I recently spent a week in New Orleans, which is one of the world’s finest drinking cities, but possibly the worst place I ever visited for beer. There are probably many sociological, geographical and economic reasons why the Mississippi Delta doesn’t produce quality craft microbrews. But mostly it seems like the Big Easy prefers getting bombed on booze. Of course, they do have a thriving industry of walk-up bars serving blended rum drinks in fun plastic vessels, so I can’t really hate on that. I’m more inclined to blame the water. Seriously, the mighty Mississippi River is a filthy beast down there, and the aquifers don’t exactly run deep. Yet between a solid week of bar hopping and even a jaunt to a beer festival, I tasted perhaps four new beers that I would consider above average. The rest were mostly metallic pale ales, uneven wheat concoctions, and light-drinking lagers that hewed closer to Bud Light than Bavaria. (In fairness, New Orleans does have some “beer bars” with largish menus of Belgian and German imports.)
But one thing I did appreciate about my bayou beer tour was the variety of southern flavorings that seeped into their brews. Strawberry and chicory beers were relatively common, and one brewery even produced a spring seasonal to pair with crawfish boils. Yet the beer I brought home for this month’s review seemed to be a special point of pride among New Orleans beer enthusiasts. The Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale, I was repeatedly told, is the first beer to be brewed with roasted pecans, a cash crop in neighboring Mississippi. At the very least, it doesn’t taste anything like a beer from Wisconsin.
Purchase: One bottle of Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale, from a corner deli.
Style: English brown ale
Strength: 4.5 percent ABV
Packaging: Lazy Magnolia bottles this in a two-tone brown label, more tastefully understated than other exports from Kiln, Mississippi.
Appearance: This is the clearest brown ale I’ve ever seen, akin to yesterday’s Dr. Pepper and melted ice, but at least the head is foamy and tan.
Aroma: The aroma has a heavy malt backbone with faint hops and toasted grains with a heavy dose of burnt brown sugar. It has little pecan aroma but a strong lactose presence like a banana cream pie.
Taste:  I would have preferred an earthy brew ground with gritty pecans, but Lazy Magnolia plays up the sweetness to largely mask the original flavor. Instead, it comes on like a Payday candy bar then mellows to biscuits with cocoa powder before souring on creamy flavors at the limp finish.
Mouthfeel: Incredibly thin bodied, even for the style.
Drinkability: This beer should be quite drinkable, given the alcohol and mouthfeel, but I’m struggling to even finish this bottle.
Ratings: BeerAdvocate gives this an 83, while RateBeer scores it a 69. Even those grades seem charitable, I think those hospitable Southern beer reviewers are just too nice to criticize.