It’s a bit off the beaten path if you’re hitting up the ‘must-see’ sights in Hanoi, it’s not technically on Hoan Kiem (Turtle Lake), and when you think of culture and authenticity in SE Asia a brewing company doesn’t exactly come to mind, but The Editor and I try to hit up at least one everywhere we go; if for no other reason than to add a pin in a new country. Sometimes the beer is so bad that being able to say “we did it” almost isn’t worth it (Bangkok was terrible), but this time around wading through the sea of motorbikes and heading a bit out of the way was totally worth it. We had a flight, a few more pints, and perfect soft pretzel all while enjoying some pretty killer Ho Tay (West Lake) views.
First up was a pint of Cu Rua (or Tortoise) Kolsch. Light and crispy, but more ‘meh’ than anything else.
Next up was a flight! Starting with Helmet Boy Saison… yum! Helmet Boy is the quintessential farmhouse style: big on spice, yet balanced with zesty orange peel and a tangy, sweet citrus finish.
Double-Edged Sword NEIPA waaaaasn’t really a NEIPA. So, I pretended it was just a regular IPA. I still didn’t like it.
I’ve never been to Slovenia, but I imagine the Slovenian Christmas Porter hits it right on the head. It was spicy and bold, with just enough coffee to keep you warm without a fire nearby, and though, it was a bit thin, the chocolaty finish was the perfect trifecta.
Big Boy Pants macadamia stout, was a 2nd place winner at the Asia Beer Cup, and a first place winner in my heart. If stouts this good were more easily accessible in Korea it’d be a whole new ball game. I didn’t taste much of the milky/buttery macadamia flavor I was expecting, but I did get a ton of sweet cocoa and fresh vanilla. It was big and strong with a creamy mouthfeel that stayed smooth beginning to end.
We obviously had to have another couple of pints (not pictured). First was TLBC’s flagship: Mango smoothie IPA. Mango smoothie was a much better IPA alternative than the NEIPA mentioned above. I don’t want to sound like a hater- maybe I just didn’t like it because it deceived me. Either way, mango smoothie didn’t mislead. This one captures a great bitter hop to sweet mango balance.
Our last pint was Vietnam pale ale (VPA). Although it didn’t overwhelm me with new and fresh flavors, it was an interesting diversion from the mundane pale ale. Exclusively brewed with locally sourced ingredients VPA was one of TLBC’s first brews, along with Mango Smoothie, and I’m glad I gave it a shot.
I wish we had more time here, but we had a date with a killer bahn mi sandwich and an Uncle Ho viewing to get to. I was really impressed with TLBC, particularly as they’ve only been around since 2017. There were a couple of duds, but overall their brews were on point, they’re making a big splash in Asia as the new kid on the block and all in all, I give Turtle Lake Brewing an 8.9 out of 10.