Talking Head - Eat, drink and be merry

Beer tastings and dinners around town

Of all the breweries that have begun distribution in Georgia in the last year or so, none has proved more consistently excellent than Portland, Maine's Allagash Brewing Company. Founder Rob Tod has carved out a niche for Allagash as one of the premier producers of Belgian-style ales in America. The brewery's five staples (a white, dubbel, tripel, grand cru and quad) hew closely to their styles, while a continuing string of limited-edition ales raise the bar by experimenting with new ingredients and techniques while maintaining the traditional characteristics and superb craftsmanship of Belgian brewing.

Decatur's 5th Earl Market will offer an opportunity to sample five Allagash beers at its Allagash Beer Dinner on Saturday, Sept. 20, at 7 p.m. The featured beers are Allagash White, Tripel and Dubbel, along with the Belgian-syle IPA Hugh Malone and the Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy Musette. The Hugh Malone will be paired with a "Beer for Breakfast" course that includes fried duck eggs, ostrich sausage and potato-and-Parmesan fritters. The Musette will be served with baby-back ribs with a Southern spice rub, 5th Earl barbecue sauce and warm purple potato salad. The cost of the dinner is $55 plus tax and tip. Call 404-377-5477 or e-mail brian@5thearlmarket.com for reservations.

Canada's Unibroue (say "oo-ni-broo," not "yoo-ni-brow," although the latter is funnier) also turns out exceptional Belgian-style ales, including one of the best tripels in the world, La Fin du Monde. Taco Mac's Duluth location is hosting a beer dinner on Tues., Sept. 16, featuring five Unibroue styles, from the Belgian strong pale ale, Don de Dieu, to the cherry-infused Quelque Chose. The menu includes Maine lobster salad, rabbit terrine, chorizo-crusted swordfish steak, roasted venison chop and cherry graham-cracker cake with macerated cherries. E-mail beerdinner@tappanstreet.com for details and to make a reservation.

Tastings: A Wine Experience in Decatur, which offers 100 wines by the taste or the glass, will be hosting beer tastings every Friday in September from 6-8 p.m. The cost is $10 per person. This Friday, sample beers from Colorado's Left Hand Brewing Company. On Sept. 19 enjoy the progressive brews from California's Lagunitas Brewing Company. Craft-beer pioneer Rogue Ales, from Newport, Ore., will be featured Sept. 26. Tastings (the bar) also features spirit tastings on Saturday nights. Check their website for details.

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