Oddly Enough

Fake alcohol turns drinkers to homebrew

A fermenting alcoholic beverage is seen being brewed at a micro-distillery, August 29, 2008. REUTERS/Bruno Domingos

HANOI (Reuters) - A rash of discoveries of fake alcohol production rings has driven Vietnamese drinkers to homemade vodka, state-run Voice of Vietnam radio said on Friday.

Vodka distilled at home, often made from sticky rice or corn, now accounts for nearly 80 percent of the total output of alcohol in Vietnam, while imported brands make up just 4 percent, the radio quoted Nguyen Van Hung, deputy head of the Vietnam Beer, Alcohol and Beverages Association, as saying.

He said output from large-scale breweries and distilleries grew 14 percent per year between 2000 and 2007, but outdated technology has prevented the industry’s development, even though domestic firms can turn out 100 million litres annually.

The use of imported alcohol, especially wine, is increasingly popular in major cities but the risk of fakes is high. Some 72 percent of Vietnam’s population live in rural areas with low income, making home-brewed vodka a choice for many.

Reporting by Ho Binh Minh; Editing by John Ruwitch