Saigon’s doesn’t seem to be a great place to be a homebrewer. As far as I know, there’s nowhere to buy grain, yeast, or hops in the city, and while there is and active community of homebrewers up in Hanoi, there doesn’t seem to be one in Saigon. I could be wrong–and if I am, I’d love to hear more about it–but that’s my impression from scouring the web.
This is tolerable, for me, because I brewed a hell of a lot–to the point of exhaustion, and being a bit tired of brewing–by the time I left Korea, and because Saigon has just broad enough a selection of imports for me to try new things (or familiar, beloved beers) occasionally, while not wanting to buy too much of them, since they’re not cheap here… and because brewing is enough of a passion for me that it tends to distract from other pursuits to some degree, such as the writing I’m trying to get done here.
But my Pending Posts queue on this blog has a whole bunch of brewing recipes I formulated, but never got around to brewing–everything from a soured braggot (that is, mead/beer hybrid, soured by wild yeast) to a Kotbuss–an endangered style of German altbier with molasses and honey in it. Still, if I could brew in Saigon, what would I be making? The answer is simple, really:
- Saisons: Saigon is in the tropics: a yeast that thrives at high temperatures is a plus, but besides that, Saisons are versatile, as they can be hoppy or very much colored by adjuncts and spices. I love Saisons, and they’d be the mainstay in my Saigon brewhouse.
- µIPA: I miss an assertively hoppy brew down here, where malty German styles dominate. Saigon has some decent Belgian beers (if you don’t mind paying for them) but nothing with any hop character. But I’ve also found I’m happy with a µIPA–a micro-IPA, that is–especially if the hops are Citra. I could do with a batch of Citra µIPA sitting around, to be savored one small bottle at a time.
- Alternate Method: I’ll probably end up settling for hop oil extraction, and dosing regular beer with some of the hop oil when I feel like a hoppier beer. I hope to get a few different varieties of hops, so I can have my pick of what to turn the regular craplager into: Citra, Cascade, Nelson Sauvin… whatever.
- Meads: I actually hope to be making meads soon. Honey is very cheap in Saigon, and I should be able to get temperature tolerant yeast here before too long. When I do, mead is what I’ll be focusing on.
But what if there were no limits? What if I were fully equipped with a home brewery right now, and grain and hops and an environment where I could cool fermenting batches of beer… in that case, what would I make? Which is also to ask: when I do get back into brewing, someplace where we figure we’ll stay long enough to justify buying homebrewing gear, what will I make?