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Brown Shugga' - Lagunitas Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Brown Shugga'Brown Shugga'

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,446 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,446
Hads: 5,029
Avg: 3.99
pDev: 21.05%
Wants: 243
Gots: 884 | 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: 1,446 | Hads: 5,029
Photo of fsimcox
2.76/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours transparent ruby amber. When I hold it up to the light, I see right through. Off-white, slightly tan head. Smaller than I expected. Less than a half inch of foam that dissipates rather quickly. Some lacing.

Smells of sweet malt, liquorice, a little citrus, and a hint of the alcohol.

Sweet, creamy brown sugar upfront, hops in the middle, and a warm bitter finish. Some grapefruit aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is silky and creamy, some carbonation, and a warm finish. Sweetness and syrup feeling lingers.

A nice holiday beer. Very good on a cold night, but not something I would want every day.

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Photo of travisdiener32
3.38/5  rDev -15.3%
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 kpantz
3.92/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Executive Summary: Since "American Strong Ale" is a bit of a catch-all, I didn't really know what to expect. Reading the label, I figured I could count on some aggressive sweetness (OG 1.10) and not too much in the way of hoppiness (51 IBU). Wrong. Totally wrong. But in a good way. This is actually pretty tasty.

Appearance: Reddish-amber, somewhat cloudy with a cream-colored head, about a finger thick, but quickly reducing to a film. Moderate lacing.

Smell: Largely this smells like a cross between a green barleywine and a weak-nosed imperial IPA. Some hops in the nose as well as some weak malt and yeast notes. As the beer warms, the brown sugar finally starts to emerge.

Taste: Definitely sweet right at the beginning, but a "dirty" flavor moves in, followed by a pretty nice hop flavor (with associated bitterness in the back-end). I'm actually pretty surprised how prominently hops figure in this beer. I was expecting a sweet mess, but instead I feel like I'm drinking an over-balanced imperial IPA. Kinda strange. As with the aroma, a bit of warming and a lot of swirling gently coaxes some of the brown sugar out of hiding, but not enough to change the overall impression.

Mouthfeel: Not bad. A little sticky, but the body itself is pretty light. Carbonation level is on the high side of just right.

Drinkability: Actually pretty drinkable given the shock factor here. Even though I didn't get anything I expected to out of this beer, it's pretty enjoyable. Goes down smoothly, and even the belches taste pretty good ;)

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Photo of Bisco42
4.58/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

So good. Easy drinking, looks perfect, the carbonation is on point and the aftertaste leaves you yearning for another. This beer is phenomenal for the price/abv with the taste. It also ages well.

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Photo of TheViolator666
3.71/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12 fl. oz. bottle poured into snifter.

A: Pours with a fingers width off-white head. Copper colored body with ruby red highlights. Very nice clarity.

S: Sugary sweet, piney hops. Not much complexity.

T: Tons of piney hops in the front but seem to give way to the high amount of sugary sweet malts, caramel and molasses flavors. The malts linger in the aftertaste as well a hop bitterness. Not too hot, but could hide the alcohol better. Very similar to a Barleywine.

M/D: Full bodied. Carbonation leaves soft bite on the tongue and accompanies the alcohol on the way down. Definitely a sipping beer, 1 is plenty!

Pretty good, but I expected something a bit better.

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Photo of itcomesnpints
3.28/5  rDev -17.8%
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 Joeyphunk
3.61/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Rubbing alcohol notes In the taste, not sure the malts were balanced correctly. A weird brown to be sure, not sure it represents the style. Did the bartender give me an ipa on accident? I think this is an ok strong beer but not the best example. I am glad i drank it, but i won't seek another.

When I had it the second time ( cause I forgot I tried it) It was a different beer - leading me to believe that Scotty's brew house had a bad keg

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Photo of LordofTime25
3.41/5  rDev -14.5%
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 JMD71
3.95/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sampled & reviewed on 3/9/07:

Ap: Brilliant copper hued & sparkling. Slight haze. 1/2 finger of head drops back quickly. Carbonation steady. Lacing persisent, but falls back as the glass empties.

Ar: Strong citrus fruits, such as tangerines. Some malt presence with a solid alcohol body. Brown sugar toast is noted but not overly strong.

Ta: Very sweet entry leads to a rich, malty middle with moderate hop bitterness which fades into a heated finish. Once heat recedes, sweetness reasserts itself. Rich plum pudding with brandy butter. ABV well hidded - good balance!

Mo: Full bodied & chewy. Slightly syrupy, but not overly so. Good carbonation which helps offset the warming mouthfeel from the high ABV. Carbonation leaves mouth fairly clean with a bit of an astringent aftertaste from fusel alcohols.

Dr: Slow sipper as I know its strength, but if I didn't know better this would go down quickly. The sweetness from the brown sugar really tames the formidable ABV.

Comments: Very tasty! Very full flavored & well balanced. Enjoyed this all the way through & definitely warrants a repeat purchase.

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Photo of surfer4life
4.24/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass from a 12oz bottle

A - Hazy golden brown with a thick off color white head. Some sediment and good lacing.

S - Very sweet malt, almost reminds me of how a belgian quad smells. lots of spice in it, raisins and obviously, brown sugar.

T - Not a sweet as the you would think, actually some hop bitterness to it. The front is sweet, I get vanilla and caramel. Hoppy in the middle and sweet brown shugga on the end!

M - Full bodied with medium carbonation. Coats the mouth perfectly and leaves it wanting so much more.

D - Far to drinkable, I will look for it again and should like to have it on tap.

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Photo of jtd1969
4.33/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Orange golden,fairly clear, with a tint of red. Slighty cloudy mainly due to abv... Good carbonation. Good lacing

S - Pleasant sweet citrus smell, some slight sugary malt
T - Lots of burnt sugar with caramel... Throw in some clean citrusy/grassy/spicy hops... A treat... Big and Bold at 9.9

M - Big smooth beer that lingers with hops, good carbonation

O - WOW, It is so good! I really enjoyed this beer!

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Photo of dredmahawkus
4/5  rDev +0.3%

Its pretty good...and very drinkable....but I was expecting better....I remember this being better then this! I dunno....guess you have to try it! I got a case! half gone so its not that bad!! lol Its better then bad its good?

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Photo of gregb13
2.53/5  rDev -36.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Looks nice in the glass. Well-carbonated for a strong ale. Nose is heavy booze, with a touch of brown sugar sweetness. Taste... wow, booze and more booze. Sweet, bordering on sickeningly so. Nothing else really stands out. Would much rather have their replacement (Sucks) than this.

**Re-review a couple weeks later... Smelled and tasted great, though still a bit boozy. I think maybe my initial review was of a compromised bottle. The place where I bought the 6-pack had been out of Shugga' for several weeks at least, but lo and behold, I spied a sixer in a plain label mixed pack with Lagunitas caps, way behind the other beers. Pulled it out and discovered 6 bottles of Shugga' and was ecstatic! Well, maybe something happened to the previous bottle I reviewed, because I came back and drank two a couple weeks later and it tasted wonderful.

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Photo of fourplayed
4.55/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap into 16oz beer glass. Clear dark amber color with 1 finger head.

Pine and floral Hops are up front, sweet notes of caramel.

Taste of Hops up first -pine and citrus, mild sweet sugga', malt backbone.

Medium body, med carbonation, Bold Hop bite and dry finish, medium alcohol warmth 10% abv very well hidden.

Overall this is a very nicely balanced brew, though the Hops are bid and up front, the malts and sweet sugga' are present and make this a nice flavorful brew. Lagunita's continues to amaze me. Several bar patrons told me this is the best version over the last several years. not as sweet and hops tones down from years past.

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Photo of Blitzstyle
4.3/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a SA glass from a 12 oz bottle. Nice 2 fingers of creamy head, some decent retention that blankets the brew when it fades. Redish amber in color.

Sweet caramell malts, brown sugar, piney and orange hop aromas.

Very sweet and sticky, brown sugar and caramell malts right up front, balanced with a good amount of piney hop bite! Alcohol in the after taste but it is hidden well.

Sugar sweet with a hop bite to keep this from being to surupy, thick and rich. Alcohol is hidden very well I was suprised to see it at such a high abv. Could pound several of these if I wasn't being carfull.

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Photo of 1whiskey
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

v.2005, 22 oz. bomber

Big fluffy 2 1/2 finger head...impressive for such a "big" beer. Dark amber color, slightly hazy, visible syrupy appearance.

Smells like hops and brown sugar...no suprise here.

Taste proves there's truth in advertising....I taste brown sugar. Oh, and hops. 50+ IBU's, just what you would expect from Lagunitas. This tastes like half barlywine, half IIPA, spiked with brown sugar. What more could you want? Alcohol is VERY well hidden.You can't find it....but it will find you if you're not careful.

Syrupy mouthfeel, but still fairly carbonated. Drinkability? So deadly, it should be illegal.

I actually think that the 2004 version is better, but this is still outstanding. I would like to age a few of these, but I don't think I could resist the temptation.

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Photo of TrevorGW
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a six pack of this the other night. I didn't even realize it was a Holiday beer until I read the ridiculous prose on the bottom of the six pack case. A bit verbose, Lagunitas! But I forgive ye, for ye maketh delicious hoppy beers.

Pours a transparent crimson amber color with a one and a half finger head that is respectably retained. Lacing is sparse.

Smells of bright and fresh Willamette hops with a sharp maple coming through shortly after.

Interesting and entertaining taste. It first hits you with a hop explosion which quickly fades into a splash of bready sweetness (cranberry muffin comes to mind). Yum yum.

Full-bodied all the way, without being syrupy or chewy.

Dangerous at nearly 10% ABV. I drank this down pretty quickly and felt the buzz.

You have got to try this beer. I was happy to find it in a sixer for only $10.

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Photo of danh53
3.74/5  rDev -6.3%
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.

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Photo of drinkiusmaximus
3.8/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a Sam Adams sensory pint glass.

A - Deep copper color with a two fingered head nice retention and ample lacing.

S - loads of of sweet malt, clove, vanilla and a little pine. strong hop scent.

T - Sweeter than I normally like, but makes a nice change of pace. Full flavored, brown sugar and hop prominent, bitter hoppiness. Vanilla, a little spiciness and boozy finish.

M - Full bodied with a good degree of carbonation and sticky sweetness left on the tongue slightly cloying.

D- Very tasty strong ale if you're only having one. Otherwise it's on the sweet side and, oddly for a strong ale...strong alcohol. Great to warm on any cold night.


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Photo of AylwinForbes
4.18/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dulcie picked this up at Wholefoods. Being big fans of the Lagunitas we are interested in trying new things. That said, I was a little circumspect about drinking a beer that seemed to speak of sweetness in the name. The 10% alcohol level was certainly a compensating factor; but actually it was a revelation in the glass. It poured a clear coppery teak colour with very little carbonation; the nose was redolent of molasses, but in the mouth you have an interesting tension between the bitterness of hop and the residual sugar. The key is, it wasn't sweet at all, but beguilingly smooth and syrupy with some caramel butterscotch notes. In an inexperienced hand it could be extremely dangerous: hugely drinkable. A top five find for us.

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Photo of ggroller
4.4/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Received from Callenak in HBIF3

A great looking beer in the glass. Murky brown beer with a rich and creamy tan head. Plenty of lacing although the head does dissipate to almost nothing as I drink.

Smells and tastes like brown sugar. No, really. It does. Notes of sherry, vanilla, and bourbon as it warms.

Rich mouthfeel. Smooth and creamy and a bit chewy.

A fairly drinkable beer although it does get a bit hot as it warms.

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Photo of hotpauko
4.07/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Typical Lagunitas style beer which means well made. This is a sweet beer so be prepared. High ABV noticeable but blends well. Recommend letting it sit to room temp which improves smooth mouth feel. Strong caramel alcohol laced aroma. The sweet alcohol taste takes over the malt and hops, but not too hoppy. Two stage beer. First the overall beer flavors followed by heavy "brown shugga" that lingers in the back of the mouth and tongue.

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Photo of Duane_Opfer
3.97/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

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Photo of UPMD_Bill
4.13/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle. Big frothy head, definitely sweet. A little balance from the hops but the added sugar dominates. A little peppery bite from the alcohol, but went down easy for 9.9%.

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Photo of cadenwhitaker
3.6/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A sweet Two Hearted? That's what I first thought of while drinking. At first the citrus really threw me off, I was expecting something more Nutty. Halfway through the glass I got more of the sugga' (if that's what they call it) and by the finish I could feel the alcohol and less of the citrus that boned me in the beginning.

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Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 1,446 ratings.