This blog documents my attempt to drink a beer from every country in the world and every state in the United States.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Country #19: Vietnam

Beer: Hue Beer

Brewery: Hue Brewery, Hue, Vietnam

ABV: 5.0%

Take a look at the tag on the inside of your shirt. I’ll bet you 10,000 dong it was made in Vietnam. Maybe it was made in El Salvador or Bangladesh, but the idea is the same: low-tech manufacturing has largely shifted from China to a slew of other countries like Vietnam, where labor is somehow even cheaper and labor laws somehow even worse.

Now take a look at the inside of your fridge. I’ll bet you ONE MILLION DONG you don’t have a beer in there made in Vietnam. This has nothing to do with cheap labor or geopolitics or anything. It’s just that Vietnamese beer is kind of hard to find and doesn’t taste very good.

This dong has a Ho on it.
Though you’re not likely to find them at the supermarket or the average corner store, there are actually three brands of Vietnamese beer that I know are available in my neck of the woods: Saigon Export, 33 Export, and Hue Beer, the latter of which I recently tried. Just like Saigon and 33, Hue is also obviously an export, or a beer made specifically to be shipped overseas: just look at that vaguely Chinese-ish font they use! I doubt that many Vietnamese people are going to think “oh, how exotic” and pick up a six pack of the stuff because of that. Besides, the font is meant to evoke the calligraphic strokes of Chinese characters, but the written Vietnamese language instead uses the Latin alphabet with a buttload of diacritical markers to indicate different tones. It looks like this, which I think we can agree is far more "exotic":

The photo on the left was taken by an Australian soldier in the Vietnam War. There were Australians fighting in the Vietnam War? Apparently.
The cleverly named Hue Beer is made in the central Vietnamese city of Hue (pronounced HWAY) by the Hue Brewery. According to the bottle, the brewery is located “by the Perfume River,” which, unlike probably every other river in Southeast Asia, actually smells good. Hue Beer smells just like any other beer, but because it is made mostly with rice, it has a much dryer taste than most lagers. I wasn’t a big fan of this one, though it was certainly inoffensive, and certainly tastes better than this more famous Vietnamese libation. I bet it would go well with a spicy dish from this hilariously named eatery.

Don't find this funny? Then you probably don't know how to pronounce the (delicious!) national dish of Vietnam.

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