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It Was Only A Matter Of Time Before Vietnam Came Up With Pho Craft Beer


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Jacky Gillard



When it comes to Vietnamese cuisine, one dish that stands out is pho. This aromatic and flavorful noodle soup is beloved by locals and tourists alike, known for its rich broth, tender meats, and fresh herbs. But what if we told you that pho has now made its way into the world of craft beer?


Vietnam’s craft beer scene has been experiencing a rapid rise in popularity in recent years, with microbreweries and brewpubs popping up across the country. Craft beer lovers can now find an array of unique and innovative brews, from fruity IPAs to creamy stouts. And it was only a matter of time before someone decided to merge the traditional flavors of pho with the artistry of craft beer.


Pho, which originated in Northern Vietnam in the early 20th century, is typically made with a beef or chicken broth flavored with aromatic spices like cinnamon, star anise, and coriander. It is then served with rice noodles, thinly sliced meats, and a variety of fresh herbs and condiments like lime, bean sprouts, and basil. The combination of these ingredients creates a harmonious balance of flavors that is both comforting and satisfying.


The fusion of pho and craft beer may seem unconventional at first, but it taps into the creativity and innovation that defines the craft beer industry. By incorporating the distinct flavors of pho into the brewing process, brewers are pushing boundaries and offering beer enthusiasts a unique drinking experience.


In the following sections, we will delve into the fascinating world of pho craft beer and explore the brewing process, the flavors it offers, the growing popularity, and the challenges it faces. Get ready to embark on a flavorful journey that combines the best of Vietnamese cuisine with the art of crafting beer.


The Rise of Craft Beer in Vietnam

Vietnam’s beer culture has long been dominated by mass-produced lagers such as Bia Hanoi and Saigon Beer. However, in recent years, the craft beer movement has taken hold and brought a wave of innovation and creativity to the Vietnamese beer scene.


The craft beer revolution in Vietnam can be traced back to the early 2010s when a handful of pioneering individuals started experimenting with brewing their own beer. These early craft breweries faced challenges such as limited access to quality ingredients and a relatively small consumer base. However, their dedication and passion for quality beer fueled the growth of the industry.


Today, Vietnam boasts a vibrant craft beer scene with numerous breweries and brewpubs spread across the country. These establishments have become popular destinations for beer enthusiasts who seek a diverse and unique beer-drinking experience. Craft beer has gained a strong following among both locals and expats, with a growing demand for new and exciting flavors.


The rise of craft beer in Vietnam can be attributed to several factors. First, the increasing urbanization and globalization of Vietnamese society have exposed people to different beer cultures and expanded their tastes and preferences. Vietnamese consumers are now more open to trying new flavors and exploring a wider range of beer styles.


Second, the craft beer movement aligns with the growing interest in local and artisanal products. Consumers are becoming more conscious of where their food and beverages come from and are increasingly seeking products that are made with care and quality ingredients. Craft beer provides an alternative to mass-produced beers, offering unique flavors and a sense of craftsmanship.


Furthermore, the younger generation in Vietnam is embracing the craft beer trend. Millennials, in particular, are drawn to the novelty and experience that craft beer provides. They value the story behind a beer, the creativity of the brewers, and the sense of community that comes with visiting craft breweries and engaging with like-minded individuals.


The craft beer movement in Vietnam has not only brought new flavors and experiences to beer lovers but has also contributed to the local economy. Breweries are supporting local farmers by sourcing ingredients like malt and hops domestically, creating a more sustainable and self-sufficient brewing ecosystem.


With its rapid growth and increasing consumer demand, the craft beer industry in Vietnam shows no signs of slowing down. As more breweries continue to experiment with unique and bold flavors, it is an exciting time for beer enthusiasts in Vietnam and a testament to the growing passion for craft beer in the country.


The Origins of Pho

Pho, the iconic Vietnamese noodle soup, has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the early 20th century in Northern Vietnam. Its origins can be traced to Hanoi, the capital city, where it was initially a street food staple among the working-class population.


There are several theories about the exact origins of pho, but it is widely believed to have been influenced by both Chinese and French culinary traditions. The Chinese brought noodles to Vietnam, while the French introduced beef and pho’s key flavoring ingredient, the bone marrow.


The word “pho” is believed to have come from the French word “pot-au-feu,” which refers to a traditional French beef stew. Over time, the dish was adapted to suit local tastes, and the Vietnamese version of pho emerged as a distinct culinary creation.


Pho typically consists of a clear broth made from simmering beef bones, onions, ginger, and a blend of fragrant spices such as cinnamon, star anise, and cloves. The broth is then poured over rice noodles and topped with thinly sliced beef or chicken. Traditionally, it is served with a plate of fresh herbs, lime wedges, bean sprouts, and chili, allowing diners to customize their pho according to their preferences.


This humble street food quickly gained popularity and spread throughout Vietnam. It became a staple in Vietnamese households and later found its way into restaurants, both in Vietnam and around the world. Pho’s simplicity and versatility have contributed to its enduring appeal, making it a beloved dish that represents Vietnamese culture and cuisine.


Pho has become more than just a bowl of soup; it is a symbol of heritage and national pride. It is a dish that brings people together, whether it’s for a quick breakfast, a satisfying lunch, or a late-night meal. Pho has transcended its origins and has become a global phenomenon, delighting taste buds and captivating food enthusiasts everywhere.


The popularity of pho has also led to various regional variations. In the south of Vietnam, pho tends to have a sweeter and spicier flavor profile, while in the north, the broth is typically lighter and more delicate. These regional differences reflect the diverse culinary landscape of Vietnam and highlight the importance of local ingredients and traditions.


As pho continues to spread its influence around the world, it remains deeply rooted in Vietnamese culture, evoking memories of family meals, bustling street stalls, and the comforting aromas of simmering broth. It is a dish that encapsulates the heart and soul of Vietnam, inviting people to savor its flavors and experience the warmth and hospitality of Vietnamese cuisine.


The Fusion of Pho and Craft Beer

As the craft beer movement gained momentum in Vietnam, brewers began exploring innovative ways to create unique and exciting flavors. One such avenue of experimentation led to the fusion of pho and craft beer, bringing together two beloved symbols of Vietnamese culture.


The idea of combining pho and beer might seem unconventional, but it taps into the creativity and curiosity of craft brewers who are constantly pushing the boundaries of flavor profiles. By infusing the distinct aromas and flavors of pho into the brewing process, these brewers aim to create a truly unique drinking experience.


The fusion begins with the careful selection of ingredients that mirror the elements of a traditional bowl of pho. This includes using spices commonly found in pho, such as cinnamon, star anise, and coriander, to flavor the beer. The brewing process involves infusing these spices at various stages, allowing the flavors to meld with the malt and hops.


Some brewers take it a step further by incorporating additional pho-inspired ingredients. This could involve adding rice to the beer to mimic the rice noodles in pho or using herbs like basil and cilantro to create an aromatic and refreshing twist.


The result is a beer that captures the essence of pho, with a delicate balance of savory and aromatic flavors. The subtle hints of spices and herbs provide a unique depth to the brew, creating a sensory experience that pays homage to the beloved noodle soup.


One of the fascinating aspects of the fusion of pho and craft beer is the opportunity to pair it with actual pho dishes. Just as wine is paired with specific foods to enhance flavors, pho craft beer can be enjoyed alongside a steaming bowl of pho, further elevating the dining experience.


The fusion of pho and craft beer is not only a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of Vietnamese brewers but also represents the evolving nature of craft beer around the world. It showcases the ability of beer to transcend traditional boundaries and explore new flavor territories.


As with any innovative concept, the fusion of pho and craft beer has garnered both excitement and curiosity. It has become a conversation starter, inviting beer enthusiasts, and food lovers alike to step out of their comfort zones and try something truly unique.


While it may not be the first choice for purists of either pho or craft beer, this fusion is a celebration of the rich traditions and culinary exploration that define Vietnamese cuisine and the craft beer movement. It highlights the intersection of cultures and the incredible potential for creating new and unexpected flavors.


Whether you’re a fan of pho or a craft beer enthusiast looking to expand your palate, the fusion of pho and craft beer offers a truly unforgettable drinking experience that embodies the spirit of innovation and the joy of discovering new tastes.


The Brewing Process of Pho Craft Beer

The brewing process of pho craft beer is a delicate and intricate endeavor that requires skill, creativity, and a deep understanding of both brewing techniques and the flavors of pho.


At its core, the brewing process of pho craft beer follows the traditional steps of brewing any craft beer. It begins with the selection and milling of high-quality malts, which provide the base for the beer’s flavor and body. Brewers may choose to use a combination of different malts to achieve the desired characteristics.


Once the malts are selected, they are mixed with hot water in a process known as mashing. This step allows enzymes in the malt to convert starches into fermentable sugars, creating the foundation for fermentation and flavor development.


After mashing, the liquid, known as wort, is separated from the solid grains through a process called lautering. The wort is then boiled and hops are added at various intervals to impart bitterness, aroma, and flavor to the beer. Depending on the desired style of beer, different hop varieties and quantities may be used.


Here is where the fusion of pho flavors comes into play. While the wort is boiling, brewers can incorporate pho-inspired ingredients such as spices like cinnamon, star anise, and coriander. These ingredients not only infuse the beer with the characteristic flavors of pho but also add a unique twist to the brewing process.


After boiling, the wort is cooled and transferred to a fermentation vessel, where yeast is added. Yeast consumes the sugars in the wort and converts them into alcohol and carbon dioxide. This fermentation process can take several days to weeks, depending on the style and desired flavor profile of the beer.


Once fermentation is complete, the beer is often conditioned and aged to allow flavors to further develop and mellow. This step helps create a smooth and well-rounded finished product.


The final step in the brewing process is packaging the beer for distribution and consumption. Pho craft beer is typically packaged in bottles or cans, ready to be enjoyed by beer enthusiasts who are eager to experience the unique flavors and aromas it offers.


The brewing process of pho craft beer requires not only technical expertise but also a deep appreciation for the flavors and nuances of pho. It is a testament to the artistry and creativity of craft brewers who strive to push boundaries and create beers that surprise and delight.


Each batch of pho craft beer is an experiment in itself, with brewers constantly tinkering with ingredients and techniques to refine and perfect the fusion of pho flavors with the craft beer. It is a labor of love that results in a truly special and one-of-a-kind drinking experience for beer aficionados and pho enthusiasts alike.


The Unique Flavors of Pho Craft Beer

Pho craft beer offers a truly distinctive drinking experience, with a flavor profile that captures the essence of pho while maintaining the characteristics of a well-crafted beer. The infusion of pho-inspired ingredients and spices during the brewing process creates a harmonious balance of flavors that sets it apart from traditional craft beer styles.


One of the key elements that makes pho craft beer stand out is the presence of aromatic spices commonly found in pho, such as cinnamon, star anise, and coriander. These spices infuse the beer with warm and fragrant notes, reminiscent of the familiar spices that define a bowl of pho. The subtle hints of these spices add complexity and depth to the beer, creating a multidimensional flavor profile.


In addition to the spices, brewers may also incorporate other pho-inspired ingredients to enhance the unique flavors of the beer. This could include the use of rice, mirroring the rice noodles in pho, or the addition of herbs like basil and cilantro to create an herbal and refreshing twist. These ingredients provide a burst of freshness and a nod to the vibrant flavors found in a bowl of pho.


The balance of savory and aromatic flavors is another hallmark of pho craft beer. The brewers carefully craft the recipe to ensure that the beer retains the desired level of savory notes without overpowering the palate. This delicate balance allows the flavors to shine through while still maintaining the characteristics of a well-crafted beer.


The unique flavors of pho craft beer offer an intriguing complexity that lingers on the taste buds. Each sip reveals layers of flavor, from the initial warmth of the spices to the subtle sweetness and the refreshing herbal undertones. The combination of these flavors creates a sensory experience that is both familiar and adventurous.


Pairing pho craft beer with food can further enhance the tasting experience. Just as wine is paired with specific dishes, the flavors of pho craft beer can complement and elevate the flavors of various Vietnamese dishes, including, of course, a bowl of pho. The savory and aromatic qualities of the beer can accentuate the richness of the broth and the herbs, creating a harmonious symphony of flavors.


It’s important to note that the unique flavors of pho craft beer may not appeal to everyone. It is a niche style of beer that caters to adventurous drinkers seeking new and unconventional flavor profiles. However, for those open to the experience, pho craft beer offers a truly memorable and engaging drinking journey.


Whether you are a fan of pho or an enthusiast of craft beer, exploring the unique flavors of pho craft beer can be an exciting and immersive experience. It’s an opportunity to savor the familiar tastes of Vietnam’s beloved noodle soup in a completely unexpected form. So, raise a glass of pho craft beer and embark on a flavor adventure that merges the art of brewing with the essence of Vietnamese cuisine.


The Growing Popularity of Pho Craft Beer

Pho craft beer has been steadily gaining popularity within the craft beer community and beyond, captivating the taste buds of beer enthusiasts and food lovers alike. Its unique fusion of flavors and the intriguing concept of combining pho and beer has sparked curiosity and excitement, leading to its growing presence in the craft beer scene.


One of the reasons for the increasing popularity of pho craft beer is its ability to offer a unique and memorable drinking experience. Craft beer enthusiasts are constantly seeking new flavors and experiences, and the infusion of pho-inspired ingredients provides just that. The distinctive aromas and flavors of the spices and herbs used in pho create an intriguing complexity that sets pho craft beer apart from traditional beer styles.


The growing interest in Vietnamese cuisine and culture has also contributed to the rise of pho craft beer. Vietnamese food, including pho, has gained significant global recognition and has become a favorite among food enthusiasts. With the fusion of pho and craft beer, consumers are able to experience the flavors of Vietnam in a new and exciting way, combining the familiarity of pho with the innovation of craft beer.


Breweries that specialize in pho craft beer have become destinations for beer lovers seeking unique and adventurous brews. These breweries often offer a range of pho-inspired beers, allowing consumers to explore different flavor profiles and find their favorite variation. The experience of visiting a pho craft beer brewery goes beyond just tasting the beer; it offers a chance to learn about the brewing process, interact with knowledgeable brewers, and immerse oneself in the culture and story behind each beer.


Social media has played a significant role in the growing popularity of pho craft beer. As people share their experiences and discoveries on platforms like Instagram and Facebook, the buzz around pho craft beer spreads rapidly. Photos of beautifully crafted beers, tantalizing descriptions of flavors, and recommendations from influencers and fellow beer enthusiasts have fueled the curiosity and intrigue for pho craft beer.


The demand for pho craft beer has not only been limited to consumers within Vietnam. Craft beer enthusiasts around the world are increasingly curious about and eager to try unique and experimental brews from different cultures. The international reach of craft beer has allowed pho craft beer to gain attention and recognition in the global beer community.


As the popularity of pho craft beer continues to grow, breweries are pushing the boundaries of innovation and creativity, leading to the development of even more diverse and exciting flavors. The fusion of pho and craft beer has become a symbol of the ingenuity and passion within the craft beer industry, and its rise in popularity showcases the evolving tastes and preferences of beer drinkers worldwide.


With its ability to captivate the senses and offer a truly memorable drinking experience, it’s no surprise that pho craft beer is carving out its own unique place in the craft beer landscape. Whether you’re a beer enthusiast looking to try something new or a food lover curious about Vietnamese flavors, pho craft beer offers a delightful blend of tradition and innovation that is sure to leave a lasting impression.


The Challenges and Criticisms

While pho craft beer has gained popularity and intrigued beer enthusiasts, it has not been without its fair share of challenges and criticisms. The fusion of pho and beer is a unique concept that has sparked conversation and debate within the craft beer community and beyond.


One of the main challenges faced by pho craft beer is the delicate balance of flavors. The infusion of pho-inspired ingredients, such as spices and herbs, can sometimes result in a beer that is overpowering or unbalanced in its flavor profile. Achieving the perfect blend of pho flavors without overwhelming the beer can be a difficult task for brewers. It requires skill, experimentation, and a deep understanding of the complexities of both brewing and the flavors of pho.


Critics argue that the fusion of pho and craft beer may be seen as a gimmick or a novelty, lacking the authenticity and purity of traditional craft beer styles. They believe that the unique flavors of pho may overshadow or dilute the core principles and craftsmanship that define craft beer. Some argue that it strays too far from the traditional beer-making process and takes away from the focus on the ingredients and techniques that have been refined over centuries.


Additionally, there are concerns about cultural appropriation and respect for Vietnamese culinary traditions. As pho is a beloved and iconic Vietnamese dish, some critics worry that the fusion of pho and beer could be seen as a disservice to the cultural significance of pho and the craft of Vietnamese cuisine. It is important for brewers to approach the fusion with sensitivity and respect, acknowledging the origins and cultural context of pho while striving to create a unique sensory experience.


The limited availability of pho craft beer is another challenge. While its popularity has been growing, it is still a relatively niche style of beer that may not be widely accessible outside of specific breweries or regions. This limited availability can make it difficult for beer enthusiasts to try and appreciate the unique flavors of pho craft beer.


Despite the challenges and criticisms, it is important to recognize that the fusion of pho and craft beer represents the constant evolution and experimentation within the craft beer industry. Brewers are driven by a desire to create new and exciting flavors, pushing boundaries and sparking conversations about the possibilities of beer. Pho craft beer serves as a catalyst for exploring the intersection of culinary traditions and brewing innovation.


It is essential for brewers and consumers alike to engage in open and respectful dialogues about pho craft beer, addressing criticisms while appreciating the creativity and exploration it represents. By embracing feedback and continuing to refine the process, brewers can find the sweet spot where the distinctive flavors of pho and the craftsmanship of a quality beer intertwine harmoniously.


As with any novel and experimental concept, pho craft beer may not be embraced by everyone. However, for those who are open to the experience, pho craft beer offers a unique and adventurous journey, inviting beer enthusiasts to step outside their comfort zones and explore uncharted territories of flavor.


Ultimately, the challenges and criticisms faced by pho craft beer serve as opportunities for growth, refinement, and further exploration. By actively addressing concerns, brewers can continue to innovate and create craft beers that push boundaries, challenge perceptions, and provide truly exquisite drinking experiences for those seeking something beyond the traditional.



The fusion of pho and craft beer represents a captivating combination of Vietnamese culinary traditions and brewing innovation. Pho craft beer has emerged as an intriguing and unique style within the craft beer landscape, captivating the palates and imaginations of beer enthusiasts around the world.


The rise of pho craft beer has been fueled by a growing interest in both craft beer and Vietnamese cuisine. Its ability to offer a truly distinct and memorable drinking experience has attracted adventurous beer lovers and food enthusiasts alike. The infusion of pho-inspired ingredients, such as spices and herbs, creates a flavor profile that is both familiar and adventurous, evoking the aromatic and savory qualities of a traditional bowl of pho.


While pho craft beer may face challenges and criticisms, such as concerns about balance, authenticity, and limited availability, it represents the creativity and innovation that define the craft beer industry. It pushes boundaries and sparks conversations, inviting beer enthusiasts and critics to explore the possibilities of flavor and expressiveness in brewing.


Pho craft beer serves as a testament to the love for pho, the rich culinary heritage of Vietnam, and the passion of brewers who seek to create unique and memorable drinking experiences. It offers a new lens through which to appreciate the flavors and traditions of Vietnamese cuisine, inviting beer enthusiasts to savor the essence of pho in a whole new form.


As pho craft beer continues to grow in popularity, it is important for brewers to approach the fusion with respect, acknowledging the cultural significance of pho and the craft of Vietnamese cuisine. Open dialogues and feedback from consumers can help in refining the flavors and techniques, ensuring the fusion stays true to its heritage while pushing the boundaries of brewing.


In conclusion, pho craft beer represents the ongoing evolution and exploration within the craft beer industry. It invites beer lovers and food enthusiasts to embark on a flavorful and adventurous journey, bridging the gap between tradition and innovation. Whether you’re a fan of pho, a craft beer enthusiast, or simply curious about new tastes, pho craft beer offers a unique and immersive drinking experience that celebrates the best of both worlds.