Bia

Bia refers to several types of Vietnamese beer, enjoyed for its rich drinking culture.

Lastest Updated January 6, 2024
Verified by A-Z Cuisines Team
  • Fusion

Fact: In 2022, Vietnam consumed a total of 3.8 million liters of beer.

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Basic Information

Bia: Basic Information

Pronunciation

bee-ah

Alternative Name(s)

No

Drink Type

Fermented alcoholic beverages

Mealtime

Anytime

Popular Variations

  1. Bia Hơi (Fresh Beer)
  2. Bia Đóng Chai or Bia Lon (Bottled or Canned Beer)
  3. Bia Thủ Công (Craft Beer)
Origin and Region

Bia: Origin and Region

Origin

Vietnam

Continent’s Region

Southeast Asia

Country’s Region

Nationwide Origin

Associated Region

Unspecified
Vietnam Map
Ingredients and Preparation

Bia: Ingredients and Preparation

Main Ingredients

Malted barley, hops, yeast, water

Main Preparing Method

Brewing and fermenting

Preparation Process

Mashing grains with water, lautering to separate wort, boiling with hops, fermenting with yeast, conditioning to develop flavors, and finally packaging.
A Deep Dive

Bia: A Deep Dive

Cultural Significance

A staple drink in social gatherings

Taste

Bitter

Texture

Ranges from smooth, light or thick

Aroma

Can be hoppy, yeasty, floral, or fruity

Color

Ranging from pale yellow to deep brown

Serving Style

In bottles, cans, on tap, or glasses, with ice

Serving Temperature

Cold

Accompaniment

Paired with snacks or small dishes

Occasions

Festivals, weddings, birthdays

Calories

Approximately 150-200 calories per standard serving, depending on the type.

Popularity

Vietnam and other countries in the world (e.g., America, Canada, UK, etc.)

Popular Similar Drinks

  1. Ale
  2. Lager
  3. Stout

Popular Dining Area

Local bars, restaurants, street vendors, or households.

Bia (aka Vietnamese beer) is an alcoholic beverage produced by fermenting sugars in a liquid, and it’s not distilled after this fermentation process. 

Bia Overview

It is a common beverage that can be found on streets across Vietnam.

The term “bia” doesn’t stem from the globally-known English term “beer,” in fact, it originates from the French word “bière.”  The Vietnamese bia culture was shaped during the French colonial era. 

Bia refers to different types of beer, such as bia hơi, bottled/canned beer (which can be imported or domestic brands), and craft beer, which has spread its popularity recently. 

Moreover, according to the “The Beer Market in Southeast Asia” report in 2016, Vietnam had the top beer consumption in the Southeast Asian region. In 2022, Vietnam’s annual beer consumption was 3.8 million liters, accounting for 2.2% of the global market. 

In general, bia’s journey starts from the times of the French colonial period, with an in-depth discussion to follow. Plus, keep reading to learn more about bia’s ingredients, common styles, renowned brands in Vietnam, and the local drinking culture.

Further details, including bia’s good aspects and drawbacks,  frequently asked questions, and related dishes, will be explained below.

Key Points

  • Vietnamese bia originates in the French colonial era.
  • Vietnam had the highest beer consumption in Southeast Asia in 2016.
  • Bia is made from water, barley (or other grains like rice, corn, wheat, oats), yeast, and hops.
  • In Vietnam, there are three common varieties of bia, including bia hơi, bottled/canned beer, and increasingly popular craft beer.
  • Bia is a staple at celebrations and casual gatherings, and for relaxation.
  • Locals often enjoy bia with local snacks and small dishes, especially during social drinking.

Bia Images

What Is the History of Bia?

Beer, in general, is one of the most ancient beverages in the world. Its origin can be dated back to the early agricultural societies of Mesopotamia and Egypt around 5,000 years ago.

Beer brewing evolved significantly in medieval Europe. The use of hops in beer, now a standard ingredient for flavor and preservation, was popularized in Europe during this period.

Nowadays, beer has become a global beverage with its own unique traditions and styles in various countries.

In Vietnam, the foundation of beer culture was significantly influenced by French colonization in the 19th century.

The French introduced European-style brewing, which led to the establishment of the first breweries in Vietnam.

One of the most distinctive aspects of Vietnamese beer culture is bia hơi, a light, draft beer brewed daily and served fresh.

It’s known for its affordability and social aspect, often enjoyed in street-side “quán nhậu” for eating and drinking.

Moreover, the beer industry has seen rapid growth, with an increasing number of breweries and a growing interest in craft beers.

Next, continue reading for more insights into ingredients that create Vietnamese bia.

What Are the Ingredients of Bia?

The key ingredients to make bia in general are:

  • Water
  • Barley
  • Yeast
  • Hops

However, not all kinds of beer are made from barley.

Rice, corn, wheat, and oats can be ideal replacements. These grains contribute to the beer’s taste, aroma, and color.

Plus, different types of malted grains like barley and wheat are used to determine the beer’s flavor, thickness, and types.

What Are Common Types of Vietnamese Bia?

Here, you’ll explore the three common types of bia in Vietnam, including bia hơi, bia đóng chai or bia lon, and bia thủ công.

Each provides a different taste and experience to the country’s vibrant beer culture.

Bia Hơi (Fresh Beer)

Bia hơi is a Vietnamese fresh beer (or draft beer) that often skips pasteurization.

Locals maintain bia hơi’s original flavor for about 20-30 days if kept under 48°F (6°C). That’s why it is best enjoyed chilled and soon after opening to prevent souring.

This Vietnamese fresh beer is produced daily by most breweries and small bars in Vietnam. Plus, its ABV (alcohol by volume) is only 3%, and it has a light and refreshing taste.

Overall, bia hơi is one of the most well-loved beer types in Vietnam since it is available at a much more affordable cost compared to other beer types.

Bia Đóng Chai or Bia Lon (Bottled or Canned Beer)

Bottled and canned beer in Vietnam represents a diverse and growing market of beer, allowing consumers to have more options to choose from. They can be produced by local beer brands or international favorites.

Unlike “bia hơi,” bottled and canned beers undergo pasteurization and are sealed for longer shelf life. Plus, the packaging helps in preserving the taste and prevents spoilage.

They are readily available in supermarkets, convenience stores, bars, and restaurants across Vietnam.

Their portability and ease of storage make them a popular choice for both home consumption and social gatherings.

Bia Thủ Công (Craft Beer)

Bia thủ công (aka craft beer) is a potential market for beer with personalized styles. It is normally made by small, independent breweries in Vietnam.

In the past, Vietnamese fermented craft beer, known as “bia cỏ,” grew quickly for its low cost but faded due to quality and safety issues.

However, today’s craft beer market in the country is blooming with a renewed and distinct approach to brewing.

Indeed, craft beer stands out as brewers creatively tailor flavors using diverse ingredients.

Unlike traditional beers, which primarily use barley and hops, bia thủ công allows for distinctive additions, such as coffee or fruit.

Some of the favorite craft beers in this Southeast Asian country are Pale Ale, Golden Ale, White Ale, IPA, East Sea, etc.

Coming up, you should check the section below for more choices regarding well-known beer brands in Vietnam.

What Are the Most Famous Brands of Bia in Vietnam?

Vietnam is home to several famous brands, including local and international brands, which are shown below.

Bia Hanoi

A brand of Habeco that is partially owned by Carlsberg.
A famous brand produced in Hanoi (Northern Vietnam).
Has an attractive golden color, stable foam, and a smooth taste.

Bia Saigon

Brewed in Ho Chi Minh City, belonged to Sabeco.
Known for its smooth, easy-to-drink quality, widely enjoyed.
One of the most famous products of Bia Saigon is bia 333.

Bia Huda

From central Vietnam, specifically Hue.
Noted for its light taste and higher carbonation.

Heineken

A premium Dutch beer.
Known for its balanced combination of bitterness from the hops and a subtle fruity note.
Is a popular choice in various countries around the world, including Vietnam.

Tiger

A Singaporean beer brand.
Popular for its crisp, refreshing, and well-balanced flavor with smooth finish.
Is particularly enjoyable in warm climates, like Vietnam.

Budweiser

An American beer.
Has a light, crisp taste with a hint of sweetness.
Feature clear, pale golden color.
Popular in urban areas and with expats in Vietnam.

Carlsberg

A Danish beer.
Has a golden color and a crisp, refreshing flavor.
Commonly consumed in Vietnamese bars and restaurants.

Sapporo

A Japanese beer.
Has a rich, full-bodied flavor, favored by younger drinkers in Vietnam.

According to the MB Securities report in June 2022, Heineken led Vietnam’s beer market in 2021 with 44.4%, followed by Sabeco at 33.9%, Carlsberg at 8.7%, and Habeco at 7.4%.

Once you’re in Vietnam, it’s also important to know some tips of Vietnamese drinking culture, especially in sipping beer.

How Do Vietnamese Enjoy Bia?

Here are four key characteristics of how Vietnamese drink bia.

  • Accompanied by Food: Beer in Vietnam is often paired with food, especially local snacks or a variety of small dishes designed to be eaten during drinking. This includes grilled meats, seafood, and other savory bites.
  • Iced Beer: Due to the hot and humid climate in Vietnam, it’s common to enjoy beer with ice cubes, even on chilly days.
  • Celebrations and Relaxation: Beer is a staple at celebrations, be it a festival, a family gathering, or a casual meet-up with friends. It’s also a way to unwind after a day’s work. That’s why many “quán nhậu” are operated in the country, and it’s usually crowded after 6 PM.
  • Affordable and Casual: The beer-drinking culture in Vietnam is very much about affordability and casual enjoyment. Bia hơi, in particular, is famed for being refreshingly light and inexpensive.
  • Common Toasting: “Một, hai, ba, dô!” (One, two, three, cheers!) is a common toast during sipping bia.

In general, enjoying bia in Vietnam is a significant part of the social culture and is typically associated with communal and relaxed drinking experiences.

Having shown you Vietnamese drinking culture, I’ll next provide information about its merits and limitations.

Pros and Cons of Drinking Bia

The positive and negative attributes of bia are as follows.

Pros

  • Social Engagement: Drinking bia enhances social interactions and communal gatherings.
  • Variety of Choices: Availability of diverse flavors from traditional to craft beers.
  • Affordable Beverages: Particularly with bia hơi, it’s an inexpensive way to enjoy a night out.
  • Refreshment: Serves as a refreshing beverage in the warm Vietnamese climate.

Cons

  • Health Risks: Overconsumption can lead to health issues like liver damage or alcohol dependency.
  • Addiction: There is a risk of developing an addiction to alcohol, which can have significant negative impacts on one’s personal, professional, and social life.

Now, let’s explore further other interesting insights of bia in the FAQs section.

Bia FAQs

Bia hơi is a light, fresh draft beer, low in alcohol, and not pasteurized, making it a popular, affordable drink in Vietnam.

Bia hơi is freshly brewed and served on the same day without pasteurization, while bottled beers are pasteurized and have a longer shelf life.

Most Vietnamese beers are light in alcohol content compared to many Western beers, with alcohol percentages often ranging from 3% to 5%.

Beer in Vietnam, especially bia hơi, is generally much more affordable compared to many Western countries.

The legal drinking age in Vietnam is 18 years old.

Non-alcoholic beers are less common in Vietnam, but some international brands may offer non-alcoholic versions in larger supermarkets or bars.

Adam Sam

Adam Sam

Senior Food and Drink Editor

Expertise

Food Writer & Recipe Developer, Recipe Tester, Bartender, Cooking-video Maker, Editor In Chief

Education

  • University of Gastronomic Sciences – Pollenzo (Italy) (MA Food Culture, Communication & Marketing)
  • Johnson & Wales University (US) (Baking and Pastry Arts)
  • Professional Bartender at HNAAu School (Vietnam, International Joint Training Program)

Adam Sam, an experienced food writer and recipe developer, is passionate about blending diverse culinary traditions, national dishes, and innovative beverages, showcasing his proficiency in both traditional and modern recipe testing.

As the Editor-in-Chief, he elevates culinary content from street food to fine dining, focusing on Western cuisine and types of drinks at azcuisines.com, and is professional in creating engaging cooking videos that simplify complex dishes and ingredients.

His passion for food is evident in his writing, where he uniquely merges various cultures, traditions, and contemporary trends, skillfully combining classic recipes with modern cooking methods.

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