Abita Pecan Harvest Ale

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Itís amazing what you can get out of malt when you try. Stouts, for example, are known for their chocolate and coffee-like character. Should that surprise? Not really. Roast malt until it turns black like coffee or cocoa beans and you get similar flavors. At the same time, toasting malt like you would tree nuts and youíll get a nutty flavor in your beer. The Germans are masters at the latter, and their Vienna-Marzen and Oktoberfest beers are well know for their toasty nutty character.

But thatís Germany. Here in America, Louisiana precisely, those nuts down at the Abita brewery, about an hour north of New Orleans, decided to try adding nuts-real Louisiana pecans-to a brew and see what happened. Actually, they added pecan oil rather than whole pecans, but you get the idea. The result: Abita Pecan Harvest Ale.

Abita has featured local ingredients in their beer before, and Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager was a big hit this past summer. I do like the fact that Abita is a small regional brewery that, while distributed nationally, retains its local Louisiana flair. Beers like the Harvest series go al long way towards preserving that tradition.

Abita Pecan Harvest Ale pours to a beautiful bright chestnut color (I know, wrong nut but there you go) with a thick creamy head formation and a soft, sweet malty nose. Important safety tip here: since many of the flavors are subtle, you really should allow the beer to warm a little to best appreciate them. Not necessarily to room temperature, but if you drink this one ice cold you will miss much.

Upon sipping, I got some of that sweet malt that the nose promised, along with some nice hints of toasted malt nuttiness and chocolate. Those flavors intensify in the finish, where youíll find just a touch of balancing hops, too.

But what about the pecans? If you let the beer really warm, you can detect just a hint of pecan nut aroma and flavor in the finish, where they finally come pecan through (ouch). Just a bit mind you. Truth be told, I really had to work my taste buds into overtime to find it, but it is there, if just barely. That the pecans are not more prominent is a disappointment to me.

Sure, this is a nice enough Oktoberfest/fall ale (a true Ofest would have to be a lager), and there is some respectable chocolate malt and maybe even Munich malt nuttiness going on. I think the pecans are a novel idea with this type of brew, but Abita misses the mark with the execution. Whether you call them pee-cans or puh-cons, I didnít really get much of them.

Still, hedonistically, this is a tasty enough ale, and at just $5.49 a six-pack here in Atlanta definitely a great buy. Three and a half stars, though to be fair I have to round it down to three for Epinions. Because there really should be more pecan in this pecan ale.

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