Ho Chi Minh City’s flourishing craft beer craze has a new entrant — Rogue. Owner Linh Nguyen opened the bar in August this year as a sister bar to his alternative event venture, Saigon Outcast.

 

“Rogue is a craft beer bar with a raw, industrial-loft setting,” says Linh. “It’s the kind of place where you could get lost in good conversation and good beer for a whole night.”

 

Up two flights of stairs is a long, sparsely furnished space with shining wooden floors and wide windows. The general ambience here is comfortable, quiet and warm, the yellow lights flicking off the bright, glittering glasses that hang above the bar space.

 

“I love the history of this building,” says Linh. “I wanted Rogue to seem like it came from the bricks, so we designed the decor, the murals and the vibe based on what it had to offer. We made the old new.”

 

Spoilt for Choice

 

Rogue is raw, hand-hewn and has history, and yet it is sleek. The bar serves drinks on the first floor yet lives on three levels, two of which are rooftop terraces open to the sky, and while the drinks are served on the lowest level, guests can take a seat upstairs and order from their table.

 

I ask Linh for a recommendation. Rogue Saigon has 16 local beers on tap, as well as a number of bottles imports and local brews such as TeTe and 3 on a Bike. Linh himself chooses the beers for Rogue, and when I ask him for his favourite he shakes his head.

 

“Honestly I couldn’t pick one,” he says. “I love the creativity of our brewer partners and our taps are always changing as they bring in new ideas — if I could recommend anything, it would be to take your pick and try something new.”

 

But there are so many beers to choose from. Currently, the local breweries on tap are Platinum, Fuzzy Logic, Pasteur Street Brewery, Saigon Cider, TeTe, 3 On a Bike, Lac and Phat Rooster. Some of the bar’s more popular imports include the Canadian Flying Monkeys Craft and US beer Rogue. Tapped or bottled the beer is kept cold and fresh, something that many craft beer bars in the city struggle with.

 

Distinctive

 

I start with a Fuzzy Logic, and the first thing I notice about my beer is its size. Rogue Saigon sells their beers in three sizes — 195ml, 330ml and 500ml. A 195ml serve of the Fuzzy Logic costs VND40,000, and the general price range is quite wide with most 330ml drinks sitting at VND95,000 and a flight of 6 samples at VND260,000. The bartenders pour your drink in front of you, tipping the glass to create the light fluff of a good fresh beer on top of the tasty brew itself. The second thing I notice about my beer is the taste — my Fuzzy Logic tastes bitter, almost nutty, and with a subtle hint of citrus as I swallow. To me, the best thing about craft beer is how it always surprises with its distinctiveness. Every beer in this bar is different, not so much by name but by those subtleties in flavour that mainstream mass-bottled beers ignore.

 

As I sip my first drink, I can feel that warm tingly sensation that usually doesn’t hit until the second or third. Most locally brewed beers here carry 5 percent alcohol content and up — my Fuzzy Logic has 5.4 percent with a 32 IBU. Looking around me, no one appears drunk, but there seems to be that sense of beery good fellowship that you might associate with an English pub before 10pm, and with every new glass poured another person joins the family. 

 

Rogue is at Floor 2, 13 Pasteur, Q1, HCMC


Photos by Bao Zoan

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