This post is also available in: Vietnamese

To help you navigate the world of all of things craft, there are a few things to consider before ordering a new brew. As with any alcoholic drink, it’s best to know a few things about it beforehand. This can be particularly true when it comes to craft beer consumption in Vietnam. To make sure you have a fun time at the your next taproom visit, yet put together, Vietnam Craft Bia has selected three key terms that every beginner must know before ordering their next pour of craft beer.

Not understanding ABV can result in over drinking. And not knowing the meaning of IBU could leave you with a bitter beer not to your liking. When you have no knowledge of craft beer language, or the keywords associated with its flavors and strengths, you could find yourself with one too many drinks.

Bia Craft
The clued up craft drinker understands their ABVs and IBUs.

Learning craft beer language with Vietnam Craft Bia

We’ve had our fair share of embarrassingly wobbly exits, fuzzy memories, and bad craft beer selections. So to help you get a smoother start than some of us had, here are three basic things to know before you begin your journey.

Step 1: Understand “ABV”


ABV stands for alcohol by volume. This informs drinkers of the strength of each beer in terms of alcohol percentage.

If you don’t know where to find ABV information simply look on your bottle or can. In most countries, printing this information on the container is a standard practice, and even enforced by law in many countries. If it’s not printed on the container, look in the menu or ask your server before selecting which craft beer to drink.

But what is a normal percentage? Average commercial lagers like Tiger, Budweiser, and Heineken have an ABV around 5%. If you go with a beer that’s higher in ABV than 5%, you need to know that you will get buzzed faster after drinking less beer than normal.

When it comes to craft beer, more attention needs to be paid to ABV. It’s a primary factor when deciding which craft beer is ideal for each session. It’s also the best way to avoid accidentally getting too drunk, which can easily happen when drinking craft beer.

Step 2: Understand “IBUs”


IBU is an abbreviation for International Bitterness Units. It’s a precise parts per million measurement that checks the amount of isohumulone found in a craft beer. Simply put, isohumulone affects how bitter your beer is.

Vietnam Craft Bia also explains that the different styles of beer have various expected ranges of IBUs. For example, craft beer styles like strong ales, porters, and stouts often rank high on the IBU chart. However, as brewers continue to experiment, this might not always be the case as each craft beer can be made a variety of ways.

If you decide you don’t like bitter beers, check the IBU level on any craft beer you order. For example, a standard lager like Tiger has 0 IBUs while a Heineken has 23 IBUs. The lower the IBU ranking, the less bitter the beer will be. If you like light beers that go down easy, Vietnam Craft Bia suggests consumers select a style that has less than 25 IBUs.

The standard range of International Bitterness Units is set at 0-100+ IBUs. The higher the IBUs is, the more bitter your beer will be. The lower it is, the less bitterness your beer has.

Step 3: Understand “body”

Body is a term used to describe the physical thickness or weight of a beer. Most commercial lagers like Tiger or Vietnam’s 333 are considered “light-bodied”. As you explore more robust craft beer styles, you can work your way up to “medium- and “full-bodied” styles. More often than not, the thicker and heavier the body is, the more powerful the taste profile will be.

Vietnam Craft Beer Community 2
Paying attention to ABVs, IBUs, and the craft beer’s body will help you make better choices.

As you try different styles, pay attention to ABV, IBU, and body to make a more informed decision. Even for craft beer aficionados, like the brands and people behind Vietnam Craft Bia, these three simple things are often checked before ordering any pour of beer. If you’re in Vietnam, and keen on trying out something new, check out eight kinds of craft beer to try below.

Vietnam Craft Bia suggests eight craft beers to try in Ho Chi Minh City

  1. BiaCraft Đứng Chọc Tao Pale Ale: 5.5% ABV | 40 IBU
  2. Platinum Golden Ale: 4.6% ABV | 18 IBUs
  3. Heart of Darkness Futile Purpose Cucumber Pilsner: 4.3% ABV | 33 IBUs
  4. East West Brewery Summer Hefeweizen: 5.9% ABV | 20 IBUs
  5. Rooster Beers Blonde: 5.5% ABV | 18 IBUs
  6. TeTe White Ale: 5.5% ABV | 19 IBUs
  7. Pasteur Street Brewing Company Jasmine IPA: 6.5 ABV | 50 IBUs
  8. LAC Brewing Company Mango IPA: 5.8% ABV | 39 IBUs

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