Talking Head - Beer life outside the Perimeter

As a fanatic for great beer, I am fortunate to live a short distance from Decatur, the epicenter of beer culture in the metro Atlanta area, where even the coffee shops have a killer tap list. Having done my time in suburbia, where bars typically have more TV screens than beer choices, I have found my happy place. But things are changing in Bud Light land, as the second wave of craft beer enthusiasm spreads out from the usual hip urban enclaves.

Taco Mac has led the parade into Atlanta's northern exurbia. With tap counts in the triple digits and no less than 20 locations outside the Perimeter, Taco Mac has defined the suburban tap house model. Since 90 percent of the customers are drinking some form of American lager and watching football, it appears that the model is not all that different from the existing one, however. Still, you can certainly find a good beer at Taco Mac. Stick with the newer releases, which tend to be fresher. And for God's sake, request a mug that's not frozen.

Taco Mac hosts frequent beer dinners and other beer-centric events throughout the year, such as the recent visit of Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione. Most of the beer dinners are held at the Lindbergh City Center location, which is inside the Perimeter, but here's a heads up on one that should be worth the inbound commute. On Tues., Oct. 14, the Lindbergh location will host a dinner featuring some rare beers from De Proef Brouwerij in Belgium. Four beers from De Proef, plus a dry cider made by Aspall Hall Farm in Suffolk, England, will be paired with a sumptuous spread. The De Proef offerings include Le Grand Blanche (a bigger version of a Belgian wit), Saison Imperiale (a stronger, amber-colored version of the classic farmhouse ale), Lozen Boer Abt (an abbey-style strong ale), and Les Duex Brasseurs (a collaboration between De Proef and Maine's Allagash Brewing Company made with two separate strains of funky brettanomyces yeast). Details and a full menu are available here. Reception and hors d'ouevres begin at 6:30 p.m., with dinner following at 7. Reservations are $50 per person, plus tax, gratuity included. Reserve your spot by Friday by e-mailing beerdinner@tappanstreet.com.

The 5 Seasons North in Alpharetta has set the bar high for quality beer made on premises. In addition to an extensive list of house-made beers, Brewmaster Crawford Moran trots out a special cask every Thursday and hosts monthly beer and cheese tastings on the third Wednesday of each month. This month's tasting falls on Oct. 15 and showcases cheeses from Thomasville's excellent Sweetgrass Dairy. Five beers and five cheeses are paired for $20 per person, making for a delicious and inexpensive dinner. If you are still hungry afterward, however, you get $5 off a dinner entrée that evening. Reservations are required, so call 770-521-5551 or shoot an e-mail to events.5seasonsnorth@gmail.com.

Some of the better restaurants OTP are also jumping on the craft beer bandwagon, replacing tired old tap choices with more interesting selections and hosting occasional beer dinners and special events.

The Fire Iron Grill inside Atlanta Marriott Northwest in Marietta is unveiling a new selection of draft beers that includes some of the best examples of their respective styles. To celebrate the rollout, they will be hosting a five-course prix-fixe dinner on Wed., Oct. 8, at 7:30 p.m. The dinner will pair courses with several of their new draft selections including Victory Prima Pils, Duck Rabbit Brown, Stone Pale Ale, Stone Arrogant Bastard, and Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA. The cost for the evening is $45 for food and beer; tax and tip not included. Reservations are required, so e-mail keith.schroeder@marriott.com to make reservations or RSVP here.

Henry's Louisiana Grill in downtown Acworth is celebrating its eighth anniversary with a beer dinner featuring Louisiana's Abita Brewing Company beers paired with food from Louisiana-bred chef Henry Chandler. The dinner will take place upstairs at Henry's Uptown on Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $29.50. You can see the menu and beer pairings here. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 770-966-1515.

Finally, Magic Hat is sponsoring a Halloween-themed beer dinner at Garrison's Broiler & Tap at Medlock Crossing in Johns Creek on Wed., Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $45. More details are on the way. Meanwhile, call 770-476-1962 for updates.

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