After five years of making beer for Boulder's Upslope Brewing Company, Alex Violette is moving to Vietnam and hopes to bring the American craft beer movement with him.
Violette, 29, begins his journey to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on Aug. 14, to open Pasteur Street Brewing Company and bring craft beer to the masses there. Sam Scruby took over for Violette as Upslope head brewer in late July.
"There's the potential in that part of the world to introduce them to craft beer," Violette said. "One of my favorite parts of my job is getting to talk to people about beer. I can just imagine people drinking a beer that actually tastes great for the first time in their lives."
He's partnering with John Reid, an American who's lived in Vietnam for the last six years. Reid kept waiting for craft beer to reach him, and when it never did, he decided to take matters into his own hands, Violette said.
On a visit to see his brother in Longmont, Reid sat down at the bar inside Upslope and began chatting with bartender and events coordinator Bethany Lovato, who also happens to be Violette's girlfriend.
Violette originally planned to consult with Reid, but became so interested in the idea of bringing craft beer to a new part of the world that he decided to go into business with him, he said.
Though it was difficult leaving Upslope, which has grown into an award-winning brewery in its six-year history, Violette said he couldn't pass up a chance to do something completely new.
As it stands now, the beer culture in Vietnam consists mostly of industrial lagers and less-than-great quality beers, he said.
"We go over there and we're not just selling our brand, we have to sell an entire style of beer," he said. "There will be a lot of focus on education, promoting craft beer in general, the use of higher-quality ingredients and traditional processes."
He plans to incorporate local ingredients into Pasteur's beers, and then eventually export some of those back to the states.
"Just using all the exotic ingredients we can find is going to be the most fun for me as a brewer," he said. "To use herbs and spices that you can't find in the U.S. The fruits are very impressive as well — stuff that I've never heard of."
Violette plans to spend the first few weeks experimenting with ingredients and making small, pilot batches of beer to gauge the response of local customers. From there, Pasteur will move into a larger brewhouse with more beer-making capabilities.
Lovato is also making the move to Vietnam, where she'll head up the new brewery's marketing department, Violette said.
Upslope co-founder Matt Cutter said he's excited that his business helped give Violette the experience to spread craft beer around the world.
Upslope had only been open six months when Violette joined the staff, which gave him room to experiment and grow along with the business. The two breweries are already talking about collaboration possibilities, Cutter said.
"Having worked every day in an entrepreneurial environment fosters more entrepreneurial activity," Cutter said. "What he has done for our process and the quality of our beer is immeasurable. We wish him the best and will be here to support him anyway that we can."
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