City Paper is not for tourists
What’s in Stein’s Stein is a new biweekly feature celebrating the liquids made, sold, and served by underrepresented voices in the craft beverage industries.
Beer: Seizoen Bretta, Logsdon Farmhouse Ales
Person: Kenneth Nguyen, founder and managing partner of Pekko Distribution Co.
Hometown: Silver Spring, Maryland
Price: $7 per 375 ml
Taste: This saison is as thirst-quenching as a light beer, only stronger. Aromas of ripe fruit and dusty cellars greet the nostrils. Tiny bubbles scrub the palate, creating a lightness atypical for an 8 percent ABV beer. The Brettanomyces yeast creates a zesty spiciness with an intense dryness akin to white Burgundy wine.
Story: From 11th-grade dropout to small business owner, Kenneth Nguyen is no stranger to struggle or success. The son of Vietnamese immigrants, Nguyen’s parents left after the fall of Saigon in 1975, arriving in a refugee camp with no grasp of English. Nguyen says his mother was initially upset when he didn’t graduate high school, though he eventually got his GED and his bachelor’s in business.
Nguyen and his team of Charles Nitze, Doug Deer, and Joey Poole comprise Pekko Distribution Co. As wholesalers, they sell hard-to-find craft beer to bars, restaurants, and grocery stores within the District.
ChurchKey is where Nguyen cut his teeth as a server, participating daily in pre-shift meetings with Neighborhood Restaurant Group beer director Greg Engert. “Greg’s program made my knowledge practical,” he says.
Nguyen likens being a small business owner to riding an animal. “Everyone from the outside sees you riding this great lion and they say, ‘This guy’s brave, he’s courageous, he’s a risk taker,’ and I’m on the lion going, ‘How the fuck did I get up here and how do I not get eaten alive?’”
Where to Buy: Craft Beer Cellar DC, 301 H St NE; (202) 846-7585; dc.craftbeercellar.com