Bia hoi: fresh and cheap and sometimes half decent, sometimes well… just fresh and cheap. Served straight from the metal kegs into distinct bia hoi glasses, it’s an iconic Vietnamese drink.
After the French left Vietnam in 1954, the Hommel brewery was renamed as Hanoi Brewery. It actually took a while for this refreshing carbonated beverage to become popular, until the brewery hit on the novel idea of producing an instant draught beer known as “bia hoi”, literally translated as “fresh beer” or “gas beer”. Nevertheless, the locals still preferred the traditional Vietnamese rice wine. After the government restricted home production of spirits, people began to accept this legal alternative “bia hoi” as a refreshing, low-alcohol summer drink. Bia hoi shops are now very popular and seen as one of the long-lasting images of the Northern Vietnamese culture.
Not merely a drink, “bia hoi” has become a symbol for the Vietnamese culture and a way of life. Foreigners in Hanoi, including residents and visitors, have been seduced by “bia hoi” culture. Western backpackers tell each other about ‘bia hoi junction’ at the corner of Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen streets in the Old Quarter. Through word-of-mouth, travelers often share tips with their friends after trips to Vietnam. According to “bia hoi” sellers at the junction, customers are mainly from UK, Germany, France and Australia. To approximately four million people visiting Vietnam each year, it is considered that drinking “bia hoi” on Hanoi’s streets is as emblematic of a trip to Southeast Asia as ordering pad Thai in Bangkok
International Beer corner or bia hoi junction doesn’t require much explanation: the junction of Luong Ngoc Quyen, Ta Hien and Dinh Liet. bia hoi is on every corner, charging 3,000 VND a glass. Now there are fewer outlets and the price is 5,000 VND a glass — that’s inflation.
The first and foremost reason why these western travelers love “bia hoi” is simply its cheap price. . Each night, hundreds of travelers and a good number of locals descend on makeshift outdoor bars in the old quarter to sit on plastic stools, drink beer and watch the city rush by.
Especially busy during the hot nights of summer, for Vietnamese drinkers this is not the best spot for Hanoi’s famous bia hoi. Cold bottled beer is usually in good supply. Bia hoi is better had at random spots around the city – marked out by crowds of local men and bia hoi signage. On the other hand, they are more great to foreigners because they likes its low alcohol volume.
Sitting at a street corner in Hanoi old quarter with a beer glass, chatting with your freshly made friends while watching people pass by might be one the most memorable pages in your travel journal.
It is said that the word “Bia-hoi” is third in importance only after “Xin chao” (Hello) and “Cam on” (Thank you) when one learns Vietnamese
In recent years, Bia hoi is listed in a bucket thing when travelling to Indochina. So Beer corner has recently spilled over into along the street, especially Ta Hien st. creating a long strip of outdoor drinking that’s become a backpacker magnet. Drinkers occupy their stools, grab their beers and try and make sense of the competing beats from the different bars. travel to vietnam