What’s the Best Beer in Vietnam?
Vietnam doesn’t usually come to mind when people think of countries with great beer. I’m not here to change anyone’s mind about that. The beer here is average at best, and all the beers pretty much taste the same, at least to the newly initiated. After 7 years in the trenches, slogging through over 50 provinces, many of which have their own local brew, I have to say that some are actually better than others. Amongst all the mediocrity, Huda stands out to me as being the best beer in Vietnam.
Huda is made in Hue, three hours north of Da Nang. The story goes that Carlsberg wanted do distribute beer in Vietnam. At the time, the government blocked them because they weren’t a local brand. In classic workaround fashion, Carlsberg then set up a puppet company in Vietnam. They imported their own equipment and starting making beer using their own recipe. They even used the Carlsberg font to print the name, and on every label you’ll find “Brewed with Danish Technology”. Thus, Huda was born: HU for Hue, DA for Denmark. Things have since come full circle. After more recent economic reforms, and you can now find Carlsberg being sold side-by-side with Huda.
Tasting at the Source
On a recent trip to Hue, I went on a hunt to find Huda Beer on tap. It’s pretty much the only thing people drink in Hue, but much to my disappointment, they don’t sell it in kegs anymore. Not wanting me to leave empty-handed, one waitress tried to convince me that there are still different kinds of Huda, . The only way to find out for sure was to conduct a (very unscientific) taste test.
Spoiler alert: they taste exactly the same. You can see in the picture that the bottle on the left holds slightly more beer due to it being more rounded. Call me a sucker for buying two beers at a time, but when you’re drinking the best beer in Vietnam, it’s alright to overindulge a little.