What makes craft beer special?
At its core, craft beer is a labor of love — it emerges from the hands of dedicated artisans and master brewers who pour their hearts into every batch they create. Craft beer is not just a beverage; it embodies passion, artistry, and innovation. Like an alchemist’s elixir, it captures the imagination and delights the senses.
At the vibrant corner of Ly Tu Trong & Thu Khoa Huan in District 1 lies the perfect spot for people-watching and, undoubtedly, beer-drinking. Craft beer enthusiasts will find their haven at Pasteur Street Brewing Company (PSBC). Located on the ground floor, this inviting space offers a stunning street view, ideal for observing passersby. Step inside to discover 16 taps pouring the finest craft brews while cozy and elegant seating accommodates up to 100 guests. It’s the ultimate destination to indulge in the art of craft beer and immerse yourself in a memorable experience.
On the day Pasteur Street Brewing Company officially opened its sixth taproom in Ho Chi Minh City (7th including Hanoi’s), we had the opportunity to witness the rawest version of a taproom. Imagine being in the theater five hours before the curtain opens, and you’re on the other side — you see how people are before spectators come and how they ensure every piece is positioned correctly.
“We’re doing this as a team!” That’s the first line Tom Duncan, CEO of Pasteur Street Brewing Company, uttered when he sat down for the interview proper (after the quick tour). With over 30 years of experience in the beer industry, Tom knows the ins and outs of the beer world. And if we’re being honest, with a half-full beer glass, he can answer any questions anyone can think of about the art of craft beer making.
As a goals-driven person, Tom is about “making it happen as a team.” He enters the scene with a clear objective, distinct from personal ambitions. His mission revolves around mentoring and empowering the team he has joined. He envisions a future where a capable Vietnamese management team steers the organization.
“So, essentially, our current objective revolves around creating a mission,” he told Vietcetera. “Together with the new team, we aim to educate and excite Vietnamese consumers about craft beer. This is precisely why everything we undertake is aligned with this purpose.”
Craft beer in Vietnam has often been associated with expats and a lively atmosphere that caters mainly to foreigners. However, our newest taproom at Pasteur Street Brewing Company is here to break the mold. Step inside and discover a different side of craft beer. You’ll be greeted by vibrant Vietnamese artwork adorning the walls and labels and tags proudly presented in the local language. It’s a refreshing departure from the norm, challenging expectations and delighting visitors with an authentic experience. And here’s another delightful twist: our talented brewer is a Vietnamese woman who is making her mark in the industry. Join us in embracing diversity, defying stereotypes, and savoring exceptional beer. Get ready to be pleasantly surprised at every sip.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Tom Duncan, the CEO of Pasteur Street Brewing Company (PSBC), to discuss the challenges and opportunities in Vietnam’s craft beer industry. Tom also shed light on their taproom’s distinctive features and mission to raise awareness and educate Vietnamese consumers about craft beer.
How do you balance creativity and innovation?
When it comes to balancing creativity and innovation, it is crucial to consider the context. In the case of beer production, there are typically 15 types of beer available, with lager being the predominant choice in Vietnam. Anything produced that deviates from lager can be considered innovative while showcasing creativity. Craft beer, for instance, stands out from mainstream beer by offering a diverse range of flavors and styles.
Craft beer opens up a world of flavor possibilities that were previously untapped in the Vietnamese market. With a diverse range of 15 types of beer, craft brewers like Pasteur Street Brewing Company have the flexibility to tailor their brewing processes and incorporate local ingredients to create unique and intriguing taste profiles. Our unfiltered lager exemplifies our commitment to enhancing aroma and body while the blending of Jasmine flowers into our signature India Pale Ale (IPA) adds a distinct local character.
This dedication to craftsmanship is a cornerstone of the craft beer industry, allowing brewers to push the boundaries of what beer can be and providing enthusiasts with a captivating array of flavors. Through constant refinement and feedback from discerning consumers, craft brewers continuously evolve their brewing techniques, ensuring that each sip offers a delightful experience that goes beyond the ordinary. Craft beer is a celebration of creativity, quality, and the artistry of brewing, captivating beer enthusiasts and expanding their palate with its limitless possibilities.
How do you make craft beer accessible and appealing to a wider range of beer enthusiasts?
Education plays a vital role in the craft beer industry. Craft brewers have the unique opportunity to educate local consumers about the world of craft beer. Initially, the market primarily consisted of consumers familiar with craft beer from their home countries. As the industry grows, the focus needs to shift to reaching local Vietnamese consumers. This requires concerted efforts to educate and excite them about craft beer.
To address this, we are adopting a new marketing approach focusing on education and primarily targeting Vietnamese consumers. Our plan involves reaching out to Vietnamese consumers through various channels and engaging in conversations about the greatness of craft beer, its ingredients, and its unique flavors. We want to provide awareness about different beer styles, such as IPAs and pale ales, ensuring that people understand the nuances and characteristics of each.
In our previous taprooms, we observed a significant rise in the percentage of Vietnamese consumers, particularly in locations away from tourist areas. This insight has motivated us to expand our presence in Ho Chi Minh City and other strategic locations where we can connect with local residents. By raising awareness through visible signs and strategic placements, we hope to attract more attention and foster a sense of curiosity about craft beer. We have plans in motion, including collaborations and initiatives that will be revealed soon. Additionally, we recognize the importance of understanding the preferences of Vietnamese consumers, such as their social media usage, preferred music, and cultural influences. To make informed decisions, we rely on our team’s expertise and insights to ensure our approach resonates with the target audience.
If a customer asks for a drink recommendation at the Taproom, what would you suggest?
First and foremost, I would inquire whether the customer has tried craft beer before. If they have, I would ask them about their preferences and the type of craft beer they enjoy. Based on their response, I would make a recommendation accordingly. However, if they haven’t had craft beer previously, I would suggest trying a flight of beers to sample different varieties and identify their preferences. They could start with a craft lager, which retains the familiar characteristics of a traditional lager but offers a unique twist. From there, they can gradually explore different, more popular craft beer styles, such as an IPA or pale ale, to expand their beer-tasting experience.
Having reconnected with the craft beer industry, I’ve had the pleasure of conversing with numerous loyal customers who have provided invaluable insights. These beer enthusiasts exhibit a genuine curiosity to venture into uncharted territory and eagerly share their discoveries with friends. However, it’s interesting to note that they often gravitate back to their trusted favorites. This indicates that there exists a vast untapped potential among beer lovers who have yet to fully explore the rich tapestry of craft beer.
To address this, it becomes crucial to engage these customers in meaningful conversations, discern their preferences, and offer tailored recommendations that align with their unique tastes. By providing education about various beer styles and encouraging them to embark on their journey with friends, we can elevate their overall craft beer experience.
Capturing the interest of individuals and enticing them to try craft beer is undeniably a formidable challenge. Our differentiating factor lies in our distinctive ambiance and unwavering commitment to education. Understanding firsthand the initial hesitations one may have when venturing into uncharted beer territory, I recognize the paramount importance of offering guidance and cultivating a warm and welcoming environment.
Our upcoming marketing endeavors will be focused on targeted approaches, direct to consumers and their place of work, to introduce them to the wonders of our craft beer offerings and inspire them to embark on a journey of exploration of craft beer.