First-time visitors to Hanoi will be pleasantly surprised by the burgeoning local beer scene. Every year there are new craft brewpubs opening, offering fresh, interesting flavors. But there’s also amazing experiences to be had beyond the bars, including at a few well-known coffee shops. Below is a handful of the more unique beer experiences to be found in and around Hanoi.
Here are some of must-try local beer in Hanoi, Vietnam, in no particular order:
1. Enjoy Egg in Your Lager at Cafe Giang
Nguyen Van Giang opened a coffee shop in 1946. When milk was scarce, he experimented with whipped chicken egg yolks in place of creamer. The flavor caught on. Though the current shop is at a different locale, the egg coffee recipe has been virtually unchanged since. Over the years, Mr Giang experimented with other beverages, turning Cafe Giang into “Egg-In-Your-Drink” Central. Yes, today you can enjoy egg coffee, egg cocoa, egg Coke, egg matcha, and more. And, of course, egg beer, or Bia trứng.
If you order an egg beer, you’ll receive an unopened can alongside half a glass of frothy egg crème, so you get to mix your own. The taste is surprising with the egg adding a sweetness that’s not overpowering. Think of it as beer meets creme brûlée.
Do note that as the original home of egg coffee, the cafe gets super crowded with tourists and locals alike. Still, it’s worth a quick stop for the experience of egg in your beer—or rather, beer in your egg.
- 39 Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Lý Thái Tổ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội
- Hours Daily 7:00 AM – 10:30 PM
2. Finish off a Phở Beer at Furbrew
With the number of micro brewpubs expanding yearly, new flavors pop up constantly, adding in local flavors like dragonfruit, kumquat, and lemongrass. It was just a matter of time before someone made a phở beer. Yes, what’s more Vietnamese than phở, the national food? But rather than a newcomer to the scene making it perhaps as a gimmick beer, it’s produced by one of Hanoi’s oldest independent craft brewers, Furbrew. And you know what? It works.
The beer mimics the savory sensation of phở, adding in a slight honeyed flavor. It’s not spicy but you’ll find a hint of chili pepper. If you’re not convinced, come during happy hour when you can order three small glasses of beer for 120K VND (~$5.15), and you don’t have to take them all at once. Meaning if you make the first one a phở and you like it, you can make the next one a phở too. And maybe the one after that.
- Beer Pub: 52 Đường Tô Ngọc Vân, Quảng An, Tây Hồ
- Beer Garden (The 100): 68/238 Âu Cơ, Quảng An, Tây Hồ
- Hours Daily 4pm-Midnight
3. Slither in to a Harry Potter Cafe for a Butterbeer
Next time you’re in Hogsmeade—er, Hanoi—make your way to Always, the Harry Potter-themed cafe offering eclectic concoctions alongside House banners, portraits of professors, and framed copies of the Daily Prophet. There’s a variety of coffee, tea, and juices, but naturally it’s the Harry Potter drinks you’ll want to sample. The menu features Polyjuice Potion, Felix Felicis, Butter Beer (with or without alcohol), and even a “Goblet of Fire.” I’ll try that the next time, as this time I went with a Butter Beer of course.
The Butter Beer is pretty sweet, topped with a head that’s more whipped cream than beer foam. so not something you’ll be ordering more than one of. Think of it as a dessert beer, if that’s a thing. Still, it’s worth a slow sup, perhaps while the family plays a long round of Harry Potter monopoly.
Whether you’re witch or wizard or merely muggle, at Always you can pull on a Hufflepuff robe, pick up a wand, and say “Accio Butter Beer!”
- 8B Hàng Tre, Lý Thái Tổ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội
- Hours Daily 8:00 AM – 11:00 PM
4. Quaff some Crickets at 7 Bridges
Now here’s a beer you might not find too many places. At the 7 Bridges Taproom, you can order up a pint of Cricket Porter, made with “high quality cricket protein.” Yes, actual crickets.
No, I didn’t see a sign indicating that “No crickets were harmed in the making of this beer.” but if you are concerned about animal life, know that your beer helps fund anti-poaching efforts in Vietnam. 15K from each glass goes toward equipping rangers in the Cuc Phuong nature reserve as they seek to protect the critically endangered pangolin. You can even pick up a “I Drink Crickets, I Save Wildlife” t-shirt. But just make sure to enjoy an ice cold glass of cricket first.
7 Bridges Brewery is headquarters in Da Nang in Central Vietnam. In Hanoi you can pick up 7 Bridges craft beer on tap at Pizza 4P’s ,Trang Tien & Ly Quoc Su, The Fat Pig, and Container Craft Beer. You can also find their beers in Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Hoi An and Phong Nha.
- 104 Xuan Dieu, Quảng An, Tây Hồ
- Hours Daily 4:00 PM – 12:00 AM
5. Imbibe the Bia hơi, available just about everywhere
Not quite as unique as the others, given that you can find this all over Hanoi and surrounding cities, but bia hơi is such an essential part of local beer culture that no self-respecting list of unique Hanoi experiences would be complete without it.
You can find thousands of bia hoi stalls around Hanoi, but one spot you can’t miss them is Ta Hien, the so-called “Beer Street” in the Old Quarter. The street is less than 800 feet long but thousands of people gather nightly on tiny plastic blue and red stools sipping (or chugging) bia from the ubiquitous bluish glass tumblers (all of which are made by hand in the small village of Xoi Tri).
Bia hơi is fresh. It’s made daily with no additives/preservatives, and so has to be consumed within 20 hours of brewing. Plus, the beer is light on alcohol content (generally maxing out around 3%), so you can down several 10-ounce glasses without becoming impaired. So saddle up to a stool and order yourself one of the cheapest beers in the world (10,000 VND per glass, $.40-45 US). Or order several.
- “Beer Corner” Intersection of Tạ Hiện and Lương Ngọc Quyến
- Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội
Naturally there are other unique experiences to be had in Hanoi, including a few “hidden” bars that might be best stumbled upon (without the benefit of hints or spoilers). So we encourage you to get out and explore all that Hanoi has to offer. But these five choices make a great start for any Unique Beer Bucket List.