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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: Gordon Biersch Rockville’s Printemp Saison
Maker: Nassim Sultan
Hometown: Watertown, Massachusetts
Price: $6.00 per pint, $14.17 per 64 oz growler
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Taste: Printemp Saison (missing an “s” on purpose) is highly carbonated, though softer than champagne. Tasting free of tannins and bitterness, it’s infinitely digestible. Saison was once a nearly-extinct style of beer. But now it’s back, and the best ones are beer-flavored without notes of lemonade or ripe banana. This super dry beer is made with German malt, German and American hops, and a famous, highly expressive yeast.
Story: It’s not uncommon for an American brewer to have German and Czech great grandparents. But a brewer with a Lebanese father born in Syria? A brewer who is also a Master Brewers Association of America scholarship winner? There’s likely just one: Nassim Sultan, head brewer of Gordon Biersch Rockville.
“I recognize that there are a lot of brewers who don’t have my last name,” says Sultan. “When people come to GB in Rockville what do they think?” In the end, it doesn’t matter. Printemp Saison speaks for itself.
His saison is like him—entirely American, but also a composite. “My dad grew up between Syria and Lebanon but would call Lebanon home. Even though it didn’t exist when he was born, he thinks of himself as Lebanese.”
After going to Georgetown for undergrad, Sultan spent a half-year in Lebanon. “I stuck out like a tourist because I didn’t talk like everybody else,” he says.
“Beirut was very stable…calm, it was peaceful…a place that learned how to be at peace with itself but at the same time always on the edge, wary of collapsing into something worse.”
Where to find it: Gordon Biersch, 200 East Middle Lane, Unit A Rockville; (301) 340-7159; gordonbiersch.com/locations/rockville