Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine and get 12 issues / year of fresh beer content delivered to your door each month.

Already subscribe? to manage your subscription.

Brown Shugga' - Lagunitas Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Brown Shugga'Brown Shugga'

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
89
very good

1,444 Reviews
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,444
Hads: 5,015
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 10.8%
Wants: 238
Gots: 868 | 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: 1,444 | Hads: 5,015
Photo of DeepBrew
4.27/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 12oz bottle into pint glass.

A: Clear caramel color with big off-white foam and long retention, leaving behind a great looking foam.

S: Hoppy , fruity and floral smell

T: Starts with nice maltiness, followed by the fruit taste, the bitterness comes toward the end. Piny stickiness in the aftertaste.

M: Medium mouthfeel, belies the almost 10 ABV

O: Very nice balance between tastes and aromatics. (414 characters)

Photo of ONUMello
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass
A: Slightly hazy orange color with a one-finger lingering head
S: Pine, citrus, sweet malt and brandied cherries
T: Toffee, pine, citrus, sweet malt and tropical fruit
M: Medium-bodied, fairly bitter, sweet, the alcohol is a bit noticeable but balanced overall
O: A nice blend of bitter and sweet. A solid beer from a solid brewery (368 characters)

Photo of micromaniac129
4.25/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The look of the beer has a nice contrast of deep orange russet brown and a light tan head.
The beer is clear but there is some suspended particules in there too. A well formed head with lacing to boot.
Nicely aromatic like most Lagunitas beer. Plenty of piney and citrusy hops in the nose, but this one also has some sweet malts. Candied malts. Smells nice.
The taste is equally up to par with a smooth easy drinking feel. No bitterness at all.
A slightly sweet beer with a big hop taste. I get some bright citrus hops like grapefruits and some sweet malts.
Drinks very smooth and one doesn't notice the 10% abv.
A very good beer that firing on all cylinders, (659 characters)

Photo of RyanK252
4.24/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle poured into a Lagunitas mason jar

A: Pours deep reddish amber copper with a frothy tan head that hangs around a while before settling down and lacing quite well.

S: Dark sugar sweetness, light citrus, tropical fruit and pine hops, some caramel malt, maybe a bit spicy, with a little alcohol.

T: Caramel toffee brown sugar sweetness, pine bitterness, tropical fruit and citrus hops, a bit spicy and woodsy, with a little alcohol.

M: Medium body, moderate carbonation, a little alcohol warmth.

O: Big, rich, sticky sweet, and delicious. Rarely do I buy a 6ers, but in this case it was a very wise investment. The more I drink it, the more I love it. (663 characters)

Photo of Tripel_Threat
4.29/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from bottle to pint glass. Three fingers of thick, fluffy, off-white head with large bubbles. Settles slowly leaving thick lacing. Produces a steady carbonation stream. Color is a clear copper. The brew is attractively translucent.
Smells like sweet toast, some malt, caramel, a little bit of booze.
Taste is tropical fruit, fruit syrup, a little dry hop, but not bitter. Sweet grapefruit. Sour, but more than balanced by sweet. Really smooth mouthfeel, especially for something that's supposed to be 10% ABV. Although I'm halfway through the bottle and I can feel it.
This one is rich in feel, which is fitting since I've just recently polished off a paczki (a rich, donut-like fruit or cream filled pastry eaten on Fat Tuesday). Sip this one, savor it. (765 characters)

Photo of infinitebruner
3.94/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

February 10, 2015

12 oz bottle, snifter

A – Medium amber and very clear. It has a thin layer of off-white, pinkish foam, with low retention.

S – A ton of resiny, woodsy, and tropical fruits, mango and papaya, with a touch of pear. Some bready malt with an impression of caramel, and some residual… (wait for it) brown sugar.

T – Malty, bread crust and a touch of caramel. Resiny hop flavor, some earthy, woodsy notes, and a bit of papaya. Light residual sweetness and fairly high hop bitterness.

M – Malty sweet at first then overridden by hop bitterness. Carbonation is fairly high, body is medium-light.

O – This definitely falls between an American Barleywine and a Double IPA, nice malt and hop presence. (733 characters)

Photo of danh53
3.74/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

At first taste I thought this was a unique and complex beer, but when it was finished I don't really know where to go with this one. The nose and taste starts with carmalized citrus and ends dry and hoppy with an alcohol bite. Its a mix between an IPA and a barley wine, and I don't think it pulls off that balance in the end. I'm glad I was able to try it. (357 characters)

Photo of oldirtycaffrey
4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured a solid dark amber with a slight foamy off-white head. Smell is sweet and hoppy - brown sugar, caramel, honey. Beautiful. Taste is also sweet with a relatively mild kick considering it's (!) 9.9 ABV %. I honestly can't believe it has a 9.9 ABV % -- this is a VERY easy beer to drink. One of the most impressive beers I've had in a very long time. (358 characters)

Photo of Raisingfable
4.66/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Crystal clear, bready, harmonious caramel/brown sugar and hops, with perfect (not-over-the -top) stickiness to compliment its flavor profile. I love savoring this beer and letting the hops build up, sip after sip. May not be for everyone, but the fresher the better in my book! (277 characters)

Photo of 29mikoyan
4.33/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A nice solid ale with flavors of honey, brown sugar, malt, and a beautiful spicy and earthy hop feel. The aroma is that of flowers and sweet caramel candy. (155 characters)

Photo of Tsar_Riga
4.28/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A - Copper-red, clear, and off-white head. Very full. Lacing.

S - Pine, with a slight citrus bit, and a honeyed maltiness.

T - Follows the nose, but flips what is out front. The first hit is sweet, the honey-like sugars and a bread flavor like a rich dinner roll, followed quickly with a big punch of pine, a touch of lemon, grapefruit, orange, as well as a bit of floral. The close is pretty bitter, but the malt backbone keeps it rounded.

M - Big time beer, almost no alcohol on the tongue. Slick, full, a touch crunchy with hop oils in the close.

O - This is one of the better strong ales I've enjoyed, handles the combination of bitterness and sweetness well, making it a pleasure to drink. With a 10% ABV, this is one that I'm glad comes as a 12 oz. (wish more beers did). Excellent. (799 characters)

Photo of Mooslerfitness
4.62/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

first off I love stouts but this might be my favorite beer thus my craft journey
L : dark copper amber hugh 4 finger Creamy off white head lots of lacing poured in wide mouth goblet at 45`
S: grapefruit (cutties) slight hop and little spice
T: kinda weird but smells of citrus grapefruit mainly with caramelized brown shugga:-) this is f n delicious does have slight alcohol finish but to expect with almost 10%
F lite carbonation that coats your mouth
O : I love this beer kinda taste little like stone ipa but 100 times better and it has brown sugar come on who dont love brown shugga (590 characters)

Photo of MaximalC
3.42/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours a translucent amber color with a modest cap of off-white foam. Peculiarly sweet and tropical aroma consists of grapefruit, toffee, passion fruit, toasted bread, and brown sugar.

The taste features grapefruit up front, along with a bready malt base. Sweetness seeps through more on the back end than anywhere else, but even then there’s piney residue to compete with. The body is more substantive than the appearance would suggest, which, along with moderate carbonation, creates a tingly, creamy mouthfeel that is the finest aspect of this brew.

I don’t know if it’s age, undiagnosed brain damage, or happenstance, but this is the second beer in a row that tastes nothing like the prior incarnation I recall from years prior. I remember this as a sweet, brown brew (you know, kinda like the name “Brown Shugga” would suggest), not the amber hop bomb I have before me. As far as a pale ale goes, this isn’t half bad, but it’s not at all what I was expecting. (984 characters)

Photo of scottfrie
3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2013 release. Year old bottle, poured into snifter.

A: Pours a clear, dark, caramel color with a couple fingers of very greasy looking light tan head. Rings of sticky lace were left down the glass.
S: Smells of thick caramel, brown sugar, leather and leafy, sticky, hop resin. I get notes of candied orange peel, chocolate, and spice as well.
T: Follows the nose. Sticky sweet flavors of brown sugar, caramel, toffee, candied dates, and resinous hops. The finish is still extremely bitter and full of tree sap. The aftertaste is warming with booze and lingering leather, leafy tobacco, and chocolate covered raisins.
M: Thick body with a slick, sticky, bitter, and slightly sharp mouthfeel. The carbonation is soft, creamy, and very smooth.
O: Even after a year is beer is still intense. Tastes like a hoppier and less thick Barleywine. I preferred this over the fresh bottles, and I believe this will hold up for even more years in the cellar. (945 characters)

Photo of Foyle
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap in tulip glass. Appearance: deep amber color, slight white head leaves some lacing on the glass. Some carbonation evident. Aroma: caramel, rich barley malt syrup, earthy and citrus hops, and a slight yeasty funk. Mouthfeel: medium bodied, silky mouthfeel with some alcohol warming in the throat. Flavor: brown sugar, caramel, cookie dough, bread crust and moderate hop bitterness. Overall: well done for easy sipping on a cold winter night. (447 characters)

Photo of BeerWithMike
3.23/5  rDev -18.8%
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. (761 characters)

Photo of mattbk
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: Slightly hazy, perfectly amber, nice, tight tan head. Looks good. Wonderful lacing during consumption.
S: Caramel, centennial/chinook hops/grapefruit, a bit of pine, pretty nice.
T: Super caramel malt and cherry hoppiness. Medium-level bitterness. Very little alcohol presence although it does sting on the lips a bit. Very smooth and drinkable for ~10%. The hops build on you during consumption. This more of a barleywine than an American Strong Ale - although I realize there isn't too much of a difference - but compared to say, Arrogant Bastard, this has less bitterness and hop punch. This is smoother, and generally more enjoyable.
M: Medium, could be a tad heavier, but this adds to the drinkability of the beer. The carbonation is perfect.
O: Completely solid, tasty beer, very drinkable for 10%, yet very nice as a sipping beer too. Not super interesting, but it does have some complexity to it for sure. I would completely recommend this beer. (969 characters)

Photo of Jacobob10
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle poured into an oversized wine glass. Beautiful copper color with amazing clarity and a large creamy white head. Nice lacing on the glass as the beer goes down. Its appearance might be my favorite aspect.

Aroma is interesting. Plenty of orange citrus, pine, molasses and brown sugar. Flavor is full of resinous hops and alcohol. There is a sweet overtone throughout the duration of the beer. Long lasting flavor with a big body. A bit of a metallic finish.

This is a potent brew that is usually a "one and done" for me. Worth trying but not something I will seek out in the future. (595 characters)

Photo of Bone53
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Somewhere in between a copper and amber color wirg a two finger egg shell colored head

Smell: Citrus peels, pine, caramel/molasses, and you said it, brown shugga. As it warms i get some onion burn to the nose as well

Taste: Flavors follow the nose pretty closely; A good balance between citrusy and piney hops and sweet caramel/molasses malt character, along with a pinch of you said it, brown shugga

Mouthfeel: Medium body; As all of lagunitas big beers, this goes down amazingly smooth for 10% abv. I dont know how those guys do it. Bitterness and carbonation is on point

Overall: I wouldnt really consider this a brown ale. DFH 90 minute IPA seems to have just as much if not more malt in it as this. This is just a DIPA on the maltier side. With that being said, id consider this and 90 minute the best beers in that regard. And perhaps even Great Divide Herculese. All are great examples of a malty IPA done right. This one has a great balance between bitter hops and sweet malt, and goes down extremely smooth, especially considering the abv. Id rather go for a Lil Sumpin Sumpin, Hop Stoopid, or Sucks, but as far as a malty IPA goes, this is a winner. (1,176 characters)

Photo of Beejay
3.73/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Medium dark brown and hazy. Just off white head on top.

S: Hop aroma with some nice pine aroma, some slight citrus peel. There is indeed a touch of a brown sugar smell in the back.

T: Hops!! Whew! Resin and pine, with a huge hit of citrus peel afterwards. Nice caramel and brown sugar in the finish.

M: Thick, but the prevalent carbonation lightens it up a bit.

O: I knew nothing about this brew before I tried it, so it was a bit of a surprise.. But a good surprise. Dank, hoppy, and enjoyable. (513 characters)

Photo of ThaneMcC
4.13/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a coppery amber with copious white foamy head that resolves to a fine lacing.
Smells of hops (pine/citrus) and a fair amount of malty goodness
Sweet with a nice balance from the hops and clean finish.
Not syrupy despite the sweetness, and easy to drink despite the high ABV.
As commented by previous reviewers, there is a characteristic odor that Lagunita's beers have - and a delicious one at that.

Overall, a very enjoyable beer with a complex flavor profile that I thoroughly enjoyed. (494 characters)

Photo of leantom
4.54/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Wow, this is by far my favorite offering from Lagunitas. Here goes:

A: Dark but clear brown. Massive head and lacing. Plenty of carbonation to boot. Simply marvelous.

S: Awesome - like a WC IPA mixed with sweet molasses and caramel. Pine, citrus, some grapefruit (but not overabundant), molasses, brown sugar and caramel.

T: Follows the nose, which is great.

F: Sticky piney, well-carbonated, goes down the tongue swimmingly.

O: Great beer. Will have again. (473 characters)

Photo of Walruzz
4.48/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Tastes just like a "Brown Shugga" should..... nice molasses notes and depth of malt flavor. Slight bitter hoppiness keeps it from turning into one of those cloyingly sweet brown ales.

A great brown ale for IPA/Pale ale pallets. Love the golden brown color, not a true brown but a nice looking beer. Nose is malty with a hint of pine. Pours a big bubble head that fades fast but leaves a nice lace. Probably my favorite brown ale, but I'm not a connoisseur of the style. I typically avoid sweeter beers. (511 characters)

Photo of OrestesMethuon
4.02/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I've been drinking (and loving) its substitute—Lagunitas Sucks—for years, but somehow I never found or created the opportunity to try Brown Shugga' until now, when I finally bit the bullet and bought a six-pack. Amusingly—though this is a very good beer—its Sucky substitute *is* the better ale; but I really love Lagunitas Sucks, so that's not a knock on its Sweet Release predecessor.

Indeed, as I wrote, this is a very good beer. It's richly sugary, yet aggressively boozy, balancing out the sweetness; it's smoothly, roundly brown, with a robust, but not overly-thick, mouthfeel, as well as a finish that much cleaner than one might expect from a brown-cane-added strong ale; and, for its style, it's surprisingly bitter (51.1 IBU), in a good way, showcasing a smart and sophisticated use of hops to add balance to an otherwise bombastic, blown-up beer.

With its sparklingly-clean caramel color, Brown Shugga' is really a brew of rare breed: heavy and strong, clean and shiny, balanced and smooth, a bit woody and benevolently saccharine, big but also blithely self-assured. Indeed: the brewer's belief that "this Special Ale is Something Unique" seems anything but misplaced. (1,193 characters)

Photo of Lee_Adams
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

For hoppy beer fans, you'll love this. The sugar doesn't quite come to the fore like I'd hoped, but the look is beautiful, nice creamy foam after pouring, leaving lacing as it falls and taste is decently complex. With floral and fruity notes, the finish is bitter. (264 characters)

Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 1,444 ratings.