Mekong Brewing Company was started by Rob Stevenson as a passion project. Rob is based in Saigon but is originally Ohio, USA where he first got into brewing craft beer. After relocating to Vietnam, he wanted to continue brewing for fun but struggled to get ingredients, so he would ask friends visiting from the USA to bring over malt, hops and yeast. When he collected enough of each, he would make a beer. Of course precision is paramount, as one mistake could ruin the beer and he’d have to wait 6 months or a year to amass enough ingredients to brew again. When craft beer took off in 2014, suddenly beer ingredients became widely available, so Rob decided to take his hobby to the next level and founded Mekong Brewing Company.
The Production Paradox
Making that jump isn’t easy. To brew at production volumes requires serious equipment, which the “little guys” don’t have the capital to invest in. Most people will “contract brew”, where they rent the equipment of a larger brewery to do a bigger production run than they could ever do on their own.
That’s all fine, but craft beer generally starts to deteriorate as soon as it’s packaged. It’s best consumed fresh. Make too much and you can’t distribute it in time: you get stuck with spoiled product. Make too little and you have supply constraints: bars get unhappy and find another beer to sell. Growing from small to medium to large is a constant balancing act, where supply and demand need to increase together. If one outpaces the other, you’re in trouble.
Mekong Brewing Company’s Beers
Rob first made a name for himself with the Blue Elephant IPA, a punchy, bitter beer that really scratches the hop itch. He also added to the range the Abino Rhino Double IPA, which kicks things up further and clocks in at 9% ABV. His Bumble Basil Saison is a sort of hop-bomb antidote: something fruity, funky and fun to drink. He has also released some seasonals like his Killa Gorilla Brown Ale and a Xmas beer that we may see again before too long. Rob designs all the bottle artwork himself, and I gotta say it’s pretty awesome.
You can try the Blue Elephant IPA, Albino Rhino DIPA and the Bumble Basil Saison in bottles at Imperial Craft Bia.