Cheap, cheap, cheap!

What is the cheapest beer in the world? Most would argue that some mass-produced American piss water such as Natural Light would be the ultimate beer of shame. However, as far as the cheapest beer per serving, it is actually an ale from Vietnam that reigns supreme…

Bia Hoi, most commonly found in Hanoi, is the most budget-friendly brew on the planet. Commonly described as having the appearance and flavor of Bud Light (go figure), Bia Hoi can be found for 3,000 VND per 12 oz. glass, which is the equivalent of about 16 US cents.

Gullible tourists and Vietnamese hobos seeking the beverage, need look no further than the ‘Bia Hoi’ or ‘Fresh Beer’ signs scattered throughout the city. Fresh beer is actually Bia Hoi’s English translation, and it is indeed brewed fresh daily — presumably in someone’s bathtub.

So the next time that you find yourself in Vietnam and have a dime, nickel, and penny burning a hole in our pocket — stop in to any one of the dozens of fine establishments serving the cheapest beer in the world.

Almost wherever you are in Vietnam, Bia Hơi will be served in extremely cheap, chipped and bubbled recycled glasses; these are marginally clean and should be considered part of the fun. Before you head off to tackle a Bia Hơi, be aware of the following:

  1. Drinking Bia Hơi in Hanoi is very Vietnamese and very much a male pastime. Any foreigner stopping at a Bia Hơi is going to get some good-natured attention; any foreign woman doubly so. Not harassment, but you’ll be a curiosity.
  2. Bia Hơi food is famous nationwide for being greasy and sometimes barely edible; the things served there are designed to make the beer go down faster. There are exceptions here and there. Noodles, tofu, pork ribs, grilled squid: after a couple Bia Hơis, they start to taste really good.
  3. Sanitary conditions at Bia Hơi restaurants can be beyond bad, according to Vietnamese friends, so you might steer clear of the food altogether. Not that I ever did.
  4. The beers are light, but there is alcohol in them. Keep that in mind when you’re on round five or six and thinking how smoothly they go down.
  5. Bia Hơi bathrooms are among the worst you’ll ever find so another reason to count the beers going down.