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HCM from A-ZThursday, 10/05/2006, 03:00

Another Brewpub for Connoisseurs

Another Brewpub for Connoisseurs

Another Brewpub for Connoisseurs


Lion Brewery & Restaurant offers German fresh beer


Lion Brewery & Restaurant, a microbrewery that was recently inaugurated in HCM City, is located on Lam Son Square, near the Municipal Theater downtown. The brewpub imported its draft beer production line from Germany and invited Andreas H. Starkmann, a German expert, to oversee production. For connoisseurs, Lion is the venue for authentic German draft beer, as all materials (except water) have been imported from Germany.


Tran Kim Long, director of Bong Sen Hotel and Lion's chairman of the Board of Directors, says he wants to make customers feel as if they were in Germany. "Lion's customers don't have to go to Germany to taste Pilsner beer, which is being produced by famous microbreweries in Munich," explains Long. Munich, Germany's city of beer, is proud of being a beer city of Europe as well as the world. Now, right in the heart of HCM City, beer lovers can taste Munich-style beer drafted from stainless steel tanks. Even the one-liter jars are imported from Germany. "The only difference is that diners are breathing Vietnamese air," Long jokes.


Brewpubs in Germany and [former] Czechoslovakia are often decorated with brass chandeliers, old-fashioned furniture and varnished benches. Lion's decoration style is quite different. Architect Nguyen Tu Nguyen, director of Coma-9 Co., which was responsible for Lion's interior decoration, says he wants to make the brewpub's customers feel like they are sitting in a garden. Therefore, the brewpub's ceiling has been raised very high and fitted with glass to receive as much natural light as possible. Even if it is a hot summer noon or a rainy day outside, the inner garden remains cool and dry. In the evening, large lampposts in the garden are turned on.


Ton That Canh Hung, a frequent guest of Lion since its opening, says the design of the brewpub suits many different customers. Those who come here alone can take a seat at the bar; diners in groups can situate themselves in the garden; and those who do not want to be disturbed by noise can go up to the mezzanine. There are also separated rooms for couples.


Lion also has a light beer. Different from Pilsner and Dark beer, Light beer has an alcohol content of just 3.2%. According to Starkmann, real connoisseurs should taste Pilsner or Dark to enjoy the real flavor of draft beer. He adds that sausages or grilled chicken with french fries and salad go great with German beer. Starkmann has over 20 years of experience in making beer, and is able to brew over 50 various kinds of beer. "I have traveled everywhere over the past 11 years to teach German beer production techniques," he says, adding that the brewpub model is being developed in many countries worldwide.


In Vietnam, the first microbrewery appeared in September 2001 when Ngo Hong Chuyen, owner of Hoa Vi en Restaurant, decided to replace imported Czech beer with an in-house brew. To ensure the traditional beer production quality of Pilsen (the Czech Republic), which is famous all over the world, Chuyen had to invite a Czech expert to Vietnam to handle technical matters.


Although in the same business, Hoa Vien and Lion are not afraid of competing. Chuyen says there is plenty of room for two quality draft beer producers. Whether or not brewpubs can maintain their quality, as quality is a vital factor for them, is very important. Draft beer quality should be stable thanks to the volume of customers.


The more industrialized society becomes, the more people return to traditional things. Drinking draft beer is among such things. At Hoa Vien and Lion, diners can enjoy draft beer while watching the entire production process. VND45,OOO for a liter of fresh draft beer is a bargain for any connoisseur.


Lion Brewery & Restaurant

11-13 Lam Son Square, Dist. 1, HCM City. Tel: 8238514


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