In the first edition of our Community Interview Series, we visit Saigon Craft, which to us is Phu My Hung’s best Craft beer pub, the owners Matthew and Thuy are passionate about craft beer! They select only the best craft beer from in and around Saigon. The team at Saigon Craft are always looking for new and interesting styles and flavors and work closely with the brewers to find something for everyone…. whether it is a big hoppy IPA or wheat beer and everything in between. With over 24 craft beers on tap and a selection of bottled ones, they are confident they can find a beer that suits your taste buds and compliment it with some great food created by their talented kitchen team.
Why did you decide to move to Vietnam?
After spending the last 10 years working and living in Asia I found that Vietnam was a fantastic environment to live in; great weather, great food and great people. I found it easy to live and do business. I had been making furniture here for a couple of years so had made some friends and very fortunately met my future wife at a friends wedding… so making a move to Vietnam was not a difficult decision.
When did you become interested in Craft Beer?
My previous job had me spending a great deal of time in Southern California and of course exposed me to some great craft beers. Prior to craft beer coming on the scene beer in the US and New Zealand had been pretty ordinary at best, so having dozens of new and interesting craft beers to try was a revelation.
Why did you decide to open Saigon Craft?
After returning from my US trips I found that the old Tiger 333 and Saigon Special just didn’t cut it any more so we went in search of local expats experimenting with craft beer. One Sunday afternoon we came across the newly opened Craft Beer bar in D2 and finally we found a craft beer bar similar to the US style. As We drove home to District 7 my wife looked at me and said,”You know, we could do that, its too far from D7 to D2 to go for craft beer ”. So that was the beginning and we decided to not only offer craft beer but great food as well.
How have you seen the craft beer scene develop since you opened?
Even though its only been just over a year, there have been a number of changes. I think that the brewers are getting more experimental and creating even better quality brews. They are also more professional in their approach to the market. Customers are becoming more discerning also, they know what they like and how they like it served.
Why do you think craft beer is becoming so popular in Vietnam?
Traditionally as with many countries worldwide the markets have been dominated by industrial beer companies. The beer is mostly light lagers and pilsners with little taste and very little differences between the main players. Craft beer has opened up a whole new world of taste to the people. Rather than having to choose from a mere handful of lagers, there are now up to 75 craft beers available covering all types of beer styles and flavors. Beer drinkers can now experiment and find the beer that best suits them.
If you were going to suggest a craft beer for someone who has never tried it, which would you suggest?
I would suggest Tropic Thunder Lolo’s Pilsner. Its a great gateway to craft beer. The beer is brewed exclusively for us to introduce craft to new customers. It has enough hops to give the craft taste but not so bitter that the inexperienced palate will be shocked. We get many newbies looking to try craft beer and after a few visits, they start to experiment with our full range of 24 beers on tap and bring their friends in to introduce them to different beers.
Do you ever have live music or special events at Saigon Craft?
Yes, of course we have a great selection of events happening every week. Mondays is Burger and a Beer, Tuesdays is our popular quiz night from 8pm, throughout the rest of the week we have various deals and combos going on. Friday and Saturday are usually busy nights and we frequently have live music events catering for westerners, Korean and Vietnamese crowd.