Noodlepie is back on the black stuff at the 700 seater Lion Brewery for the third installment of this Saigon beer review. The ‘Lion’ sits next to the Caravelle Hotel at 11C Lam Son Square in District 1 and is a vast dimly lit hooch hangar that’s more cavernous cathedral than cozy bierkeller. Christmas tree lights flicker faintly above the innards of this booze refuge, but the lighting is set to permanent dusk inside the Lion’s mouth. Two giant brass vats behind the bar grab your attention as soon as you enter. The balconies above are filled with hop sacks and a flatscreen TV the size of a modest house dangles from a side wall.
The draught beer is produced using Kaspar Schulz brewing kit from Bamberg in Bavaria – "the world’s oldest manufacturer of brewery machinery and equipment with over 325 years of experience." This bodes well for a superior tipple. There are two choices; light Pilsner or the darker brew I ordered. You can order anything from 0.4l for 22,000VD (light), 24,000VD (dark) up to 1l steins for 48,000VD (light), 52,000VD (dark). A 20l ‘Party Keg’ take-out will set you back between 960,000VD and 1,040,000VD. The bar looks great, the beer looks great, but is it any good? Well, there’s less of a burnt hop hit to this chilled number than either the Asia Brewery or the (soon to be revisited) Hoa Vien Brauhaus. Mind you it’s not bad, I just like a beer with bollocks and there’s more snore than roar to the beer at the Lion Brewery. And at double the price of Asia Brewery’s better Munich beer, I’d be inclined to head there instead.
The food takes its lead from the Hoa Vien Brauhaus with a German/East European theme with seven German sausage dishes from 40,000VD and Grilled salted German pork knuckle for 99,000VD. I had a stab at the deep fried cheese for 45,000VD and received four sticks of breadcrumbed cheese and French fries – not bad as far as stodgey drinking food goes. Beer, napkins and grub at the Lion Brewery cost 75,000VD. View the business card and directions.
(Apologies for the shoddy snaps. My digital couldn’t cope with the low lighting.)