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Coastal Empire's sweet Southern treat
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Coastal Empire Beer Co.'s Southern Delight Praline amber ale. - photo by Nick Bowman

I’ve never had a sweet tooth, but occasionally and reluctantly I’ll make the exception for pralines. 

It’s hard not to eat one when visiting my aunt in Savannah. 

The fresh praline aroma wafts out onto River Street, luring people into its sugary clutches. 

Coastal Empire Brewing Co.’s Southern Delight Praline Amber had a similar effect when I scanned the beer section of Kroger. 

Like my favorite childhood candy, this beer was also made in Savannah. 

Kevin Haborak, Coastal Empire’s brewmaster, said he was looking for a beer representative of Georgia when he found the inspiration to make this praline brew. 

“Out of all the beers we’ve done, this one took the most iterations in order for us to get what we wanted,” Harborak said. 

To mimic the flavor of pralines, he incorporated pecan meal from Southern Pecan Co. in Monroe into the beer’s mash. He wanted the grains to retain the oils extracted from the pecans.

For every large batch of 1,240 gallons, he added one gallon of Madagascar vanilla extract. 

To match the caramel flavor and sweetness of pralines, he used a large amount of crystal malt and some lactose. 

When he released the beer to the public in 2015, Harborak said he thought it would only remain a fall seasonal release. However, customers had something else in mind. 

Southern Delight Praline Amber quickly became one of the brewery’s core beers and is now served year-round. 

“I just think it's something uniquely Georgian, there’s not really anything out there on the market that’s similar,” Haborak said. “There are other beers made with pecans, but they’re usually brown ales and stouts.”

Despite boasting the flavor of pralines, this brew wasn’t as heavy as I imagined. It’s less of a full-bodied dessert beer and more of a light dessert snack –– kind of like pralines, I suppose.

It’s easy drinking and deliciously malty and nutty without sticking to your gut like glue. 

I also detected notes of vanilla, caramel and a bit of toffee. 

I wouldn’t say it has the same sugary in-your-face punch as pralines, but I’m OK with that. 

If you want a praline, go buy a praline. This beer isn’t a replacement for the candy, just an ode to its characteristically Southern roots. 

Coastal Empire Beer Co. is located at 79 Ross Road in Savannah. For more information, visit coastalempirebeer.com

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