A Sunday afternoon at the Bia Hoi
on Charley and Jane in Vietnam (Vietnam), 15/Oct/2009 09:15, 34 days ago
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Let me tell you about Bia Hoi (pronounced 'beer hoy' and usually translated "fresh beer"). A wonderful discovery!  Bia hơi is a type of draft beer popular in Vietnam (particularly - and unfortunately from my perpective - available throughout Northern Vietnam, especially in and around the capital Hanoi).  It is mostly to be found in small bars and on street corners. The beer is brewed daily and each bar gets a fresh batch delivered every day in metal kegs.. It is a very light– maybe 2.5% to 3% ABV – refreshing lager at a fraction of the cost of draft or bottled beer in the Western-style bars. Think 20 pence for a half pint!  Bia hơi production is informal and not monitored by any health agency.Of course, being such a 'weak' beer one can drink vast quantities of the stuff. The serving girls at these places are quick to replace your drink– no sooner have you finished a glass another full one is brought to your table. No need to order! The bia hoi is a wonderful revelation – I'd love to open venue like this in the UK (yeah, right – I can think of 101 reasons why it wouldn't work!).On Sunday after returning from our works outing to Bin Duong Mr RTZ decided to take us all (about 25 people) to a bia hoi. The first we've been to in HCMC.  A fun feature of Vietnamese drinking society (or is it just the outfit I work for?) is that everyone raises their glasses and shouts 'Mot Hai Bai Yo!' at the top of their voices.  It translates as 'One two three cheers!'.  Its totally raucous.  Worse however is the cry 'Trăm phần trăm!' meaning 'one hundred percent' and requires you to drink the beer down in one.  Being big and stupid I can't resist this one, but neither can several of my vietnamese colleagues who tend to come of worse.  All in all quite an experience.