East West Brewing Company – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The brewing process in Vietnamese.

Recently, I had to the chance to visit Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam with my father.  He has worked there on and off for decades.  One of the breweries he told me we had to check out was East West Brewing Company.  East West Brewing Company is Ho Chi Minh City’s first in-house craft brewery located in the heart of District 1. Delivering bold and authentic flavors using the freshest and finest quality ingredients from the East to the West.  Their mission is to artfully craft high quality beer that everyone can enjoy and foster integrity in everything they do. Authenticity and innovation are the core foundations for the flavors in every handcrafted beer that they brew.  It begins with the search for flavor of discovering the perfect balance of taste and aroma. They integrate both European and New American brewing traditions, along with the brewing styles of Eastern cultures.

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The cool thing about East West Brewing Company is that their Head Brewer, Sean Thommen, has Portland, Oregon, USA roots.  Sean has had over 15 years of combined experience with crafting, from homebrewing to professionally brewing. He studied in Chicago and Germany in brewing science, and began brewing professionally for over 10 years in the city of Portland, Oregon, USA.  Sean is extremely excited to share his extensive brewing knowledge and is dedicated to advancing the craft beer culture here in Vietnam.

With a population of over 10 million, Ho Chi Minh City is one of South East Asia’s fastest growing cities in conjunction with being Vietnam’s largest and most electrifying city. It brings life and vitality into foreign backpackers, travelers, expats, and all those who settle here.  A crowded, lively, bustling, and booming city barely scratches the surface of describing the city that is the heart of Vietnam – Ho Chi Minh City.

Love their logo.

Here is what we tried:

  • Far East IPA – The Far East IPA takes an international route. This full-bodied India Pale Ale is loaded with malt, hops, and yeast from all over the world. From aromatic American centennial hops to New Zealand’s tropical Nelson Sauvin hops, this beer provides a beautiful inter-pacific aroma that is enjoyable all year round.
  • Saigon Rose – This crisp and light bodied wheat ale contains a refreshing acidity and luscious fruit forward profile of fresh raspberries. Pink rose hues and berry perfumes, the Saigon Rosé delivers a crisp, clean, and subtle sweetness that is perfect for any occasion.  Hands down my favorite beer that we tried.  I also heard a rumor that my sister-in-law also loved it.
  • Modern Belgian Blonde – Deceivingly strong, with aromas of bold bouquets from the Belgian yeast and unique blend of hops, Far East Brewing Company present to you their Modern Belgian Blonde. Malts provide a strong foundation, while balancing the medley of pilsner, pale, and wheat hops. An infusion of Vietnamese palm sugar provides a contemporary twist to this Belgian classic.
  • Coffee Vanilla Porter – Their Coffee Vanilla Porter uses a unique cold press coffee blend designed to compliment the robust character of the beer. The interplay of deep roasted malts and Vietnamese coffee are perfectly married, while the addition of vanilla contributes layers of decadence. It is truly smoothness in a glass.

Have you been to East West Brewing Company?  Or Ho Chi Minh City?

Turtle Lake Brewing Company – Hanoi, Vietnam

It’s been about three years since I’ve been to Hanoi, Vietnam.  This time, I was in Vietnam for a five day motorcycle ride with two amazing girlfriends.

Three girlfriends, five days in Vietnam, lifetime of memories.

In celebration of completing our ride, the minimal blood loss and the fact that we were all still going to be friends, we decided to check out a new brewery that opened up in 2017, Turtle Lake Brewing Company.  Billed as Vietnam’s newest Craft Brew Pub, offering a great range of premium craft beers all brewed on site.  It was a massive complex, with a great view of the water and some shade to rest post-ride.

Turtle Lake Helmet Boy Saison

Here is what we tried:

  • Turtle Lake Helmet Boy Saison – Citrus and spice with orange peel, coriander and ginger.  Locally sourced ingredients with notes of banana, cloves with a crispy finish.  8% ABV and 11 IBU.  This was hands down my favorite beer that we tried.  I loved that it has local ingredients!
  • Turtle Lake Head Up Red Ale w/ Kumquat – Citrus and malty with kumquat, notes of dark fruits and raisins.  8% ABV and 23 IBU.
  • Turtle Lake Hanoi Garden – American wheat ale beer style, fruity and wheat flavor, Cascade hops.  4% ABV and 6 IBU.  This was my second favorite beer of the night.  I had a full pint of this because it was so good.
  • Turtle Lake Ho Tay VPA – Pine forward full bodied with Amarillo, Citra, and Saarz hops.  Aromatic at 5.6% ABV and 22 IBU.
  • Turtle Lake Mango Smoothie – Perfect combination of real mango juice and vanilla flavor, lacoste sugar also makes the beer have a sweet aftertaste.  7.2% ABV and 23 IBU.  This is actually a beer – not a smoothie, which confused some people in our group…

Turtle Lake Brewing Sample

Have you ever been to Turtle Lake Brewing in Hanoi?  Or any other breweries in Vietnam?

Pac 12 Football

Ashley and I at a UO Basketball Game.

Another thing I love about the fall is college football season (Go Ducks)!  Being from Portland (and having a younger brother that is a UO graduate) I’m a big fan of Pac 12 Football fan (Go Ducks!) and the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!)  In this spirit, I’ve decided to highlight the top brews for each of the Pac 12 schools.  These would make two awesome six-pack gifts if anyone is going to a tailgate party anytime soon.

Arizona State University, Tempe: Four Peaks Brewing: Hop Knot “American malt and American hops crafted with a bold pioneering American spirit.  Hop Knot gets its name from weaving five different hops introduced at seven separate intervals during the brewing process including our cavernous hop-back which gets so stuffed with the whole leaf hops that we feel genuine guilt for its’ excess.  Hop Knot is the color of a golden ale but the bitterness of a fine pale ale and the hop aroma of a IPA.”

Oregon State University, Corvallis: Block 15: Aborigninale “The first original big beer brewed at Block 15, Aboriginale has quickly become a house favorite. Brewed with an artistic blend of seven malts and three hops. Deep chestnut in color with an interesting complex malt body. A dry hop dose of Fuggles provides a fresh earthy nose.”

Stanford University, Stanford: Birkenhead Brewery: Black Snake “This Birkenhead creation consist of brandy, Stout and Honey Blond ale. Black snake is just like Africas most dangerous Black mamba, it will give you a bite you will not forget in a hurry. If you thrive on FEAR be afraid, be very afraid. 10 % alc vol.”

University of Arizona, Tucson: Thunder Canyon Brewing: Warhead Stout “Russian Imperial Stouts were originally brewed for export to the Royal Court of Russia where they were enjoyed by Catherine the Great.  Ours has a rich intense maltiness with black currant, toffee and dark roasted malt flavors.  The higher alcohol content is sure to warm you up from the inside out.”

University of California, Berkeley: Triple Rock Brewing: Titanium Pale Ale “Smooth and Malty with a medium body. Well balanced by a blend of Pacific Northwest hops. Finish is long and satisfying.”

University of California, LA: Eagle Rock Brewery: Revolution Extra Pale Ale ‘Extra Pale Ale (XPA) is a variation on American pale ale–bright and refreshing with a substantial hop presence. Light-gold in color, Revolution XPA’s subtle malt backbone and medium body balance it’s hop bitterness. Dryhopping delivers big hop aromas with the essence of nectar fruit, citrus, and freshly cut grass. As these assertive flavors recede a hint of bready malt rounds out the finish.  Bitter never tasted so sweet!”

University of Colorado, Boulder: Asher Brewing Company, Greenade Organic Double IPA “Our hops obsession has paid off.  Not for the faint of heart, or the faint of palette, the fantastic Greenade Double IPA should come with a warning label: “prepare for taste bud attack.”  The hop dominant yet smooth and creamy taste will surely blow you away.  With a 9.0% ABY, the alcohol intensity of this brew is undeniable, however this only adds to the complex flavor and is balanced perfectly with citrus and floral hop aroma.  Handle with care!”

University of Oregon, Eugene: Ninkasi: Total Domination IPA “Total Domination has a citrusy, floral hop aroma, and big hop flavor balanced with a richness imparted by Carahell and Munich malts. This beer is a big flavorful Northwest IPA that maintains its drinkability, and as such has garnered great admiration from the novice craft drinker and the seasoned hop head alike.”

University of Southern California, LA: Golden Road Brewing: Wolf Among Weeds IPA “This beer is a balanced showcase of the majestic hop specie, in Latin, Humulus Lupulus, which translates “Wolf Among Weeds”.  It is the first beer to be canned in our Custom IPA series, which celebrates California’s enthusiasm for hop-forward IPAs.  At 8%, Wolf will sneak up on you from behind the fresh pine sap and tropical fruit notes mirrored in its aroma and flavor profile.”

University of Utah, SLC: Uinta Brewing: Cutthroat Pale Ale “Malts and hops mingle harmoniously. Toasty caramel and molasses notes. Slightly fruity. Finishes dry and is highly refreshing. Because Cutthroat is a versatile beer, you can enjoy it with a variety of flavor profiles: spicy, bbq, burgers, wings, Mexican.”

University of Washington, Seattle: Elysian Brewing Company: Manic IPA – Valhalla “Fill your horn with this hoppy red IPA of pale, Special B and just a pinch of roasted barley, bittered with Sorachi Ace and finished with rare Citra hops.”

Washington State University, Pullman: Paradise Creek Brewery: Hopocalypse Imperial Black IPA “As black as dark matter and hopped to a volatile level with a backing of scorched-earth roastiness, the Hopocalypse will intensify your appreciation for the cascadian black indian pale ale.  We didn’t just jump on the Black IPA bandwagon, we created a special brew so intense it tears at the fabric of the universe.”

Did you catch that I selected “tough” sounding beer names? What about you, like college football?  Who are you rooting for?  What would “their” beer be?

Ecliptic Brewing + Modern Times Cosmic Collaboration – Pineapple Hazy IPA

Pineapple Hazy IPA

Ecliptic Brewing has teamed with Modern Times Beer for their next Cosmic Collaboration: Pineapple Hazy IPA!

I hate IPAs, they’re too bitter and gross. I know that’s it’s practically treason to not be an IPA fan in Portland, but I can’t help what my taste buds want! I went to try Ecliptic and Modern Times collaborative new beer out of duty more than interest.

I studied it clinically and found it visually pleasing, with an even haze and a perfect head. The smell had the classic pale ale hoppy bitterness scent but also a decent citrus aroma from the wonderfully absurd amount of pineapple that was brewed in the beer.

I steeled myself for the taste and was surprised to find it quite nice! A good seltzer level of fizz and the right amount of sweet sweet pineapple to balance the bitter hops.

I found it refreshing!  It had to be a fluke.

I had a bottle of it a week later and again found it well balanced and tasty!

I don’t know what’s happening to my taste buds, has this beer conformed me into another Portland IPA enthusiast?

John Harris, Ecliptic Brewing Owner and Brewmaster, hoped this collaboration would be a way of welcoming Modern Times to their Portland outpost. “I have enjoyed Modern Times Beer for a few years,” he says, “and when we learned that they were moving to town, I reached out to Jacob in San Diego to see if they were interested in teaming up.”

Hazy IPAs haven’t lost any momentum this year and in deciding what kind of beer to make the two breweries looked at ways to experiment with the popular style. John says, “I had mentioned pineapple with Mat Sandoval, Production Manager of the Belmont Fermentorium, when we were talking about what to make. Mat said we should definitely use Denali hops for their tropical qualities and almost pineapple like character.” The result is a Pineapple Hazy IPA brewed with Denali, Citra & Mosaic hops.

In addition to draft, this will be Ecliptic Brewing’s first release in 500ml bottles. According to Alaric Lawrence, Ecliptic’s Packaging Manager, “It’s an exciting time for us to step in a new direction with our packaged beer. Trends have shown that beer drinkers prefer bottles that are a true pint and easier to finish in one pour.”

About Ecliptic Brewing + Modern Times Pineapple Hazy IPA

Fresh pineapple coalesces with Denali, Citra & Mosaic hops for a citrusy, tropical party of astronomical proportions.

ABV 8.5%

About Ecliptic Brewing

Ecliptic Brewing is a venture from John Harris, an Oregon beer icon whose background is steeped in the state’s rich craft brewing history. The name Ecliptic unites Harris’ two passions: brewing and astronomy. As such, the brewery celebrates the Earth’s yearly journey around the sun through both its beer and restaurant menus. Executive Chef Michael Molitor rotates his seasonally inspired menu every six weeks in accordance with the old-world calendar. Harris’ signature beers include Starburst IPA, Orbiter IPA, Carina Peach Sour Ale and Capella Porter. For more information, visit: www.eclipticbrewing.com.

Has anyone tried the Pineapple Hazy IPA?  Please let me know what you thought of the beer.

Full disclosure:  Ecliptic provided me with two bottles of this beer.  That being said.  I loved it like I mentioned above 🙂

Zupan’s Markets Partners with pFriem Family Brewers to Introduce Sixth Beer in Farm-to-Market Series

Zupan’s Markets has partnered with Hood River’s pFriem Family Brewers to release the sixth Farm-to-Market beer in its private label line. This Northwest style IPA is inspired by the summer season and packed with notes of papaya, ripe melon, and honey. Perfect to pair with casual summer fare such as fish tacos, burgers, and fries.

“Zupan’s Markets is excited to continue to bring our customers exclusive beer creations in partnership with the best local craft breweries,” said Zupan’s Markets’ President and CEO Mike Zupan. “pFriem continues to be a leader in craft beer innovation and together we have created the perfect summer IPA.”  

This IPA is currently on shelves at all three Zupan’s Markets locations in 16.9ml bottles for $5.99. With only 125 cases produced, it will be on shelves only for a limited time.

“Zupan’s is a quality and flavor driven grocer,” said Josh Pfriem, Founder of pFriem Family Brewers. “We value their continued partnership, along with their dedication to bring customers exciting food and beverage choices.”

Profile: ABV 6.5%, IBU 45
Malts: Rahr Pale Malt Thomas Fawcett Malted Oats, Flaked Oats 
Hops: Citra, Denali, El Dorado, Oregon Amarillo
Yeast: American Ale
Tasting Notes: Illuminating gold body topped with fluffy white foam. Fruity aromas of Marionberries, watermelon, citrus, papaya, lychee fruit, and pineapple. Jammy flavors of cantaloupe, honeydew melon, blueberries, raspberries, and honey. Finishes tropical and jammy with a citrus zing.

About pFriem Family Brewers
pFriem Family Brewers (pronounced “freem”) is a Northwest and Belgian inspired 15-barrel brewery and tasting room in Hood River, OR. Founded in 2012 by Josh pFriem, Ken Whiteman and Rudy Kellner. Best known for artisanal beers influenced by the great brewers of Belgium while staying true to homegrown roots in the Pacific Northwest, pFriem craft brews are unmistakably unique in both flavor and balance. For more information visit www.pfriembeer.com, or onsite daily at 707 Portway Ave., Suite 101, Hood River, OR 97031.

About Zupan’s Markets

Founded by John Zupan in 1975, Zupan’s Markets is a local and family-owned gourmet market that has served Portland’s food-loving community for more than 40 years. Zupan’s Markets has three locations that focus on quality, selling everything from the best meats and wines to the freshest produce, baked goods, gourmet deli products, specialty foods, flowers and more, always emphasizing locally-sourced, artisan products when possible. For more information, visit www.zupans.com.

Zupan’s was nice enough to send me a sample of the beer, which honestly needs a name, something like Zest for Life or All About that Zymolytic Living.  I really enjoyed the beer.  I drank it straight from the bottle after chilling it in my fridge for a day.  It was a good, on the light side, flavored IPA, with mild hop notes and flavored fruitiness.  Would definitely pick up a few bottles the next time I’m at Zupan’s.

Have you tried this beer before?  What did you think?