Founder, John Reid, lived in Vietnam for seven years before he had the idea to open a brewery in Saigon. On his trips back to his home country of America, John could not help but notice the success of craft beer. With the amount of breweries almost doubling from 2010 to 2014, it was impossible to ignore. From hoppy IPAs to heavy stouts, the craft beer revolution was taking off! Upon his return to Saigon, he was never able to find a beer that compared to the flavor or quality that he experienced in American breweries. John decided that, if he wanted to drink craft beer in Vietnam, he would just have to open a brewery to do so.
After creating a business plan for one of the country’s first American style craft breweries, Reid needed to find the right team to bring his idea to fruition. While he was a craft beer drinker, he did not know how to brew. So he took his business plan to America -specifically Colorado- and began the hunt for a brewing partner. It was in Boulder, Colorado that John met then Head Brewer of Upslope Brewing Company, Alex Violette. John was intrigued by a distinct Upslope beer; their “Thai Style IPA, “ which was a white IPA with basil, lemongrass, and ginger. This beer aligned perfectly with his plan and he had to meet the man behind the recipe. Upon meeting, the two talked about the brewery in Saigon and shortly after, Alex made the decision to move across the world and join in on the adventure.
The journey begins,
Once in Vietnam, John and Alex began to build the company from the ground up; starting with a location, name, and logo. They wanted a busy location that could attract travellers, expats, along with local Vietnamese. After a few hurdles and setbacks, they finally settled on the center of District 1 for their first tap room; 144 Pasteur Street. The historic street is filled with coffee shops, restaurants, and hotels while conveniently located next to the famous Ben Thanh Market. The decision to put the first taproom in such a well-known area also made the task of naming the brewery quite easy. The window of that first tap room became deeply significant to Reid and Violette. They had spent months sitting there working through the startup struggles of the company. This is why, when it came time to decide on a logo, the window was chosen to represent their brand.
Being one of the first of its kind in Vietnam proved to be challenging to the team. Licensing, design, construction, equipment shopping, and build out were all considerably more complicated than they originally thought. For example, Alex built the control panel for PSBC’s very first brewery on the side of a street while using a borrowed welder and motorbikes zooming by. While in hindsight, it is a period of time that everyone looks back on fondly, there were moments when the team thought they were in over their heads. In the end, the Founders found their groove and were gearing up to brew their first batches of beer in November of 2014.
Time to brew! In part two of the history of Pasteur Street Brewing Company we will go into more details about the first PSBC beers, the opening of the taproom at 144, how the team immediately realized they would need to expand production, and how they did it.