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I’ve written extensively about the booming craft beer scene of Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City, if you prefer) in Vietnam. What I didn’t quite expect was to get lost in great beer and conversation less than a kilometre from my home in the suburbs of the city’s District 7. Enter LAC Brewing Co, with a taproom situated along the Rạch Đĩa River, a 25 minute scooter ride outside of the downtown core. In Vietnamese, LAC literally translates to “get lost and explore new things”. The team behind LAC believes “getting lost can be a life altering experience with rich rewards”. After trying the Cashew Nut Cream Ale, I have to say I agree.

When I first met up with founder Lucas Jans and brewmaster Michael McMahon it was immediately apparent that the simple yet slick decor of the taproom was an extension of the pair’s approach to brewing. Hesitant to become beholden to outside investors, the approach is very much slow and steady. Reinvesting profits into ever growing brewing facilities and equipment. Though it’s difficult to keep up with demand for their beer after being open for only a few months, LAC isn’t rushing to grow too fast without a strong bedrock of customers – which, by the way, is mostly local Vietnamese versus the expected expat crowd.

First things first: Drink LAC. A trip to the taproom will present you with no less than six brews to choose from, not to mention their special quarterly release bottle series dubbed ‘Lost At Sea‘. My top picks – the Wit and American Red. The Vet-Belgium Wit, “a classic American wheat, simple and approachable, people can really enjoy it. Plus it’s really tasty and I love to drink American wheats” Michale reveals. Then you move on to his (and my) favourite, the 6.6%, 43 IBU, Little Lava Red, an American Amber/Red Ale. The holy grail for many brewers is achieving perfect body and balance in a beer. When it comes to Little Lava Red, Michael is visibly proud talking about the brew’s “balance of hops and flavour of malt is probably the best. Far and above.” He’s right.

Next: Get Lost. Depending on who you ask in Saigon, a trip to District 7 can either be a monumental task akin to settlers traversing the mighty Mekong, or it’s a fairly mundane 25 minute commute. As long as you have the address in your phone, it’s highly unlikely your Uber or taxi driver will actually ‘get lost’ on route to LAC.

But the question still begs to be asked, why District 7? “We’ve actually got a very educated drinker group out here” explains Lucas, who goes on to describe the monthly homebrew meet ups that are hosted at the taproom. Across all of Vietnam craft beer is booming. “American craft beer is all about invention and exploring…the Vietnamese are really adventurous, on board with something new”. Whether in the downtown core or its surrounding districts, the growth is palpable, “ten years happens in three months here” according to Michael.

So if you happen to be travelling in Saigon with a few hours to kill, or the urge to escape the touristic centre of District 1, you’ll be well served to remember the mantra ‘Drink LAC. Get Lost.’ Just keep the address of your accommodation handy for when you eventually need to be un-lost.

LAC Brewing Co. is located at 169/7 Nguyen Duc Canh, Phuong Tan Phong, Quan 7. The entrance is on the second floor of the Grandview building just above Gloria Jeans Coffee. Open 3-9pm Sun, 3-11pm Mon-Wed, and until midnight Thurs-Sat.

Madeline Burch

Madeline was born and raised in Toronto Canada, educated in marketing, and has worked in brand management and the alcohol industry for nearly a decade. In search of great drinks, stories and photos, she has travelled to South East Asia multiple times and is currently based in Vietnam. From luxe travel to volunteer missions, she’s interested in it all.

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