What do we have here? Craft beer!

Photo Credited to Effa
It was a typical weekend with my girlfriend in Tây Hồ. We just had brunch at Maison De Tet Decor and we were on the scooter back to her apartment. On the way, we stopped at Circle K. She ran in, and I spotted an orange and black sign across the street reading, Furbrew. There was a white sign below saying they would be opening in July. This month! I nearly jumped at my girlfriend with excitement. She was happy for me.

It was the following Friday I would have my chance at those beers again. I saw they would open at four and well I showed up five minutes past. Didn't want to be that guy there as they opened, but my excitement could not allow me to wait any longer.

The place was already busy with a few customers making it apparent I was not the only one excited about the advent of Furbrew. The bar was a nice cozy sized with high tables and chairs. No seating at the bar, but if you were inside it felt almost like being right at the bar. The owners Thomas and Trung were very friendly. In fact, hardly a visit goes I do not chat up Trung at least a little. I always have a question for Thomas, the brewer. I probably bother him the most with technical questions and beer talk more than most customers. However, he is the type of guy that understands the nerd-hood that comes with the craft scene.

Of course, as I ventured deeper into the bar there was the main attraction. Those six magnificent taps, holding in kegs of golden, to amber, and brown nectar of wonderment. Above is a board listing their beers along with ABV (alcohol by volume) and IPU (International Bitter Unit). The latter which oh so excited my nerddom. At the table, the corner spot by the door which has become my go-to place, they set down a flash card menu of all the beers. All the information mentioned above was there, including what malts and yeast, hops (including where in the process the hops were added), proper temperature, and EBC. (European Brewery Convention, similar to SRM [standard reference method]. For the layman, it means the color of the beer.) Over the months they added even the OG (original gravity), and FG (final gravity), which Thomas has confirmed is only necessary to know for Brewers and nerds.

I will admit, as I sat there flipping through the cards already knowing what I wanted. They posted their selection online, allowing me to plan based on my still amateur knowledge, what order I would enjoy the beer. Sure they offered a taster of all six, which comes out to a good deal, but I had time. I started with their Beach Beer as it seemed light and refreshing, an excellent opener in my opinion. (I will not be getting too detailed on the beers themselves here. That will be for later posts.) They offered in a small (175ml) and large (375ml) size and they come in a snifter glass with their logo. (Something that is also the case at Cousin's who serves their beer in bottle.)

One thing I also noticed behind the bar was a bucket of water that they rinsed the glasses in before the pour. It was a detail to serving beer unheard of in Vietnam. It seemed lacking the ability to get the rinser common in craft bars back home; this was the next best option. Besides, they would not be able to use tap water here.

The snifter of beer arrived at my table with a good head of about two centimeters. I lifted the glass to my nose and stuck it in, breathing the aroma of the brew deeply into myself. It was a couple of sniffs before I took that first taste. My taste buds exploded from the shock of flavor that hit them. They were likely confused I was drinking this kind of beer after the process of preparing myself a year ago, a farewell to craft beer. One by one I went through my list, making my way through their selection. There were some favorites already.

As the late afternoon turned to night the place filled, in fact, it was bursting with people. Several from surrounding restaurants as I noticed the guys from Chops and the owner of Republic. Since I was alone at my table, a fellow American joined me, and we reveled over the beer. He kept me company before needing to leave, but shortly after a Canadian couple joined me, whom I had had the pleasure of drinking with a few more times before they returned to Canada. I remarked how this was one of those things I missed. Rare in my experience here did I find that kind of social mingling. Sure everyone knew each other to some degree in the expat community, but rarely did people mingle beyond their clicks. It was the type of culture I missed with craft beer, and the kind of thing I hope can stay alive here.

The night turned late and by this time I repeated enjoyment of two beers, making my total eight. Feeling fully satisfied and with the couple heading off, I left. The experience was a welcome moment in my life in Hanoi. So much so, Furbrew has become my local. I know I will never get bored with them because there's always something new to try. The taps are on a rotation of what Thomas has cooked up and recently they even started bottle conditioning some of their beers. All I can say is I look forward to fall when they release a pumpkin ale and the Phở beer.


You can find Furbrew at: 8b/ 52 Tô Ngọc Vân, Tây Hồ, Hà Nội