Craft beer is taking Vietnam by storm! At least, it’s taking Saigon by storm. The rest of the country hasn’t quite caught on yet, but that could be changing soon. These days it’s not difficult to find decent craft beer in Da Nang, if you know where to look. Let’s take a look at craft beer in Da Nang and what we can expect in near future.
Craft Beer in Da Nang
We got our first craft beer in Da Nang early 2016, when Fatfish starting carrying Pasteur Street’s Jasmine IPA. Later that same year, they put on a killer beer pairing dinner event, and even brought the brewer up from Saigon. But then it all quieted down. Not many other bars joined the craft revolution. While craft was gaining more and more Tiger territory down south, us Da Nang folk were left on the sidelines.
But since the beginning of the year, change is in the air. Da Nang recently welcomed it’s first taproom, 7 Bridges Brewery, who brew there beer here in Da Nang. It has helped pave the way for other breweries to enter the market. More and more craft beer keeps popping up in bars around town, including Rooster Beer, Te Te and Platinum.
And over at Fatfish, things have come full circle. On June 22nd, Fatfish relaunched their menu and their craft beer line. Gone is Pasteur Street, who have been falling out of favor in the region. Now they’ve got four different kinds of Heart of Darkness, arguably the king of craft in Vietnam. Things are looking up for craft beer in Da Nang!
Challenges to Craft Beer in Da Nang
While Da Nang is widely believed to be the next big market for craft beer, the Central Vietnamese market is unique and has it’s own special challenges.
Craft Beer is Expensive
Plain and simple. Pundits would argue that it’s worth it, and I agree, but the average income here doesn’t compare to places like Saigon or Hanoi. Rent is cheaper here, lunch is cheaper here, but craft beer prices are the same everywhere.
But it’s not just about absolute price; the gap between “regular beer” and craft beer is much greater here. When you’re paying 55k for a Tiger draft down in Saigon, it’s not that hard to justify paying 95k for something way better. But when you’re paying 15k, 20k or at most 30k here, it’s a big jump. Will people start appreciating the quality of craft beer enough to justify the high price? Only time will tell.
The local brew down South, Sài Gòn Đỏ, isn’t very good. By comparison, the local Central brews, Larue or Huda, are actually drinkable. Yes, all Vietnamese lagers are similar, but when you’ve been drinking the same style of beer for years, you learn to identify and appreciate the differences. The go-to Central brews are undoubtably a step above their Southern cousins. When people are relatively satisfied with what they have, it makes change more difficult.
It’s Not Trendy, Yet.
Vietnamese people are extremely open-minded to trying new things. I have always found their curiosity about “stuff out there” very inspiring. But when you talk about craft been in Da Nang, no one really knows about it. No one’s drinking it. It’s still this fringe thing that weird foreigners do. But that’s changing too.
Drinking Craft Beer in Da Nang
Lots of places carry craft in bottles, but let’s be honest, if you’re drinking craft, you want it on tap. At the moment your best bet is Fatfish, with four taps from Heart of Darkness, ranging from Mexican Pilsner to Kurtz’s Insane IPA (yes that’s the name of the beer). There’s also the aforementioned 7 Bridges Taproom, which occasionally has guest beers on tap too. Dirty Fingers is making moves to get a couple different kinds in, and there’s rumors that Lost & Found may be getting in on the action as well. Stay tuned!