Bia Hoi – the Hanoi love affair continues

Your Vietnam correspondent’s post today combines both a Hanoi experience and the key botf focus – beer.

There are many locally brewed beers available, Bia Hanoi, Beer Saigon, Viet Ha, for example. All are owned by large, mostly overseas conglomerates. All are standard, largely bland, pale lagers. But the best beer in Hanoi is Bia Hoi.

It’s not that Bia Hoi is any better than these cans of el blando. They fact is its worse – water touched with a beer wand. Bia Hoi is brilliant because of the whole process.

Bia Hoi is brewed locally and carted round the city and delivered to local corner bars by motor scooter. Then each evening the locals gather to gossip and punch out gallons of the stuff. Sure there are better known locations, for example ‘Beer Corner’ is where hundreds gather at footpath bars on the corner of Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen streets in the old quarter. However, there are scores of corners where 2 or 3 bars are found (some may be just an old woman, a keg and a few kindergarten-sized stools) and the nightly phenomenon occurs.

Captain Hassall and your correspondent headed to Beer Corner rmentioned above and were not disappointed. Locals, with a smattering of tourists, lined the narrow streets on little plastic stools knocking back half pints at 5,000VND (30 cents Aussie) a pop. Just has to be done when in Hanoi.