Beer Stories: Craft Beer Industry Insights

Founder & Owner of Saigon Cider, Hannah Jefferys

January 23, 2023 Hosts: Mischa Smith & Alex Violette, Guest: Hannah Jefferys Season 1 Episode 6
Beer Stories: Craft Beer Industry Insights
Founder & Owner of Saigon Cider, Hannah Jefferys
Show Notes Transcript

In Episode 6 of Beer Stories, Mischa & Alex welcome Hannah Jefferys, Founder and Brewmistress of Saigon Cider, into studio. The episode is bookended, as always, by The Hangover Check and Fact or Fiction. In between they discuss a range of topics, including differentiating craft cider from craft beer, Cider's specific appeal to Vietnamese drinkers, the Cider making process, some of her favourite Ciders from back home, walking the line between commercial viability and being a taste leader, utilizing local ingredients, low/no alcohol craft beverages, the Vietnam Cider Community and how everyone gets along within it, and where to source the best organic apples! Cheers! 

Learn more about Pasteur Street Brewing Co.

Follow us on Facebook.

Mischa Smith:

Welcome to Beer Stories, the podcast where we talk about beers. We tell stories. Our producer is Niall Mackay of Seven Million Bikes podcast. Our theme song was composed and performed by Lewis Wright. My name is Misha Smith, My cohost to my left, as always is Alex Violet. Hello everyone. And our guest this week is the founder of Saigon Cider. Hannah Jeffries. Hi. Hi Hannah. Welcome to the show. Thanks for having me.

Hannah Jeffreys:

Vietnam has a rich beer culture and has done for decades, but CI is. When craft beer have events, we we're often included. and so are other cider brands, but it also means. The local markets sometimes think we're a type of craft beer and, they're not aware that it's a, a completely different product. I didn't really mean to start side a company. It was more of a hobby in the beginning. It wasn't really intended initially to be a business. So cider was kind of associated in the UK and still is as a summer drink. I found it unbelievable that I came a city that's summer all year round, and there was no cider. It was unthinkable. they're using the yeast from the, the skins of the apples, but, it does come up with a really unique taste, and that's what gives it the, the funk as well.

Alex Violette:

You know, whenever you have, flavors that, you have to describe using a word like horse blanket, that was like one that just got to me.

Hannah Jeffreys:

our name was kind of by accident as well. We started as Peace, love, and apples, which is our. Slogan. And the description was, well, what do I call it? Cider? Apple cider. No, I don't wanna just stick to apple. So, Saigon cider and then people just called it that. But I mean, that is a bit of a mouthful to order. Can I have a piece, love and Apples please?

Mischa Smith:

our guest this week is the founder of Saigon Cider. Hannah Jeffries. we're gonna start, as always, with a little segment we like to call the Hangover. Hannah as our guest, you can go first on a scale of one to 10. How hungover were you this morning? Zero. Oh, wow. Mm-hmm. the life of a young mother. Mm-hmm. Alex, do you have

Alex Violette:

any drinks last night? I had like, maybe two beers. Okay.

Mischa Smith:

So,

Alex Violette:

so with two

Mischa Smith:

Well, I definitely had more than three beers, but I was gonna say like three outta 10. Today I was feeling pretty good, but just a little slu. That's been the hangover check. If you're listening and you want to be a sponsor, reach out. We're looking for someone to sponsor the hangover check. We should get a sponsor like, like some kind of hangover remedy. It's like if someone was doing like beer here are the dog. That's, that's our recommendation. yeah. So we're actually not drinking beer cause it's so early. This is the earliest we've ever recorded. Sunday morning. Let's get into it, Hannah. I've noticed in. The press in Vietnam. Let's just introduce you. Sorry a little bit. So obviously if you're listening for the first time, we're recording from HoChi Min City, Vietnam. Alex and I both work at Pastor Street Brewing Company. Our guest, Hannah, like we said, is the founder of Saigon Ciders, which was the first ciy. In Vietnam. Yeah, that's right. Cool. And there's been a lot of press in the last seven, eight years about craft beer in Vietnam, and I feel like cider is often overlooked. And you, you were around before us, before platinum, before fuzzy, before anyone. Do you feel like cider gets short shrift because it's not respected by people or because it's just not beer?

Hannah Jeffreys:

I think, because side is new to Vietnam, relatively speaking. So Vietnam has a rich beer culture and has done for decades, but CI is. So, being the first is a challenge, but it's also an opportunity. people here didn't know what cider was maybe 10 years ago unless they lived overseas or, you know, very few people were familiar with cider. So it's not so much that it's not respected, but it's not as well known. And that's still one of our challenges. Because, with the rise of craft beer and cider has risen at, around the same time, maybe, uh, not on, not to the same extent, vietnamese have become familiar with cider in recent years, during the time that craft beer has been rising. So sometimes it's considered a type of craft beer, which is, one of our challenges. It, it gives us some exposure in a way because when craft beer have events, we we're often included. and so are other cider brands, but it also means. The local markets sometimes think we're a type of craft beer and, don't have that extra reason to, to try it because they're not aware that it's a, a completely different product. so that's one of our opportunities and one of our challenges. But yeah, I don't think it's about cider not being respected.

Mischa Smith:

Okay. Just not as, not as well known.

Hannah Jeffreys:

yeah. Also, You guys started with a venue, pasta Street started with the venue. So that lets you become known quite fast, I think. And, um, I didn't really mean to start side a company. It was more of a hobby in the beginning. And we had a page and we had a name, but it, it wasn't really intended initially to be a business. it was more experimenting, making cider, because I love ci and. You know, making more for friends, sharing it. so whenever someone wanted to interview me about cider, I kind of said no, because we weren't a business and I didn't want it to be a business initially.

Mischa Smith:

Awesome. So I have so many questions off the back of that. I don't know which one to start with. so now, what, what's like your, if you, I mean, if you even know, obviously, like you said, your distribution, you're not a tap room. So like, do you know kind of roughly what the split is on Vietnamese versus foreigners? Who, who drink your ciders? No idea. You just you just sell them and then whoever buys them buys them.

Hannah Jeffreys:

We don't see the end users so much. Right. And when we do it skewed because it will be at an event and you know, the events attract often one or the other. so it's a bit hard for us to tell as a distribution company. If we had a chat room, I could give you a clearer answer. It's definitely more, experts. And visiting foreigners at the moment. Right. so I mean, that, that speaks to, what you're talking about, about the opportunity. Exactly. So Vietnamese are definitely, they definitely have a taste for cider, right.

Mischa Smith:

I mean, Vietnamese people love sweet beverages, so

Hannah Jeffreys:

Yeah, they do. so, and they love fruity things and they love, organic. Drinks, produce. So there's definitely interest there. and it's growing and it can only really grow from here for

Mischa Smith:

sure. Yeah. So I, that was gonna be one of my questions later, but you brought up the, the organic aspect. I noticed that in your marketing. Yeah. Is that important for you, like, like socially, or is it just like something that you like to promote because it's something that some people will, find as like a way in.

Hannah Jeffreys:

We only use certified organic produce, so EU level certified, and I'm committed to doing that environmentally. A lot of people don't really understand what, what organic means. They often think it means you're not adding chemicals into your product. Well, yes, that's true, but it starts with the growing, it starts with the land. So it's a limit on things like, pesticides. Even if we couldn't promote that, we are organic and there are restrictions on that until you've actually got the product certified restrictions. In some countries, we would do it anyway because then you're having less of an impact as a business. Ultimately, we want people to know also that the product is organic, and so we do share that. But yeah, for things like export, until you've got that stamp on your product, then you can't always. You can't always state that it is organic. So, just as a starting point for me, maybe you guys could talk a little bit about the difference between brewing beer and making cider. Cause you know, I'm a drinker and I know what I like, but I have no idea literally what the, what the difference is in the process between beers and ciders.

Alex Violette:

Yeah. It actually, um, as. Wanting to kind of loop back to the tap room thing and that, I think it was very similar for craft beer where beer in Vietnam was insanely popular. Over 95% of the alcohol consumption was beer and all of the beer tasted the same. And, um, having the, uh, the tasting room, We were trying to, explain why this beer is special, why it's different than, than the other beers that you could get at the time. And, and also like tell the story of our company. We thought that was a big part of it as well was the, the stories behind it. And, and it wasn't for expats. We knew that if we had craft beer, expats would know what that was. It was for introducing it to. to locals is like what differentiates it. Mm-hmm. So, Misha, your question going back. what differentiates cider from beer? uh, for me it's not, not really a huge difference, it's just where you get the sugar from. I mean, we have fruit in our beers, which would make it technically portion cider. And then some ciders I assume are probably like fortified with sugar from somewhere else, maybe?

Hannah Jeffreys:

Probably, yeah. And yeah, I mean they definitely, some definitely are, and,

Alex Violette:

and it's always seemed like a legal definition that they're different. It's just their, their sugar water that's been fermented and not distilled. And you know, governments say, well, if it came from a fruit, you have to call it wine and tax it from a specific type of fruit called a grape. You call it wine and tax it this way. And if it comes from a different type of fruit, you call it a cider. Mm-hmm. And then some countries may say it has to have this amount of apple or it could be any fruit. And and yeah, I've actually like to hear your thoughts on that because I see like, artisanal ciders and craft beer in my mind, essentially the.

Hannah Jeffreys:

Okay. It's interesting. so to me, cider is, where I come from, it's a fermented juice. Nothing added, nothing taken away. Whereas beer is predominantly from malt. So even if you add fruits to me, they're still quite different. But, I, I see your point. cis these days. It can be anything from like very small Apple content back to how we do it, which is a hundred percent juice. and I, I like that about, so it's just really simple. Just fermented juice. That's it. And that's what we stick

Alex Violette:

to. So, would you consider like a, we have a beer that has, like say a lot of passion fruit juice, right? So say we didn't use any malt and we just fermented the passion fruit juice. Would that be a.

Hannah Jeffreys:

It would, it wouldn't taste good. I think I mean, good note. You'd probably, you'd probably have to, like passion fruit's, very sour. You'd probably end up having to add water and sugar to make it drinkable. Hmm. So then it becomes more of a hard soda. Are you, so you adding the, the passion fruit at the end or is it Yeah. You add at the end, so, so then the passion for, it's not really fermented. No. So it's like a fruited beer, I guess. Exactly. Yeah. Okay, so with cider, yeah. Predominantly it's gonna be apple juice fermented, but I wouldn't say strictly it has to be apple. It could be another fruit, but I think the, the defining factor is that the juice is fermented.

Alex Violette:

So I, I've, Admittedly not look too much into, to cider. you know, it's always included in, you know, like the beer, like I'm a beer judge and they always include cider at the end, like are judging different cider categories. I just haven't, ever signed up to, to judge a cider competition before. but I do, I saw the main categories are sweet and dry. Mm-hmm. So does that mean that you would add juice after the fermentation with some ciders or that it's. The, the fermentation has stopped halfway.

Hannah Jeffreys:

There's a number of ways to do it, but I would add after. Mm. Yeah. Cause then you can ferment clean and then add back some juice to how you want it. Some sweet siders will have sugar added instead, but we don't do that. Ours don't have sugar added whatsoever.

Mischa Smith:

Same for, for the beers. Right. Some, some of the fruits you had pre fermentation and some.

Alex Violette:

Yeah, absolutely. It just depends on the, the level of sweetness that you want to get out of that fruit. Right. And then, um, with the passion fruit, right, like you were saying, it's tart. Yeah. So we also wanted the sweetness to balance out that sour,

Hannah Jeffreys:

right. Yeah. Ferment. I can't imagine how fermented passion fruit juice would go, but I would imagine that one is better added at the end. And I would imagine also the sugar content's not that high and passion fruit, judging by the the taste. So it wouldn't really be a juice that you would ferment. So something like that is more something that you would add at the end where something like apple or pear that can be a base has enough sugars to ferment to create the alcohol still retains flavor. And then if you want, if you want it sweeter, then you could add, add some juice back in at the end. Or like we do, we add spices as well. So those come after.

Alex Violette:

When you're thinking about making a cider recipe, right. You said you didn't wanna start a business. were you just making this because this is what you enjoy drinking and it wasn't available Exactly. So it was just, so you could have what you preferred

Hannah Jeffreys:

to drink. so cider was kind of associated in the UK and still is as a summer drink. So I found it unbelievable that I came. A country that is, or a city that's summer all year round, and there was no cider. It was unthinkable. I didn't actually drink beer until I came to Vietnam, and then I had to get used to it. but now I, I love it largely due to the craft beers that I've tried here.

Alex Violette:

That's, that's really cool. I think, and when I first had cider in the United States, it was a little different. There was, um, there was cider out there, but it was like, mass produced, like mainstream ciders that just really didn't taste very good. And, getting into craft beer, we had friends that were like, oh, there's actually these small cider producers. Mm-hmm. and, started to try ciders for the first time. And, shortly after there was a big interest in like, um, reducing gluten. Your diet that that was just it, right? All of a sudden it seemed like it hit and everybody was discovering they had these allergies they didn't know about. And then at that point it was like, well, cider doesn't have any gluten. And from there we, there was just craft cis popping up all over the place and it really helped grow that, segment, I guess. is that something that you. Think about or you have customers that think about that here

Hannah Jeffreys:

in Vietnam. Yeah, we do get a lot of inquiries about the gluten and ci. Real side is gluten-free. There's probably some, cider bear hybrids labeled as cider in some countries, which obviously are not. So it's a bit dangerous to say. Yeah, cis gluten-free, but ours are, and traditionally they are, with no malt. So, we do attract that crowd. And, in the UK as well. I mean, compared to France, I would say UK as a whole is kind of known for the, the bigger brands, the more mass produced ciders. But where I come from, the region is a Apple growing region, Somerset, which is kind of the heart of traditional cider. so we have all those small cider farms that are making it that way within the. Fermented juice. even though the UK is known for bigger brands that are not doing that. but yes, in the UK as well, that's one of the reasons I think it's become popular is the gluten free, attraction.

Alex Violette:

Awesome. And at the risk of getting too technical, this one, I, I'm just very, uh, curious, right? it's all apples. So how do you make that all, all year round?

Hannah Jeffreys:

So, cold storage, cold storage. once it's induced format, then you can store it a number of ways, so then you don't have to rely on the season. And also where we are in Vietnam, there's different seasons, in Europe and in, Australian, New Zealand. So depending on where you get it, there's, there's usually apples available.

Alex Violette:

Oh, that's cool. It probably helps, I'd say with consistency a lot too, cuz you're working maybe with the same batch of juice for an extended period of time. I know that when we're doing fruit beers, we have to get a different. Harvest each time cuz we're getting like the fresh fruit, right. And, and each time it's a little bit different. So any of our beers with fruit, we're constantly adjusting as we get each batch. Yeah. We're trying to make it taste the same as the last batch. Yeah. Which isn't necessarily the same amount of juice depending on the time of the year. So

Hannah Jeffreys:

Yeah, that's right. So even with the apples, so they come with, different level of acidity and to be honest, I think. We do make adjustments, but, I think even though the variation from batch to batch is a bit different, I think in the end people don't necessarily notice that. but yeah, they do, they do vary. And, more so with things like our chili and our ginger, the chili, especially you, you cannot ever really set an amount that you're gonna put. you have to try it. You have to add a little bit and then taste it and then add more if you need it. You can't just, assume from the start that it will be the same as last time or you could end up making something pretty spicy.

Alex Violette:

Absolutely. I think that's, that's handmade.

Mischa Smith:

So Annie, you mentioned you're from Somerset? Yep. And you mentioned the, like all the cider farms there. Mm-hmm. So I was gonna ask, is. like, was craft cider a thing back home or would the notion of craft cider be so ridiculous? Because it's just, it's so natural to have these small cider farms that like nobody would think to call it craft cider

Hannah Jeffreys:

is, yeah. No one would think to call it craft, but it is craft by any definition. Yeah. So here you would call it craft, um, to differentiate that from the more mass produced ones, but at home it's assumed that it's craft.

Mischa Smith:

Awesome. And so do you have, do you have a. Cider from back in the day from home that you wanna shout out? or am I putting you on the spot?

Hannah Jeffreys:

I love Hilton Cider Company.

Mischa Smith:

Okay. Are they one of the bigger

Hannah Jeffreys:

ones or are they They're not actually. they're growing, but that's from Pilton maybe? No, from Glass Andre Festival. That's the, I've heard of the g Glassberg Festival. That's, that's the village where the festival is. Yep. And they make Oh, it's not in Glastonbury. No, it's not

Mischa Smith:

trivia.

Hannah Jeffreys:

There you go. They make, they make cave cis. So very traditional, more like the French, what, what we would consider to be the French style, but actually there's a lot of that in Somerset anyway. Yeah.

Alex Violette:

What is the French style?

Hannah Jeffreys:

so in France, cider has to be, as I understand, to be called cider 100%. They hold the fermentation by blocking off the nitrogen, by letting the debris raise to the top. so the French siders are bottled quite sweet, naturally sweet, without any pasteurization. just in the process that they use. which differs to, more modern siders, which would, add the sweetness back after. And, that's the way we do it in Vietnam. But that's largely because of, the way we're making in the breweries that we're making in, you would have to do, you would have to do things that way. You couldn't, get too wild in a shared brewery because you would risk infection. other producers there. So it comes with, it comes with risks, making it that way. yeah, it's a much more wild fermentation

Mischa Smith:

to be a French cider. The, the cider has to smoke gals and be really snide.

Hannah Jeffreys:

No comment.

Alex Violette:

So when you say unpasteurized are, is that the juice going into it? Is unpasteurized or the, the bottle of. Weaving

Hannah Jeffreys:

with the French ones? Yes, both. Both, yeah. And with this, with a lot of the ciders made in sunset, it's the same

Alex Violette:

that, that's, that's really cool. I'm thinking that, you know, there's, there's definitely something living on those apples that is specific to that region Exactly. That affects the fermentation and gives it this, this quality that's like a tawa, like, you can tell it's from this place because they all kind of taste the same with this, these organisms that are just in the wild naturally there in this.

Hannah Jeffreys:

Exactly. That's it. So they're, they're not pitching yeast either, as I understand they're using the yeast from the, the skins of the apples, which you just couldn't consider doing in a shared brewery. But, it does come up with a really unique taste, and that's what gives it the, the funk as well. which I think, I love, but I think maybe the market here wouldn't

Alex Violette:

appreciate. I, I appreciate that. I think. It definitely gives a lot of depth, but it's um, you know, whenever you have, flavors like that, you have to describe using a word like horse blanket, that was like one that just got to me. I'm like, manure It's like, okay, this might not be the, you know, the, the first intro to the category. Right. You might wanna work your way up to some more assertive flavors like that. Right, exactly. If you're trying coffee the first time, you might want to put some milk and sugar in it before you just go to straight black coffee. Exactly.

Hannah Jeffreys:

I've made some here in my own facility, my home, using, the, the natural yeast from the, the skins of the apples. Apple's grown in some actually from, uh, Thatcher side of farm thats is known for being a one of these big brands, but they also make the very traditional, real siders. and yeah, the feedback from people let try it here was that it was. yeah, A bit too funky. Musty. Yeah, musty barnyard, I think is the word that is officially

Mischa Smith:

used for sure. I mean, I've had some beers that had that musty aroma that I really liked, and then some that were a little off putting.

Hannah Jeffreys:

Yeah, I love it too. So people perceive Asia to love sweet things. What I find with I said that earlier is I being, and,

Mischa Smith:

and I think that's, sorry, we don't wanna generalize on this podcast. I

Hannah Jeffreys:

think. I think it's okay. I think it's, largely true if, if we're going to generalize. Yeah. This part of the world, they do love to add sugar. They're used to sweet things. It's not criminal to add sugar to your juice, whereas we wouldn't tend to do it. but what I found with those more traditional siders that I made was whether it was sweet or not. The deciding factor is that barnyard funk didn't go down too well. Right. And I'd love to do some of those. And I've done some small batches in the past and dry siders as well. and they always have their, their enthusiastic following, but they're at this point, Not going to be widely popular.

Mischa Smith:

Right. So walking that fine line between appeasing or not appeasing, but appealing to the, the really nerdy, like the beer nerds versus like something that's commercially viable.

Hannah Jeffreys:

Right,

Alex Violette:

exactly. Those, uh, the, the fermented flavors I think too is just what you grow up with. And I noticed that, you know, they, they might seem crazy out here, but I think like, you know, growing up like fermented milk and fermented fruit was stuff you're around all the time and. Coming to Asia and then like fermented fish is everywhere. You know, fermented shrimp paste. Yeah, exactly. And that is And tofu. Yeah. just different fermented flavors. I actually enjoy a lot of that, but at the first time that I smelt it, I was just like, kind of like, hey, like your body almost says like, this could be dangerous.

Hannah Jeffreys:

Yeah. Yeah. I would agree with that. and like Misha says, it's a fine line between like being taste leaders. wanting to make something that's accepted, but like with you guys probably agree in, in craft beer. Just because the market is used to the very commercial lags doesn't mean that you are gonna, create a craft beer brand that creates commercial lags. It's kind of not the point. You wanna push boundaries a little bit and introduce people to new things, let them know. What it is, why it tastes that way and not everyone's gonna love it, but it will build. I don't want to, make anything too unique with the ciders, but I also don't want to come in and make something that's super sweet, like a commercial carbonated sweet pop. just because that's what people are more used.

Mischa Smith:

Yeah, for sure. So, I mean, specifically for, for us, when we launched the, the God water craft lager, you know, we thought it would be like a nice light, option for Vietnamese drinkers. What we found is that the Vietnamese people didn't. Really like it. Yeah. No, they, they, they want differentiation when they're drinking craft. They want it to be darker, stronger, more bold flavors. The, it's foreigners mostly drinking the light lager at our tap room. Like, and they love it, like they drink it up cuz they're used to having like this. Yeah. But for Vietnamese people it's like, no, no, that's, that's a normal beer. We come here because we want the wild be.

Alex Violette:

Yeah, exactly. What I see with the, the God water is the, you know, that. Very valid observation that, it, it's more popular it seems with expats than it is with locals. But I think the expats are, are liking it because number one, we use very, you know, like, like you're saying, traditional methods. We use all malt and real hops and we do a very, you know, high quality fermentation. We're not trying to just increase the yield, we're trying to make it taste as good as possible. And then number two, it's you get to support a brand that you care about. And if you just grew up drinking mainstream like lagers and you don't have any interest to drink anything with flavor, but you do have an interest in buying a product that you care about that comes from people that you care about and want to support, then that's a great option for, for those two different reasons. If you're, yeah, that's really looking for that flavor. I. And just want a little bit better quality. Like if the beer gets warm, it doesn't start to taste bad, it just tastes warm and just as good. Mm-hmm. but if you have like a lot of, you know, mainstream beers, they get warm and you know, it's, not nearly as good as when they're cold.

Hannah Jeffreys:

Right. And there's the novelty factor as well. So if you've been around craw beer or CIS for decades, then the novelty factor is not really there anymore. Whereas for Vietnam, it's kind of newer, more exciting, and I think people. Especially in Saigon, love new things. They embrace new products, new concepts, and the, the knowledge about those products is something that they identify when they share their knowledge and why they love that new product, that keys into their identity as well. Whereas if you've had that for decades and decades, yeah, you may be less interested. It's more about supporting a small. Like you say.

Alex Violette:

Yeah, it's, I, I could see that, there's more opportunity to experiment when there's less expectation that you make it taste the exact same way. Right? Like a lot of the crazy things that you do in craft beer, have. Been going on for hundreds of years in different parts of the world, but where you're doing these crazy wild fermentations in parts of Belgium, France, you know, people expect it to taste the way that it always has. And you start saying, we're gonna add this fruit instead. And it's like, no, no, no, no, no. You just add this one. This is what we expect. But in the United States, there wasn't like this long standing tradit. of these companies with these unique products that had this sense of place. So the, the kind of the world was your oyster as far as what you wanted to make because customers were open to trying all the different things. And I very much see that in Saigon as well. It's really cool to see, people that aren't like, no, no, no, this isn't exactly the way that we expected it to be. The traditional way. I'm looking to explore a flavor and try something I haven't had before.

Hannah Jeffreys:

Absolutely they embrace new things and, if I were to take back a, a chili cider to a some cider producer, they're just gonna laugh in my face. They have done, they were a little more open to the ginger after trying it, but to them, that's kind of blast for me. Whereas, here people don't have that preconceived idea of the rules when it comes to beverage in particular. Yeah.

Alex Violette:

So I guess that is, maybe you just really define that for me. Why I see what you're doing is just in my mind, very much the same as craft beer. You're breaking the rules. Yeah. So to create a flavor that has, has a potential market. Like there's somebody that wants to try that and is excited to try something new, and you're not gonna let the rules stop you from making

Hannah Jeffreys:

that. Right. So we stick. We stick to the rules in terms of quality, but we bend the rules in terms of flavor and expectations. That's awesome.

Mischa Smith:

Well that, that's something I'm familiar with growing. Like you have to know the rules in order to be able to break them. That's right. Like you have to know how to do it right first before you, cuz otherwise you're just not doing a good job.

Alex Violette:

that's a, I mean there's, you know, the, the craft loggers, you know, like so big resurgence in the craft beer community in the US and it was only after people just started throwing massive amounts of hops at a beer and. Being like, look, this one has the most hops, the most IBUs. Right? And it was kind of like a pushback in that doing these, very low intensity flavor lager, fermentations were technically difficult. So you had to be a really good brewer because if you made any mistakes, You were gonna taste it in the finished product. Whereas if you had, you know, this massive amount of like just hops added to each step of the process, it's really, you can have the fermentation that wasn't even close to being good and a lot of people might not even notice cuz it's just covered up by these other intense flavors. It's

Hannah Jeffreys:

kind of the same with cider in terms of like the plain apple cider. You have to get it right. other. Other, flavors that you can add, like spices or fruits can kind of mask a problem. But if you are creating an apple cider, it's got, it's got to be right. It's got to be done correctly. Otherwise you will, you'll taste it.

Alex Violette:

Yeah, it's, it's really cool. I mean, I've definitely seen the same thing and like brewer communities and like, ah, this one doesn't taste for, add some vanilla Yeah, toasted coconut. Just throw it in there. for me, that's when, you know, like, it, I don't, I don't do that. Like, that's, that's for me, it's like if you can't, you know, craft this and put it together and the end result is the intentionality, start over. Learn the basics, get, get that done, and then add the flavors to amplify it. Not to cover it up. That's right. Oh, the beer isn't dark enough. It's, it's, it's called a brown nail There we

Mischa Smith:

go. How's your porter? It's brown. It's a brown hail. Then, so speaking of different styles, Hannah, how many different cis do you produce regularly now? How many different flavors?

Hannah Jeffreys:

So we've got our core three. Yep. Which is the original apple. And then the two I've got today, which is, apple and ginger and apple and chili. Very nice. All of them are predominantly apple juice fermented. Mm-hmm. the chili and the, the ginger varieties have less than 1% or less than not 0.1% of the fresh spice added.

Mischa Smith:

Do you have one style that you're particularly proud of, or is that like asking you to pick your favorite child?

Hannah Jeffreys:

Yeah. So as a mom of two, yeah. You can't have a favorite. Okay. but the, the spice ones are closer to my heart. okay. Because that's kind of what we're about. It's adding something from Vietnam and. So the, the ginger and the chili one, are more in line with that and kinda nicely with the foods here, like cider's a master pair anyway, but the spiced ones really came with some of the, the Vietnamese foods and now culture. the chili one in particular with fried crispy things of which there's a lot in Vietnam. And then the ginger with things like sasu and cold cut. so these are the, the three that are in the core range, but you'll probably recall we've done a lot of experimentation in the past. You might remember the cashew apple. For sure. I remember

Mischa Smith:

you were a fan. I was, yeah. Yeah. I think that's, no offense to the current offerings, but I think that was my favorite one that I've had.

Hannah Jeffreys:

Really? Yeah. yeah, that one was funny. That was when we were very much experimenting and had all this cashew apple pulp, which I didn't have garden. I thought if I put it outside, maybe the neighbors will compost. Someone will take it. And then for the next 10 days, all you could smell in the alley was fermenting cashew fruits, but in more recent times, the, the other varieties that we've done have been collaborations. we have a couple coming up with some of my favorite brands here. Okay. And open to more as well. Do you want

Mischa Smith:

Tell us about those, or is that keeping that a secret? those

Hannah Jeffreys:

are probably under wraps for now. Okay. but a few months ago we did a non-alcoholic collaboration with seven bridges. They're quite, I would say, innovative in, in many ways. and we did two varieties together. Non-alcoholic at the time I was pregnant. So it was a fun thing I could get into. I came up with one. And they came up with the other, and then they created the, the final batches and sold them through their outlets. So one was, a herbal, Vietnamese herbal limeade. So that had, the Vietnamese basil, mint, and then Ra ran the the Vietnamese cilantro coriander. And then the one that Stanley and Sarah's team came up with was a pink guava cream soda. Quite an American spin with the cream soda. And then the. Quite out there.

Mischa Smith:

Yeah. So I was gonna bring this up because Alex is big on the, the no and low alcohol options. Okay. So how, like, how'd it go? What was the, what was the response from customers about the, the non-alcohol signers?

Hannah Jeffreys:

So we weren't sure how well it would go down because it's sold in a, a place that predominantly people go to drink alcohol, but they went very quickly. We expected them to sell out faster in Saigon, but it was the other way around. They sold out really fast in central and oi, but I think that's more about where the Seven Bridges tap rooms are because the Saigon one is the most urban. So it's more like for after work drinks where people definitely do lean towards, alcohol, the Saigon one is district one, so that's more like nighttime drinking,

Alex Violette:

for me, the. The reason why the, the low and no alcohol works is, is what we were talking about before, that you're, you're really buying a story and a brand and that authenticity. It, it comes full circle with a, a big joke for me is I'm getting into craft beer and we are all making fun of zma that like, oh yeah, that's what people who just don't even care about flavor drink. It's, it's this. Fruity hard soda thing that's mainstream mass produced, and this is craft beer. This is the opposite. And then 10 years later, come full circle. All the craft breweries are making hard sodas and it's like, oh, see, like that was actually good. And it's, no it wasn't. It's different. this is something with a story and a brand behind it, and I think, people that don't drink alcohol, Can be, you know, find enjoyment from that, from buying like, Hey, I like soda, but that doesn't mean you have to drink Coca-Cola. Mm, exactly. You could drink something that has a local distinct flavor put together by people who care about what you're doing. Spend your money supporting somebody who supports the land and the agriculture, knowing that where your money is going is somebody like someplace different. Yeah, I think that's, that's the cool part of it for me with, the low and no alcohol is like, you don't have to limit yourself to just doing this beer. And then, and then this isn't beer. It's like an artisanal soda is the same as an artisan. Beer or cider. it's that same energy behind it.

Hannah Jeffreys:

Yeah, that's right. They're not just meaningless add-ons to a brand. They're an experience. And that's what going to a tap room is about, like tasting things, trying new things, and maybe you don't wanna drink on that day, or maybe you want a break between beers and it's still an experience rather than, your average packaged soda that we've had around for

Alex Violette:

years. Yeah. And I've, I've been hesitant to jump into the no alcohol just because of. It just processing, basically. It's, if you're making something with alcohol, it's very different than something without, as far as terms of, you know, pasteurization levels and stability and things like that. But the, the low alcohol, we've recently started doing some of those options and the amount of like drinking occasions for that is just mind blowing to me. Mm-hmm. we were thinking that maybe. One or two, but we just see, you know, locals, expats, guys, girls, people that are new to beer, people that are like very, into craft, into the scene. Everybody has a reason for, wanting to consume something like that. And it's, it's really fun. I think it's a space to explore, going forward. There's odd opportunity there.

Hannah Jeffreys:

Exactly. When you want something non-alcoholic in a bar, it's really boring. If it's just the same old three options. If you actually provide something exciting for those people, then in

Alex Violette:

the early days on to something, in the early days of craft beer in the United States, that was every single brew pub did that. They would have 10 beers, and then the 11th tap handle was house made root beer. Mm-hmm. can we make a root beer? We can. It just destroys your. It destroys your draft system, basically. Okay, let's not do it once. Once you put root beer on it, anything that you pour through that faucet is gonna taste like root beer forever. You have to like literally rip out the lines and start over. It would be a big commitment.

Mischa Smith:

It would be a huge commitment. Gotcha. Let's, let's not do that. So I love, I've barely had to look at my notes this episode cuz we've kind of organically gotten to a lot of that wasn't a joke. we've got organically. I wasn't, no pun intended. I promise we've organically gotten to a lot of the subjects I wanted to cover. Um, there were couple others though that I wanted to hit before we get to the, uh, the closing segments. Mm-hmm. Hannah, just. You can take this question as seriously or as, or not as you like, but like is there like a healthy competition between you and oi cider or is it more like a kinship like you guys are, cuz you guys both make cider and you know, all, all these craft beer guys are doing beer, but we're the ciders and like, so is it like, I dunno, what's, what's your relationship with with Hanno Cider? So, I

Hannah Jeffreys:

mean, business is always about competition, right? Right. And they

Mischa Smith:

could have picked a more creative name. It's cider and then, oh, we're, ano cider seems, seems to be a trend

Hannah Jeffreys:

beside, isn't it? But, sorry, go ahead. our name was kind of by accident as well. We started as Peace, love, and apples, which is our. Slogan. Yep. And the description was, well, what do I call it? Cider? Apple cider. No, I don't wanna just stick to apple. So, Saigon cider and then people just called it that. So that's how we kind of stumbled upon our name. Right. And the two have switched. The tagline is now Piece Love and Apples. Right. But I mean, that is a bit of a mouthful to order. Can I have a piece, love and Apples please? Yeah, so we kind of stumbled on an name, but it has become somewhat of a trend inside an naming.

Alex Violette:

I would say it's about the most common trope in naming. A small producer,

Mischa Smith:

as long as you're not naming your brewery after a street. Right.

Hannah Jeffreys:

I'm gonna stop Street Brewing Company when I make a bit. Oh, you should. Yeah.

Alex Violette:

I would say pick almost any city in the United States with over a hundred thousand people. And the name of that city Brewing exists.

Hannah Jeffreys:

Love it. Yeah, so business has to be a competition. Yeah. But I'm sure it's the same in craft. The more of you there are, the more you can build that culture, build the identity of the, the segment

Mischa Smith:

together. So you'd like to see more people

Hannah Jeffreys:

making cider locally? It doesn't do any harm, right. I mean, it would help elevate the, the product a hundred percent as a whole. Yeah. and then, you know, you don't see them so much in Saigon because they seem to be more of a restaurant business these days.

Mischa Smith:

What's the perception in Vietnam of cider as an alcoholic drink? Does everyone know that it's alcohol

Hannah Jeffreys:

not everyone yet, evidently.

Mischa Smith:

Okay.

Hannah Jeffreys:

Office office workers as well. Take it back. You're right. We, after their lunch break, I'm, I'm told office workers taking it back. Produce cider after their lunch break and, um, drinking it as they work in the afternoon. And then someone saying, you know, you realize that's alcohol. No, it's not. It's, it's like a, it's a fermented fruit juice. Yeah, that's alcohol

Mischa Smith:

Um, no,

Alex Violette:

I think, uh, Going back to, Yeah, so it, it sounds like you're enjoy. The very small amount of competition in insider in Vietnam right now. there's four and, and it's still fun, which for me it just says that it's probably healthy competition. Mm. It's not like this race to the bottom where somebody's trying to push somebody else out and just push margin and profitability. Mm-hmm. it. Competition in the space of, um, getting new flavors out, trying to create something that's unique, have a great story behind it, and that just kind of, it's like a, it's a positive stress. Mm-hmm. it pushes you to do better. Exactly. And, and kind of raises the, the quality of all of the cider in the whole country. So that, that's awesome to hear. It sounds like a recipe for success for a lot more cider, getting to a lot more people. Yeah.

Hannah Jeffreys:

We're just committed to doing cider the way. It's always been done. Fermented juice, high quality ingredients. We don't ever add any sugar and we stick to that in our cider. And I would say so far, every cider brand that's come into the market has been really quite different. So it is a good thing.

Mischa Smith:

Yeah. So I don't, I don't drink a ton of ciders, but being different, I think that's a great point cuz of the four that we talked about, they all have a very distinct. Flavor that's very different from each other. Like you wouldn't drink a, you wouldn't drink a delight cider and think like, oh, who's this from? Like it's, they've got a uniformity of like with through their different ingredients and flavors, like they all taste like they came from the same place. Same with Hanoi Cider. Like, you know, everyone's got all these different fruits, but everyone's like, that's annoying cider. Like, you know, you know what it tastes like.

Alex Violette:

So Misha, you can tell the difference between the side, with, without any sort of like visual cue. You just get a glass, you can taste it and you can be like, this came from this

Mischa Smith:

place. I might be giving myself a little bit too much credit on that, but I, I feel like yes, they are all very distinct from each

Alex Violette:

other. So my question is, Hannah, as a cider producer, can you do that with craft brewer? In Vietnam, do you feel like they have a distinct flavor? When you taste this, you're like, ah, this is this place.

Hannah Jeffreys:

There's so many of, you know, so it's so hard to, I mean, to some extent, but now there's so many. There must be over a hundred varieties of craft beer. I don't mean brands. I mean actual Yeah, yeah,

Alex Violette:

right. Products. But specifically, if you had a beer and it just had this flavor to it, you'd be like, ah, this is probably these guys. This is their style. So,

Hannah Jeffreys:

so local fruits is, past street, I would say. But now, I mean, there's a lot of breweries doing that too. I don't think I'm expert enough to identify Fair. I think, I do think it's easier with the cider brands. I mean, there's fewer of us some. Yeah. I think, when there's fewer of you, it's easier to be different. New beers coming into the craft beer market. there's not a lot that hasn't been done now in. whereas CI is a bit newer and there's still a number of things which haven't been.

Mischa Smith:

Cool. And that kind of very organically leads us to Just the last thing I wanna talk about. So it's come up, obviously you use uncommon ingredients to produce different flavors and different styles at Pasture Street. That's kind of what we're known for as well. Could you guys talk to each other a little bit about how you go about choosing which flavors? Cause obviously like, So I, I know like Leche for example, a lot of our staff oh, make a Leche beer. And Alex has always been very adamant that that's a flavor that just doesn't work in beer for these reasons. So how do you guys figure out which flavors are gonna work and which ones not, and kind of which styles they go with?

Alex Violette:

well, yeah. Leche Beer, right? Leche has a great flavor, but it basically just tastes like sugar with a little bit of flavor to it. It's like similar to watermelon. So we do like a watermelon, wheat a, and if you want to add enough watermelon to actually taste the watermelon, it's a ridiculously large amount of watermelon. And leche would just be the same thing. And then, and yeah, so we haven't done one yet, but it would just be, um, It just doesn't make sense to me. It's mostly sugar and I'd rather go a different direction. And then there's always enough. We haven't run outta flavors yet, but we might eventually get there to where we would explore, uh, the Leechy beer. I think I have to, now I wanna do a collaboration. Is that Okay. Wey cider. Okay.

Hannah Jeffreys:

So, for us, maybe it's a bit easier because the flavor is mainly coming from the, the apples, right? So, predominantly. Apple based. then I didn't wanna go too basic with the, the flavors and do things like strawberry and

Mischa Smith:

shots fire, anybody making strawberries? I

Hannah Jeffreys:

don't, I don't actually think there's anyone, but sorry if there is, but it's kind of like the first, very commercial thing that comes to mind. so I wanted to stay clear of those and do so. A little more, um, unique. Yeah. Less mass market around the world. So that's how we landed on the spices. And I mean, we've done, we have done lache one in the past actually, but that was La Guava not, not Apple based. And I'd say it probably does work Insider. but I lent more towards the, the spices and keeping cider as an apple based product with. spices to add a bit of a kick. Mm-hmm. not doing something too, too mass and too obvious and always sticking to, Vietnamese ingredients, though that's a bit of a contradiction because apples, are from New Zealand, right? Because. They don't grow here. I mean, they're not farmed here on any great extent. When I started, I was wearing apples from the markets. I thought, oh yeah, they're coming from dla. they're not, they don't grow in dla. There are some. Apple's growing near the border with China. Okay. but if you need any quantity of apples, reliable supply of apples, they're coming from overseas. So that leaves, near here, China or Australia and New Zealand. And we go with New Zealand where we can get certified organic. Nice.

Alex Violette:

same with beer. If you need certified organic hops, you go to new.

Hannah Jeffreys:

But, um, Nearest to Vietnam, that was where we could find good organic apple supply. But then everything else we use, is guided by, it must be Vietnamese.

Alex Violette:

Yeah. The, the ingredients too. I mean that was, um, that was our. No, that was our place. why, why would you be importing beer ingredients and then brewing the beer and then exporting the beer? It's just kind of like, that that's what made what we're doing make sense for me is that this is something you can only do here if you don't have access to, to the ingredients that we're using in the beers. You can't make'em. And then other parts of the world, it's like you can't get in. They're not, cost effective. You can't find good quality, things like that, you know? So just using what, tastes like Vietnam and really has a sense of place. Cause it's something you could really only do here to the same quality that we're doing it.

Hannah Jeffreys:

Exactly. That's what makes it interesting and fun as well. Doing something that's contextual. Yeah.

Mischa Smith:

Yeah. Why make something in Vietnam that you can make anywhere else and not make it Vietnamese? Precisely. Yeah. We like to wrap up, every podcast with a segment that I like to call factor fiction. There's no prep for this I'm gonna make a few state. And, you can answer fact or fiction. If there's like a funny story coming off the back, you can tell it or you can just answer with one word, fact or fiction. Okay. You excited? Ready Factor Fiction. Hannah Saigon Cider was the first craft beverage company in Vietnam.

Hannah Jeffreys:

Fact, if you exclude Bejo,

Mischa Smith:

oh, that's a whole other con. Wow. Right? Yeah. We could have a whole podcast about that. Okay. Bejo, whether or it's in the new way. Yes.

Alex Violette:

Yes.

Mischa Smith:

I'm can agree with Hannah and say fact and we'll, and we'll table the Be Away Conversation for another episode. Hannah Fact or Fiction Cider's better than.

Hannah Jeffreys:

fact Love if you are gluten and tolerant

Mischa Smith:

factor fiction making cider, is inherently more difficult than making beer. I've never

Hannah Jeffreys:

made a beer. Okay. I can't answer that one.

Mischa Smith:

And Alex is adamant that he never wants to make a cider. So we're at loggerheads. I said that. I think you've been pretty clear that you don't, I, for Pastor Street, you've been pretty clear that you don't wanna make a, make a cider. You'd rather make a beer that, like hits those same sweet spots that a

Alex Violette:

cider would, that that has the, the flavors that people are looking for. I think there's a lot of room to explore in beer. Yeah. A hundred percent Absolut.

Mischa Smith:

Hannah Factor fiction. Maceration is the most important stage of making cider fiction. Okay. I just looked up how to make cider on the internet and that was one of the, the verbs that I.

Hannah Jeffreys:

Fermentation would be

Mischa Smith:

maceration fermentation. That makes sense. And last one, Hannah Factor Fiction. The craft beverage industry in Vietnam is still in its infancy.

Hannah Jeffreys:

fact gonna go with fact.

Mischa Smith:

That's what I think. But I thought maybe we could have a,

Hannah Jeffreys:

there's a lot of room for growth. Exactly. As Vietnam is rising meteorically.

Mischa Smith:

Exactly. More and more people are gonna come here. More and more jobs, more and more commerce, more and more craft beers and insiders. That's the hope. Love it. Thanks Hannah. Thank you. So that was, beer stories. Our producer is Niall Mackay of Seven Million Bikes podcast. Our theme song was composed and performed by Lewis Wright. Thanks Alex

Alex Violette:

as always. Yeah, thanks, Misha, and thanks Hannah is an awesome conversation. Thanks for having you. Yeah, thanks Anna.

Mischa Smith:

Were you nervous about this? No, of course not. Cold as ice. And thank you for listening.