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Brown Shugga' - Lagunitas Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Brown Shugga'Brown Shugga'

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,470 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,470
Hads: 5,139
Avg: 4
pDev: 21%
Wants: 250
Gots: 967 | 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: 1,470 | Hads: 5,139
Photo of Padron4KM
3.23/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dec 18, 2009
12 oz bottle., no bottled on or freshness date assume it's 2009 release.
Rich amber with a very thin head that left equally thin lace.
Lively carbonation leads to creamy smooth mouthfeel.
Aroma is mostly citrus with a funky earthy undertone. Burnt caramel malt emerges as it warms.
Flavor is citrusy hops with a subtle sweet malt back. Alcohol is deceptivley hidden. Watch out because it sneaks up on you.

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Photo of hopsaplenty
3.23/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22oz. brown bottle, no obvious date information but 263D10423 was inkjetted near the bottom label, and 11142721115 was inkjetted on the neck.

Hazy seared caramel. Thick, dense soft tan head of mixed size bubbles that stands steady and is topped with a fine cream-like layer. Eventually it starts to fall leaving thick pock marked lace on the glass and coming to rest at a thin collar with some dust. Minimal sluggish carbonation streams rise. Sweet brown sugar, pine sap, and prickly alcohol aromas. Piney hop resin washes across the tongue dropping sweet brown sugar bombs before fading into the back behind warm alcohol. The hops come to fill out all aspects of the flavor and when coupled with the alcohol, it attains an almost pine-sol like solvency. Not particularly smooth, the pine adds a rough-cut texture to the medium-full body. The fine carbonation eases the drinkability somewhat. The finish comes to be filled out with an almost medicinal alcohol flavor laced with pine that leaves me wondering where the brown sugar sweetness went. This was an okay beer, but I probably won’t be revisiting in the future.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.23/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Shared at a 'lateral' tasting of Lagunitas strong ales, next to Hairy Eyeball and Imperial Red (we didn't get to Olde Gnarlywine).

A: Pours a reddish amber body with a cream-colored cap of fine bubbles. The foam remains for a couple of minutes and can be resurrected pretty easily when it recedes into a light cap on the brew. Some lacing / register marks down the glass. Quite nice.

S: Brown sugar (duh), hazelnut, toffee, molasses. I noticed this was considerably different from the Hairy Eyeball, which had a much stronger dark fruit component. Interesting.

T: I couldn't smell any dark fruit, but I could taste some (plums, figs) in the undercurrent of this brown-sugar driven brew. Lots of nut-forward adornment in hazelnut and toffee varieties, swimming in an oily hop resin of citrus and pine. This was hoppier than Hairy Eyeball but had less fruit for sure. The finish was malty, mostly caramel and molasses.

M: Medium-full body. Good carbonation that hides the astringency pretty well.

D: I just found myself enjoying Hairy Eyeball much more. This isn't a bad beer, but when the brewery offers a much better product in the same category, for the same price... *shrug*

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Photo of brian44556
3.23/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured this into a Bell's Pint Glass. No date on the bottle.

Pours a dark amber color, with little off white head. Sticky lacing surrounds the pint glass. A fierce race of carbonation bubbles race to the top. Strong smell of piney hops, caramel, and burnt sugar. The smell was very interesting for a Strong Ale, the smell of this one could pass for a DIPA. This one is pretty bitter. The hops are pretty forward, I also taste hints of caramel and molasses. The taste is sweet up front, but has a very bitter backbone. The alcohol is well masked for being 9.99% ABV. Mouthful was pretty heavy and carbonation was moderate. Overall the beer was different in a...different way. Nothing stood on why I loved it or hated it. Pretty average beer, glad I had a chance to try, but wouldn't care if I ever had this one again.

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Photo of BeerWithMike
3.23/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sampled last night on 2/7/15. Bottle chilled down to 36 degrees F in my beer cooler and poured in to a handled-glass stein.

Brew pours a beautiful copper in color with a good 2+-finger foamy off-white head. A decent amount of ring-lacing was seen when sipped that stuck to the glass. The aroma is of burnt brown sugar and yeast for the most part. Lots going on with the taste than the nose would have you think as there is some caramel, pine, hops with a hint of dark fruits. Great taste but has a slight bitter hoppy finish that lasted a bit too long for my liking. You can't taste the alcohol at all, which is strange since it is so close to 10%! Has a great flavor but that bitter/hop finish kind of ruined it for me. Medium-bodied with perfect carbonation.

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Photo of UHRHAN
3.24/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured 12-ounce bottle in a Sam Adams Glass.

-Poured a translucent brown/amber with a reddish hue. 3/4 of an inch head, that was pouring out of the bottle the second I popped the cap.
-Not much on the aromatic side, but small hints of flowered aroma. Small touches of alcohol, but not overpowering by any means.
-Taste caramelized fruits with a hint of brown sugar.
-Good mouth feel, and not heavy.
-Very drinkable and didn't really notice the high ABV content.

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Photo of SaltofOH
3.25/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed 12/31/2014; purchased in December 2014.

Appearance: Pours an extremely dark amber/red with 2 fingers of frothy/foamy khaki head. Nice retention of a thin, yellowish sandy cap. Epic lacing.

Aroma: Markedly hoppy. Tropical and resinous. Really great aroma. Love this smell; tropical & malty.

Taste: Sweet arrival, tart & fruity, extremely bitter finish. I'd put this higher than 51 IBUs. Some alcohol on the finish. A little cloying at the end; slightly off-putting.

Mouthfeel: Lighter than expected; somewhat astringent; a little like Mirror Pond in that respect but not as much; relatively little carbonation and somewhat slick.

Overall: I was about to say I really like this, but the bitterness and alcohol combine at the end [as it warms] to make this just a little unpleasant. Somewhat cloying.

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Photo of mralphabet
3.25/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 Oz Bottle poured into pint glass

A: Pours a hazy copper brown with about one fingers worth of head... sticky lacing...

S: Wow !!! The name says it all.... Brown Shugga' .... with a mix of molasses, burnt malt and touch of hops. Very sweet smelling.

T: The sweet flavors hit you right up front... Brown sugar & molasses... there is some strong hops in the finish and the aftertaste has a lot of hops and burnt sugars in it...

M: Very thick and creamy almost velvet like...with sharpness at the end.

D: Not a session beer.... to sweet to drink of bunch of these and with the ABV close to 10... Wow.

This is my first beer from Lagunitas, it was very interesting. I'll be looking for more.

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Photo of nvsblman
3.25/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Deep walnut brown with about a finger of brown head. The brown sugar (duh :) ) stands out most in the aroma, but there is also some toffee, some piney hops, and a light fruitiness. Distinct brown sugar flavor along with some fruit and a nice hoppy bite. Just a slight hint of alcohol that comes out a little more as it warms. It's pretty easy to drink given it's strength!

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Photo of Kaiser81
3.26/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bought a 6 pack from BevMo today and poured into a pint glass

A - A reddish brown color with about a finger width of head. It leaves some nice lacing on the glass

S - It smells like a typical red with a faint hint of brown sugar after a deep inhale; nothing like I thought it would smell like.

T - Very mild taste; no alcohol bite, no sweetness from the "brown sugar" supposedly put in there. I'm kind of stumped to explain this.

M - Light body with light carbonation.

D - It's drinkable. I just wish I could get more distinct failures.

They say this was a barley wine gone wrong, and so a ton of brown sugar was added to the recipe. I get hints of the barleywine characteristics, but not much of the brown sugar. This beer confuses me.

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Photo of coreyfmcdonald
3.27/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into a snifter

A: Pours a brilliantly clear amber color with two fingers of dense, fluffy head. Head retention is very good, lacing is extremely good.

S: Overripe pineapple, citrus hops, and sweet sugary caramel dominate the aroma. Not great.

T: Taste is better than aroma, but still not great. Toffee and caramel sweetness are quite strong with the same overripe pineapple and a bit of piney hops. Hip bitterness remains fairly strong, but is obviously a bit faded.

M: On the thick side with fairly strong carbonation.

O: The faded hops flavor here is hard to get past. I enjoyed the malty sweetness, but I got an overripe pineapple flavor that lingered long after swallowing the beer.

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Photo of Jesstyr
3.28/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Not my normal type of beer, so that might explain the low score, but I didnt really enjoy this beer. I see a lot of unique qualities though, and I respect that.

A: Dark orange/amber, but really no head, and what it does have doesnt really retain.

S: I didn't really get brown sugar, or many of the elements mentioned throughout this review. It has a very mild aroma in fact.

T: Not my style, but definitely dynamic. Very malty with some toasted brown sugar, but nothing overwhelming. Finishes with a strong liquor aftertaste.

M/D: Mild carbonation, and a fairly smooth, but the finish is what makes this not particularly great here. A little too bitter for my taste.

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Photo of itcomesnpints
3.28/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a translucent copper with a medium-sized head of clean white foam. Retention isn't spectacular.

Smell of sweet caramel malt, raisins and alcohol can be detected. You really have to strain your nostrils to find it though.

Sweet malt, then bitterness, then more bitterness, then some alcohol. Nothing complex here.

Mouthfeel is fine. Hides the high abv well.

I had one of these and that was enough. For such a big beer you would like to find comparatively large flavors. Personally they just weren't there for me. It's not likely that I'll come back to this one.

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Photo of BrewSomerville
3.28/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Aroma: Caramel, Honey, floral, molases, brown sugar.

Looks: Orange/copper colour. Nice sized, creamy coloured head. Left some rings of lace behind.

Taste: Marmalade, carmalized sugar, burnt sugar, hot alcoholic solventy.

Mouthfeel: Big body, almost chewy. Lightly carbonated.

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Photo of Jguthpsu
3.29/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I will give this a higher rating because I can see why people like it. It does have a depth of flavor and is somewhat unique. However, I did not care for it as it was to bitter for me.

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Photo of stumac
3.29/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

pours a reddish copper color with a nice off white head with decent lacing. the nose is shugga, sweet malts, caramel, molasses. the taste is sweet malts up front followed directly with bitter hops, shugga, caramel, subtle dark fruits like dark cherries, subtle red apple. Light to medium bodied, medium to low carbo. American Barleywine? I think so...

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Photo of mjl21
3.3/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle poured into snifter. Bottle is from 2008 Holdiay release. Comes in at 9.5% with 51 IBUs.
Consumed on 2/17/09

A-Nice darkish red. There is a minor head that leaves a nice ring around the glass. Miniscule lace.

S-Hops smack your nose. Similair to a fresh St. Rogue Dry Hopped Red. Dark fruit comes next.

T-Hops hit you fast. Malty caramel sweetness than ensues and remains. ABV is balanced in there.

M-Very, very sticky. Feels like you are drinking a sugary beer.

D-Takes a while to get through due to sweetness. A little too sweet for my taste. It doesn't feel like you are drinking a 9.5% beer.

Not one of my favorites from Lagunitas. It took 3 weeks to kill the sixer.

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Photo of ByTor2112
3.31/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a very light brown-the color of maple syrup. Active carbonation feeds a thin tan filmy head.

Aroma-sinuses are suffering, but I detect some alcohol, caramel and a sweet candy smell.

Mouthfeel-medium carbonation delivers a sweet alcohol infused coating to the palate. Not bad, strong, but for me it is succeeding in balancing the two dominant flavor profiles; alcohol and sweetness. Alcohol is present but not too hot. Sweetness is heavy but it gets cut back by a bitter finish that is a touch metallic. Different, but I am not put off by this ale being a high gravity-sweet-malt bomb. A froth on the palate intensifies the brown shugga' flavor profile.

Truth be told it is tasting like an American style Barleywine minus some hops and maybe a different yeast strain. I love Lagunitas' brewing style, but I can't see drinking more than one of these at a time. Winter warmer? Yep. Campfire beer? Yep. Definitely worth a try to drink something different.

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Photo of cindiwindi1025
3.31/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Burnt orange color, no head or lacing

S: Nothing on the nose

T: Tastes like a mixture of bitter, burnt molasses and pine needles with astringent. Not diggin this taste at all.

M: Hot on the mouth due to the ABV, not much in the way of carbonation.

D: Not very. The taste in my mouth is bad from this, though the buzz is damn good. I won't ever get this again.

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Photo of BeerSox
3.33/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into nonic.

Crystal clear amber hue that has a slightly red tint when held up to the light. A frothy one finger head slowly settles toa thin cap leaving behind a wall of stringy lacing.

The main scent in this one is a thin caramel aroma, or more accurately, brown sugar. The hop aroma is barely detectable, as well as the alcohol.

Overall the flavor of this one is somewhat bitter, with maybe a little bit of a sweet sugary start. A touch of caramel is in there, along with some spicy hops. Full bodied with a good amount of carbonation. The finish is some of the brown sugar and lingering bitterness.

I found this one middle of the road, unique, but not worth getting excited about. It tastes a lot like a mild Scottish Ale, with a little more alcohol. Recommended (barely, and if you like maltier beers).

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Photo of kojevergas
3.33/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

Heard the hype; grabbed a bottle at Whole Foods. Expectations are high; I like this brewery and some knowledgeable beer folk seem to dig this brew. 9.9% according to my bottle; I don't see 9.99% as currently listed on the site. 51.1 IBU. O.G. 1.100. I always like their labels; they're entertaining and well laid out. So that's a plus on presentation. 12 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a Uinta pilsner glass in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live.

Served straight from the fridge and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a plump five finger khaki colour head of beautiful smooth rolling frothy cream, good thickness, and great retention. Body colour is a rich vibrant copper with an amber hue. Transparent and translucent. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. I'd estimate the retention time at about five minutes. Really looking good so far. A gorgeous brew. I'm very impressed at the retention at this high an ABV. You'd think it was maybe 5% off the retention alone.

Sm: Brown sugar, certainly - but not to the extent I expected. It's actually somewhat understated. Floral hops, toasty caramelized malts, caramel, and biscuit malt. Even a hint of toffee. Slightly musty. A mild strength aroma. It's not real bold or expressive, but I'm excited to try it. Besides, there's a respectability to an understated mellow aroma. I don't detect any yeast or boozy alcohol.

T: Heavy on the brown sugar, indeed. I'm going to have to adjust to its assertive flavour. I do get floral hops - which seem to complement the flavour profile nicely. The sugar mellows on the climax, which is probably my favourite aspect of the brew. Caramel. Some toasty malts. No alcohol or yeast comes through. I do get some biting hop bitterness, especially in the second act. Feels too preserved and over-hopped. The floral hops swallow up the sugary flavour, making it lopsided. It's certainly full bodied. Too bitter on the finish, a stark contrast to the sugary character that precedes it. I find it imbalanced, and it's not getting much better as it warms.

In the final sip, I got a wonderful brown sugar sweetness, and even a hint of ginger spice. I wish the whole beer tasted like that.

Mf: Smooth and wet, with a rounded malty crispness that I really dig. I've noticed this characteristic in many Lagunitas brews; it's inflated and smooth, aiding the drinkability. Somewhat chewy. Good carbonation and thickness. A scratchy hop coarseness emerges on the climax; it's an annoyance. Independent of the frustrating flavours, the mouthfeel is for the most part well executed.

Dr: Drinkable, especially for the ABV, but it falls short of my expectations given what people have said about it. I'd certainly try it on draught, but I think it needs time for the hops to mellow out a bit and for the malts to take the forefront - along with the shockingly understated brown sugar. Needs serious aging. It's tasty but a bit misguided. I'll have to revisit this one, but I'm unimpressed with it currently - and it shouldn't be my job to age it. Well-priced for the quality, and I'm sure most drinkers will be satisfied with it. I find its key flaws (major bitterness in the second half caused by overhopping, and a lack of presence of the titular brown sugar) prevent me from really liking it. That said, it's pretty impressive how little the alcohol comes through.


It does get better as it warms. Be sure to let her rest after you take her out of the fridge.

12.20.14: Truncated impressions.

Pours a healthy 7 finger wide head of off-white colour. Retains superbly for its high ABV.

Body colour is a translucent copper.

Aromatics are primarily hoppy, with a pale malt backbone and no traces of obvious brown sugar. Balanced in terms of bitterness/sweetness. The hop profile is attractive.

Taste is off copper malts, a pleasant hop profile inclusive primarily of floral hops, noticeable brown sugar, pale malts, and hints of sweetbread.

Smooth, wet, medium to full-bodied, thick, well-carbonated, unrefreshing, and crisp.

It's drinkable - highly so - for the ABV, but the alcohol isn't unnoticeable. I quite like it - and it's better than I remember, but it remains far from world-class. Worth trying, sure. But not excellent.

Low B-

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Photo of bruachan
3.33/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

great to see this stuff distributed on the east coast

golden-amber with some decent lacing up top. the head is not huge but persistent. well carbonated

floral hop aromas with a touch of citrus. the malt does sneak in, but it's mostly vegetal. sweet tasting, with a considerable hop character, despite only 51 IBUs. it could use some ageing, as the booze seems a little harsh. the complexity can't compare with hibernation or nosferatu (or even arrogant bastard) and it's surprisingly dry. i suppose that's the reuslt of cane sugar

this is gold to some, but i'm not sure i fit in that category. i'll stick it in the cellar

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Photo of Winter
3.33/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear dark copper with a light khaki head. Aroma primarily consists of caramel, malt and brown sugar. The mouthfeel is medium in body. This was a lot hoppier than I was expecting from a beer made with raw sugar. It's not really that sweet at all. Piney, floral hoppiness is in the forefront of the flavor profile. The maltiness leaves a somewhat sticky mouthfeel. The hops impart a drying finish toward the back. Alchohol is hardly noticeable.

I'm a little underwhelmed after trying this one. I guess i was expecting something a little sweeter under the guise of a brown ale made with raw (brown)sugar. This one disappoints.

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Photo of Scrylol
3.34/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a one finger fluffy white head. Copper colored body, seems a bit hazy. Not bad.

Tropical fruit aromas, citrus, zest, and lemon as well. Slight malty sweetness note to it. Can smell some alcohol as well.

Bitter hop flavors with tons of citrus and zest on the tongue. Followed by strong alcohol notes. Slight caramel malty sweetness to it. Leaves a dry, bready aftertaste with hints of alcohol. Pretty low alcohol burn despite the amount I can taste.

Medium body, decent carbonation. Feels creamy and goes down smooth.

Decent strong ale, but I didn't find much brown sugar in it. Bit too hoppy in terms of balance, and unfortunately was able to taste quite a bit of alcohol (though it's not that bad).

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Photo of bsp77
3.35/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into tall glass.

Appearance: Somewhat dark reddish-amber with nice light tan head.

Smell: Tangerine-accented orange, slightly tart grapefruit with some sweet caramel. Sugary and alcoholic.

Taste: Very hoppy with grapefruit, orange and pine. There is a caramel- and toffee-like malt backbone and a nice layer of sweetness. Ends somewhat bitter and balanced, but the sticky sweetness is cloying and distracting.

Feel: Surprisingly light, effervescent body for the high abv - must be due to the brown sugar. Only somewhat dry finish and more boozy than warming

Drinkability: Comes across as a light, grapefruit-hoppy Barleywine. Sounds good, but too sticky and boozy.

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Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 1,470 ratings.