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Published: March 1st 2008
Bia Hơi (Vietnamese fresh beer)
A glass of Bia Hơi (Vietnamese fresh beer) and some Mực Khô (dried squid) next to it. When drinking Bia Hơi, it's very tasty, if we also eat this dried squid. This shot was taken at a restaurant in Hanoi in a fawell party to a staff at my company.
Bia Hơi (Vietnamese fresh beer) appeared in Vietnam in the 1890s, after the secrets of brewing were introduced by the French. Just one place, the Hommel brewery, turned out the stuff, and it was a fairly modest enterprise employing just 30 workers capable of producing 150 litres a day. The beer was also sold bottled, but it was so expensive that it was only for the wealthy people.
After the French left Vietnam in 1954, the Hommel brewery was renamed the Hanoi Brewery. But the refreshing amber fluid still took a while to become popular, until the brewery hit on the novel idea of producing an instant draught beer known as Bia Hơi, literally translated as “fresh beer”.
The locals still didn’t think much of the drink; they preferred the traditional Vietnamese rice wine. Then the government clamped down on home production of spirits, and people began to realise that the legal alternative, Bia Hơi, made a refreshing, low-alcohol summer drink. It is now popular that Bia Hơi shops where the beverage is consumed provide one of the abiding images of northern Vietnam.
Bia Hơi is not merely a drink, it has become a whole culture and way
Bia Hơi corner
At the "Bia Hơi corner" which is the crossing of Tạ Hiền and Lương Ngọc Quyến streets in Hanoi's Old Quarter, two cyclos are passing by the Bia Hơi shops.
of life. There are some 3,000 Bia Hơi shops in Hanoi. Bia Hơi is cheap enough - only some thousands VND a glass at most, and considerably less in some places.
Foreigners too, both visitors and residents, have been seduced by Bia Hơi culture. In Hanoi, there is a famous "Bia Hơi corner" at crossing of Tạ Hiền and Lương Ngọc Quyến streets in the Old Quarter, which is a popular place for the western backpackers. Sitting on the pavement on a tiny plastic chair watching the world go by as evening falls, sinking a few glasses, coughing your guts up after trying "Thuốc lào" (rustic tobacco pipe) - it’s all a wonderful entertainment.
(source: the Timeout Guide) My other blogs about Vietnamese food and drinks Eating around Vietnam My favorite food in Hanoi "Phở" noodle soup - a feature of Hanoi Vietnamese seafood
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