A Donkey Punch kick to the head 

Donkey Punch Barleywine, a 10 percent ABV kick to the head, is the latest beer in Sweetwater Brewing Company's Catch and Release series. It is available now in stores and on tap at Taco Mac and Twainís, among others. An initial sample being passed around at the Brick Store got good marks, with most agreeing that the taste was closer to the high-hop, toasted-malt character of an American double IPA than a typically thick, sweet barleywine. Bonus: Donkey Punch comes in a beautiful 1-liter swing top bottle that can be used for homebrew or infused oils after you are done.

Even though most of the Oktoberfest celebrations are over (5 Seasons in Alpharetta celebrates its first this weekend), there are still plenty of beer happenings this month. Every Thursday in October, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens is hosting a Fest-of-Ale, featuring a selection of specialty beers each night for $3.50 ($5 for Guinness and high-gravity beers). To add to the fun, bring a flashlight and explore the gardens, keeping an eye out for scarecrows.

At Summits Wayside Taverns, Oktoberfest continues all month with German food and lots of seasonal selections, including fall offerings from Sam Adams, Dogfish Head, Victory and Left Hand. Plus, if you are getting low on glassware, it's pint night every night, so buy the nightly beer and keep the glass. Check the weekly newsletter on the website to see whatís coming up. This week, you can get Brooklyn, North Coast and Smithwick's pints. Two special Rogue beers will be tapped this month as well. On Oct. 15, it's Rogue Hop Heaven, brewed with 1,000 pounds of all-Oregon hops. And watch the weekly newsletter for the tapping of a Rogue Santa PR, a double-hopped version of the Rogue St. Red.

In beer dinner news, LIT Kitchen hosts a tasting of Victory Brewing Company beers along with a trio of plates from JCL Global Culinary's Executive Chef Carmen Capello, Oct. 9 (more info here). The Corner Pub in Decatur is also getting into the beer dinner act, with a Fall Flavors Beer Dinner Sunday, Oct. 7. The cost is $50 per person and includes five courses served with a variety of German specialty beers.

Finally, on Oct. 18, Terrapin Beer Company opens its Terrapin and Friends Beer Dinner series at Farm 255 in Athens with "South Paw in a Half Shell," a joint tasting with Colorado's Left Hand Brewing. Farm 255 is one of Athensí top restaurant destinations, so this one looks to be worth the drive. Future "Friends" dinners will take place Nov. 8 at Twain's in Decatur and Dec. 5 at Five and Ten in Athens with Oskar Blues.

On a personal note, Oct. 20 is the date for my favorite beer event of the year, the Great Decatur Beer Festival. I have been attending this since the late 1990s and it just keeps getting better. The weather is usually perfect and the selection of beers has expanded along with the tastes of the attendees. Proceeds benefit a variety of Decatur area charities. Only 5,000 tickets are sold, and it always sells out, so get yours now here.

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