Booze Review: Bia Hoi

Bia Hoi. A truly unique beer experience. They even named an intersection after it.

Bia Hoi corner is the stuff of college fairytales. Holding down an intersection deep in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, Vietnam, tiny plastic stools and tables litter the already chaotic streets. As the sun sinks, the intersection fills up with backpackers, sitting snug to the buildings and eventually spilling out into the road.

Bia Hoi is what they call “Fresh Beer,” beer brewed just hours before consumption with the added benefit of being preservative free. Now, it should be known that the beer lacks any sort of consistency. The predictably light brew ranges in alcohol content— anywhere between three and six percent, but averaging much closer to three percent. It’s light, but meant for heavy consumption ‘cause here’s the kicker — the cost per beer is 5,000 Dong, a staggeringly cheap twenty one cents USD.

“We’ll take twelve.” That was our first sitting. The four of us threw down pints of this stuff. I am no beer connoisseur, (which probably makes me more likely to enjoy Bia Hoi) but these went down smooth. It had the lightness of H20 and the buzz of Bud Light, pairing extraordinarily with the deep fried frog we were snacking on.

We sipped gulped and watched the ballsy motorbikers rumble by weaving through the drunken tourists and Vietnamese ladies selling unidentifiable pastries from two large baskets balancing across their shoulder. It is a scene of total madness, a beer lifestyle that fits so perfectly amidst the walls of this ancient city.

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