This post is also available in: Vietnamese
Food and drink are happy bedfellows. What would cheese be without a glass of red wine? What would your favorite beer be without a bowl of peanuts to go with it? But sometimes food and drink take their relationship a step further and their offspring is a mix of the two. There’s beer-battered fish, for example, or the classic steak in red wine sauce.
Some of our favorite craft breweries have taken this idea on board. In their characterful tap houses you can find desserts that incorporate beers like stouts, porters, and golden ale infusing panna cottas, brownies, and donuts. Here’s where.
Vietnam Craft Bia’s guide to craft-inspired desserts
#1. Heart Of Darkness’ Vietnamese Coffee Stout Panna Cotta
Heart of Darkness, the Joseph Conrad-inspired Vietnam-based craft brewery, have always known the importance of good grub to go alongside their craft beers. So for every Kurtz’s Insane IPA—their big, vibrant India Pale Ale that they serve—there’s usually a Cannibal Cauldron coming out of the kitchen too—their popular beer-infused chorizo, clam, tomato, garlic and cheese dish.
And there’s a craft beer-inspired dessert. Panna cotta means “cooked cream” in Italian—the home of this globally-enjoyed sweet dish. As with lots of dishes and drinks its origins are obscure. It may have been inspired by English custard desserts, “latte Inglese.” And Piedmont, in the north of the country, claim it as their own. The region is most famous for its truffles. But also, because it’s in the north, olives aren’t as abundant there as in the rest of the country, so dairy products and butter prevail—which would also support the case for it being the home of the creamy panna cotta.
The sweetened cream dish is often served straight-up, but it takes well to flavors like vanilla and coffee. Heart of Darkness used coffee-infused stout. The dark, rich craft brew compliments the creamy panna cotta. The coffee-infusion amplifies the beer’s astringent character, which adds depth to the panna cotta’s flavor without making it too sweet.
What: Piedmont’s panna cotta takes flavors like vanilla and coffee well. Heart of Darkness chose to add their coffee stout for a craft beer-inspired dessert.
Where: Heart of Darkness, 31D Ly Tu Trong, District 1.
#2. BiaCraft’s Golden Ale Donut Holes
The cheeky chaps at BiaCraft have a knack of conjuring up tongue-in-cheek names for the dishes and drinks served at their five Saigon locations. There’s drinks like their Bom Vu Du Xai Hard Cider, which means something like “Is your boob job big enough?” and their very Vietnamese Khong Say Khong Ve Triple IPA—”khong say khong ve” is the rowdy drinkers’ promise to stay out until you’re wasted. Alongside there’s dishes like their “Itty bitty chicken titties,” a bowl of pickle-brined chicken breast with hopped salt, tartare, and pickle.
Beer is widely known to add yeasty, roasted malt and hops accents to dishes. It also adds sugar in a way that increases flavor and as with beer-battered fish, beer goes especially well in dishes that use dough. In fact, the yeast in beer can act as a substitute for dishes that might require the addition of yeast. Like donut. The fried dough dessert that commonly comes in two kinds—the ringed donut and the filled donut. Naturally, BiaCraft gravitated towards the ringed sort. The holes, the round shapes cut from the donuts’ centers, used to be sold as novelty items until they caught on as a bite-sized entity all of their own.
BiaCraft make theirs with golden ale. It’s a crisp beer with flowery, spicy notes. And as part of the donut’s batter it gently builds on the doughs sweetness while adding more nuance to the flavor. In fact, beer and bread have always had a close relationship—they both came from the same recipe, water and cereal, and the wild yeast that got into the mix made the ingredients rise as bread and alcoholic as beer. Now, BiaCraft have reunited them with their Golden Ale Donut Holes.
What: The ringed-donut off-cuts that took on a life of their own get a warm malty edge with the addition of a crisp golden ale in BiaCraft’s Golden Ale Donut Holes.
Where: Any of BiaCraft’s five tap houses: 1 Le Ngo Cat, District 3; 90 Xuan Thuy, District 2; 300 Truong Sa, District Phu Nhuan; 110 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia; 26 Hoang Viet, District Tan Binh.
#3. Pasteur Street Brewing Company’s Beer Brownie Bites Baked With Coffee Porter
Pasteur Street Brewing Company have always been one of the most playful craft brewers in town. To their high-quality hops, malt, and yeast they have committed to adding at least one Vietnamese ingredient. So their celebrated IPA contains Vietnamese jasmine, for instance, and their wheat ale comes with passion fruit, jackfruit, watermelon, and durian. And their brownies come with coffee porter.
True to their commitment the brewer’s coffee porter uses a special local blend from their friends at K’Ho Coffee up in Da Lat. The company is a co-operative of highland farmers around Lang Biang mountain whose sustainable approach to arabica cultivation means they work with farmers from picking and harvesting to onsite milling, and drying, hulling, roasting, and taste testing the brew. Added to their porter—a beer whose history is intertwined with stout—it produces a black brew with coffee, chocolate, caramel, and roasted malt flavors.
Coffee and chocolate are a classic combination—and scientists even argue both are healthy to consume. Besides their health benefits, there’s an interplay or tartness and bitterness, sweetness and richness between the two. As you’ll find out nibbling on Pasteur Street Brewing Company’s Beer Brownie Bites Baked With Coffee Porter.
What: Coffee and chocolate are a classic combination—with an interplay or tartness and bitterness, sweetness and richness between the two that you can taste in Pasteur Street Brewing Company’s Beer Brownie Bites Baked With Coffee Porter.
Where: Any of Pasteur Street’s four tap rooms: 144 Pasteur Street, District 1; 144/3 Pasteur Street, District 1; 120 Xuan Thuy, District 2; 67 Le Van Thiem, District 7; and 1 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi.