Maltese Expat Is Shaping The Craft Beer Scene In Vietnam
The story of Tê Tê Beer
A 29-year-old advertising whiz from Malta has taken the craft beer scene in Vietnam by storm. Or at least, really heavy rain.
Tobias Briffa moved to Vietnam in 2012 after having lived in India for 3 years working as a volunteer teacher in the slums of Mumbai. He's known to his friends as a a free-spirited, fun loving guy; but he's got an advertising CV that young Mad Men hopefuls would kill for.
He's worked with heavy-weights like Ogilvy & Mather – a marketing and public relations agency, and one of the largest marketing and communications companies in the world – known for its work with brands like Dove, American Express, and IBM. He was at their branch in Bangladore for two years before he had to leave because of new visa regulations. After that he moved to Vietnam on a whim and worked in another ad agency for three years, till he decided to go it alone and build something for himself.
"[I thought] fuck the repetition of office and corporate life, I want to do my own thing with people I admire."Tobias Briffa, Co-Founder of Tê Tê Beer
Briffa quite quickly grew tired of corporate advertising and decided to set up his own ad agency – AstroPig – in 2014, so that he could make designs and campaigns for products that him and his team loved. The agency's philosophy was to provide quality creative which doesn't take itself too seriously. An approach that Briffa would also bring to his next company: Tê Tê Beer.
He founded Tê Tê Beer with two Spanish brothers (Ruben Martinez, Luis Martinez) with backgrounds in design and biochemistry, and an American web developer (Michael Rowland). They set out to create a high-quality craft beer that reflected the idiosyncrasies of Saigon – where they are based. It's now Vietnam’s fastest growing craft beer brands.
"The plan is to grow the beer brand into a successful craft brewery in S.E. Asia. We want to make great craft beer that is easy for the locals to drink."
Tê Tê is a super likeable brand – it looks great and it's sensitive to Vietnamese identity without being overly precious.
"The brand looks to reflect a part of Vietnamese culture and make people feel proud of their culture, language, idioms and local quirks. We want to make a premium beer without the cliche of "premiumness". We want to portray quality without being too serious. We want to reflect the playfulness of our approach through the brand."
"We want to portray quality without being too serious"Tobias Briffa, Co-Founder of Tê Tê Beer
Although most of the ingredients for Tê Tê are imported, the beer is made in Vietnam. It's promoted as a Belgian style wheat beer which is brewed in Vietnam, with a light-taste that has proven to be especially popular with female drinkers.
Briffa and his fellow brewers seem to be living the dream. They've ditched the corporate gig, created a brand which is young, light, and fun, and are working closely with their new community.
As for Tê Tê beer – people are drinking it up, literally. It's all over Vietnam. So kudos to Briffa and his team. Here's hoping they'll bring a sample for us to taste in Malta over Christmas!