brewed in Vietnam.
Saying ‘the best beers in Vietnam’ is not some pretty-veiled insult. Pasteur Street would be great wherever they brewed their beers, but what makes them special, and not just another expat-run American-inspired brewery, is how they make use of Vietnamese ingredients in every beer they brew – it firmly and authentically locates them in this, the most vibrant, enthralling, delicious of countries.
Pasteur Street Brewing was started in 2015 by American John Reid who’d been living in Vietnam for a number of years. He brought in Colorado-based brewer Alex Violette to make the beers and (unsurprisingly given their background) they do make unapologetically American-styled beers, but the Vietnamese ingredients make these beers special and give them an exotic, inimitable accent.
Take their flagship beer, Jasmine IPA. It’s a straight-up, damn good American-style IPA that’s bright and refreshingly light for its 6.5% ABV, giving citrus pith, dank herbal hops and a tease of sweetness before a dry and gently bitter finish. So far, so American. But the addition of jasmine gives it a glorious floral quality, adding a tea-like fragrance that gives a calm elegance to the powerful hop qualities.
Then there’s a series of wheat beers where a light, tantalisingly tart base brew has local fruit added. Particularly good is the passion fruit version, where the juiciness and similar acidity between brew and fruit makes it (probably) the most thirst-quenching drink in the whole of Vietnam.
You’ll also find beers with lemongrass, strawberries, coconut, coffee, and more, and don’t miss their truffle-rich Imperial Stout brewed using Vietnamese cocoa beans, cinnamon and vanilla – it’s incredible and unquestionably one of the best beers I’ve ever drunk.
Their small and thankfully air-conditioned taproom above Pasteur Street pours 10-12 of their beers to a mix of expats and locals. In a country where bottles of local beer are rarely more than 50p, you’ll have to pay more for these – expect £3 a glass for the IPA – but they are totally worth it. Ho Chi Minh is a city which can be overwhelming for western visitors but Pasteur Street gives them some cool comfort, some world class craft beers but also retains something quintessentially Vietnamese to ease them into their adventure.
Argue the issues with like minded people by leaving a comment below or joining the discussion here