However you happen to pronounce the word, the pecan is a versatile nut that lends itself well to both simple munching and intricate recipes such as the classic pecan pie. It has a rich nutty flavor that can also bring forth a bitter bite too. That's why some breweries are using the pecan in their beer and getting such delicious results.
First of all, let's acknowledge the difference in the basis for each beer. The Southern Pecan uses a brown ale as it's base which can give a sweet, malty taste, while the Genghis Pecan uses a porter to impart it's taste. I think both styles lend themselves to the pecan taste and I suspect the experience of tasting them will have its unique differences. But I'm going into this without preoccupying myself too much with that difference. While styles can help beer drinkers organize their pints into relatively specific categories, I've never found it a good practice to focus too much on what particular style a beer is. The energy put into that effort can diminish the overall experience.
Okay, enough of that. Let's look at what each beer brings to the glass. The Southern Pecan is advertised as the first beer ever to use whole roasted pecans. It weighs in at just 4.39% alcohol by volume (the reason behind this is something Kyle alluded to in his Timber Beast review) and is lightly hopped to allow the extensive grain bill a chance to impart the roasted pecan flavor. Meanwhile, Genghis is 7% ABV…and there is little else that I know about its makeup. Their website doesn't even list this one, which is actually an adaptation of their Pecan Pie Porter they produced last year. The difference (and one of the reasons for the bold name change) is that they didn't use extracts with this one, just real pecans. That's a nutty idea that just might work!
The Southern Pecan pours a deep amber color and smells rich in malts, some caramel. The pecan smell is also prevalent and leads you to believe this is going to be full of pecan flavor. I don't get any bitterness on the nose. As expected the Genghis is much darker in color, a deep brown. A lot of pecan on the nose mixed with a sugary sweetness and some caramel. In all actuality, the smells are quite similar.
But the tastes are quite different. The Genghis Pecan comes through powerful and bold. It's very rich, smooth and the nuttiness of the pecans pop through frequently. It's not a lasting pecan taste but it comes forth just enough to blend in with the brown sugar sweetness. Quite good. The Southern Pecan on the other hand is much lighter. That's not a surprise, but it's worth mentioning because the pecan flavor simply imparts itself differently. It has plenty of caramel flavor, but the nut flavor is a little harder to find than expected.
In the end it's difficult to compare these two beers, at least beyond the idea of them both using pecans in their mash. In truth, adding roasted pecans to a beer may be something only these two beers have done. If I'm wrong (and I hope I am) please let me know. But while the Southern Pecan has a drinkability that is both flavorful and refreshing, I think the Genghis Pecan imparts the flavor of the pecan much more thoroughly. That may just be me showing off my affinity for porters, but the nuttiness of the pecan just seems to go hand in hand with the style of the porter.
Both good beers. I really hope Clown Shoes continues to make their Genghis each year. I'll definitely be looking for it. And Lazy Magnolia may have the perfect brown ale to enjoy from a front porch any time of year.