We stand here in 2020 amidst a thriving Vietnamese craft beer industry that boasts over 30 different local breweries, many of those with their own Tap Rooms, convenience stores and supermarkets nationwide stocking craft beer cans and bottles on their shelves, and at least 1,000 bars, restaurants, and hotels that carry at least one craft beer option on their menu. Right here in Vietnam! All of this can be traced back to one beer and one place – Jasmine IPA at 144 Pasteur Street.
On January 2nd, 2015, Pasteur Street Brewing Company opened the doors to our first Taproom. We had four beers, brewed in tiny 50L batches, and some wild dreams. The beers were a Belgian Blonde, Vietnamese Wit, Coffee Brown Ale, and of course – our now signature Jasmine IPA. The dream was to create a global beer brand off the back of this 30 seat Taproom down a nondescript alley in downtown Saigon. The beer that would help us achieve this dream was a West Coast style IPA, brewed with Jasmine flowers from Sapa, in Northern Vietnam.
Those first few weekends at the Original Taproom were pretty heady – the word was out in the local expat community that there was craft beer in Saigon and it was GOOD! We were only open Friday through Sunday for the first month and a half and even then, Alex couldn’t brew the beers fast enough on the 50L Pilot System for three days worth of drinkers per week. We were rationing kegs per day so that we could remain open for at least the whole weekend but every day we were running out of beer and every day the first beer to run out was the Jasmine IPA! The other 3 beers changed weekly, as Alex was experimenting with different styles to test the local market and lurch towards something of a core lineup as three taps became six and then eventually six taps became twelve. The one constant through all of that was Jasmine IPA. This clean, balanced, citrusy IPA was such a delight for the senses. Craft beer enthusiasts and novices took to it with equal vigor. It was an undeniable beer and people were thirsty for it.
The owners at Ut Ut Quan, Pizza 4P’s, and Boathouse were all early movers in the craft beer scene and all wanted to get as much of our Jasmine IPA as possible in those early days. And once we upgraded our 50L system to a 400L brewhouse that we found, purchased, dismantled, moved down from Hanoi, and rebuilt in a 10 day period – we were more than happy to oblige! Even then, there was a lot of skepticism in Vietnam that craft beer was just a fad, that it was too expensive, or too pretentious, or the flavours were too bold or exotic. Nonsense. Do something well and with passion and integrity and the people will come.
Since then, we have seen major changes in the industry and the country itself – but the one constant in the Vietnamese craft beer industry has been Pasteur Street Brewing Company’s Jasmine IPA. More markets, more beers, more breweries, but the road was paved by one beer from one brewery that introduced Vietnam to how good a beer could taste and how popular a good beer could become. The Flagship. The Franchise. The Beer That Launched An Industry. Jasmine IPA. 4 Lyfe.