Beer Review: Big River Grille Sweet Magnolia American Brown Ale

July 10, 2007

sweetmagnolia.jpgI’ve had this beer before, many times, but decided to enjoy it again and post a review of it. Big River Grille is a chain restaurant/brewery that began in Chattanooga, TN. Here is a little about them from their Web site:

Throughout the 19th century, the great riverboats of the Mississippi and Tennessee Rivers brought the freshest and finest goods from our nation’s heartland to cities along its banks. Big River Grille & Brewing Works was born out of a passion for fresh, hand crafted beer and premium, made from scratch regional cuisine. Our original location in Chattanooga, Tennessee is located in a historic trolley barn, just steps away from Ross’s Landing. Along the Tennessee River, in days gone by, it was here that fresh grains and produce were offloaded for use by local merchants including mills, markets and of course – breweries. At Big River Grille & Brewing Works, the riverboat’s heritage is echoed in our award-winning lagers and ales and innovative menu. Our onsite brewery, extraordinary regional cuisine, and warm and friendly service deliver a fun and deliciously entertaining experience you will enjoy.

The Sweet Magnolia American Brown Ale is, according to Big River Grille:

Medium-bodied, brown in color with a floral hop aroma created by Mt. Hood hops. Crystal and Chocolate malts from the UK render a sweet, malty flavor. Gold medal in the 1998 Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado.

Here’s what I think…

The Pour
I was brought a glass on tap, with very little standing head. It’s a rich dark brown color, with just a hint of light shining through. After a sip, there was some nice lacing down the glass that didn’t last very long.

The Nose
The nose is quite malty and sweet. There is a definite nuttiness and caramel present in the aroma, and hints of green apple come through as the beer warms.

The Taste
This beer is a crisp, medium-bodied ale. It is lightly carbonated, and the nuttiness and caramel carry through from the nose to the taste. There is definitely a sweet maltiness to the brew, though hoppy undertones are present and make this a crisp brew. There are also smoky undertones to the beer. As the beer warmed, I could taste the crisp green apple present in the nose after it warmed. Very interesting to taste that in the beer. The green apple helped contribute to its depth of taste.

In Summary
This is an excellent American brown ale. I don’t have much else to say about it. It’s just a great brown ale.

Recommended: Definitely
Price: $3.75 for a pint glass
ABV: 5.2%



  1. A bit off topic, but Big River Grille also brews an EXCELLENT root beer. You know, for the kids…

  2. Never tried it….I’ll have to check it out sometime

    I still want to try Abita’s Root Beer

  3. Actually, truth be told, I want to try to sneak a root beer into our homebrewing schedule. I think brewing a root beer would be a good way to get more people interested in the beer-brewing process. From what I have read the processes are surprisingly similar.

    And I did not know that Abita brewed a root beer. Now I want to check it out TOO!

  4. Checked out your page….I like what y’all are doing! Too bad you’re not here in Nashville doing it 😀

  5. I’m FROM Nashville!

    Blackstone? Yazoo? Boscoes? Big River? It’s definitely a priority for me to get distribution up there. What is your opinion of Yazoo, by the way?

  6. I tried their pale ale once and it was fine….I don’t remember it much so it must not have been mindblowing.

    I do like their Dos Perros pretty good….I’ll have to post a review of it soon.

  7. Ditto on the Yazoo. Though the Dos Perros is not a beer I would drink all of the time.

  8. No? I think it’s quite drinkable….it’s one of those I’ll get when I don’t know exacty what I want but want something I know I can drink

  9. I don’t know… it reminds me of Mexican chocolate for some reason. And I end up having bad associations with Mexican hot chocolate.

  10. Well, they do use chocolate malts, and it is a Mexican-style beer, so that makes sense.

  11. […] Re: Favorite beer? Keystone has take the place of naty light and the beast. I swear this convo has been started many times before. My absolute fav is still Big River Honey Brown or the Stout. I never make it out of the place without emptying my pockets for as much as I can drink and still walk out. Big River Grille Sweet Magnolia American Brown Ale The Beer Snob Beer Reviews blog […]

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