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Brown Shugga' - Lagunitas Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Brown Shugga'Brown Shugga'

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,471 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,471
Hads: 5,147
Avg: 4
pDev: 21%
Wants: 251
Gots: 974 | 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: 1,471 | Hads: 5,147
Photo of TXHops
3.35/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Lagunitas Brown Shugga

9.9% ABV

Brown Shugga is Lagunitas' failed attempt at brewing Gnarleywine back in 1998. See, I can read the label... Apparently they dumped in a bunch of brown sugar to rectify some awful situation and the result was good enough to be bottled. Fair enough--at least they were honest with us...

Brown Shugga is deep, deep amber--like unfiltered clover honey. The 1" eggshell colored head couldn't support itself and after 2-3 minutes became about a sixteenth of its former self. However, it did last, and the bubbles were tiny. The remaining, thin head was cratered by little streamers of bubbles from below, creating a nice, uneven affect.

The aroma, while sweet and faintly alcoholic, was mostly hoppy--American hops it appears, though all three aromas are subdued more than I would have expected in a hopped up barleywine--extended aging? Actually, the restraint is kinda interesting--it allows for some complexity in the aroma--not all malt, not all citrus. Maybe I'm being suggestible, but I fancy I can smell the brown sugar a little too...

The flavor is a little different. It's thin. I don't just mean the mouthfeel, I mean the flavor, which is quite pronounced at first, seems to leave my mouth searching for it after a few seconds (though it’s far from dry). When the beer first hits my tongue, I can taste the gravity of the non-attenuated sugars quite clearly. It's clear by the esters and the heat moving around inside my mouth after each sip that there's more than just malt to attenuate. The use of non-malt sugar leaves its mark distinctly. A winey, slightly cidery flavor is present in each sip, though not at all overwhelming. The hops have a characteristic "burned" quality that I frequently picked up in highly hopped, higher alcohol beers. I've frequently contemplated why this flavor seems to exist in some beers and not others. Fullers ESB has it, so it's not just American hops, nor is it only hyper-hoppy imperials. In fact, the super hoppy stuff seems to taste more sticky than burned typically. Enough digression...

I found the beer enjoyable, though not great. No particular aspect of its character makes it stand out. Actually, I REALLY like the fact that I can get a bomber of 9.9% beer for less than $3, but price aside, this beer is unexceptional, though by no means bad. The slight cidery taste and the lack of distinction in malt flavor or in hoppiness leaves this beer truly average across the board.

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Photo of alexgash
3.35/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This "sweet release" fills the glass with a dark rusty copper, with bright orange highlights. Head is small, off-khaki, and doesn't last too long. Nose is made up of sweet, buttery caramal rolls, brown sugar (crazy, eh?), alcohol, and subdued vegetal/floral hops. Cake-icing sweet malt flavors start out. Sugary sweetness mixes with apple/pear brandy notes and toffee. Hops finally arrive near the finish to counter some of the sweetness. Medicinal/herbal hop bitterness isn't enough to handle the treacle sweetness. Add in the obvious alcohol presence and it's a little too cough syrupy for me. Mouthfeel is big and syrupy. Not bad, but not my kind of BW.

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Photo of billab914
3.36/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Dogfish shaped pint glass. Poured a dark brown, slightly red in color with a one finger white fluffy head. As I drank it the head faded but left pretty good lacing on the sides of the glass.

The aroma is very piny with a little citrus and a moderate sweetness to it. it has a very interesting smell to it, I almost seem to get a sweet Worcestershire sauce aroma to it.

The taste is hoppy with a sugary sweet finish. It has some pine present along with some caramel malt, but the brown sugar seems to dominate the taste.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Drinkability is average, it's too sweet for it to be that drinkable. It was a decent tasting beer to have one of but it's a little too sweet and high in alcohol to have much of.

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Photo of akorsak
3.37/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A 650 mL bottle purchased somewhere that I just can't recall.

A: The ale is a lighter than I expected. Rather than a dark brew, the ale is a lighter orange color, reminiscent of an IPA with its lightness. The orange has brown highlights and remains several shades below the amber of the bomber. The head was huge on pour, over three fingers that left thick patches of lace throughout the glass. Only upclose is the incredible amount of sediment visible, to the point that it looks like pulpy orange juice (at least from a pulp perspective).

S: The aroma is heavy on the malts, thick and concentrated like an old ale. There is a definite brown sugar aroma that could easily pass for dark Belgian candi sugars.

T: The ale is all malt and alcohol heat. The malts are as strong as the nose betrayed. The intense flavor dries out the mouth, leaving a scorched earth feeling that normally only comes from a DIPA. The alcohol presence is strong throughout, never afraid to bring the heat. Through the alcohol head, there is some undefined sweetness, but I could not easily tie it back as brown sugar.

M: The mouthfeel is quite intense, making this more of a cold weather beer. I find the alcohol to be a little too much, stripping most of the flavor out of the ale.

D: One bomber is too much. This would be better off in a 12 oz bottle. The brown sugar is a nice touch, lending a hint of Belgian-style to the ale.

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Photo of MostlyNorwegian
3.37/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Brown Shugga is dry. The raw cane sugar dries this beer right up so It has some boozy notes up top. A little raisiny and caramel in the sniffer with a bit of the hops in there too. This is the first one, and hey my guy didn't have any in the cooler and I am drinking it out of the bag at ambient temperature. I want slices of cured meat and pickled things with it at this threshold.
Very minimal lacing, if any with very very slight bubbling disruption on the surface with a quickly receding head.
Served it in a (red) wine glass. Handsome appearance. A slow motion beer. Not one for the quaffer. One to linger over while things get into the off ramp of life.

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Photo of Schmaltzy
3.37/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle into Chimay glassware.

A - deep copper color that is slightly cloudy with very little 1/2 finger head that dissapated quickly leaving only small amounts of lace

S - Caramel/Brown Sugar with some Grand Mariner/Orange Liquer flavors coming through with a faint hops component.

T - Caramel and loads of it, nice bitterness to the hops on the mid/back palate, finishes with the grand mariner flavor on the back end.

M - Medium body, sufficient/light carbonation, alcohol is definately there and a dry finish.

D - This beer sounds all to good but is just way too sweet for my palate. Definately a big beer, but very sweet and the hops are super bitter making for a very dry piney finish. Too Sweet and Too Bitter, if that makes sense

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Photo of ZAP
3.37/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A-orangish amber color....nice frothy vanilla head.

S-Sweet sugary malt...a hint of maple...Ok but doesn't grab you by the throat and scream "drink me mother fucker"...decent but not great.

T-Very sweet flavored...heavy molassses, brown sugar, maple malt backbone....there is also a unique piney hop bitterness.

M-Very full bodied and thick...this is a big boy no doubt.

D-I like sweet beers and I like this to a point. Here's my problems with this....it feels too sweet and the hops used just do not blend nicely at all with the malt...kind of a muddled drinking experience that isn't bad but isn't great either...some bitterness on the long finish really confuses the hell out of my buds after the almost sickening onslaught of sticky sweetness at the start..

I'd still say it's worth a try and I'd rate it a little above average overall...

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Photo of jasonpeckins32
3.37/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a transparent amber hue with no head, yet the carbonation still looks nice. Smells sweet and malty.

This has a very unique taste. I'm surprised at how much the brown sugar comes through in the flavor. Its syrupy sweet with a few mild hoppy notes. A strong alcohol-warming in the finish.

This is a nice medium-bodied beer. The syrupy taste doesnt transfer to a syrupy mouthfeel, which is a good thing.

Drinkability, well, its good for one or two, but I wouldnt want to drink them all night. Still a a good drinkability though considering its 9.83 abv.

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Photo of ADR
3.38/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Clear and dark copper appearance, creamy light yellow head of 1/4 of an inch and good lasting duration. Dripping ring laces on the glass. Sweet caramel aroma, very little sense of hoppiness. Malty and somewhat toffee-ish, slight buttery oil, but bittered from start to finish. Heavy sense of mouthfeel but moderate alcohol impression, but seems somewhat singular, over sweet, and even monotonous from beginning to end. Has plenty of features of an Old Ale, can certainly be warming, but to me, the flavor is unidimenshional with no unfolding qualities. It is interesting to see more hops arise than seem to show in the smell.

Source: Liquid Solutions

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Photo of lester619
3.38/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Pours a deep orangish bronze/amber. Thick three inch solid white head and big lacing. Very malty and sweet smelling. Caramel, brown sugar and molasses on top of a fresh bread smell. Taste is also malty sweet. Malt, caramel toffee and molasses on top of a thick substantial bicuity body. All this sweetness is cut by a spicy herbal hoppy kick at the finish. It's still more bready and sweet than bitter though. I can feel some alcohol burn on on my lips. The mouthfeel is very satisfying. Thick, creamy and chewy. This is a big beer with good, complex flavors. With the thick sweet bready body combined with the ABV, it doesn't drink very easy. I would have a hard time drinking multiple bottles at the same time. I guess at 10% your not supposed to.

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Photo of travisdiener32
3.38/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a fresh bottle for my first taste of brown shugga. Poured into beer flute.

Appearance is light brown to amber, with ample head. Smell is of of light brown sugar and surprisingly ample hops. Taste is also heavy hops, with a slight brown sugar finish, akin to a DIPA without any citrus notes. Brown sugar does become more apparent as the beer warms, however the hoppiness does seem to dominate the flavor profile. Mouthfeel is great for the style, not overly heavy or light.

Overall a good beer but a little too unbalanced to be considered a great or go to beer for the style. Try it out, but there are much better offerings from Lagunitas.

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Photo of Bighuge
3.38/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Clear burgandy. Thick, dense off-white head. The froth coats the glass heavily as I drink. Aroma is sweet. Very sweet. Caramel sweet. And there's a whiff of alcohol as well. And some tropical fruits. Rummy alcohol notes are noticed up front on the palate. And the alcoholic bitterness lingers long after the sip. The flavor is pretty sweet, but not quite to the cloying extent. Sweet and alcoholic sum up this beer quite well. And there's some estery goodness in the mix as well. Passion fruit tones and such. Medium bodied and lightly carbonated. Decent enough, but not really noteworthy.

Here's a shout out to the LBB for the sample. Thanks bud.

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Photo of fisherman34
3.38/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Deep red colour... almost brown. Strong malty aroma, with a faint hint of citrusy hops. This is one sweet beer, but not in a cloying way. Flavors of carmel malts and molasses are dominant, with just enough hop bitterness to keep things from going off the deep end. No alcohol flavors (although there was some present in the aroma as it warmed up), but I could sure feel some warming sensations in my chest as I drank it.

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Photo of kjlcm
3.39/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Tried this one and while I like it I am not sure I can recommend. At 9.9% it is definitely a strong ale and I could not imagine drinking more than one of these at a sitting The brown sugar is quite pronounced from smell through taste. Along with the the hops and the strong malt backbone it is an interesting contrast. Ok, I will recommend!

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Photo of Jordan
3.39/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Simple, the word of the day. Faint, almost undetectable sweet aromas. Light bodied. Very plain palate consisting of little more than clover honey sweetness that dissolves into a brash hop bitterness soon after it hits the tongue. For those with undeveloped taste buds, and a liking for high ABV brews, this one is for you. Unsophisticated and unprovocative, the mode most people in this country prefer.

Sorry Lagunitas, but you are quickly losing merit with me.

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Photo of Weston19
3.39/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a copper color with high carbonation. Starts off with a two finger head that eventually diminishes into a half a pinky. Head looks very creamy.

S: As is the norm with Lagunitas, the beer smell fantastic! It has a sweet smell that expresses brown sugar (obviously), grape fruit, and some pineapple although lightly there.

T: Brown sugar, light hop flavor at the back of the palate, alcohol in the mid palate, there is some grapefruit at first but the taste is overpowered by the alcohol flavor. Honestly I'm kind of disappointed by the taste. Based on the smell of the beer, I expected more hops and a more balanced flavored. The alcohol is a bit overpowering and completely covers up the hops. I've had beers at this ABV before and higher that did a much better job at concealing the alcohol flavor. The only good thing that happens is that as it warms up, the brown sugar taste becomes stronger so it allows you to focus more on that than the alcohol flavor.

MF: Mildly dry and some burn in the back of the throat due to the alcohol.

O: As this warms up it gets sweeter but there isn't much there besides the sweetness and the alcohol taste. You can definitely smell the hops but they're hardly present in the flavor. I've had much better from Lagunitas. At $10.99 for a 6 pack, this is probably the last time I'll buy a pack.

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Photo of Sammy
3.4/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This was OK, nothing special, with an edge of the brown suger in the taste. Initially above average foam, and a bit of colour. Average mouthfeel and drinkability. Of course, on the sweeter side, with sweet characteristics, caramel and the like. A decent beverage, only big in the alcohol.As a barleywine, this is quite smooth.

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Photo of gearbike
3.4/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Hazy brown pour from tap. Duh. I get the name after drinking this one. Strong sugar taste as in tasting the brown sugar when baking. Has a smooth malty background. A medium to thick body and the high alcohol make this a nice warmer. Even though the flavors are complex the overall result seems a bit flat. So not really exterordanry and at the same time it would not work as a session beer do to the high sugar and alcohol.

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Photo of hoplover82
3.4/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Hmmm... This "American Strong Ale" pours a clear dark red color with no head at all. There is no retention at all. Thin and delicate lacing.

The aroma is of dark fruits. Brown shugga comes through. No hops. Some alcohol.

The flavor is a lot more alcohol with dark fruits. Even some bright friuts like peaches. Grapes are there. It reminds me of some raisin cookies or something. ALcohol comes through even more as it warms.

The mouthfeel is full bodied with a little dryness in the end.

Can't have more than one maybe two of this one.

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Photo of Pahn
3.4/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 1

12oz bottle into a wine glass. Reviewed from notes taken in late March, 2010.

Appearance: 1/3 inch just off-white head settles quickly. Hazy, deep ruby/amber color. Loops of lacing.

Smell: Citrus (orange) hops and some nice caramel. A bit sugary. Smells like a great balance of fruity and sugary.

Taste: Bitter, hoppy, and sickly sweet. Tons of citrus (orange and grapefruit) hops, tons of sugary sweetness, with some caramel and almost no maltiness otherwise. Not what I expected at all.

The combination of huge sweetness and (in this context) overdone hop bitterness makes for a disgusting flavor... but I'm still giving this a 4.0 for taste. The thing is, it tastes like it says it's going to taste. This is a bomb of sugar and hops. To me it tastes awful, but if you have a sweet tooth (I don't) and are a hop head (I kind of am), this could be the best beer you ever taste. Also, points for 10~% ABV not showing itself at all in the flavor.

Mouthfeel: Sticky, light to medium bodied. What you would expect a sugar shock + hop bomb to feel like.

Drinkability: My notes here simply state "too f*ckin sweet." I was angry at the taste of this beer. Also, I hate when a beer smells good but tastes bad.

What can I say? If you go into a beer called "Brown Shugga'" that boasts of its intense sugary sweetness without a sweet tooth, you're kind of a moron. The day I tried this beer, I was that moron. I can tell that this is a well-done beer if you like this flavor profile. I don't.

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Photo of LordofTime25
3.41/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Pours to a dark orangish amber with a thin one inch head that leave nice lacing on glass.

Sweet malts hit you at firt with a slight hint of hops.

Very heavy on the sweet malts and slight hops taste.

Very good mouthfeel nice medium body with good carbonation.

Not something I would drink alot of.

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Photo of sandmaker
3.41/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Brown Shugga pours a gorgeous copper color. It has a strong sweet smell, almost too sweet. To me it has a taste of cherry spice. The mouth feel is thick and paired with the sweet sweet cherry flavor reminds me of syrup, or medicine. Dark woody malty notes also roll over the tongue and bite the back of your throat.
Enjoyable, but nothing I could buy again.

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Photo of WanderingFool
3.41/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I naievely bought Brown Sugga thinking it's a brown ale only to discover it's a barleywine upon opening the bottle and taking the first sip. What a pleasant surprise!

The beer pours a cloudy dark copper color with a thin off white head that dissolves quickly to a thin ring around the surface. A few spots of lace cling to the glass but overall the glass is clean. The faint aroma of citrus hops, alcohol and cherry greets you before each sip.

This medium to full bodied beer is smooth on the palate with a mild tingle on the sides of the tongue. The flavor begins with a citrus hop bite. Some caramel malt, brown sugar, cherry and alcohol combine in the middle and it finishes with a malty sweetness leaving a hint of alcohol behind.

Overall, I found this to be a rather easy drinking barleywine, but not strongly flavored as other beers of it's style.

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Photo of JISurfer
3.41/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

When I saw the name "Brown Shugga", I was thinking maybe a strong brown ale. Obviously, an old ale is not that. With that said, I thought it was an alright old ale. I do like my old ales, but this one was just above average for me. Nothing really stood out in it, just that the appearance was nice.

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Photo of KevinBrewer
3.41/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I had this beer on tap at Blue Palms in Hollywood. It is a translucent, slightly hazy reddish brown. The head was white and fluffy, but it dissipated quickly without much lacing to speak of.

The aroma is predominately of earthy hops. There is a slight sweet malty smell in the background. I would appreciate more complexity in this area.

Sweet malt and brown sugar grab the tongue at first, followed by the same earthy hops that were present in the nose. The hops stick on the palate and almost take center stage. There is a slight hop bitterness in the finish, but the earthy hops are most memorable. The aftertaste is slightly grainy. I cannot taste the alcohol at all.

The body is medium-light with a dry finish. The high alcohol content is most noticeable in the mouthfeel.

I had to switch to a lighter beer after this one because of the high alcohol content. The taste was pleasing, but heavy, and I felt like I needed some refreshment after drinking it.

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Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 1,471 ratings.