I’ve been a loyal fan of Hoi An Brewery’s for many, many months now. It’s given me plenty of hangovers but I keep coming back for more. Because it’s simply my favorite place to go for a great beer/ale/stout in Hoi An. (Aside from Mia Coffee in town, which is run by the same family.) It’s a popular place for trendy locals and expats alike – most likely where everyone’s wages go but hey, it’s a nice place to send them… and to a nice family, too!
Of course, I love the little red stools and local beer/nhau spots. But sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name, right?! And where what’s inside your glass well and truly counts.
I always knew that Hoi An Brewery was a great drinking hole. But now, having had food there for the first time last week I can confirm that it’s a fantastic eating – let’s go with “establishment” shall we?! – too.
It was a Saturday evening after the World Cup semi-final and we were already in a good mood (especially Andy, who’s English). My good mood was largely down to the anticipation of what was to come. We went all out – ordering the “combo 8 sampler” and the “meat combo platter”. We actually practiced some restraint – we could’ve ordered the “combo 12 sampler” – but thankfully, for the sake of our poor heads the following morning, we held back. We bumped into a couple of friends there – because, like I said, that’s where people in the know go – and made them increasingly jealous with our spoils.
Our sampler set of tasty bevvies included dry ciders, dark porters and fruity blondes – all of which were great, some of which were outstanding. And each sampler was designated a number that corresponded to the menu, so we actually knew what we were drinking. Nice touch. Our favorites were the Coffee Vanilla Porter (both agreed), the Belgian Dark (Andy loved it) and the Coconut Rye (I loved it!)
The Coffee Vanilla Porter was like treacle; a dangerously tasty dessert with hints of cacao, vanilla and coconut. We loved the Chocolate Stout too, like a rich red wine… although at 13%, we couldn’t get too attached.
Anyone would think that taking up half of this review banging on about beer would mean that we didn’t enjoy the food. Not so. We LOVED the food. We just really loved the drinks, too!
The meat combo, served on a trendy wooden tray – because why not – consisted of meltingly delicious beef brisket, Louisiana-style BBQ ribs that tasted like a beautifully smoked maple ham on Christmas day, spicy sausage that went particularly well with a side of mustard and pulled pork so tender and juicy it would almost make you weep. (Although maybe that was the effect of that 13% stout.)
Cy, the guy who runs the show, has a huge knowledge of and passion for all things BBQ and booze. He smokes the meat for 10 hours in a mixture of oak and coconut. Oak chips, Cy divulged, are really expensive. So he got creative and experimented with coconut – bringing a beautifully unique flavour to the produce, while omitting any potentially harmful chemicals that other smoking materials might cause.
Our meat feast was complemented by small bowls of buttery mashed potato, sides of broccoli and a crunchy purple cabbage slaw. And that brioche. Dear god, that brioche! Light, fluffy and buttery, Cy sources them from his baker friend – who I want to befriend after trying one! A beautiful base for the meaty heaven in front of us. We were very happy customers indeed.
Aside from the great drinks and the delicious meat, Hoi An Brewery is just a really lovely place to hang out. The fake grass, picnic benches and strings of bauble lights create a distinctly “festival” vibe – or what a hipster pop-up bar in Ireland tries to achieve for 3 times the price. (I know. I’ve been to them.) Cy is usually around to question about brewing and BBQ, plus the rest of the staff are very sweet.
Hoi An Brewery is also a chilled-out setting for sports fans – showing the major matches without a million screens clouding your vision. And with arcade games, a foosball table and a Playstation 4 coming soon, there’s plenty to keep you entertained. (If not, the 13% porter should help you entertain yourself.)
If you haven’t been yet, go. We’ll probably see you there.