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Alcohol in Vietnam - Common Drinks and Legal Age

alcohol-in-vietnam

Drinking alcohol is popular in Vietnam that it’s virtually a part of the culture here. Saying that Vietnamese like beer is a massive understatement, we deeply love it. The act of drinking alcohol impregnates every fabric of society. Vietnamese drink alcohol on many occasions or even on no special occasion at all. Like many other countries in the world, Vietnam has a serious binge drinking problem. But we digress.

In Vietnam drinking alcohol is a tool of socialization with strangers, having fun with friends. One might say alcohol tastes better with companions. Vietnamese love drinking so much, they even have a word for it. The act of mass drinking with many companions is called "Nhau’’. Vietnamese are friendly people. They would love to share a drink or two with foreigners – tourists. If you came to Vietnam and wished to immerse yourself in this vibrant and drunken culture, feel free to have a look at our list of some alcohol in Vietnam. Maybe you can learn a thing or two about the drinking culture here.

Beer

In Vietnam, beer is not only used as a fun party drink but can also be used to make great dishes like tom hap bia (shrimp steamed with beer). Now find out your favorite brand of beer to drink or cook with.

Tiger Beer

Tiger Beer could be considered the national beer of Singapore. It is also among the most popular alcohol in Vietnam. It is a pale lager with 5% abv (alcohol by volume). The ingredients are selective. The barley is from Australia and Europe, the hops are from Germany and the yeast is from the Netherlands.

tiger beer

Bottles of Tiger Beer

Heineken

Another popular name, not just in Vietnam, but worldwide as well. Heineken is also a 5% abv pale lager. With its iconic look of the green bottle and red star, Heineken can be seen on many drinking tables in Vietnam. It is considered quite a premium beer here.

alcohol in vietnam heineken

Heineken is one of the most popular international beer brands in Vietnam

alcohol in vietnam sapporo

As of recently, more and more international beer brands are imported to Vietnam, such as Sapporo (Japan), Budweiser (Czech Republic), Corona (Mexico)

Saigon Beer

The company that brewed Saigon Beer was founded by a Frenchman in 1875. With the endearing name of "Saigon" Beer, this beer is quite beloved here in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and the South as a whole. There are 4 types of Saigon Beer.

alcohol in vietnam saigon special beer

  • Saigon Lager, which is nicknamed Saigon Xanh (Green Saigon) for the green logo. This pale lager has a 4.3% abv. The ingredients are malt, hops, grain.
  • Saigon Export, which is nicknamed Saigon Do (Red Saigon) for the red logo. This pale lager has the same ingredients as Saigon Lager but with a higher abv of 4.9%.
  • Saigon Special, which is also nicknamed Saigon Xanh or Saigon Lun (Short Saigon) for the green bottle. This beer has an abv of 4.9%. The ingredients are hops, 100% malt with no rice.
  • Saigon Gold encased in a glowing gold can. This 5% abv beer is the premium line of Saigon Beer. The ingredients are also hops and 100% malt.

alcohol in vietnam saigon beer bottles

Saigon beer is widely loved by locals and tourists

333 Beer

This beer is a product of the same company that brought us Saigon Beer: Sabeco. The abv is 5.3%. Coupled with the bitter taste, the beer can be quite strong.

alcohol in vietnam 333

333 is more popular among the older generation of Vietnamese

Hanoi Beer

Habeco – the brewing company that makes Hanoi Beer is founded in 1890. Saigon has Saigon Beer and Hanoi has Hanoi Beer. With its long history and of course the dignified name, Hanoi Beer has earned its spot as one of the most favored beers in Hanoi, appearing in any street stands, restaurants or family tables. Hanoi Beer has 3 lines.

  • Hanoi Beer, first introduced in 1992. The abv is 4.6%. It’s another pale lager with the same ingredients of malt, hops, grain, a basic beer that can be found anywhere in Hanoi.
  • Green Label Hanoi Beer, this product is marketed towards the Central Region, so its taste is engineered to fit the Central Region’s taste in beer. The abv is 4.2%
  • Hanoi Beer Premium, a beer that is said to be for the youth. It’s made by utilizing a new creative way to ferment yeast. This is a 4.8% abv pale lager.

hanoi beer

Bottles of Hanoi beer

Draught beer

Draught Beer or Bia Hoi is a fresh, unpasteurized beer; served straight out of kegs. This kind of beer is brewed daily for consumption. The abv content is low, around 3% and the price is quite cheap, less than VND 10,000 a glass. It’s perfect for refreshing yourself from the heat and yet not getting awfully drunk. Hanoi Draught Beer is arguably the most well-known draught beer in Vietnam.

alcohol in vietnam bia hoi

A glass of draught beer with some peanuts

Craft Beer

Vietnam has only had craft beer for 3 to 4 years ago. Despite that short period of time, the craft beer market here is booming. Growing from a niche market, craft beer here is slowly penetrating the mainstream consciousness. The taste of craft beer is inherently different from all the other commercial beer. There are also craft beers with fruity or flowery flavors.

Some craft beer brands to watch out for are: Platinum, Fuzzy Logic, Pasteur Brewing Co (these are the early players in the market), Tê Tê (European style), Heart of Darkness (Strong yet tasty), East-West Brewing Co (Fine beer and dining experience), Winking Seal, Rooster Beers, Lac Brewing Co (the new entries) and many more.

alcohol in vietnam craft beer belgo 1

Belgo is a nice restaurant with signature craft beer

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Liquor

With many other names such as Ruou Trang (White) or Ruou Gao (Rice), traditional Vietnamese rice wine is a common alcohol choice for many Vietnamese. It is made from grain. The origin of the rice wine is that it was a moonshine distilled in answer to an alcohol monopoly put on by the colonial government and remained popular to this day. The liquor is a very prominent drink in the Mekong Delta Region, appearing in almost every "Nhau" table and every important occasion. The abv is quite high, around 40%, so it sometimes can be used to make infused spirits and in cooking to clean off the stinky smell of meat and fish.

Ruou Nep (Glutinous Rice Wine)

Glutinous Rice Wine (or Ruou Nep) is a type of rice wine. It is made by fermenting glutinous rice with yeast. The color of this alcohol depends on the types of glutinous rice used. And depending on the different ways it could be prepared; the final product can be drunk as a liquid or eaten as a pudding. It is a tradition to drink Ruou Nep on May 5 (Lunar Calendar), which is the Doan Ngo Tet, also known as Parasite-killing Festival. It is based on an old belief that alcohol can kill parasites dwelling in your body.

alcohol in vietnam rice wine

Rice wine is Vietnam's national liquor, and depending on the type of rice and the agricultural scene in each region, the people develop their own regional version of rice wine

alcohol in vietnam rice wine 1

The color and texture of the liquor also vary depending on the type of rice and distilling method

alcohol in vietnam moc chau rice wine

Moc Chau rice wine

alcohol in vietnam mu cang chai

Mu Cang Chai rice wine

Ruou Mau Son

This liquor is traditionally made by the Dao people living in Mount Mau Son. It is distilled at an 800-1000m height above sea level. The special ingredients are freshwater procured from streams high up in the mountain and yeast made from 30 exotic mountain herbs.

alcohol in vietnam mau son

A stylish bottle of Ruou Mau Son

Ruou Can

This is a type of rice wine indigenous to the ethnic minorities in mountainous areas (Tay Nguyen for example). To make Ruou Can, the fermented grain is mixed herbs then stored in a big earthenware jug. People will drink straight from the jug using long tubes. One jug of Ruou Can is usually shared by many people. Ruou Can has a special role in the culture of many ethnic minorities. It is drunk when there are guests; when there are feasts, festivals, weddings, and generally all of the happy celebrations. The drinking of Ruou Can is then accompanied by music and dancing.

ruou can

Women consuming Ruou Can together

Ruou Ran (Snake Wine)

This drink is quite a horror show at first look. Snake Wine is brewed for medicinal purposes. The processes are making Snake Wine are: First removing the innards of the snake then cleanse the snake with alcohol. Next, the snake is stored in a mixture of ginger and alcohol for around 30 minutes to get rid of the pungent smell. Finally, the snake is then infused in a jar of grain wine. There are also methods of putting an entire living snake in a jar of grain wine. Beating snake heart and snake bile can be consumed individually with rice wine in a shot glass. Ruou Ran is believed to have many medicinal properties, like help improving digestive health or blood pressure.

alcohol in vietnam snake wine

Jars of snake wine

Ruou Ngam Thao Duoc (Infused Spirit)

There is a broad variety of infused spirits here in Vietnam. Many herbs are discovered to have great medicinal properties so they are often infused with grain wine. Some notable herbs are ginseng, mistletoe, licorice, cinnamon twigs, Indian mulberry, etc.

infused spirit

A wide assortment of infused spirits

Ruou Sim (Myrtle Wine)

This is a delicacy of Phu Quoc Island. It is a wine made from the fruit of the Myrtle tree. Sugar and the aforementioned fruit are the main ingredients. The fruit is quite special. The wine will taste marginally different than wine made from grape (in a good way). Its abv is 7.5%.

myrtle wine

Bottles of myrtle wine

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In Summary of Alcohol in Vietnam

There are many kinds of alcohol in Vietnam. To try them all would probably take you more than one or two days. Exploring them would be quite a spectacle, a daring experience. If you can come to Vietnam, many locals here are friendly enough to want to grab a drink with you. But remember one thing, the legal age in Vietnam is 18 years old. Meaning people under 18 can’t buy or legally drink alcohol. Now if you are an adult with an appetite for Ho Chi Minh City adventure and foods, beverages alike, we are happy to show you the way.

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Comments

Guest - Sonya Enderson on Thursday, 12 March 2020 13:16

I love trying new alcohol everywhere I go on my Vietnam trip. Not all tasted good though ^^ some were pretty strong, and some were not so nice to enjoy. But everything was worthwhile to have a taste of local wine making cultures. I'd recommend doing the same if you love wine

I love trying new alcohol everywhere I go on my Vietnam trip. Not all tasted good though ^^ some were pretty strong, and some were not so nice to enjoy. But everything was worthwhile to have a taste of local wine making cultures. I'd recommend doing the same if you love wine
Guest - Christina Edwards on Saturday, 19 October 2019 23:50

I don't think the Vietnamese requires an ID to by alcohol

I don't think the Vietnamese requires an ID to by alcohol
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