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Brown Shugga' - Lagunitas Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Brown Shugga'Brown Shugga'

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

3,680 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,680
Reviews: 1,297
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 11.69%
Wants: 142
Gots: 236 | 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: 3,680 | Reviews: 1,297 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of GarthDanielson
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass, the beer is a cloudy auburn-brown coloring that is almost opaque, with a slight haze to it. No head on the pour at all. The beer has a bold, round aroma, which is a smooth blend of supersweet sugar and caramel, with a decent balance of hoppiness. Flavors are sharp and heavy, with a good foundation of wet, deep hops riding strong under a boozey highlight and malty sweetness reminiscent of molasses and caramel. There is a sweet theme to this brew. The aftertaste is a slick, rich, almost syrupy sweetness, but refrains from being cloying, with a good hops presence once again. Impressive. The finish is slightly bitter, which keeps it light, and the crispness from the carbonation makes it quick.

GarthDanielson, Jun 27, 2011
Photo of johnnnniee
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle from Bert's
Pours a crystal clear medium copper color with a huge yellow white head that slowly dissipates to a cap and lots of leggy lace. Earthy and piney hop aromas mixed with a fair amount of caramel light fruit and candy and darker sugar. There's a solid shot of ethanol in the aroma that reminds you this is a big beer, but it never seems harsh. The flavor is big and sweet up front with lots of candied and darker sugars. Solid earth and resinous hop flavors with barely any harsh edges. A bit of warming alcohol lingers long after each sip. Medium body with a light to moderate level of carbonation and a sweet almost syrupy mouthfeel. This is a really nice big beer, I really enjoyed it.

johnnnniee, Oct 26, 2012
Photo of Kmat10
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A- Dark amber, one finger of head, lacing all over the glass

S- Caramel, citrus hops, can smell the alcohol

T- Nutty flavors, little bit of sweetness, fair amount of hops

M- Full bodied, moderate carbonation, you can notice the alcohol, dry finish and very bitter

O- Very good American strong, Very hoppy and bitter, good amount of malts

Kmat10, May 20, 2013
Photo of BretSikkink
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark orange-copper color, looks really nice. The head is a slightly darker than tan color, the lacing is impeccable.

Aromas of brown sugar and a decent amount of American citric hops jump out of the glass. I don't get a huge amount of complexity but plenty of power.

I found the flavor to be similar to the nose but a little surprising nonetheless. This is a sweet beer, a little different kind of sweet than a big-ass English Barley Wine malt blast though. Very smooth caramel malts, a sprinkle of a toffee flavor, and some dark fruit-cake spicing, like dates. The hops are still present and pungent; leaving a pleasant bitterness at the finish.

Not sure what to say editorially. I thought it came out a little thinner and lighter than an American barleywine; that Old ale might be a good handle for it. I could see age being a factor here, but I will definitely look to try it again.

BretSikkink, Mar 29, 2008
Photo of Duane_Opfer
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle with no date. Poured into a pint glass. Consumed on 12/08/13. Review written from notes.

A - Brownish red with a finger of dense small bubble, off-white head. Mostly transparent with moderate carbonation. Head lasts. Distinct bands of carbonation.

S - Not very fragrant. Citrus hops and caramel malts.

T - Clearly a strong ale, but sweet... brown sugar does come through. Almost completely masks ABV. Malt flavors are forward. Some hoppy critrus flavors.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Dry and sticky, likely from the sugars.

O - Despite a lower scoring, very enjoyable and very easy to drink, in fact too easy to drink considering the high ABV.

Duane_Opfer, Dec 10, 2013
Photo of SickPythons
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into tulip glass.

Great red-orange color with a small thin head. Not much lacing to be expected per the style.
Semi-strong piney hop aroma.

They've done a good job hiding the 10% ABV in the sweet flavor from the cane sugar and the hop bitterness.

I tried it last year and was happy to see it back on the shelves. I'm sure I'll be happy to see it next year, too.

SickPythons, Nov 21, 2010
Photo of cbl2
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

1/29/2007 $3.59 22 oz. 9.90% No best by date.


Startingly amber/ruby in color with a clarity I rarely see in beers. A faint haze of tan foam wisps around my goblet.


Ripe tropical fruit notes come through with a burst of sweetness imparted by the brown sugar. Aromas are indicative of a Belgian double, namely the belgian candied sugar, which I suppose comes from the brown sugar.


Smooth, yet simple mouthfeel opens up this sweet brew. Notes of the tropics (pineapple, fig and starfruit) couple with a tinge of warm alcohol. Sugar is apparent, though whether brown, or candied is difficult to discern. Finish is slightly bitter, though not to the extent of the 51.1 IBU's the bottle promises. It is nice to have the sweet balanced by the mild bitterness.

cbl2, Jan 29, 2007
Photo of Toddv29424
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

One of the things I get most excited for during the holidays is the release of this beer. Such a good flavor, and at 10% it leaves you feeling terrific. Pours a light copper color with a light head and seemingly endless bubbles. The smell is malty, with a hint of nut and some fruit as well (although nothing distinct). The taste is big and warm. Mostly the best parts of a brown ale with lots of candied sugars, and the alcohol is nowhere to be found. You can tell this beer is made with care. The aftertaste is pleasant, but very monolithic and leaves something to be desired in terms of variability. Overall a terrific beer.

Toddv29424, Nov 24, 2006
Photo of dreadnatty08
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Celebrating the beginning of brew day!
Pours a gorgeous clear, copper and ruby color with a well supported tan head. Aromas are quite hoppy, plenty of grapefruit, orange, along with a slight spicy phenolic character with some spicy twang. Very little in the way of malt aroma, just a sweet note, but a good bit of alcohol. On the palate, it just sits on your tongue, one of the heaviest feeling beers I've had in a while. Sitting only at 51 IBUs, it isn't overly bitter, quite balanced actually; but, there's just a ton of hop flavor. Still, the malt character is lacking, just a touch of bready toastiness, crystal sweetness, finishing dry with lots of lingering hops. Overall, it's an interesting ASA (DIPA), though I think the undercarbonation and mouthfeel bring down the drinkability a bit.

dreadnatty08, Mar 16, 2008
Photo of pjs234
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Very nice amber color. Small white head, but had good lacing.

S - Very sweet smelling, with a hint of fruit aromas.

T - Very sweet at first, almost like a candied apple. That taste gives way to a slightly bitter bite. I do detect some fruity flavors in there. I never really picked up on the brown sugar flavor though. Overall this beer has a very good and interesting flavor. Also, this beer hides its alcohol very well.

M - The mouth feel is thick and syrupy. There is also a fair amount of carbonation.

D - The syrupy mouth feel and its sweetness, I am not sure that i could have more than of these per evening.

pjs234, Jan 16, 2011
Photo of erikm25
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured a light crimson with nice amber highlights. The head was two plus fingers of off white fluff. Strong retention and lacing that leaves sticky sheets all around the glass.

S: This does live up to the name but also had some pine hops. Caramelized sugars with rounded sweet candy apple aromas. Gently balanced between heavy sweetness and spiced citrus. Some dark cherries toward the back.

T: Amazingly smooth and rich. Brown sugars with caramel and bready malts add some thickness to each sip. There are some nicely textured spices thrown throughout. Little bit of toffee and butterscotch flavored candy. Even with the high ABV they have done an impressive job hiding it. Finish balances out with just the right amount of bitterness.

M: This is full bodied with moderate carbonation.

D: Picked up a six pack of this and the first one was very drinkable. However, I can see how the richness and the alcohol could probably start to sneak up. Regardless, a pretty solid offering.

erikm25, Jan 09, 2009
Photo of Ricochet
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Yikes! This smelled like a sugary, yet inviting beverage. I've never really tried a "stong ale" , but this seemed like a run of the mill brown ale as the dark amber appearance and minimal head and lace fortold. The scent told of amber ale but was sweet. Mouth was, unique. Bitter rounded out the palette and sweet made it's presence known, but the chewiness of this beer above all, made it a really decent wash. Taste was all malt, imperial alcoholic properties like a decent bock with a tuned up ABV. There was some raisin but mostly the fruity taste of orange came through. What an exceptional taste.

Hell, I don't know where this will fit, but I want to explore it again. Great stuff. Amber ale like none other. Great!

Ricochet, Mar 18, 2007
Photo of Huhzubendah
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a sixer of this today. This is one of those common brews that I have still yet to try. Poured into a Hair of the Dog tulip because I am not as cool as drabmuh.

The beer has a beautiful appearance. Crystal clear and clean copper, like a brand new penny. The khaki colored head is frothy and dense, coating the glass with lacing.

The aroma bring smalt, alcohol, pine, resin, hops, caramels.

The flavor is big and bold. A strong ale indeed. Nice ratio of hops to malt. Though I know the hop character will fade with age, I am curious to see how well this ale might benefit from some time in the cellar. Sweetness throughout.

Medium to full bodied with ample carbonation. Sticky and resinous on the palate. Alcohol presence is there.

A full flavored beer. One in any given night is plenty for me. Good stuff.

Huhzubendah, Oct 31, 2012
Photo of Converge
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz into a tulip.

A - Pours a rusty and reddish amber, with a head of big, sticky off-white bubbles. Distinctly Lagunitas label design, with that nice texture they always have, wrapped tightly around a squat bottle. Solid presentation from a brewery that understands the importance of the little things. The head slowly recedes to a thin, soapy film with a bubbly ring around the edges that leaves substantial chunks of sticky lace.

S - Hop forward, with a big West coast character of citrus, pine, and some sweet fruity notes. Some malt in the mix adds to the sweetness, with hints of maple, brown sugar, and sweet toasty malts. With a name like 'Brown Shugga' I was certainly expecting more malt and less hops, but it is Lagunitas after all...

T - Opens up with lots of sweet caramelized malts, giving way to a mid-palate of earthy malt and more sweet notes. The finish is an intense punch of West coast hops, with an emphasis on pine and citric rind. The huge malty sweetness and assertive hop astringency don't exactly work together, but rather fight for the spotlight of this brew. Throw in 10.00% ABV and this brew becomes a little disjointed. Resinous hop oils linger in the aftertaste, winning the battle over the malty character.

M - Carbonation is lower, but quite crisp. Body is a bit heavy, and quite syrupy, oily, and a little warming. Pretty general stuff for this style of brew, but not really my thing.

D - Coming into this I was hoping for something unique and interesting, a certainly seasonal. What I got was more or less another West coast hop-bomb. Certainly a tasty beer in the end, but with the description I was expecting less hop more malt, and I still think that's what I would have preferred here. Regardless, this is a tasty offering from one of the few American craft breweries that distribute to my neck of the woods, and for that I'm thankful.

Converge, Dec 18, 2012
Photo of thecheapies
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The return of Brown Shugga. Scored me a sixer. 12oz bottle emptied into a squeaky clean snifter glass.

An auburn red beer with a slow-soaring bone head that peaked at almost three fingers' height. What a delicious looking brew! Fluffy head with great lacing and big spotty bubble pop-marks on the surface and along the glass walls. 4.5

Balanced aroma with a dry brown sugar malt and grapefruity hops. Has that signature Lagunitas hop appeal with earthy pine notes. Lightly roasted-smelling with a touch of fruitiness and a steeping alcohol tone.

Bursting with booze heat. It takes a bit away from a rich malt composition of brown sugar, toasted bread, and burnt caramel. The hops are similar to those found in most imperial red ales; grapefruit, pine, with a slight floral quality. Mostly sweet from the alcohol, but finishes bitter and a bit hoppy. Mineral notes detected. A simple and delicious ale.

Drinks smooth, but with big-time warmth. Hefty in the body, but not chunky. Evenly distributed feel with a rougher-than-gentle carbonation. Above-average.

I didn't miss this one last year, but that's partly because Sucks put it out of my mind. I'm enjoying this one more than I had in past years. Brown Shugga is a good brew and, hopefully, here to stay.

thecheapies, Nov 19, 2012
Photo of younger35
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Drank it on tap from the cask at a local bar. Hand pumped from the barrel into a snifter. Served around 50 degrees. Was impressed from the start!

Appearance- Very deep amber/pale brown color. Broke nicely around the edges to a light almost yellowish amber. Great frothy head. Beer looked very inviting.

Smell- Had a sweet almost candy like smell. Subtle floral tones.

Taste- Sweet brown suger, caramely taste. Hints of vanilla undertone the woodsy sweetness. Big burst of alcohol is very pleasant on the back of the tongue. Nice hop characteristics balance the beer very well. The taste sticks with you.

Mouthfeel- Creamy, alcoholy feel. Very mild cask carbonation, perfect for this beer.

Drinkability- Fantastic. The Alcohol is very pronounced but overall a very tasty beer. This is a very unique beer that I would highly recommend if you ever run into it on tap.

younger35, Feb 02, 2007
Photo of Marq18
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Poured a nice gold amber with moderate amount of head and a little bit of lacing. Maybe a little bit more of an aggressive pour would have opened it up a bit.

S- Smells great, a little bit piney, grassy and spicy caramel.

T- Instant bitterness of the hops on the front end. A little bit of alcoholic harshness- expected.

M- Low to moderate amount of carbonation with a warm, creamy mouth feel.

O- Overall a good strong, relatively hoppy, ale but would like a little more malt flavor given the name.

Marq18, Dec 20, 2012
Photo of naterock
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

poured into a pint glass, Reddish brown in color with a rocky head that laces heavily.

Smells of sweet candy sugar, and a piney hop nose. rich smell.

Tastes incredible! Sweet brown sugary/toffee flavor upfront that gives way to a nice hop bitterness and a finish that is slightly dry with a slight alcohol burn. but overall it's really good!

Mouth is medium bodied with a touch too much carbonation. Dry finish and a cloying nature of this beer just leaves the flavor in you mouth. Creates a distinct warming behind your ears. Drinks fairly easy but I couldn't slam more than a few. Would be great around a fireplace, or out on a cold night.

naterock, Nov 15, 2009
Photo of rajendra82
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured out orange amber in color, with a remarkable clarity. The head was very minimal in size, but a slow and steady stream of carbonation kept in alive for a while. The handsome looks were quite nice, but the smell was simply outstanding. Sweet, citric, and soft, the nose only gave a slightest hint of the hidden potency in the form of rose oil like fusels.

The taste was quite bitter which came as a surprise to me. The hops were herbal an assertive, and the fusel alcohols carried them right to the throat. This made the beer taste quite dry and reminded me of scalded milk. The sweetness was there underlying the hops, but the appearance of it was only fleeting.

The mouthfeel was light and drinkability high. This is quite a feat considering the strength. I do see a promise of improvement here with some aging, although I am not sure this will hold up for the really long haul.

rajendra82, Oct 27, 2006
Photo of lochef81
3.99/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This ale pours a deep mahogany amber hue with a small cream colored head that is short lived and gives way to a gentle off white lacing and thick alcohol legs. The mouthfeel is somewhat thick and sticky definitely coats every inch of your palate for a long time. The nose is very sweet with some nice hop notes and a definite alcohol vibe. This is not subtle, which is one of my favorite things about Lagunitas beers. The flavor is almost reminiscent of a barley wine. It is deep and malty with a hearty dose of west coast hops and a very strong alcohol bite on the finish. Im a huge fan if lagunitas but this beer is not quite my taste. It is very good just not my style.

lochef81, Feb 05, 2014
Photo of davemarc87
4/5  rDev -0.5%

davemarc87, May 28, 2014
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 Aaron420
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer has a deep rust orange color with a almost no existing off white head.

Smell was more hoppy than I expected but still had the sweet smell of caramel and brown sugar which you would expect with the name.

The overall taste of the beer was very smooth. It was very drinkable, could easily sit there and before I know need another one. Which is impressive for a 9 plus ABV. It was hoppy but also sweet, the sweetness is probably why this 9 plus beer is so easy to drink.

Aaron420, Feb 14, 2010
Photo of danthehopslamman
4/5  rDev -0.5%

danthehopslamman, May 03, 2014
Photo of warnerry
4/5  rDev -0.5%

warnerry, Nov 16, 2012
Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 3,680 ratings.