When Tê Tê Brewing started putting foamy smiles on the faces of punters with their beer back in 2015, the pioneering phase of craft breweries in Vietnam was just getting underway.
At Saigon’s first ever craft beer festival at the now sadly departed Quan Ut Ut on Truong Sa Street in Binh Thanh District, a short but frenetic motorbike ride across the canal from Saigon’s central District 1, there was just a handful of local brewers in existence that day dipping their toes into the frothy world of craft – Tê Tê Brewing was one of them.
Since then, that world of craft in Vietnam has become an entirely different (and much more sophisticated) beast.
And, to that end, so has Tê Tê Brewing.
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All those many bottles and barrels ago, the four amigos behind the brand started out with only a single beer style, the well known Tê Tê White Ale, an offering that became so popular, it allowed the lads to expand to over eight different styles topped up with seasonal beers, ranging from porters to IPAs.
Tê Tê’s aim has always been to introduce their favourite craft beer styles to Vietnam and its beer-loving hordes, especially with a focus on flavours that are refreshing yet unusual, as well as tailored for Vietnam’s culture and climate.
Four years after the caps popped off the first batch of their refreshing frothy offering which has subsequently brought them considerable success, the lads at Tê Tê fulfilled their dream (and ours) of opening their first Tê Tê TapHouse in 2019, a physical representation of the Tê Tê lifestyle – a hub for music, art, craft beer, tapas and many great stories spun again and again with friends new and old.
According to co-founder Rubén Martínez, who was born in Mallorca and raised in Valladolid, known for its wine and amazing food, he never imagined he would be a co-founder of his own beer brand, let alone a fully-fledged tap house to drink it in.
“Never!” he replies when asked if he ever believed it would happen. “We started the project to make an awesome product with branding full of personality,” he says. “The idea of also having a tap house never even crossed my mind until years later. It’s amazing how much everything has developed and how far Tê Tê has come.”
Meanwhile, in another new and exciting development this year in which wins have been hard to come by in the hospitality industry due to COVID-19, Tê Tê recently joined forces with Union Jack’s Fish & Chips to help run the kitchen in the tap house.
UJ’s has brought in some classic British plates to the pub grub lineup that sit amicably alongside Tê Tê’s Spanish-inspired staples already on the food menu, which, incidentally, also includes plenty of tasty tapas that raise a metaphorical glass to the heritage behind the collaboration.
“Our collaboration came about due to the post-lockdown circumstances here,” explains Rubén, “and it’s become one of the best things to ever happen to Tê Tê TapHouse. It’s satisfying to see Spanish classics like bocadillo de calamares living alongside fish and chips and other Vietnamese plates.”
According to Union Jack’s founder, Matt Ryan, a lot of work behind the scenes went into pairing Tê Tê’s range of beer with his style of food.
“We actually came up with a whole new batter for the tap house using the Tê Tê White Ale,” says Matt. “We tried and tested many beers with our famous batter and the White Ale stood out as it made for a golden, light and crispy coating for our fish and chips.”
There’s no doubt this collaboration is a match made in craft beer heaven as it complements Tê Tê’s craft beer offerings like never before and elevates the tap house to the type of venue that gives you just no damn excuse to leave.
Find Tê Tê TapHouse at 90 Nguyen Van Thu Street, Da Kao, District 1, HCMC
Open from 5pm weekdays and 4pm on weekends (including Fridays).
For more information, visit http://www.tetebeer.com/
Words by Matthew Cowan. Follow Matt on Instagram at @mattcowansaigon
Photos provided by Tê Tê TapHouse