So where did I stop... When a friend approached me to follow him for a Craft Beer conference, SEA Brew 2017, I jumped on the plane off to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. We departed on 16 Aug, but of course, just before take off at 0900hrs, we had to pay the good folks at "The World is Flat" owned by Tanuki Raw, @ Changi Airport T1 Lvl 2 Departure Lounge, and grab a fresh pint of Lost Coast's 8Ball Oatmeal Stout
We ran into another group that was attending the conference as well, as one of them donned a renowned craft beer brand tee shirt which we recognised off the bat. Our paths crossed couple of days later at the Networking sessions organised by SEA Brew. They have grown to be dear friends to this day and it is nice to know the industry peers helping one another out and discussing the growth of the industry as a whole. That was how we met Nigel and friends from Eastern Craft. They carry some of the coolest craft beer brands to hit our shores, such as FourPure Brewing Co. and Hitachino, just to name a few.
We landed and settled down around noon. Unpacked a little, and got straight down to business. We had set meetings with our guys from Rooster Ales, (formerly known as Phat Rooster). We were welcomed with open arms by Don and his pal Jason, at The Chicken Coop. As always, its nothing but good times with Don. A colourful character and always provides the best hospitality whenever we are in town.
Just as we were settling down for business, we ordered a flight of tasters. After which, we picked our favourites, and grabbed a pint each. Of course, that single pint somehow multiplied exponentially. Personally, I got hooked to their American Pale Ale. Having said that, this is where things get interesting. All of us had such unique palettes we each had a different favourite. Even my partner, Anand, preferred the Saigon Blonde (their signature recipe) the smoothest blonde ale we have tried.
The night went by in a blur. Don showed us around the new Hen House, which was shaping up to be a really quaint and convenient spot especially for the backpacker crowds that alight and board buses right in front the main street. We later went and dropped by Pasteur Street Brewing Co. before calling it a night.
Our second day there was the start of the SEA Brew conference. As I was stuck handling other matters back at the hotel, Anand, attended to sessions bright and early. Lots of topics were discussed and we spoke at length about those when we caught up for Lunch.
As the evening approached, we got dressed and headed out for the networking session that was held at East West Brewery. A serene ambience blankets you as you enter the grandiose door. You are greeted into a high-ceiling large area, with lots of open space and tables filled with locals and expats alike. It was bustling with a burst of life. A lot of people were dressed up, but some were dressed down. We proceeded to the 2nd floor where it was a roof top area for the guests of SEA Brew. We came in slightly earlier than was expected and managed to get a couple of shots.
1st Floor - Dining and Brewery
2nd Floor - Rooftop
As everyone got around and mingled, we tried a couple more beers and briefly fell in love particularly with East West's Pale Ale. Even though it was bottled, it still held its taste and felt really fresh to be honest. Even as I am typing this, I would not mind having it by my side. A fresh beer truly puts your salivary glands into overdrive.
East West Pale Ale - 6.0%
East West Brewing Company Decor
That night, we partied it up with a crew from Kingdom Brewery based in Cambodia. We went around to the different craft beer spots and even went and tried the local beers Vietnam had to offer, namely their 333 beer. Truth be told, Vietnamese food and beer combinations are countless. Some of the simple street food, such as boiled quail eggs, and washing it down with a can of their local beer also brought about a certain sense of nostalgia.
I must admit, it was daunting at certain times when you are meeting the industry professionals who have been doing it for years. Here I am, relatively new into the world of craft beers, and hanging out for 12-15 hrs at a go with the pros. And believe me, if you are not guided along on the type of craft brew you are drinking, you could find yourself pretty wasted early on in the day.
Thank God for me, I was well taken care of all the nights and was able to get up pretty early to get my day started. Let me update you guys on the third and last blog post about Days 3 & 4 and how we concluded the entire trip.
Till then.... Peace!