Dessert beers usually come in one of two varieties: the totally obnoxious kind and the kind that Lazy Magnolia makes.
As Mississippi's most prominent brewery, Lazy Magnolia is known to national beer drinkers for its Sweet Potato Stout. But the easy-drinking milk stout made with Southern-grown yams was retired this year. Now, Lazy Magnolia is hoping to recreate the acclaim by reaching back into grandma’s recipe book for its next down-home seasonal: Vanilla Pecan.
Vanilla Pecan is a variant of Lazy Magnolia’s flagship Southern Pecan brown ale, itself a 2006 World Beer Cup bronze medal winner. The beer starts off with the same base of toasty brown ale and whole-roasted pecans and adds Madagascar vanilla beans to bring the beer to the confectionary level.
The twist is a classic one, joining the syrupy caramel flavor of the malted barley and pecans and the sweet woodiness of the vanilla bean. A first waft is like walking by a neighbor’s window while they’re cooling a praline pie on the sill. You’d be tempted to stick your finger in, urged to mischief by the aroma of liquefied brown sugar and delicate vanilla blossoms.
That genteel Southern fantasy is only heightened upon drinking the beer. The first sip is a wet kiss of molasses, like those pralines you can buy in gift shops on Bourbon Street. It’s the kind of sweetness that should really bog you down, make you regret drinking your dessert with dinner. That might happen if Vanilla Pecan was built off a stout, but that’s where the brown ale offers its service.
Vanilla Pecan finishes guiltlessly. The dessert flavors hit you up front, but it’s totally cleansed by the end, leaving you feeling like you just chased a hunk of pecan brittle with a Newcastle Brown Ale. And at a friendly 4.5% ABV, you can sit on your porch and do it all night. At least, until the mosquitos swarm, thirsting for that fresh sugar in your blood.