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Brown Shugga' - Lagunitas Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Brown Shugga'Brown Shugga'

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,446 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,446
Hads: 5,031
Avg: 3.99
pDev: 11.28%
Wants: 242
Gots: 883 | FT: 14
Brewed by:
Lagunitas Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Strong Ale |  9.99% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: kbub6f on 12-13-2001

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Brown Shugga' Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,446 | Hads: 5,031
Photo of heebes
3.51/5  rDev -12%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle.

Pours a ruby mahongany with little to no head. Nose is surprisingly citrus and grapefruit hops, very sweet smell dominated by the hops. Taste is balanced moreso with a strong malt profile. Still sweet with caramel and brown sugar notes, added by resiny hops. Some light and dark fruit characteristics appear in the middle. Mouthfeel is light to medium. The high abv is apparant once this breathes a little. Sipper. One bottle in a session is plenty. Decent idea for a beer.

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Photo of Bosoxfan20
3.51/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Poured from 12 oz bottle into Spiegelau IPA glass. Pours a clean amber with a solid off white head of about 1.5 fingers. Very sticky lacing

S- Huge aroma. A carmelized, sugary sweet smell. Candy apple. Fuity hops on the backside. Some pine. Delicious smelling beer

T- Very, very sweet. Taste does a solid job of following nose. Some of the flavor reminds me kind of a sherry taste. Also detect maple, syrupy molasis, vanilla, honey, cider, and brown sugar. Alcohol is present with the warmth. Pretty mellow though without a lot of bitterness, but some level of bitterness shows to battle the sweetness. Not real balanced though, IMO. A level of cloying.

M- Full body. Moderate carbonation and drinkability. As mentioned, alcohol is present. Dry finish

O- Quite different than anything i can remember. I am not a huge barley wine guy, but this was enjoyable. I wouldn't have 2 in a row or drink it often simply because the sweetness level of this beer was just too much for me to take. I don't have a ton of barleywine experience at this point, but this one seems to match the profile. Maybe even a cross between a barleywine and a DIPA. The flavor profile doesn't fit my palate all that well, but i respect the effort here by Lagunitas. Good job

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Photo of Lothar666
3.51/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Poured an opaque dark brown amber body with hints of orange around the edges of the glass. Head was bone white and very creamy, a full two fingers thick and displayed excellent retention. Lacing was thick, sticky and white and just as creamy as the head.

S- Candy and brown sugar with a bit of strong alcohol and something quite tart in the background... Caramel Apples perhaps?

T- Raw fermented brown sugars and strong alcohol dominate the pallet, over a backbone of sweet dark malts and dark bread. A bit more of the caramel apple in the background but quite muted compared to the odor- hops make their presence felt a bit in the finish but even they are subdued by the overwhelming sugar flavor. Drinking this reminds me of drinking chinese tea the way I used to as a kid- with half the glass filled with honey and brown sugar.

M- Thick, viscous and a bit sticky and chewy... The burn in the back of the throat is a cross between what one would expect from a strong barleywine and from drinking a straight glass of high fructose corn syrup. For some this would be unpleasant, but I am a sweets junkie as well as a beer geek so the two go together surprisingly well.

D- Surprisingly drinkable for such a sweet, sticky and strong brew, but my opinion may be a bit biased due to my predilection for sweets. Still, I think that this one would get tiring after the first was done and I would probably move on to something a but more tame. However, this one definitely succeeds at being a unique beer.

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Photo of MrMcGibblets
3.51/5  rDev -12%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle cellared for about 1.5 years. i thought this would be brown in color, but it was a clear bright amber/copper with lots of big particulates/floaties. minimal creamy head and lacing. caramel, brown sugar, molasses, and a hint of aged rum in both the aroma and flavor. big sweetness upfront gives way to surprisingly noticeable citric/resiny sharp hop bite at the end. medium to full in body with a creamy mouthfeel and long sweet/bitter finish which ends as drying. unexpected and interesting.

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Photo of rickyleepotts
3.51/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Living in Indiana, we couldn't get Lagunitas beers. I have had their IPA, and since moving, have fallen in love with their Czech Pilsner. When this hit the shelves, I was excited to see what it tasted like. I grabbed a bottle only to learn they had it available at the tasting bar at my local Total Wine & More. So I headed over there, and tried it. I tried it ice cold, so that might have something to do with it. That, and I expected a beer called Brown Shugga' to taste like… well, brown sugar. It didn't. It was almost a pale ale flavor. But that was then and this is now. So hopefully, since I am reviewing the beer, I will have a better/deeper understanding of the beer and the flavors. I am excited to try this again. Hopefully a few weeks in the bottle really brought out the sugars. I doubt it, but here's hoping!

In the Glass: The beer looks nice in the glass. It also has a really nice, thick head. Not a deep head, but a nice, frothy head that reminds me of winter/seasonal beers. The beer is also cloudy in the glass, but is inviting. The color is inviting… that is what I meant.

Nose: I pulled this right from the fridge… I am tempted to let it sit for 15-20 minutes before I even write this. Never mind. Let's drink. Or smell. This beer, being called Brown Shugga' should taste like… you guessed it. BROWN SUGAR! But it doesn't. It smells like an IPA. There is a hint of sweetness toward the back of the aroma, but that's it. Nothing to write home about. For a beer that uses this much sugar, I had much higher expectations with the aroma.

Flavor: I will say, this has more sugar flavor than I remember. I am also letting this warm up a little bit. It is not as sweet as I expected, but it does have some sweetness to it that I don't remember from the first time I tried it. Actually, leading to the aftertaste (that I will speak about in a minute) I am almost impressed with this beer. Rarely do I find a beer that tastes better than it smells. This is one of them.The Widmer Brothers Marionberry Hibiscus Gose is like that.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is nice. It is thick, not creamy… but leaves a nice texture on the tongue. Not many, if any bubbles which is nice. Also, you don't notice (at least on the palate) the 9.9% ABV. Bigger beers like this tend to leave booze on the nose or on the palate, but not this one. They hid the alcohol well.

Aftertaste: This might be my favorite part of the beer. Imagine taking a spoon full of sugar. Eat it. Then spit it out. Now that flavor is what this beer leaves on your palate. The first time I had this beer, I left it a 2/5 on Untappd. Not this time. I am very impressed with this beer, and am going to have a hard time not giving this a big rating.

Like I said, I am impressed. I always say, anything worth trying is worth trying twice. I am glad that I had this one twice. I am going to let what is left in the glass sit for a little bit and see how much it changes as it climbs closer to room temperature. I am sure it will get better, as most beers do. I pretty much love everything that Lagunitas makes… and this one will join that list. If you can get your hands on this limited release, grab some. It's worth it.

Lagunitas Brown Shugga' - The bottle says: "NA"

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Photo of BabyBastard
3.51/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a great deep brown with slight reddish hues. Small tan head leaves nice laces around the glass. Looks delicious. Whiff pre-pour is surprisingly filled with hops, not so much after in the glass. Once in the glass, it's pretty much all sweet brown sugar in the nose. Taste on this is an almost overwhelming sweetness, nice malty backbone that has a slight hop bitterness lingering in the background. Feel is slick and oily. Not heavy at all for such a "big beer". Dangerously drinkable, especially if you happen to have a sweet tooth.

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Photo of MbpBugeye
3.51/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Clear Ruby with rust and auhburn colored parts. A small white head caps it with decent retention in the form of a thin skin.

S- Sticky, dank hops. Its that dense, wild onion and fleshy weeds kind of smell with hints of grass stain.

T- Still more of that dense hop character. Brown sugar does little to sweeten it up buy it does manage to come close to balancing things out. There is a rock candy /crystalized sugar kind of taste.

In all this is pretty good. I remember I had this last year at at bodega. I wouldn't have many qualms with drinking this again.

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Photo of mchegash
3.51/5  rDev -12%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured 12oz bottle into a Dogfish Head Signature glass

Appearance - 4.75/5
A beautiful red orange in color. Almost two fingers of slightly tan head, with great head retention and lacing. Clear, and tons of carbonation can be seen rising up the beer.

Smell - 3.75/5
Moderate amount of sharp piney hops, with some herbal/floral notes as well. Can't smell any of the brown sugar which I was anticipating, which is disappointing.

Taste - 3.25/5
Mostly can taste mellow pine-citrus hops with some earthy and grapefruit flavors. Beer is slightly sweet, with a little bit of malt taste. Again, I could not detect any of the brown sugar flavor, so I was highly disappointed. The taste isn't bad, but it tastes more like an IPA or a pale ale.

Mouthfeel - 3.25/5
Medium-light in body, smooth, slightly creamy. Carbonation is on the lighter side.

Overall - 3.5/5
I was disappointed with this brew. With all of the talk about brown sugar and such, I thought this beer would be sweeter, and have a richer malty taste. Instead I got practically an IPA. It's not a terrible beer, but overall was not a fan of the flavor.

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Photo of optiontwo
3.51/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 Oz. poured into generic pint glass

Appearance: Ruby Red/Brown color, decent carbonation and lacing, one inch head.

Smell: Smells like a nut brown to me but I know it's not. Sweet caramel and nuts in the aroma.

Taste: That's more like it. The description of this beer is right on. A good American strong ale with the sweetness of cane sugar. Sweet brown sugar flavor upfront with slight alcohol heat towards the end and finally a nice crisp hop bite. I feel as if the sweetness would be a bit cloying if it weren't for the amount of hops used. Ultimately the taste is quite nice.

Mouthfeel: Thicker than most strong ales I've tried but that's not a bad thing. Carbonation feels right.

Drinkability: Taste is sweet and crisp, mouthfeel is thick so these kind of contradict each other when it comes to drinkability, but with it being 9.5% I'd have to say that it's not very high.

Overall: Another great brew from Lagunitas that I'll definitely be picking up again.

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Photo of NODAK
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Smells deeply sweet...the brown sugar and molasses are certainly noticeable. However, I get somewhat of a floral hoppiness in there as well, leading me to believe this won't be just a sugar bomb.

Pours an amber color with a fair sized, but somewhat loose head.

The taste doesn't surprise at all, with a high level of brown sugar sweetness come across right away in the body. However, a somewhat strong (nearly IPA level, really) bitterness comes across and cuts through the sweetness and even lingers a little while after the swallow, along with the sticky sweetness. As it warms, the alcohol does come out a bit but for the ABV it isn't bad at all.

It isn't all that complex or interesting, in my opinion. Basically a sugary beer with a fairly high hop character. It's different, I'll certainly give it that. At the end of the day though, I'm not sure I'd seek it out.

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Photo of garbercury
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A--Clear reddish hue, a little bit of lacing but not much head or retention.

S--Has the smell of a weak barleywine. Almost a medicinal smell to it.

T--Medicinal, bitter, strong alcohol aftertaste to be sure.

M--One of the better things, which is not really the way it should be.

D--This beer is strong to be sure. I like Lagunitas, good brewery. Worth a try if you enjoy strong ales, not a favorite though.

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Photo of JDizzle
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle.

It's off red copper color looks real nice. Not much head.

It smells sweet and hoppy. Perfume like?

The taste is a lot like the smell. It's hoppy and bitter with a nice sweet malt bill. It's nothing special, but pleasant.

Mouthfell is medium. I thouhgt it would be sweeter and thicker.

Not bad...

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Photo of ms11781
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I have been told Lagunitas uses a Julian dating code on it's bottles. Assuming that is true this beer was bottled on October 6, 2010. 12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Pours a clear orangish copper color with a 1 finger white head that end up leaving just a thin white cap for the duration. Pretty good lacing down the glass.

Nose is hoppy at first, surprisingly so, with citrus, piny and resiny notes, yet it smells just as sweet at the same time. Has a caramel sweetness that seems almost sugary.

Taste is very sweet at first, some caramel malt, toffee and, not surprisingly, brown sugar. Not as hoppy as the nose, but they are definitely there. I got some citrus in the nose but the hops in each sip are of the piny/resiny variety with a hint of bitterness. Also a slight warming of the back of the throat from some alcohol.

Thick, full body. Medium carbonation keeps it from being even thicker and syrup-like. Smooth finish despite the alcohol warmth.

Goes down smooth enough but the sweetness might keep from enjoying more than one in a sitting. Even with the slight warming at the end of each sip the 10%ABV is well hidden.

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Photo of harrymel
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2012! Been waitin on this.

Pours a nice copper ale with the same old dome centric white etched surface. Smells like alcohol, hops, sugar and brown sugar and a bit of cotton candy. Flavor is sweet and boozy with some hints of caramel and sugar. Medium bodied with reserved carb and a wet finish. I like this beer.

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Photo of beerguru14
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pour, Color, & Aroma:
I loved the story on this beer. How it was a last ditch effort to save their Barley Wine from having to be dumped (take note Dogfish Head) so they added heaps of brown sugar creating this American Strong Ale. My one reservation when trying this beer was the high ABV. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a beer with high alcohol, but not very often. I still find that the alcohol tends to mask a lot of the flavors in a beer that I enjoy; however, it is the holidays, so why not give this one a try.

Pouring the beer I got exactly what I was expecting, a beer that was a nice caramel/deep amber color. The beer was crystal clear and very bubbly. The head was a soft off white color and laced the glass perfectly.

The first aroma I got was a surprising grape, immediately followed by solid grapefruit and orange fruit aromas. The complex aromas really developed themselves the more I whiffed away catching caramel, whip cream, and molasses.

Phenomenal! Does this beer really pack a 9.9% ABV? I really didn't taste much of the alcohol at all. My initial thoughts on the flavor is that it is intensely hoppy, a nice citrus earthy hoppy flavor. A smooth creaminess flowed through topped off with a sweet sugar taste that lingered briefly, but was quickly washed away by the alcohol (finally!). There is also a nice tannin flavor similar to a dark cherry with a bit of marshmallow at the very end.

Finish & Body:
The finish was very sweet. I felt that I had just finished eating a warm sugar cookie. I really had mixed feelings with the body of this beer. The body was a little heavy and sweet, almost syrupy. Again, the alcohol in the beer did not warm me up as much as expected; however, it was still slightly there.

Final Thoughts:
For a beer with such a high ABV the drinkability of the beer is outrageous! I can easily see myself getting into a little bit of trouble with this brew. I am not a fan of really high ABV beers, but this one would do the trick for me. Lastly, if you are not a big fan of really hoppy beers, this may be one to try due to the intense sweetness. Prost!

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Photo of JDV
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Rich reddish maroon pour with a nice and big lasting beige head in a snifter. Smell is light, bright and balanced maltiness with just enough balancing hops. Taste is pretty mild, slightly thin and balanced again, with lemony and slightly acidic tart malt. Very smooth and drinkable for 10%. Slightly hoppy on the backend but overall its flavor was too mild to be really great, and it doesn't get any better as it warms...Still worth trying.

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Photo of Kexx
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Clear, rich copper color. The head is light and fairly small and seemed to dissapear pretty fast.

Smell: The hop aromas are citrusy and floral and they are nicely mingled in with caramel malt that is very sweet on the nose. Reminds me of cotton candy, or brown sugar.

Taste: Starts out with a caramel malt backbone with some nice hints of brown sugar and toffee. A bitter hoppiness is in the background below the malt at first, but the bitterness lingers on the tongue in the aftertaste. A slight alcohol burn is present and seems to build as I work through the pint. A little hard to finish by the end.

Mouthfeel: The mouth feel is medium to full bodied with light carbonation. The finish is a slow building bitter hop character that begins to saturate the tongue after drinking about half a pint. The sweetness fades away to leave behind a lingering dry bitterness.

Drinkability: I really liked this one after the first few sips, it seemed to be very smooth and balanced. But it became increasingly hard to drink the more I had. Just a little too harsh with the bitterness and alcoholic burn.

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Photo of corby112
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Serving type: on-tap at Mad 4 Mex in Philadelphia, PA.

Pours a dark copper/ brown color with a thin off white head. Aroma is brown sugar, cinamon, hazelnut and hops. Flavor is similar to aroma with a nice balance of brown sugar, cinamon and a strong hop presence. Finishes sweet and bitter.

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Photo of brewcrew76
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a clear ruby copper with a thin head that disappears with no lacing.

S - Sweet caramel malt with some citrus hops and a strong molasses/brown sugar. Very DIPA like with some brown sugar sweetness added in.

T - Sweet molasses and brown sugar, rum soaked raisins and some bitter citrus hops. The alcohol is very present in this beer. I would like to give the taste a higher score but I found it to be cloyingly sweet at times and very boozy.

M - Thick and chewy but still creamy at the same time. Moderate carbonation.

D - I enjoyed this beer but the sweetness that lingers on the tongue makes it tough for me to give it a better score. I don't think I could drink more than 1 of these in a sitting.

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Photo of Wolfpack2005
3.49/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours very heavy and syrupy with a deep amber color with a 1 finger off white head.

The aroma has a carmelized sweet smell with a hint of hops and alcohol.

Taste is very sugary. I never tasted a beer brewed with copious amounts of brown sugar (that i know of) but I would imagine this is how it would tastes, a dull syrupy sweetness. However this sweetness is kept in check with an ample amount of earthy hops. The alcohol definately creepys into the flavor as the beer warms.

Very nice thick mouthfeel with an average amount of carbination.

Overall, an decent cool season beer with a unique sweet malty flavor, but dont plan on drinking more than one or two because both the sweetness and the abv creepy up on you.

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Photo of BeerMasterD
3.49/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a cola color with a small head, leaving minor spotty lace on the glass.
S- Very sweet aromas, some piney and citric hops as well.
T- Hops upfront with a ton of caramel and sugary sweet flavor. Slight bitterness but malt dominates overall.
M- Rough carbonation, medium-full body that had a very bitey feel.
O- Different than what i had expected though i enjoyed it and feel its a good example of an ASA.

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Photo of BeanBone
3.48/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: A crystal clear, rust-colored body with brilliant orange highlights and a finger-and-a-half tall, off-white head that dissipates quickly. What's left leaves passable lacing.

Aroma: As you would expect, the nose is very sweet with a big brown sugar malt body. There's also some dark fruit, maybe cherries. Not much as far as hops go, but there's plenty of booze ready to bite your head off.

Taste: Lots of spices over a very solid brown sugar and caramel malt base. That big 9.5% ABV really makes its presence known, but never steps over the line (given the style). The hops perk up a little in the finish but are soon beaten back by the booze and residual malt.

Mouthfeel: A thick and chewy body that leaves a good coating on your mouth. You can easily feel the booze in your cheeks.

Drinkability: For sure a sipper, based on both the intensity of flavor and alcohol content. If you sessioned this, it would knock you straight on your ass.

Verdict: Brown Shugga' is a decent enough little Winter evening sipper. Having tried it now, if given the choice between picking up a bomber or a six-pack, the bomber would win for sure.

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Photo of mrmanning
3.48/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from Irishboy. A deep tan pour with some haze. Head is beige and leaves spotty lace. Nose of pit fruits, lots of caramel malts, demerera, citrus, dark bread. Tastes of woody brown sugar, citric hops and rye bread crust, butterscotch, caramel, plum, sweet candy. Sticky and sweet finish with a slight hop bite towards the end. Has mellowed out nicely with some time on it. Thanks Richard!

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Photo of woodychandler
3.48/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Well, if this isn't par for the course these days. I had just opened this bottle and the phone rings and it's my mentor, Lew Bryson, asking me to come over to LNCBC to meet him and his wife for a beer. How could I refuse?

This one, in the menatime, poured with a huge, thick light-tan head with little retention, but plenty of lace. The nose is at once both intensely sweet and intensely hot with alcohol. Oooh. The mouthfeel was really thick and full, not creamy, just thick. A big sugary, alcohol presence on the tongue and on the finish. I really didn't get much out of this, other than alcohol and sweet and given the high alcohol content, I cannot recommend it for drinkability.

Off to meet Lew and his missus ...

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Photo of Drew966
3.48/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Brown Shugga' pours a light brown with an off white head from a brown twelve ounce bottle. There is a very mild malty aroma. The flavor is quite strong on hops like an American IPA, bright and floral, but the malt bill is quite different. There is a sweet flavor, but I'm not sure I can attribute it to the brown sugar though. Not bad, but it didn't really do it for me.

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Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 1,446 ratings.