If you order a draught beer at Chôm Chôm, you’ll probably be given a choice of an intriguing Jasmine IPA, a Passion Fruit Wheat Beer or another seasonal brew, they’ll all be delicious and they’ll all be from Pasteur Street Brewing Company, Vietnam’s first and largest craft beer brewery. We caught up with Brandon Watts and the brewing team to talk inspiration, ethos and future.
What is “Pasteur Street”, and why did you decide to name the company after it?
Pasteur Street is named after a main road that runs through the middle of District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City. Our original tap room is in an alley off the street.
How did PSBC start out, and how has the ethos developed?
Our co-founder John Reid had been in Vietnam for six years when he got the idea to open a brewery that served better beer than what was available locally. After a tour of breweries in the U.S., he met Alex Violette, our original brew master and co-founder. After bringing Alex to Vietnam, they explored the country, collecting ingredients and ideas for locally sourced beers. With the abundance of tropical fruits and spices available, this process was pretty easy. We pride ourselves in putting a little Vietnamese flavour or style into every beer. After three years and 23 upgrades to our brewery, we’re now the largest craft brewery in Vietnam. Not only do we serve beer to the majority of the country, we now export beer to multiple other countries around the world.
What’s special about the Vietnamese ingredients that you add to the recipe?
We were one of the first craft breweries in the country. Since then about nine others have opened, starting the Vietnam craft beer boom. Some of the ingredients that we use are only found in Vietnam. With the tropical climate and diverse regions, ingredients for fermenting into beer are very abundant.
There are so many interesting flavours on offer that aren’t usually associated with beer – where did the inspiration come from?
That is part of what gave our founders the idea of starting a brewery. There are no right or wrong things to add to beers, you just have to taste it until you get it right. Sometimes certain flavours do not work, but majority of the time our brewers can tell what style certain ingredients will lend to in the finished beer. The beer that we made with durian fruit was probably most unique. Most brewers and employees didn’t love it, but many locals came in just to try it!
Any ingredients you’d like to incorporate next?
We have recently developed beers using dragon fruit, pomelo, tea and chilli peppers. A few more new ingredients are in the works, but I can’t give away all of our secrets…
You mentioned a ‘craft beer revolution’ in Vietnam – where do you see this going?
Beer has been a major part of Vietnamese culture, but unfortunately it has always been light lager often served with ice. Having better choices when it comes to beer not only allows the palate to expand, but also gives the perfect complement to the various styles of food. We currently employ about 50 Vietnamese staff and that will double before the year ends. The brewing industry in Vietnam is only going to grow with locals and the expanded tourism.