Saigon Podcast Pub Crawl

I recently shared my seven favorite craft beer bars in Saigon and decided to put my money where my mouth was because a few people suggested it. We’re doing a craft beer crawl that day, and I couldn’t believe how many people showed up.

It was incredible. And I had to say, we were very top-heavy in bearded men, which seemed fitting for a craft beer adventure. 

Let’s explore the best of Saigon’s craft beer scene together!

1st Stop: Two Guys Belgian Fries

We began at Two Guys Belgian Fries in Thanh My Loi. I was surprised by the turnout. Initially, I thought it would just be Adrie and me, but we had Jack, Mischa, Tucker, Adrie, and Seamus joining us to share their thoughts on the craft beer scene in Saigon.

Mischa noted that it was an interesting time for the craft beer industry in Vietnam post-lockdown. Many breweries were full steam ahead, although some, like Fur Brew, had closed down.

It was heartening to see many Vietnamese customers at local craft breweries, not just tourists and expats. The market was returning to a good level, and a more robust tourist economy would help local craft breweries thrive.

Adrien shared a funny moment where Thao was playfully teased into ordering a beer after she initially asked for a coffee. Thao explained that being Vietnamese, coffee was her go-to choice. However, Misha, Alex, and Jack managed to persuade her to give the beer a try. She opted for a raspberry beer, which she found quite appealing and thought it was a great choice for women. Thao admitted that she enjoyed it so much that she would definitely order it again.

I had Seamus Gough from 7 Bridges with me. 7 Bridges started in Da Nang, and Seamus explained that the name came from a presentation about Da Nang being the home of 7 Bridges. Though there are actually more than 7 Bridges in Da Nang, the name stuck.

Seamus shared that 7 Bridges opened a taproom in Da Nang in 2017, and then expanded to Hanoi in 2019. In 2021, they opened their first location in Saigon on Le Thanh Ton, just as the fourth wave of COVID broke out, so it opened in December instead of July. They now had a second location on Dong Khoi Street.

2nd: Mixtape

I told in the last episode that I won free beer for a year, and we were at our second bar of the day, Mixtape Drinks. I was drinking my favorite, Peaches and Cream, an IPA. Luckily, we were in an air-conditioned area, making it more comfortable. 

Thao was with us, though she had already forgotten her iPad at the last bar. She’s not even drinking, and she forgot it! We welcomed a new member, Ollie, and chatted with Chad, the owner of Mixtape.

Thao and I talked about the cultural differences in drinking habits. In Vietnam, people often drink a lot in a short period, unlike our more leisurely approach. I shared that Vietnamese guys often ask how many beers I can drink, meaning in one or two hours, not over a whole day.

We then planned to finish our drinks and move on to bar number three, Brick and Barrel.

3rd: Brick and Barrel

Unfortunately, by the time you read this, Brick and Barrel might have moved locations, which makes me a bit sad as I have many good memories here. It’s a proper craft beer bar with awesome burgers, pizzas, and chicken wings. Their craft beer selection has been trimmed, focusing on quality over quantity.

We still had most of our crew, plus an extra Lopez sister. We then moved on to a Saigon sightseeing tour in a buggy, waiting for the others to catch up. We had done three bars and about six drinks each, making the podcast more interesting. I chose the 7 Bridges Dragon IPA, a 4.8% beer, thinking it would sober me up since it’s under 5%.

The buggy tour included nine people if you count Biscuit – my dog. We were about to start the tour around Saigon.

4th: Pasteur Street

We met up with Dave Tinnon at Pasteur Street Brewing Company on Ly Tu Trong, right by Bến Thành Market. This was stop number four out of seven on our craft beer crawl. We discussed the state of craft beer in Saigon. When we both arrived eight years ago, the scene was just blossoming. It then experienced rapid growth before plateauing. Dave shared that he was there at the start of the boom, helping BiaCraft expand from 30 to 50 taps, ensuring local breweries were fairly represented. This growth showed how vibrant the craft beer scene was and still is in Saigon.

Mischa shared how the Pomelo IPA was always his favorite at Pasteur Street, despite the popularity of the Jasmine IPA, the Pomelo’s unique blend of citrus and hops made it a standout for him. I shared my fondness for the now-discontinued Mango IPA, lamenting its high production cost due to expensive mangoes.

We finished our beers and prepared to head off to Heart of Darkness. The night was still young, and we were ready for the next adventure on our beer crawl.

5th: Heart of Darkness

I had previously criticized Heart of Darkness on my podcast for not giving out free water. However, Seamus managed to politely ask for some glasses of water, and despite their initial response about selling bottled water, they did give us free water. So, I had to take back my harsh words; they do give free water, albeit in small glasses. 

I was on the Some Sorcerer hazy IPA, while Mischa enjoyed the Dream Sensations Hazy Pale Ale, a super hoppy beer that’s perfect for craft beer nerds. Reflecting on my previous comments about Heart of Darkness, I mentioned the pricing. One of the beers was 175,000 dong for a pint, which was about 11 Australian dollars. Although it’s expensive for Saigon, it’s cheaper than what you’d pay in Australia. Despite the high prices, I believe Heart of Darkness offers some of the best beer in Saigon.

Heart of Darkness has been around since November 2016, making it about seven and a half years old. It’s a favorite of mine, even though it caters more to tourists in terms of pricing. Ollie highlighted the importance of comparing beer sizes and prices, as it can be confusing with different bars offering various sizes.

6th: Brick and Barrel

We had reached bar number six, 7 Bridges.

Seamus emphasized promoting craft beer as a whole within Vietnam, not just their own at 7 Bridges. They offer a variety of guest beers from local breweries like Belgo, Bizan, Origins, Fuzzy Logic, East West, Heart of Darkness, MixTape, Mekong, Tete, Wildside, and Rooster. They also served three wines on tap—red, white, and rosé. Seamus highlighted the importance of providing variety and options to satisfy all customers, not just craft beer enthusiasts. They also had cocktails and mocktails, aiming to be a comprehensive F&B business.

I asked Seamus about his favorite beers. He mentioned Mekong’s Bengal Ambush Blonde as a standout. Although 7 Bridges’ Hai Van Haze was a popular favorite, Seamus preferred trying new and seasonal offerings rather than sticking to the core menu. He also praised Belgo Cherry and expressed his love for a wide range of beers from Vietnam and abroad.

Seamus introduced their new seasonal beer, Choi Oi, a nitro Irish stout. It was their first beer on nitro and turned out to be a successful experiment. It was creamy and silky, making it easy to drink even in Saigon’s heat.

7th: Malt

We finally made it to our seventh and final stop, Malt. Despite starting at 12:30 and facing some delays, we managed to hit all seven pubs by 8:30. Adrie mentioned losing some people to the Cocktail Festival, but we remained dedicated to our craft beer journey. She celebrated our achievement of completing the pub crawl and gave a shoutout to Biscuit, who was eyeing the shuffleboard table.

Conclusion

I have to say this pub crawl has been an absolute blast. We’ve visited seven of my favorite bars, enjoyed fantastic beers, and shared plenty of laughs along the way. If you’ve enjoyed this journey with us, please share our podcast and blog—it helps more than you know. And stay tuned, because another seven-bar crawl is definitely on the horizon. Thanks so much for watching. Cheers!

Leave a Comment