The rise of craft beer is one of Vietnam’s most exciting, unstoppable trends in recent years. An industry driven by passion and creativity, brewers are dedicated to revolutionizing every part of the process. Pubs and tasting rooms have exploded throughout the country, carefully engineering each beer’s flavor, aroma, mouthfeel, appearance, and taking that care down to the last ingredient. In short, Vietnam has no shortage when it comes to finding quality, unique beers.
This unbridled innovation has been pushing production to almost frenzied levels. Yet with the bar for quality set so high, some brews end up being rejected for not meeting the right marks. Furthermore, this year’s Covid19 and border closures greatly hindered exports, sales, leaving Vietnam with perhaps more extra beer than ever before. And beer, whether mass-produced or crafted locally in small batches, has a shelf-life of only four to six months. What do you do with all this unsold goodness?
A Solution Combining Innovation, Sustainability and Quality Craft
Enter Brewstillery, brainchild and labor of love of a Danish brewer, a French recipe creator, and a Vietnamese distiller. Craftsmen at heart with their skills in perfect synergy, they founded Brewstillery based on principles of innovation and sustainability. Buying up those cast-aside, yet perfectly drinkable batches of craft beers, they turn the product into Mashed Up Craft Gin – the world’s first Craft Gin to be made from up-cycled beer.
Most gins start from a base of grains, such as barley, wheat or rye. Next comes the fermentation stage, before distilling the mash into a neutral, high-proof spirit. What turns this into gin is a second distillation, this time with fragrant juniper berries and other aromatics.
But instead of the base of neutral spirit, Mashed Up Craft Gin starts straight from beer thereby skipping both mash and fermentation steps. The second distillation infuses classic juniper and botanicals, plus Mashed Up’s signature ingredient: juicy Vietnamese kumquat. With a floral bouquet and delicate fragrance, this citrus gives an impression of honeyed notes, without making the gin sweet at all. The double distillation ensures a creamy, smooth mouthfeel, and the distinct notes of complex malt mark the unique origins of the liquor.
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Taking it Further
Brewstillery goes beyond just up-cycling beer for their Mashed Up Craft Gin. Equally important to their beliefs are helping craft brewers and the community as a whole. Take the bottles, for example. Each vessel containing Mashed Up Craft Gin is hand-cast from recycled beer bottles, gathered from all over Vietnam.
In response to an issue common to many craft beer bars, where business sees a big drop after 10pm, Brewstillery plans to launch a mixology program to reach a new client base.
With their Mashed Up & Craft Beer Cocktail Program, Brewstillery plans to train staff with mixology knowledge to increase sales and engagement from new client bases. A cocktail of ginger beer, Mashed Up Gin and topped off with IPA offers a strong, spicy libation for those who love their hops. For a refreshing aperitivo, Mashed Up Gin with white ale, aperol and lime juice make for a tropical concoction reminiscent of pineapple juice.
On a Grander Scale
At their launch event on November 24, Brewstillery will unveil yet another product: a single batch of up-cycled Heineken, in the spirit of Mashed Up Gin. Though not aiming to depart from their original ethos of working with local craft breweries, Brewstillery takes this opportunity to raise awareness about waste in the largest corner of the beer market.
Heineken and other mass-producing beer corporations will no doubt end up with a proportionately larger amount of waste, with excess beer getting flushed to ensure consistent quality for the rest. By bringing a product like Mashed Up Craft Gin to the market (and a cheeky version made with Heineken’s own beer), Brewstillery hopes to bring to light the enormous potential of up-cycling.
To continue this great momentum will not only benefit beers and the beverage world, but the community at large as well. Brewstillery’s sustainable and honest approach will undoubtedly contribute to the dynamic innovations for craft beers in Vietnam, and potentially the world.