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Brown Shugga' - Lagunitas Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Brown Shugga'Brown Shugga'

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

3,710 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,710
Reviews: 1,298
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 11.69%
Wants: 147
Gots: 247 | FT: 13
Brewed by:
Lagunitas Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Strong Ale |  9.99% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: kbub6f on 12-13-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,710 | Reviews: 1,298 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by 312HopBomb:
Photo of 312HopBomb
4.24/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep amber color with a slight white cap. This is nice and clear.

The nose is sweet with prominent brown sugar. The hops peak through to mix it up.

The taste is sweet but not too much. A nice malty and brown sugga sweetness with a good dose of hops.

Mouthfeel is medium full with moderate carbonation.

I really liked this one. Had been wanting to try it but hard to find. Thanks to Jose for sharing!

312HopBomb, Mar 12, 2014
More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a small tulip glass a clear deep reddish orange with a tight one finger head that stuck nicely to the glass as it settled slowly into a slight off white soapy-like mass.Ahh there are some hops in there and lots of em big and piney in the nose over top ofsweet and caramel and brown sugar with hints of cherry as well.Somewhat sweet at the offset mainly caramel malt and dark fruit with underlying notes of brown sugar these flavors meld very nicely into a viney,sprucey hoppy finish that lingers nicely.A great American strong ale with a nice American hop profile,not as sweet as I had thought it would be and thats ok with me another good one from Lagunitas.

oberon, Jan 07, 2007
Photo of Marty
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a deep amber, with a good-sized, foamy head. Initially, its smell was much more prominent, almost floral. You can smell the brown shugga' in there.

Nice and malty tasting, but not unbalanced. This beer's hoppy, but the hops aren't the main attraction. It's the molasses!

This label declares this ale to be an experiment. As far as I can tell, the data shows that this beer rocks.

Marty, Dec 17, 2005
Photo of davemarc87
4/5  rDev -0.5%

davemarc87, May 28, 2014
Photo of mojohawk21
4.75/5  rDev +18.2%

mojohawk21, Yesterday at 08:03 PM
Photo of RoyalT
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – The body was a beautiful slightly-darkened orange and the head was incredible. This was one of the nicest heads that I’ve seen. It rose up mightily, going down slowly as it laced the glass and formed huge volcanic-like pits.

Smell – Classic SOA aroma. The toasted malts are big and well-complimented by a sweet mix of molasses, maple, caramel, toffee, and, yes, lots of brown shugga’. The alcohol comes out in the nose as well, warning the drinker that this one is serious.

Taste – Yeah, baby. This is super sweet with all the afore-mentioned sugars plus a nice malt backbone. I think there may even be some hops to balance out this huge Lagunitas offering but it’s hard to tell. Yes, there is a little piney hop to this one.

Mouthfeel – Sweet and creamy like sugar water with a bit of hop. I literally found myself biting at the ale as I held it in my cheeks.

Drinkability – This went down really fast for an ale on the edge of an ABV double digit midget. I will definitely buy again.

Update – I first tasted this with a 2003 vintage so thought I would re-review with an ’04 just for kicks. It is really a gorgeous all to stare at.

The hops are much bigger at the nose then I remember. Maybe I have a fresher bottle? Anyway, at a dollar to two dollars cheaper than other ABW’s of the same class, this is a steal. I’m upping my Appearance and Smell by half a point and buying a case to cellar.

RoyalT, Dec 18, 2003
Photo of DanGeo
3.75/5  rDev -6.7%

DanGeo, Apr 26, 2014
Photo of tectactoe
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a copper, orange-amber hybrid color with pretty good clarity that is only compromised by a slight haze that drifts up and down the glass in the very center. A musky, off-white head forms on top of the beer, remains small, and holds fast as a thin ring along the top.

Brown Shugga's aroma is that of a strong, syrupy, peppery hop, right alongside sweet, booze-filled plums and raisins. Heavy, heavy caramel and toffee on the nose, sugary and sweet. Again, lots of hop aromas are coming out of this as well; spicy, herbal, ashy, oily, and pungent. I can't tell if this is an overly-hopped malty ale or an overly-malty IPA of sorts. It's got enough of a hop aroma to smell like a malty DIPA, but it could also pass off as a hopped-up barleywine with a malt structure like it has... I guess we'll see.

Brown Shugga is pretty thick and syrupy on the palate without being overly abrasive, though it is a bit sticky. The flavor profile that hits your tongue is complex and hard to exactly pin down. Heavy caramel and toffee make up the backbone; molasses, syrup, burnt brown sugar, booze, ripe raisins, sweet plums - this beer is a malt bomb, and that's a FACT. Sweet and sugary as they come with lots of residuals that stick to the palate and seem to hang on for dear life...

...BUT WAIT! Here come the hops - pungent, earthy, herbal, ashy, oily, and providing a bitterness that cuts through the sweetness at the last minute to provide a balance that you never thought would be possible after the first moments of the sip. The gradient of flavors across my palate still has me wondering exactly what kind of beer this really is. Talk about smearing style guidelines! Some boozy black cherries and leafy hops fade into the aftertaste with a sweet and sugary decrescendo. Carbonation was medium, maybe on the low side, with a fairly thick body.

Pretty tasty. Almost reminds me of an aged DIPA, but where the hop character is still fairly heavy and robust after the aging. Then again, it could be a malty-ass barleywine with quadruple the amount of hops used. Sweet, but not sickeningly so. Nice balance when all's said and done. Though the booze is noticeable, it's still fairly easy to throw back for being nearly 10% ABV.

tectactoe, Jan 27, 2013
Photo of ExtraStout
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a crystal clear ruby-brown with gorgeous, jewel-like highlights. Thick but small head that fades to a dusting and collar. Aromas of citrus, pears and yeast, along with a bit of zesty sweetness. On the palate, bitterness and brisk carbonation start things off, followed by thick, sugary sweetness and a touch of bitterness at the back of the tongue.

Not very complex, however -- it's mostly just varying levels and characteristics of sweetness. Mouthfeel is marked by slick malts, alcholic heat, and prickly carbonation, with the alcoholic detracting signficiantly. Overall, this beer is nothing exceptional but it does exude the quality this brewer is known for. It's curious to see what this much brown sugar does to a beer. It needs more balance and a bit more complexity to be truly compelling.

ExtraStout, Nov 21, 2012
Photo of OhioBobcat
4/5  rDev -0.5%

OhioBobcat, Sep 27, 2014
Photo of MadScientist
4.43/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: A medium copper with excellent clarity. A persistent, light-tan head made of small, creamy bubbles. Leaves some lacing on the galss.

S: A strong hops aroma with lot citrus, pineapple, some pine and a some tropical fruit. Blindfolded, think I was about to get into a very nice Double IPA. There is a light malt sweetness and a moderately-strong, flowery alcohol aroma.

T: Tastes like hops candy with an aggressive hops bitterness countered by a moderate malt sweetness and a strong citrus hops flavor. The hops have the same citrus, pineapple and resinous pine flavor noted in the aroma. The malt has a little caramel flavor. All of this is blended with a moderate alcohol that is somewhat sweet. The balance is bitter with a big malt support. The finish is somewhat dry and the aftertaste is of lingering bitterness.

M: Medium-full bodied with a moderately-strong level of carbonation.

O: Lagunitas has always been a true and constant friend of the hophead and this is a good example of their generosity. An assertively bitter American Barelywine with a huge hops bill in the nose, flavor and bittering. bit more sweetness than the average American Imperial IPA.

MadScientist, Dec 08, 2012
Photo of jono0101
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%

jono0101, May 18, 2013
Photo of brownbeer
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours clear amber with a small head.

The nose is a hop bomb. Big, bright, fruity hops, floral with caramel tones.

Hop forward in every sense with the body being somewhat syrupy, a hit of brown sugar and sweet caramel malt midway finishing with bitter hop acids while somehow maintaining a chaotic balance.

Lagunitas seems to be the hopheads brewery. I thought this would be, not really sweeter because it's sweet, but maybe less hoppy. Awesome stuff that'll sneak up on you if you aren't careful.

brownbeer, Dec 15, 2009
Photo of npala86
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%

npala86, Nov 26, 2013
Photo of kayaeye
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Just poured this into my Terminator stout pint glass that is the keeper of all my ales.

A - Great caramel color in the glass, with less than a finger head. Fizzes out quickly.

S - Earthy at times, with a sweet aroma to start. A little sense of citrus tickling the nose hairs.

T - At first it was a bit much. the warmer it got the more I wanted. The high ABV is subtle and unassuming. The sweetness lingers on the lips and back of the tongue. Good balancing with the malts.

M - Very easy on the way down. Carbonation is mild.

D - For me the warmer it got the better it seemed. It seemed to expand in the mouth and the heat of the ABV came through. I could drink this all night!

kayaeye, Dec 04, 2010
Photo of Tiernan
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%

Tiernan, Dec 06, 2013
Photo of ArrogantDeadGuy
3.38/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Deep amber to caramel color with slight ecru
head and lacing

S: Malty maple aromas

T: Sweet like the aforementioned brown shugga'
with the clear presence of alcohol and
an unpleasant acidic aftertaste.

M/D: Good body and proper carbonation set this
brew up nicely but the acidity on the
swallow and

ArrogantDeadGuy, Jun 11, 2009
Photo of weatherdog
4.45/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Jak's Taps in Chicago served in a small tulip glass

Came a ruby brown with a nice cream colored head. It did have ridiculous lacing all the way down

Smell is of a faint grassy hop and just a touch of malt sweetness

The taste on the front end is of grassy bitterness and then a kind of marriage of sweetness and some dark fruits. It finishes surprisingly absent of any strong flavor with just a little alcohol.

This beer is so drinkable for the gravity and is is smooth on the back-end making one down a glass faster than one should. My only problem with this easy drinking beer is the slight alcohol bite at the end dings it a little on the drinkability. I actually think that alcohol presence is needed otherwise I'd down too many of these in too fast of time. If Lagunitas could come up with same taste profile in a sessionable strength then I would be all over that.

weatherdog, Dec 23, 2009
Photo of GameOfBeers
4.28/5  rDev +6.5%

GameOfBeers, Aug 18, 2014
Photo of SanFranJake
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%

SanFranJake, Oct 20, 2013
Photo of Chuggnutt
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Nice copper, slightly murky. Light tan head falling slowly.

Smell: Hops and sweet malt, sugary (Belgian candy?), probably the brown sugar. Very cloying.

Taste: Sweet bite accented by hops. Alcohol heat, strong character on tongue. Caramelized sugar, spun out and flossy.

Mouthfeel: Nice medium feel, lighter than I'd expect as a barleywine. Dry alcohol rolls around the mouth and leaves that numbing/prickly feeling.

Chuggnutt, Mar 10, 2007
Photo of JMD71
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sampled & reviewed on 3/9/07:

Ap: Brilliant copper hued & sparkling. Slight haze. 1/2 finger of head drops back quickly. Carbonation steady. Lacing persisent, but falls back as the glass empties.

Ar: Strong citrus fruits, such as tangerines. Some malt presence with a solid alcohol body. Brown sugar toast is noted but not overly strong.

Ta: Very sweet entry leads to a rich, malty middle with moderate hop bitterness which fades into a heated finish. Once heat recedes, sweetness reasserts itself. Rich plum pudding with brandy butter. ABV well hidded - good balance!

Mo: Full bodied & chewy. Slightly syrupy, but not overly so. Good carbonation which helps offset the warming mouthfeel from the high ABV. Carbonation leaves mouth fairly clean with a bit of an astringent aftertaste from fusel alcohols.

Dr: Slow sipper as I know its strength, but if I didn't know better this would go down quickly. The sweetness from the brown sugar really tames the formidable ABV.

Comments: Very tasty! Very full flavored & well balanced. Enjoyed this all the way through & definitely warrants a repeat purchase.

JMD71, Apr 17, 2007
Photo of BeerAdvocate
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #36 (Jan 2010):

Lagunitas is not scared of using sugar. A copious amount of brown sugar is used in this brew, hence the name.

Towering off-white head with a sticky lacing all the way down the glass. Orange amber glow is inviting. Aromatic layers of caramelized sugar, hop oil and apricot/pineapple fruiti- ness peel away as the beer warms. Think slightly chewy body. Heavy malt, not too sweet with a very blended, toasty caramel duo of malt flavors ... caramel is stronger though. The brown sugar builds on the maltiness to carry on the sweetness. Hops and alcohol keep an even keel with a sharpness and spicy citric flavor. Fruity esters, malt sweetness and some strong hop oil leave a long trail for the aftertaste to walk down.

The alcohol is there, no denying that, but it does not show its true strength. Dangerously drinkable comes to mind; Lagunitas--making sweet beer taste excellent.

BeerAdvocate, Jan 11, 2011
Photo of steelerguy
4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Caramel color with amber hues. Moderate carbonation, smallish head that fades quickly to a covering that leaves some good lacing.

S - Strong hop aroma upon opening the bottle, but pouring seemed to release it a bit. The malt then takes over with sweet caramel notes to go along with the pleasant pine hops aromas.

T - Lots of malt, plenty of dark caramel malts leaving a residual sweetness. A touch of citrus hop flavor to help balance out the sweetness, and a good bit of bitterness on the finish. The brown sugar adds some depth and I think helps thin it out a bit since there is a good deal of caramel malts in here.

M - Moderate body, could feel a bit heavy but it is balanced with moderate carbonation and the high ABV adds a nice warm finish to make the beer not seen too thick.

D - This beer is a mouthful, lots of malt...especially caramel, lots of adjuncts, lots of alcohol, and a good deal of hops. They are all in balance, but quite a bit of complexity, make it fun to drink but a couple in one sitting is plenty.

steelerguy, Jan 01, 2011
Photo of Dmann
4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I loved this beer. It was basically a barleywine with a slight twist. The beer poured a very dark red color with a huge frothy head that lasted till the last sip. The smell was quite sweet with molasses dominating the scent as well as the flavor, but not in a bad way. The flavor was sweet no doubt, but it hd enough bitterness in the finnish to offset the great sweetness. The mouthfeel was quite thick and not balanced out with enough carbonation IMO. But that would be my only complaint. It's a must try.

Dmann, Apr 22, 2005
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Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 3,710 ratings.