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Vietnam Beer: What You Need To Know in 2024

Vietnamese are among the biggest beer drinkers in Southeast Asia. In fact, by consumption, international beverage and hospitality firm, Kirin Holdings, found that Vietnam had the seventh highest beer consumption in the world after Germany but, notably, before the United Kingdom which was in position eight.

This preference for beer, coupled with Vietnam’s rapid economic development, has led to an evolution in Vietnam’s beer industry. Not only are big international brands setting up shop in this very-thirsty Southeast Asian nation but craft brewing is also beginning to carve out a piece of the beer consumption market and a place on the taste buds of Vietnamese consumers.

In this light, this article looks at Vietnam beer and Vietnam’s beer-drinking culture, its most popular brands, and the buying and selling of beer both domestic beer and beer from abroad.

Vietnam beer culture

Vietnam’s beer-drinking culture follows a similar structure to what can be expected in Western beer markets, however, with its own Vietnamese twists.

Pubs

Aside from Western-style pubs around key expat areas in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, pubs are not particularly common in Vietnam. There are, however, particularly in Hanoi, open-air beer drinking establishments known locally as Bia Hoi that serve as something akin to a local watering hole. These can vary in size from something like a beer hall to small street side stalls, with just a few tiny plastic chairs and a keg. Bia Hoi serve beer by the glass for a few thousand dong–about US$.50 cents.

Bars

Bars have become increasingly common in Vietnam as its affluent, young consumer glass continues to blossom. Tap beers are unusual at bars in Vietnam. Instead many will often have a selection of bottled craft brews, although that said, it’s more common among Vietnamese to drink high-end cocktails.

See also: How to Open a Bar in Vietnam 2024: Ultimate Guide

Beer clubs

Beer clubs sit somewhere between a bar and a nightclub, probably more toward the nightclub end. They are usually big hall-style venues with dancers and private booths and relatively expensive drinks. They also generally play house music at a volume that shows little concern for the fortitude of their patron’s ear drums.

Vietnam beer brands

Hanoi beer

Hanoi Beer Alcohol and Beverage Joint Stock Corporation, known locally as Habeco, owns the Hanoi Beer brand, or Bia Hanoi in Vietnamese. It also owns Truc Bach beer, named after the lake in Hanoi where US Senator John McCain touched down after his plane was hit during the Vietnam War. Habeco is listed on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange under the ticker BHN. As of December 2022, Habeco was 81.69 percent owned by the Vietnamese state.

Saigon beer 

Saigon Beer – Alcohol – Beverage Joint Stock Company, dubbed Sabeco, owns the Saigon Beer brands or Saigon Bia in its native Vietnamese. Sabeco was an arm of Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade, however, in 2016 it was officially listed on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange under the ticker SAB. It is currently majority owned–with 53.9 percent of the company–by the Vietnam Beverage Company which is wholly owned by Thailand’s Thai Bev. Of note, the Vietnamese state still has an interest in the company through the State Capital Investment and Business Corporation which owns 36 percent of the company.

Vietnam craft beer

Vietnam has several big-name, locally branded beers. However, in the past decade or so craft beers have become increasingly popular as access to key beer making ingredients has become easier and cheaper through Vietnam’s many free trade agreements. 

In recent years, Vietnam’s biggest cities have begun to develop their own unique craft beer scenes. In this section, we look at a few of the key players in Vietnam’s craft beer market in each of these cities.

Hanoi craft beer

Turtle Lake and Furbrew are two of the more well-known microbreweries in Hanoi. Both breweries are located in Hanoi’s Tay Ho district which is where a good portion of Hanoi’s expatriate population lives. This speaks to their clientele–high-salaried foreign workers and affluent Vietnamese–but also the relatively nascent state of the industry whereby it is still some way off entering Vietnam’s mainstream consumer market.

Ho Chi Minh City craft beer

Pasteur Street Brewing and Heart of Darkness are two popular craft breweries in Ho Chi Minh City. These two breweries have become well known in the region with the latter boasting a tap room in Singapore. With HCMC regarded as Vietnam’s most progressive city, it makes sense that the craft beer scene is probably Vietnam’s most advanced.

Danang craft beer

Also worth mentioning is Danang. Though the city is much smaller than both Hanoi and HCMC it still has an emerging craft beer scene. Brewery, 7 Bridges Brewing Company, started in Danang but now has tap rooms in Hoi An, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City. 

Foreign beer brands in Vietnam

A number of foreign beer brands have also entered the Vietnam market. But not only are they attempting to woo Vietnamese consumers they have also started brewing beer in the country as well. Two of the most well-known foreign beer brands in Vietnam are Carlberg and Heikieken.

Carlsberg

Carlsberg has been an active investor in Vietnam’s beer industry since 1993. Over the past 30 years, it has bought into some of Vietnam’s biggest brands like Habeco, and has bought others outright, like central Vietnam’s Huda.

Heineken 

Heineken entered the Vietnam market in 1991. It currently boasts six factories and 3,000 employees. The company currently has three factories in southern Vietnam, two in central Vietnam, and one in Hanoi.

Buying and selling beer in Vietnam

This section covers the logistics of buying and selling beer in Vietnam. This includes prices, taxes, distribution, and regulations.

Prices

The price of a beer in Vietnam can vary greatly. On the streets of Hanoi, a glass of tap beer can cost as little as VND 10,000 or about US$0.40 cents. At the local corner store, a canned beer or tinnie runs at about VND 20,000 to 30,000 or about US$0.80 cents to US$1.20. At bars, a beer can run quite a bit higher depending on how classy the bar is and what kind of beer. Craft beers, for example, in expat areas can cost anywhere between US$5 to US$10. 

Taxes

There are three key taxes that apply to beer. These are import tax, value-added tax, and special consumption tax.

  • Import tax: Beer imports come under HS code 22030099. All types of beer imported into Vietnam attract an import tax of 35 percent. This tax is detailed in Decree 26/2023/ND-CP.
  • Value-added tax (VAT): The VAT in Vietnam is 10 percent. This tax is detailed in  Law No. 13/2008/QH12. Basically, it is a consumption-based tax usually charged at the point of sale.
  • Special consumption tax (SCT): Vietnam’s SCT applies to a select number of luxury goods and services that could be perceived to have negative social impacts. Gambling, cigarettes, and alcohol among a number of others. Per the SCT beer attracts an additional tax of 65 percent.

Distribution

In Vietnam, beer generally comes in cartons or cases of 24, or as single units. Packs of six are not as common as they might be elsewhere in the world. Aside from entertainment venues, beer can generally be purchased at supermarkets, convenience stores, and most corner stores. Kegs are also available from the major beer suppliers, and in Hanoi, at the Habeco factory, beer can be purchased from the factory door.

In terms of imports, accessing key population centres is relatively easy. Vietnam’s biggest cities all have access to relatively big ports accepting goods coming in and shipping them out. There are also an abundance of logistics firms that can facilitate the movement of goods

Regulations

Making and selling beer in Vietnam is governed by the Alcohol Law.

Generally speaking, a person needs to be 18 years of age to buy alcohol in Vietnam. This is, however, is not always followed or enforced.

There is zero tolerance for drunk driving–Vietnamese drivers should have no alcohol in their blood at all. This is also not always enforced either, however, the authorities have of late become much more strict on drunk driving.

Bars, pubs, and retailers selling beer in Vietnam are required to have a licence. Details can be found here: Getting a Liquor Licence in Vietnam.

What’s next?

Vietnam beer is widely available in bars, clubs, corner stores, and supermarkets. This is in line with Vietnamese being among the biggest beer drinkers in Asia. But whereas cheap beer street-side has often been the go-to for a quick tipple, alongside Vietnam’s greater global integration, its beer culture has advanced too. Craft breweries now pockmark Vietnam’s biggest cities and more expensive foreign brands are appearing on supermarket shelves as well.

That is to say, Vietnam’s beer market is expanding and presents big opportunities for beer brewers, brands, and suppliers.

With this in mind, brewmasters interested in Vietnam beer and its beer market can best keep up to date with the market’s evolution by subscribing to the-shiv.

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