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Brown Shugga' - Lagunitas Brewing Company

Brown Shugga'Brown Shugga'

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

3,435 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3435
Reviews: 1291
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 11.69%

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
Ratings: 3,435 | Reviews: 1,291 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Pegasus


3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Hazy medium amber color with an abundance of suspended sediment and small slow-rising bubbles. The off-white head pours fairly small and soon fades to a paper-thin layer. The lace coats the glass well in broken sheets.

Aroma: Prominent citrus hops, biscuit malts, and molasses yield a strong and pleasantly lingering aroma.

Taste: Opens with strong citrus and pine hops, beneath which is a strong undercurrent of caramel malt. Towards the middle of the taste, the sweet caramel malts and brown sugar notes assert themselves strongly. Sweet alcohol notes are also present. The finish is dominated by bitter and lingering citrus and pine hops. The alcohol is quite warming.

Mouth feel: Rich, full, and very smooth, more like cognac than a beer.

Drinkability/notes: Simply excellent, rich, full, and flavorful; a spectacular beer. Would be most pleasant on a cold and rainy day. Cellared for approximately nine months.

Serving type: bottle

02-01-2004 01:05:16 | More by Pegasus
Photo of ChappyCubsFan


3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The name, Brown Shugga, is not deceptive at all. It does a good job of characterizing this brew. This was an experience. I didn't drink a whole bottle, but instead shared one with about three guests (actually, I had tried it earlier at the Pizza Port Strong Ale festival in December and rather enjoyed it). Very robust malt blend with a brown sugar taste that gives way to a good hop and malt balance. This is a great desert beer. I think you could probably pour this over vanilla ice cream in a glass and have an interesting beverage.

Serving type: bottle

01-20-2004 00:36:37 | More by ChappyCubsFan
Photo of WVbeergeek


4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Amber brown approach with a nice bulbous tan head leaves awesome sparatic lacing with each sip. Aroma: Vinous hops with caramel sugar slightly burn nose this beer is awesome, full malty approach to this old ale. Taste: Great amount of hops sugary with hops piney, earthy, citric tones this is a great old ale very nice brew can't be beat in my opinion. I want some of that Brown Sugga' baby, gives me sweet loving sweet sugary malt ridden flavor makes me want to have more of this brew. Mouthfeel: Medium bodied old ale from this brew I know what's coming my way complex flavors galore. Drinkability: Wow, how can you do this to common folk alot of flavor that most people aren't ready for however hallelejuah for this example of a kick ass old ale.

Serving type: bottle

01-18-2004 00:13:39 | More by WVbeergeek
Photo of RoyalT


4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serving type: bottle

12-18-2003 03:31:11 | More by RoyalT
Photo of francisweizen


4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a dark red/brown beer with a nice tan head of foam. The aromas are very simple and light. They consist of heavy malts, alcohol, light hops, and brown sugar. The taste is sweet, sugary, and malty. The hops are noticeable on the finish, but generally speaking, they are light. The mouthfeel is light for a 10% beer and the drinkability is excellent for a barleywine!

Serving type: bottle

12-17-2003 02:06:31 | More by francisweizen
Photo of ADR


3.35/5  rDev -16.7%
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

Serving type: bottle

12-07-2003 20:01:55 | More by ADR
Photo of rkhaze


4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2003 edition. Poured a light amber/orange color. Small, creamy tan head that didn't hang around long. Left good, thick lacing that coated the glass in sheets.
Sweet malty aroma with some toffee and nuts. Good spicy hop presence.
Tangy, spicy bittersweet taste with caramel, buttery brown sugar and a bit of vanilla. Nicely balanced with a mildly spicy hoppiness. Finishes slightly bitter and semi-dry with noticeable alcohol.
Rich, thick mouthfeel with good carbonation. For a beer this sweet and high in alcohol, it's surprisingly drinkable.
Definitly a different beer. Hard to categorize other than ...great! Add a little cream to this and it would make a great beer milkshake!

Serving type: bottle

11-18-2003 02:01:46 | More by rkhaze
Photo of beerguy101


3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Medium brown color, medium head. Brown ale brewed by feeding brown sugar cane to the brewery yeast. There are suspended solids in this beer. Malty and sweet. Full flavored ale. Malty and hoppy. Brown sugar gives the beer somewhat of a Belgian Ale flavor. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is a little crisp. Aftertaste slightly harsh. Some bottle aging would help this beer a lot. Still a nice taste and a very interesting idea.

Serving type: bottle

08-28-2003 03:04:07 | More by beerguy101
Photo of Bierman9

New Hampshire

3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

"Just like a young girl should...."

My first bier from 'Nitas.... courtesy of Gusler!! Shugga pours a semi-hazy chestnut/mahogany tinge, and quite a rich one at that. The topping was initially frothy and tan, yet it dissipated to a fine, thin layer of bubbles which left a lovely bit of lacework in the goblet.

Nose is a decent blend of a brown-sugary sweetness and Pacific coast hops. Verrry inviting!!

Good, medium-range body, and the tongue falls into line in a good fashion as well.

The flavor starts with a bit of sweetness, though not as much as I would have thought....considering the addition of brown sugar... Though sweet, there is a tiny bit of fruitiness, and then the hop bitterness jumps to the fore. The hops are well-represented, but not as citrusy as other barleys....this one does tend to have more of a bitter finish than a citrusy or floral one.

Good stuff....thnx....Herr Guz!!

overall: 4.05
appearance: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | mouthfeel: 4 | drinkability: 3.5

Zum Wohl!!

Serving type: bottle

04-27-2003 12:14:07 | More by Bierman9
Photo of Jarod


4.8/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Sweet release, nice label detailed with writing around the picture.

This beer poured into the glass a burnt orange brown color that was cloudy in nature, but one could see carbonation bubbles rising if one held it to the light. The head that it produced was tanish beige in color that was thick and creamy and left big chunky lace behind. The aromas that it beer produced were of fresh, raw, just harvested hops - cascade I believe, fresh fruit - apples, sweet malt, caramel, brown sugar, apricots, fresh cut grass and alcohol. The tastes were much like the smells, fresh raw leafy hops, sweet malts, caramel, brown sugar, some roasted malts, fresh fruit - apples, a fresh grass appeal, apricots -fresh and dried, and alcohol (which showed up all through the tasting). It left a hoppy aftertaste that was rather pleasant and not overbaring and actually became less noticable and sweeter as the beer warmed. This is one full, thick and creamy beer. In one beer word EXCELLANT.

Thanks to Gusler for the opportunity to experience a wonderful brew.

Serving type: bottle

04-20-2003 18:07:53 | More by Jarod
Photo of Morris729


4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark golden brown in color with a thin and sticky off-white colored head. Nose is sweet caramelized malts, brown sugar, pine, and a bit of fresh cut grass. Starts off with sweet brown sugar, almost too sweet, but is quickly balanced by bitter notes of pine oils and raw hop flavors. The fact that the abv is 9.9% is quite a surprise as I couldn’t detect any notes of alcohol. However, it does explain the increased difficulty I’m having typing this review! I’ve been a fan of all the Lagunitas beers I’ve had to date, and this one is no different. A nice choice for a nightcap that I’m sure I’ll buy again.

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2003 00:50:54 | More by Morris729
Photo of MAB

Alberta (Canada)

4.8/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I think Lagunitas is my favorite brewery find- I like everything of theirs I've been able to locate, which is no mean feat in Canada!
The bottles/ labels are worth the price alone, but this beer was exquisite.
I've made and had beer with brown sugar in it before, but this would prove why it's a good idea to experiment.
It pours nice, and is a deep amber color. It is quite bitter, with good aroma and bittering hops, plus malty and full bodied, and the high alcohol level brings all the flavors out. There was a sweet aftertaste, but is not overly sweet while drinking it and it feels wonderful on the tongue. Wow!

Serving type: bottle

03-17-2003 19:37:25 | More by MAB
Photo of aracauna


4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Jakey likes! Pours a crystal clear medium brown with amber highlights. The head is oddly yellow (not sunshine yellow, but a dull creamish yellow) and looks almost greasy or buttery. The head forms nicely and sticks around long enough that I can't complain. Even when it's mostly gone, what's left manages to sheet the sides of the glass. The first thing that came to mind after the first sniff was leaves. It's that smell when you're out in the woods and you pull leaves from a branch and crush them. The hoppy leaf smell dominates the soft warm malts underneath. The flavor is what stole my heart, though. You've got buttery biscuits topped with caramel and toffee flakes topped with a dollop of cream sprinkled with brown sugar and a light drizzling of maple syrup. Actually, that makes this thing sound sickeningly sweet, but it's not. It's just sweet enough that you'd call it sweet but no more. The slightly herbal hops are easily picked out but don't overpower or even dominate. An exquisitely balanced brew and one that I wouldn't guess was over 6% just by the taste.

Serving type: bottle

02-27-2003 22:57:13 | More by aracauna
Photo of freed


4.4/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It was supposed to be a Barleywine, but it turned out wrong? I believe the story because I believe some of the greatest things are mistakes. Like Post-it notes.

The amber color is great. A noble dark red. The head retention is great, and the aroma, as you lift the pint to you face, it very inviting. A sweet and suble hop aroma. Tasting it is a wonderful celebration in maltiness. After all, beer hasn't always included hops. The strong malt body is very satisfying. This beer, sold in 22oz bottles, is the perfect beer as for a session. Its sweet and spicy, and seems like it might compliment german food and maybe thai food, though the thai food may wrangle with the beer for spicyness.

If you're lucky enough to find this, or any Lagunita's beer, grab it.

Serving type: bottle

02-22-2003 20:23:38 | More by freed
Photo of AtrumAnimus


3.68/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours amber with just a hint of cloudiness. The nose is of very strong hops is the most enjoyable part of this beer. It just smells good. This has a heavy mouthfeel with a barley wine like taste that is average. There is a slight taste of the brown sugar used in it too. There is also a strong alcohol flavor that shows up towards the end of this beer. The flavor also finishes up too bitter.

Serving type: bottle

02-21-2003 23:28:54 | More by AtrumAnimus
Photo of marc77


3.58/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Slightly hazy ruby hue, topped by an off white, thick, creamy well retained head. Mellow, mint laced citrusy hop nose with a dominant note of underripe tangerine. Medium caramel malt aroma with hints of biscuit and butter. Mellow impression of berryish fruitiness rounds the aroma out. Baked biscuit mild sweetness is perceived at first, then is ensued by a pronounced, almost syrupy well caramelized sugar note, which persists throughout. Hop bitterness provides meager contrast, leaving the overall flavor profile quite sweet. Hop flavor manages to eek in, lending a brown sugar smothered grapefruit impression mid palate. A bit lightly bodied, and a touch over attenuated, yet residual sweetness remains assertive. Finishes with a lingering suggestion of warming butterscotch schnapps. Brown Shugga is quite an odd brew. The sweetness is only a hair shy of cloying, and seemingly overshadowed malt nuances. That being said, the sheer uniqueness and dearth of alcohol character (until the finish) warrant a try. With a greater hop presence this could be a fine barleywine. It's quite tasty, nonetheless. This would make a delicious, supremely calorically dense vanilla ice cream float. Thanks to TXhops for sending the bomber.

Serving type: bottle

02-18-2003 19:19:13 | More by marc77
Photo of Jordan


3.4/5  rDev -15.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2003 11:08:10 | More by Jordan
Photo of TXHops


3.33/5  rDev -17.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2003 20:32:08 | More by TXHops
Photo of mzwolinski


4.63/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Crytsal-clear and a rich copper in color, with a mountainous off-white head and decent lacing. The aroma is quite appealing as the brown sugar sweetness blends almost imperceptibly with a blend of citric and lightly floral hops. Mild fusel alcohol aromas develop as the beer warms. The flavor begins malty with some light, fruity notes, followed by an almost granular sugary flavor and some mild alcohol warming. The finish is dominating by a biting hop presence, but one which stings only for a second and merges gracefully in to a very well-balanced sugary sweet and somewhat spicy aftertaste. Medium-full body and rather like a mild barley wine in character. A very well-crafted (even if accidentally!) and drinkable beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-20-2003 17:55:12 | More by mzwolinski
Photo of BeerManDan


3.13/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a thick hazy amber color with very little foam and had not lace. The smell was of a citrus nature with a hoppy/malty aroma. The taste was of bitter hops and could not find any trace of brown sugar at all. It was thick and brown, but the bitterness over powered the sweetness. To me, this was not a well balanced or complex beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-05-2003 15:16:22 | More by BeerManDan
Photo of Gusler


4.43/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The pour an obscure amber color, the head is exorbitant in size, the consistency frothy with enormous sticky sheets of lace clinging to the glass. Also must say, the sediment is suspended much as the definition of obscure states. Nose is malt, floral, hints of fusel alcohol, caramel, a “Top Notch Sniffer” for the old proboscis. Front is malt and thickly sweet, the top full-bodied, the finish is medial on the carbonation, medicinal in its hop spicy bite, dry, alcohol bitter aftertaste “OOOHAAAAA”, how I love these “Bad Boys”.

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2002 15:48:43 | More by Gusler
Photo of GOBLIN


4.21/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Lagunitas Brown Shugga'

Just like I knew you would

Poured into pint glass

A: Caramel. Not as dark as other "barley wines" also has a beautiful red glow to it. (advertised as a barleywine but I know it's a strong ale)

S: Yummy, caramel, fruit punch, maple syrup ( Seriously . . . Am I the only one who keeps getting this fruit punch "thing" in beer lately ?

T: Yummy, same as nose. Much, much better as it warms too. Sweet candy in taste . . . I think this is a beer Grandma would bake or brew or whatever

M: Thick. Syrupy but in a good way

O: Maybe not as "big" as other barleywines (strong ale) but very drinkable. Well done Lagunitas

Last thought . . . Rumor has it that Sucks came about because Lagunitas messed up on a batch of Brown Shugga' . . . Is this true ?

Serving type: on-tap

03-17-2014 17:40:28 | More by GOBLIN
Photo of wethorseblanket


4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap.

A: Pours a hazy reddish amber with 1/2" white head which fades slowly and yields splotchy and spotty lace.

S: Citrusy, herbal, fruity, caramel, malts and a slight "old ale" note.

T: Pine and citrus, sweetly malted, caramel, toffee and faint molasses.

M- Semi-full body and medium carbonation. Finishes sweet and malty with a slight syrupy, resiny dankness.

O: Rated as a strong ale, but seems like a hybrid of a malty DIPA, old ale, and BW. A nice sipper for sure.

Serving type: on-tap

02-03-2014 04:09:28 | More by wethorseblanket
Photo of CaptainHate


4.64/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I had tried a sample of this at the local supermarket and thought it was deserving of a much more in depth exploration. So I had my growler filled (at a very reasonable price) and took it to a meeting of my fellow reprobates who like listening to music and drinking beer.

I was pretty sure that this would be regarded fairly highly by my fellow hop-kissers and was not surprised. The other alternatives were Hopping Frog Christmas Ale (not bad) and Great Lakes Conway Ale (it's ok but I've had it before and wasn't particularly interested in bottles of it). Anyway this was a big hit and we drained the growler with scant regard for the alc content.

Even though Lagunitas dumps enough sugar in this to stimulate a diabetic coma, it really doesn't negatively impact the taste, nor does the fairly high alc content. This is a strong tasting but very balanced tasty ale.

Serving type: growler

02-02-2014 06:17:06 | More by CaptainHate
Photo of RaulMondesi


4.29/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Ok, so the Raul man has seen Brown Shugga' categorized as many things - brown ale, Barelywine, American strong ale... Whatever it is, it's off the hook! Juice, caramel, malt... Raul is feeling it like a K-town rub down. Clean, svelte...

Like Tinker, to Evers, to Chance...


Serving type: on-tap

01-15-2014 05:00:25 | More by RaulMondesi
Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 3,435 ratings.