Having an interesting beer and homebrewing, I have been curious about the emergence of the craft beer industry in Vietnam over the last twelve to eighteen months. The opportunity to hear from John Pemberton, the owner and founder of the Heart Darkness Brewery was both informative and enlightening in gaining a greater understanding of this unique business in Vietnam.
As John spoke two things that stood out above all others, first was his passion beer, a passion so strong you left the high paying job in Asia to pursue his love of beer and desire to learn all he could about brewing. Secondly, it was a culmination of life events and experiences which led to a particular point in time where they inspired the chasing of a dream.
It was also interesting to hear how the name Heart of Darkness took inspiration from the book Apocalypse Now. This inspiration creates a theme within the brewery with individual beers taking the names from references within the book, which in turn has influenced the labels of the beers.
One of the interesting challenges John raised was that of quality control of the beer, and not just in terms of the quality of raw materials and the final product, but insuring that quality remains during the transportation process. John referred to cold chain transportation in which their product must remain at the same temperature from the time is brewed to the time is consumed. This is particularly important with product such as craft beer which is temperature-sensitive. Given that his operation is in Vietnam and he is exporting to other Asian countries in high temperatures and humidity, this is an undertaking which has not come without challenges.
Overall the heart of darkness brewery in Vietnam provides a great examples of what can be achieved through passion, desire and a lot of hard work.