Pecans are a tricky thing to add to homebrew, but it can be done. Here are some beer styles that work with pecans, ways to use them, and some similar additions to mix and match.
Styles that work with pecans
Pecans tend to either work really well with a style, or not at all. Styles that work tend to be darker, with roasty/toasty/chocolate flavors, like London Brown Ale, Foreign Extra Stout, Dark Mild, or Baltic Porter.
There are some exceptions to that, though, with some styles like Belgian Tripel and Biere de Garde getting surprisingly high ratings. I’m unable to find any recipes or commercial examples of these, so that may be a good experiment.
I made a delicious version of Lazy Magnolia’s Southern Pecan, which is an British Brown Ale. The maltiness balanced well with the nuttiness of the pecan. Here’s my brew log.
Sours, lighter beers, and hoppy beers don’t get high ratings when combined with pecans.
How to use pecans
There are a lot of theories on how best to use pecans. Here’s what’s worked well for me.
First, toast the pecans in the oven until they start getting brown. This helps develop the flavor, and makes your house smell great.
Next, cool them in a paper bag, and let them sit in there for a few days, shaking occasionally. This will help reduce some of the oil on the pecans. You want as little oil as possible to end up in your beer.
On brew day, crush the pecans, and add them to your mash. This way, you’ll get the flavor in your wort without boiling the pecans.
You can also add pecans to secondary, soak pecans in vodka or bourbon to make a tincture, or add pecan flavoring.
Additions similar to pecans
If you have a recipe that works with pecans, it’s likely that these would also work-
You could replace your pecans with these ingredients, or potentially combine 2 or more with some of these ingredients. A coffee pecan stout, or a pecan cherry wheat are both interesting ideas that could be delicious.