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Dumplings & Beer in Hong Kong

Dumplings & Beer in Hong Kong

I had a spirited discussion with an American turned Australian in Sydney last night debating whether wine or beer pairs best with food. We each landed a few punches, but we came to a delicate truce; wine and beer clearly both have their moments. Scratch that – this is my blog, beer won.

To paraphrase God (Garrett Oliver) in the bible (The Brewmaster’s Table), beer has a few unfair advantages when it comes to the art of the pairing. Balancing hop bitterness, palette cleansing carbonation, and a beautiful yellow-brown rainbow of malt roasts provides beer with incredible range and versatility to pair with food.

A rainbow of craft beers in Hong Kong.

A rainbow of craft beers in Hong Kong.

"Wine is wonderful. But let's be honest – it can't do everything. Real beer can do everything. Mexican, Thai, Japanese, Indian, Cajun, Middle Eastern food, and barbecue, are far better with real beer than wine. Even with traditionally wine-friendly foods, beer often shows superior versatility and flavor compatibility. The range of flavors and aromas in beer is vast – it's deep and wide and tall, and it easily surpasses that of wine."  - Garret Oliver, A Brewmaster's Table

To put it in Superman terms: wine has a kryptonite, but it’s really tough to stump beer. And nowhere are beer’s pairing strengths more on display than with the dumpling. Hop bitterness cuts through the fat of crispy fried dough, while refreshing, effervescent carbonation lifts heavy oils right off your tongue, resetting your palette and readying it for that next rich bite (I blame beer for making it so difficult to STOP eating dumplings). My fellow amuse boozers and I love the pairing so much that creating unique craft beer and dumpling combinations is a concept we’re playing with as the next evolution of our supper club.

If beer is dumpling's soulmate, Hong Kong is where they’d honeymoon. You can’t throw a dumpling in Hong Kong without hitting another place to eat dumplings. From time-honored, traditional white tablecloth dim-sum to hole-in-the-wall dumplings to-go in a subway station, you can dumpling anywhere at any budget. The Hong Kong craft beer scene is also really taking off, though perhaps a little too quickly. While I found plenty of quality brews in Hong Kong when I knew where to look, I also walked into a few places that had clearly hopped on to the fad, writing checks their beer couldn’t cash. I’m excited to come back to Hong Kong in a few years to see how the market matures.

That breathtaking Hong Kong skyline. I'm happy to report the tram to the top is wheelchair accessible.

That breathtaking Hong Kong skyline. I'm happy to report the tram to the top is wheelchair accessible.

To keep my Amuse Booze pairing muscles limber, I’ve matched three of my favorite Hong Kong dumplings from the trip with three unique Hong Kong craft beers. I might even convince Sonya to help me recreate a few of these in the Spring, so stay tuned. Now let's make it rain Michelin star dumplings & craft brews.

1. Din Tai Fung Xiao Long Bao & Young Master Ale's Yellow Mare Black Stallion / 驪黃牝牡

The Dumpling:

To the uninitiated, xiao long bao is a soup dumpling. As in, soup inside of dumpling: a juicy pork and ginger drop of heaven cradled by broth inside a delicate dough home artfully erected by the elusive DTF wizards. After being introduced to DTF xiao long bao in their Seattle location by my foodie friend and soulmate Hannah, I knew I needed to trace this dumpling to the source and visit the mothership in Hong Kong. Let's just say I was not disappointed.

My Xiao Long Bao feast (left), a and few DTF artists (right).

My Xiao Long Bao feast (left), a and few DTF artists (right).

DTF racks up Michelin stars as casually as I consume dumplings.

DTF racks up Michelin stars as casually as I consume dumplings.

The beer:

My favorite source of knowledge when exploring craft beer in a new city is the local watering hole. At The Globe and The Roundhouse, my two favorite Hong Kong beer bars, I instantly gravitated toward Young Master Ales on the tap list. Any brewery in SE Asia with a cask ale, a gose, and a barrel-aged rye on tap at the same bar is going to get my attention. I sampled a few of their beers and fell in love; their beers were unique, complex, and most importantly, delicious. 

My mom flew in to hang out with me to help me recover from my injury. Since I couldn’t walk, I had about a week where I was wheeled alternately between dumpling destinations and craft breweries. Here we are sipping brews at the Roundhouse, our favorite craft beer bar in Hong Kong.

My mom flew in to hang out with me to help me recover from my injury. Since I couldn’t walk, I had about a week where I was wheeled alternately between dumpling destinations and craft breweries. Here we are sipping brews at the Roundhouse, our favorite craft beer bar in Hong Kong.

My mom and I decided to make the ten minute trek by car to Young Master from Wan Chai the very next day. When we arrived, we were greeted and taken through a flight by Ashley and Ronda, two ladies that were incredibly passionate and knowledgable about beer. We enjoyed them so much that we stayed well over the hour that we had allotted, and tasted every beer on tap (at least once). We learned that since 2013 Young Master has helped to define and refine the craft beer scene in Hong Kong, bringing Hong Kong it's first barrel program and commercially available sour beer. Ronda is working towards a BJCP (beer judge) certification and starting up a group for female craft beer enthusiasts in Hong Kong (rad!). I liked everything about the brewery from the beers to the ambience to the people, and I was such a fangirl that I even left with a sweet Young Master zip-up that I've been rocking here in Oz. 

Oh yeah, I'm supposed to talk about a beer. My favorite brew of the day was Yellow Mare Black Stallion / 驪黃牝牡. It was labeled an "imperial pilsner" – two words I had never heard together before. This lager was delicate but potent, and loaded with American hops (my first whiff of mosaic in 2017). Even though it was incredibly flavorful, I would never have guessed the ABV was over 6% (7.1% in fact); it went down real smooth. 

A tasting room separated from the brewery by a few barrels. Good vibes.

A tasting room separated from the brewery by a few barrels. Good vibes.

Ashley & Ronda, the ladies of Young Master Ales.

Ashley & Ronda, the ladies of Young Master Ales.

The pairing:

Xia long bao is a delicate flower; there’s a reason Tsing Tao & Kirin pair so well with it – the beer makes the soup broth shine. I want to mess with this classic pairing only slightly. The Yellow Mare is crisp and drinkable but packs a punch (7.1% ABV, 150+ IBU). It's flavorful for a pils but still restrained, and won't overpower that melt-in-your-mouth fantastic soup dumpling. DTF doesn't carry craft beer (yet), but a girl can dream.

Pilsner + Dumbpling: A match made in heaven.

Pilsner + Dumbpling: A match made in heaven.

2. Cheung Hing Kee Truffle Dumpling & Black Kite Oh Bacon! Raucbier

The Dumpling:

Cheung Hing Kee is a hole-in-the-wall street restaurant that specializes in shengjianbao, Shanghainese pan-fried soup dumplings. Pilsner is to stout, what xiao long bao is to shengjianbao. They're pork soup dumplings on steroids, with a thick, juicy skin and a crispy fried underbelly. These dumplings require motor dexterity and full attention. I was fully covered with pork broth after our dumpling session, in a state of savory, finger-licking dumpling nirvana. Cheung Hing Kee also has a truffle dumpling option that is fantastic if you don't have to, you know, move for the next few hours. Break one open and you can see the black truffle in the filling. Beautiful. An order of four of these Michelin star dumplings will run you $3.60 USD, about the price of Happy Meal at Macca's (sorry I'm an Aussie now). 

Nik's patented stare as he contemplates ordering from Cheung Hing Kee, Hong Kong. 

Nik's patented stare as he contemplates ordering from Cheung Hing Kee, Hong Kong. 

Truffle dumpling. I REPEAT, truffle dumpling from Cheung Hing Kee. Photo from  Will Fly For Food.

Truffle dumpling. I REPEAT, truffle dumpling from Cheung Hing Kee. Photo from Will Fly For Food.

The Beer:

Just around the corner and up 11 floors (!) up from Young Master is Black Kite Brewing. Dan and Dave are the founders, brewers, and owners of Black Kite, named for the birds of prey that can be seen all over the city. The brewery doesn't have an official tasting room per se, but if you send them an email they'll give you a tour of the brewery and let you taste some beers straight from the brite tank. Turns out they are quite enjoyable to drink beers with, so they've chosen the right profession. Dan and Dave have perfected the Oh Bacon!, a raucbier made with Beachwood smoked malt. It's big and bacony, yet surprisingly light and curshable – my kind of beer. As we were leaving we were asked, "Do you want a bacon beer roadie?" and that's when I knew I wanted us to be best friends.

Dan, Dave, and I tasting brews at Black Kite. They've learned from and taken over for their former German head brewer Johannes Lux

Dan, Dave, and I tasting brews at Black Kite. They've learned from and taken over for their former German head brewer Johannes Lux

Black kite brewery on the 11th floor. Apparently all of the fermentors were brought up the freight elevator, which caused quite a headache moving in. Since I had a hurt leg, I appreciated that the brewery was located in a small space. I could do the full tour from my seat.

Black kite brewery on the 11th floor. Apparently all of the fermentors were brought up the freight elevator, which caused quite a headache moving in. Since I had a hurt leg, I appreciated that the brewery was located in a small space. I could do the full tour from my seat.

The Pairing:

Bacon and truffles...what's not to like? The earthy, smoky quality of the smoked malt will highlight the black truffle, while the malty backbone of the beer will play beautifully off the pork. The beer is big enough to stand up to that thick charred dumpling skin, but not so heavy that it'll put you in a coma. Bonus: this is a pairing you could actually enjoy in real life! Go pick up a bottle of Oh Bacon! from Black Kite and an order of truffle dumplings to-go from the window at Cheung Hing Kee. BAM! A decadent, boozy, Michelin star meal for under 10 bucks. Even if this one doesn’t quite work, you just had beer, bacon, and truffles, so…you’re welcome.

3. Tim Ho Wan Cha Siu Bao and Young Master Ale's Cha Chan Teng Gose / 鹹檸酸啤

The dumpling:

I never met a BBQ pork bun I didn't like, but all dumplings I eat will be compared to this one. Tim Ho Wan is known as the cheapest one Michelin starred restaurant in the world (I guess because Cheung Hing Kee isn't technically a restaurant?). They're famous for their cha siu bao, or crispy BBQ pork bun. It's got deliciously sweet BBQ pork hiding inside a golden, lightly crunchy bun cave. And we really had to work to try this bad boy. My mom and I got a bit lost on our way to Tim Ho Wan, and doubled back a few times before we finally found it. Keep in mind I'm in a wheelchair at this point, so we had to navigate all kinds of sidewalks, roads, elevators, and escalators before finally making it to the basement level restaurant located in a transit station. Annnnd it was closed. Since it was so late we ended up just heading back and sitting in silence shame-eating microwavable dinners from 7-11. The next night we tried again and were victorious. Those sweet BBQ pork buns were all the sweeter for the blood, sweat, and tears we put in to the journey.

BBQ pork buns at Tim Ho Wan. Photo from  danielfooddiary.com .

BBQ pork buns at Tim Ho Wan. Photo from danielfooddiary.com.

The Beer:

I'm saying it, I think Young Master's Cha Chan Teng Gose / 鹹檸酸啤 is the best gose I've ever had. I love when you taste a beer that's brewed in a unique local style or with locally available ingredients. You won't find that beer anywhere else, and that's what it's all about. Young Master's gose is brewed with house-made preserved lime. In Hong Kong salted lime is traditionally served in lemon sodas at cha chan tengs (translates literally to "tea restaurants", ie restaurants where you are served tea upon arrival). You can really taste it in the beer. It's light and refreshing, with a delightful savory saltiness.

Salted lime at Young Master.

Salted lime at Young Master.

A few of Young Master's core beers, from left to right: Classic Pale Ale, Rye on Wood "Oaked" Rye Ale, 1842 Imperial IPA, Contemporary Pils, and Cha Chan Teng Gose.

A few of Young Master's core beers, from left to right: Classic Pale Ale, Rye on Wood "Oaked" Rye Ale, 1842 Imperial IPA, Contemporary Pils, and Cha Chan Teng Gose.

The Pairing:

I mean, c'mon, sweet and sour pork, this one writes itself. The saltiness of the beer is the perfect compliment to the sweet, candy barbecue pork. The light, effervescent gose plays well with the sweet and crunchy bun, while teasing out some of the more delicate notes in the pork (see I'm getting good at this). My mom can't take more than a few sips of tart beer, so I'm aware this might not be everyone's cup of tea. A solid alternate would be a nice porter or stout. Garrett Oliver waxes poetic about how toasty, carmelized malts can be a flavor hook to make sweet meats like BBQ sing. Moonzen is another up and coming Hong Kong brewery that has a porter with honey and espresso notes that just might do the trick. 

Can you tell I love Young Master Ales? Their name pays homage to old Hong Kong, referencing the 1980 film directed and starred in by Jackie Chan.

Can you tell I love Young Master Ales? Their name pays homage to old Hong Kong, referencing the 1980 film directed and starred in by Jackie Chan.

Rocking my Young Master hoodie on the beach with my Mom and Aunt Maggie in Repulse Bay, a 15 minute drive from Wan Chai.

Rocking my Young Master hoodie on the beach with my Mom and Aunt Maggie in Repulse Bay, a 15 minute drive from Wan Chai.

Mother and daughter on top of Hong Kong, matching head tilts and all.

Mother and daughter on top of Hong Kong, matching head tilts and all.

Thanks for indulging my craft beer and dumpling fantasy! Even if you can't necessarily try these pairings in real life (and therefor can't prove me wrong), enjoy my dumpling and craft beer bucket list for the next time you hit up Hong Kong:

Hong Kong Dumpling and Beer Bucket List

Finding Craft Beer In Hanoi

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Finding Craft Beer In Hanoi

Before arriving in Hanoi, I didn’t find out much in my research about the beer scene in Northern Vietnam, though one thing seemed clear – the Vietnamese love their beer. Vietnam has the third highest consumption of beer in Asia, behind only Japan and China. Imported wine and liquor is taxed heavily and there’s a ban on advertising spirits in Vietnam, so bia (beer) really is the affordable choice at well under a buck a glass. Rising incomes have also caused triple digit growth in beer consumption in the past 10 years, though it was unclear to me what percentage, if any, was craft or locally produced beer. I couldn’t find any online evidence of a craft beer community in northern Vietnam (Saigon is a different story). But I had this feeling that once I got to Hanoi and started drinking beers, I’d find my people. Just like world’s greatest hand model J.P. Prewitt once said, “if you pull at the thread, the whole thing will unravel.” Here’s my breakdown of the beer scene in Hanoi:

Skip to: Bia Hoi – Commercial Beer – German and Czech Microbreweries – Rice Wine – Craft Beer

Bia Hoi

Besides the constant barrage of motorbikes, the first thing I noticed about Vietnam were the tiny, brightly colored stools on every street corner filled with people drinking beer. And if it wasn’t Tiger or Bia Hanoi (mass-produced commercial beer), it was “fresh beer,” or bia hoi.

Bia hoi is a 3-4% light, straw-colored homebrew lager found in small shops and street corners all over Hanoi, accounting for about 30% of all beer consumed in the city. It’s brewed daily in small steel barrels, and may be the cheapest beer in the world at between 7,000 and 15,000 VND for a glass (about $0.25 - $0.50 USD). One of the many efficient and brilliant things about Hanoi is that similar shops are often clustered together geographically. Need pants? Check out pants street. Cleaning supplies? Christmas decorations? There’s a street for that! So while bia hoi is available all over the city, Bia Hoi Corner (on what I called “beer street”) seems to be the spot to grab a bia hoi, post up on a stool, and mingle with locals and other tourists. At night this area becomes the center of nightlife in the Old Quarter and is a rip-roaring good time. And while the taste of the clean, lightly carbonated bia hoi may be nothing to write home about, it’s incredibly refreshing on a hot day and it’s cheap enough that you can easily find yourself drinking it every day.

Where to Drink: Bia Hoi Corner (See Map)

Bia Hoi Corner:  20 Tạ Hiện, Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam.

Bia Hoi Corner: 20 Tạ Hiện, Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam.

Bia Hoi Corner by night. Recreational drug use is strictly prohibited in Vietnam and comes with very harsh penalties, though we saw locals all over the city inhaling nitrus oxide out of balloons aptly nicknamed "funky balls."

Bia Hoi Corner by night. Recreational drug use is strictly prohibited in Vietnam and comes with very harsh penalties, though we saw locals all over the city inhaling nitrus oxide out of balloons aptly nicknamed "funky balls."

Commercial Beer

The beer market in Vietnam is dominated by three companies: Sabeco Brewery (Bia Saigon, 333 beer), Vietnam Brewery Ltd. (Heineken Asia Pacific, Tiger), and Habeco (Bia Hanoi). In the north Bia Hanoi is fairly ubiquitous, while in Saigon – you guessed it – Bia Saigon reigns supreme. Bia Hanoi runs you about 25,000 VND (~$1 USD), while Tiger beer owns the “premium” beer market at a slightly higher price. As you can imagine, Bia Hanoi and Bia Saigon are your typical mass-produced and highly filtered light beers, though for some reason (maybe because I had like a billion of them) I preferred Bia Hanoi which has a slightly sweeter, maltier, and less metallic taste to it. Refrigeration is not a given in Hanoi, and it’s quite common for your beer to be poured over ice. I resisted this for a few days since I remembered the travel clinic warning me about ice made from local tap water, but I eventually decided that I’d rather get giardia then drink warm beer for a whole month.

I also don’t recall seeing a single Vietnamese woman drinking a beer in Hanoi, and I read later that according to the WHO under 2% of Vietnamese women drinks alcohol at all. I got some amused looks showing up to local establishments alone drinking beer, but overall people were overwhelmingly friendly and helpful in answering my questions about the local beverage scene.

Where to Drink: Literally anywhere

A rainbow of commercial beers available in Vietnam. from  City Pass Guide

A rainbow of commercial beers available in Vietnam. from City Pass Guide

Romantic boat ride for two at Tam Cốc with my date Halida, a commercial beer available in Vietnam.

Romantic boat ride for two at Tam Cốc with my date Halida, a commercial beer available in Vietnam.

German and Czech Beer Halls

One by-product of strong ties between Vietnam, the former GDR (East Germany), and Czechoslovakia seems to be beer. There are 15+ German and Czech beer halls in Hanoi (see the comprehensive list at beervn.com), typically offering imported Czech and German lagers at fairly high prices by Vietnamese standards, and a few styles of beer brewed on the premises.

My beer journey brought me to Hoa Viên Brauhaus, a Czech style beer hall offering imported beers like Pilsner Urquell and two Hoa Viên homebrew lagers, one light and one dark. Just over a decade old, the brewery was rated best of Hanoi in 2013. I had the Hoa Viên premium pils, and after a week of bia hoi I was pleasantly surprised at the mild hop bitterness and fruity, citrus tang that followed my first sip. The clientele appeared to be local businessmen and other white collar professionals, reflecting the 2-3x price increase of these beers over bia hoi.

Amused that I was taking photos of my beer, a group of Vietnamese men invited me to drink with them. While I spoke no Vietnamese and they spoke no English, a few beers break down all language barriers. Through a combination of gesturing and the Google Translate app, I gathered that they were a policeman, a lawyer, a businessman, and a construction worker (seemed a little made up, who are they the Village People? But whatever I’ll go with it). We spoke the international language of drinking game and I learned a few phrases that would be useful the rest of my time in Vietnam.

một, hai, ba, zo! - Cheers! Or literally: 1, 2, 3, cheers!

một trăm phần tram - 100%, as in drink 100%. When someone points to your beer and says it, you have to down the glass.

I love the communal feel of drinking in Vietnam. The next round would not be ordered until everyone finished their beers; it was peer pressure at its finest. My new friends also insisted on picking up my (not small) tab, one of many examples of generosity and hospitality I encountered in Hanoi.

Where to Drink: Hoa Viên Brauhaus (see map)

My new drinking buddies at Hoa Viên Brauhaus.

My new drinking buddies at Hoa Viên Brauhaus.

Drinking beer in Vietnam is always accompanied by beer snacks, typically salted peanuts. At Hoa Viên Brauhaus snacks were a perfect blend of Vietnamese and Czech. My favorite was this string cheese (?) that you dipped in hot sauce. FAN.

Drinking beer in Vietnam is always accompanied by beer snacks, typically salted peanuts. At Hoa Viên Brauhaus snacks were a perfect blend of Vietnamese and Czech. My favorite was this string cheese (?) that you dipped in hot sauce. FAN.

Rice "Wine"

I’m sick and tired of wine taking credit for alcoholic rice beverages. Unless I’m missing something, beer is any alcoholic beverage made by converting starches in a grain (eg. rice) into fermentable sugars. Anyway, like alcohol consumption in general, drinking rice wine seems to be a decidedly male activity, and is consumed out of small shot glasses, usually from a communal bottle. The style and quality of rice wine seems to vary widely, and is for the most part homebrewed. At Ray Quán we tried delightful flavored rice wines from green mango (not as much my style) to pink lemon (fire) while sitting on a small patio just a few feet from passing railcars. At our homestay in Mai Châu we had lovely coconut rice wine enjoyed scorpion bowl-style out of a communal pitcher with long straws. When asking for it at another not to be named establishment, we were served the beverage out of an old water bottle from the back room. After about two and half of days of heartburn and googling “can you die from Vietnamese rice wine,” I learned that yes, you should actually be very careful about where you consume rice wine as a tourist. Homemade rice wine can contain methanol and is linked to all kinds of scary outcomes. Luckily the treatment for severe methanol poisoning is ethanol (really), so I was preemptively treating myself for most of Vietnam. 

Where to Drink: Ray Quán (see map)

Ray Quán's patio is just a few feet from passing freight trains, photo credit:  HanoiVietnam.fr

Ray Quán's patio is just a few feet from passing freight trains, photo credit: HanoiVietnam.fr

Vietnamese Craft Beer

Just when I had given up on finding craft beer in Hanoi, the group of 15 backpackers we had slowly collected in our #Vietfam decided to get a large Airbnb together for Christmas. This brought us out of the Old Quarter and into what I dubbed “Hipster Hanoi,” the beautiful area around West Lake that was a hub for the (mostly government) expat community.

Nik, Danny, and I (in matching banana outfits of course) along with the rest of our #Vietfam on the roof of our Airbnb before Christmas dinner. Side note: Hanoi is a surprisingly festive place for Christmas! There was even a whole street (we nicknamed it Christmas Village) dedicated to selling Xmas decorations.

Nik, Danny, and I (in matching banana outfits of course) along with the rest of our #Vietfam on the roof of our Airbnb before Christmas dinner. Side note: Hanoi is a surprisingly festive place for Christmas! There was even a whole street (we nicknamed it Christmas Village) dedicated to selling Xmas decorations.

I had made a note to check out a place called Furbrew in this area, a beer bar that showed up on Google maps but not much place else. I walked in on Christmas day with Nikola and we found out that Furbrew is a full blown microbrewery with a 3 barrel system and 10 rotating taps. Thomas, the Danish owner and former homebrewer, set me up with a flight (why not try all ten?) and gave me the lowdown on the craft beer scene in Vietnam.

Hanoi seems to be a few beer years behind Saigon, the business and commercial capital of Vietnam, which has received some recent press for its craft beer renaissance. Thomas credits Baretts as the first craft beer player in Hanoi a few years ago (in 2014? Don't remember, those high ABV beers hit me hard after weeks of bia hoi). Then came Furbrew, and most recently C-Craft Corner, right down the street from Bia Hoi Corner. So far they’ve primarily seen business from the expat community, but Thomas acknowledges that to continue to expand they will have to do more to attract the local Vietnamese population. His goal is not to bring a European style of brewing to Hanoi, but to help build a new wave of Vietnamese craft beer that highlights local traditions and ingredients. It’s clear talking to Thomas that he thinks they are on the verge of something big, and I have a feeling that if I were to come back to Hanoi in a year, the number of breweries will have blown up.

Ok, back to the beer. I first got excited about Asian flavors in beer when homebrewing with Korean inspired ingredients for an Amuse Booze supper club dinner. We made a brown ale conditioned on toasted black sesame seeds that was a crowd favorite, and I was surprised that I couldn’t find any other homebrew recipes online that leveraged Korean ingredients. Furbrew’s beer confirms my prediction that Vietnamese flavors and ingredients would go excellently in beer. While I have to imagine that exotic hops are difficult to get in Vietnam, exotic ingredients are not in short supply. My three favorite beers from Furbrew were:

1. Dồng-Hương (7.3% ABV, 35 IBU, translates to "countrymen"): A Boston IPA made with local Vietnamese rose. It had a smooth malty backbone and an overwhelming floral nose; a bit perfume-y, but not in a bad way.

2. Cà Phê Bia (10.6% ABV, 21 IBU, translates to "coffee beer"): I lost my shit when I saw that Thomas made Vietnamese coffee (cà phê trứng) into a milk stout. I've waxed poetic about this coffee in a previous post, but Thomas was able to capture the liquid tiramisu goodness while still creating a dry and not overly sweet beer.

3. Lemongrass wheat ale (5.7% ABV, 52 IBU): This beer spoke to the brunch + barry's Marina girl in me. Tasting it my mind immediately went to wheatgrass and a freshly cut lawn (putting my Somm hat on here). It was slightly tart, insanely crushable, and gone within minutes when I brought it back to the house.

The board at Furbrew. When I asked Thomas why he named the brewery Furbrew, he pulled down the collar of his shirt and pointed to his chest hair. "It was my nickname as a homebrewer, and it just kind of stuck." 

The board at Furbrew. When I asked Thomas why he named the brewery Furbrew, he pulled down the collar of his shirt and pointed to his chest hair. "It was my nickname as a homebrewer, and it just kind of stuck." 

All ten Frubrew beers plus a cameo by Nikola's tropical SSBD.

All ten Frubrew beers plus a cameo by Nikola's tropical SSBD.

In addition to serving me delicious beer Thomas sent me on my way with a few growlers to share at Christmas dinner and a couple more craft beer spots to add to my Hanoi Beer Bucket List (see below).

The Hanoi Beer Bucket List: Where to drink beer in Hanoi

1. Bia Hoi Corner: The place to try bia hoi, a light (3-4%), cheap homebrew lager. 

2. Hoa Vien Brauhaus: One of the highest rated Czech beer halls offering imported pilsners and two homebrew lagers. 

3Ray Quán: A delightful place to end the day with flavored Vietnamese rice wines. 

4. Furbrew: A microbrewery and tasting room offering ten rotating taps. A flight of all ten beers costs 120k VND, or about $6.00 USD. The area that it's in (Tay Ho) also has a lot of restaurants that serve Vietnamese craft beer. We spent Christmas eve dinner at Cousin's, which I would describe as a very nice "Western Fusion" restaurant.

5. C-Craft Beer Restaurant: C-Craft is a fairly new operation that appears to be locally owned with seven beers and one local cider on tap, including an ale aged in whiskey barrels. I didn't make it here on this trip, but it's top of my list for next time.

6. Standing Bar: A great bar right on West Lake to try craft beer from northern and southern Vietnam. Their tap list includes Furbrew and Barretts as well as beers from Saigon including Pasteur Brewing, Phat Rooster, Platinum brewing, Te Te Brewing, and Fuzzy Logic. It's also a beautiful place to watch the sunset with a brew.

7. Hằng Vui Craft Beer Restaurant: I didn't make it here (it's a bit out of the city), but apparently this is the place to try Barretts beer, the first craft beer player in Hanoi.

8. Hanoi Ale House: A craft brew pub that seems to have a strong local following and hosts lots of events. They have a great local tap list as well as other surprises like Delirium Tremens from Belgium and a house homebrew adorably named Homie.

9. Hanoi Social Club: Of NYT 36 hours in Hanoi fame, Hanoi Social Club is really more of a cafe, but they serve Pastuer St. beers and delicious cocktails. It's worth a stop if you need somewhere to unwind with a beer or do some work in the Old Quarter. You can also use your credit card here (crazy!).

10. A Taste of Hanoi Craft Beer Tour: A Hanoi craft beer tour led by two Aussies (of course). It seemed a little expensive to me ($60-70 USD for 5 hours, 4 stops, and 12 beers), however they have a great trip advisor reviews and it looks like you stop at many of the places I listed above if you want to knock several off the list in one night.

Looking for more Hanoi? check out my photo journal highlights of Hanoi or my liquid love letter to this fine city. Want to learn more about beer in Saigon? Shockingly, I've boozed there too. Know any I missed? Let me know in the comments.

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