One of the side benefits of The Festival — the expansive international beer tasting presented in Atlanta in August by Shelton Brothers Importers — is the number of rarities that made it to the city for the first time, and even stuck around for a while after the event.
Certainly, the Chinese beers from Jing-A Brewing Co. are a prime example of that.
Somewhat shrouded in mystery, the brewery was founded by two expat friends living in Beijing. And it’s become known there for creative interpretations of traditional beer styles using Chinese ingredients, such as koji, ginger, Sichuan peppercorns, and Osmanthus flowers, as well as vegetable and fruit flavors.
Beginning at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Liberator Distributing, the company that distributes Shelton Brothers imports in Atlanta, is partnering with Double Dragon Chinese restaurant in Oakhurst to present a Jing-A beer tasting.
Double Dragon is one of the newest concepts from second-generation Chinese-American restaurateurs Michael Lo and chef George Yu. The business partners also own Taiyo Ramen in downtown Decatur and Suzy Siu’s Baos at Krog Street Market.
Lo, who once lived in Beijing, said it wasn’t difficult to convince him that Jing-A Brewing’s beers would be a fun match for Yu’s Double Dragon menu — which gleefully delves into the greatest hits of American Chinese cooking, elevating the likes of General Tso’s Chicken and Moo Shu Pork.
“That they were in Beijing was a big part of the allure for me,” Lo said. “Beijing was basically like Silicon Valley, because the two universities there are kind of like Harvard and MIT. And there were tons of expats doing startups.
“Back then, though, when you went out to drink beer, it was like Carlsberg or some similar European beer, or Chinese beer like Tsingtao. So I thought it was really cool that a decade after I was in China, there’s craft brewing of this quality now. I totally relate to what they’re doing.”
As far as Chinese craft beer with American Chinese food, Lo said it was a “bingo.”
“We sell a lot of beer, mainly because it goes so well with our food,” Lo said. “It’s what people associate with drinking when they eat Chinese. Beijing has its own style of Chinese food, with dumplings, noodles and some of that northwestern flavor, but like Chicago or New York, there’s every kind of food there. And we’ll come up with a couple of special small plates for the tasting.”
Liberator’s Fred Crudder, who had the big idea of getting Lo and Yu involved in a tasting, said that Jing-A beers are among the rarest the company has distributed.
“A pallet of kegs came wrapped up like a mummy on a plane from China,” Crudder said. “What I think is equally cool is that these beers were some of the most talked about at The Festival. People were blown away by how good they were. To me, they were crying out for a food event.
“At Double Dragon, we’re going to have two fruit beers on draft, plus a green tea IPA and a unique Szechuan sour stout. This is the first time that people will be able to taste all four of these beers in one location, and literally one of the first times these beers can be tasted anywhere in the United States.”
Jing-A Brewing rare beer tasting at Double Dragon, beginning 4 p.m. Wednesday, 350 Mead Road, Decatur. 404-832-0016, doubledragonoakhurst.com.
Fred Crudder’s tasting notes for the Jing-A beers at Double Dragon:
Dualistic Oversimplification: A blend of two diametrically opposed beers — a kettle sour and a stout — both featuring the same three special ingredients: cocoa nibs, dried tangerine peel, and Sichuan pepper. Tart with a bright floral aroma and notes of sweet citrus on the palate.
Spring Blizzard IPA: Inspired by the storms of white catkin-fluff that hit Beijing every spring, this pale straw-colored IPA is light, dry and unfiltered. Fresh hop aromas of citrus and melon intermingle with an infusion of jasmine green tea for a crisp, lasting finish.
Lychee Xanadu Berliner Weisse: This cloudy straw-colored ale was soured with lactobacillus and infused with loads of juicy Chinese lychee. The enticing flavor of white peach and lychee is balanced by a refreshing tartness and a sparkling, semisweet finish.
Watermelon Xanadu Berliner Weisse: Another slightly tart Berliner Weisse-style beer from the Xanadu series, this time with watermelon flesh and rind.
More Jing-A Brewing beers on tap this week
You also can find several of the Jing-A Brewing beers on tap at a few bars and growler shops around Atlanta later this week, including Watermelon Xanadu at Brick Store Pub in Decatur, Lychee Xanadu at The Porter in Little Five Points, and Spring Blizzard IPA at the Lawrenceville Growler Shop and the Truck & Tap in Woodstock.