Brown Shugga' - Lagunitas Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Brown Shugga'Brown Shugga'

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BA SCORE
89
very good

1,443 Reviews
THE BROS
90
outstanding

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Reviews: 1,443
Hads: 5,003
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 10.8%
Wants: 232
Gots: 852 | 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
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Reviews: 1,443 | Hads: 5,003
Photo of BarryMFBurton
4.25/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 11/18/2014, three weeks before the date of this tasting.

I've never been a fan of sweet, malty IPAs, but Lagunitas has brewed up something incredible here. Grapefruit and caramel aromas promise a balanced drink, but I was still unsure after a few whiffs...wouldn't be the first time a malt bomb showed that kind of promise in the nose. But, lo and behold, the palate delivers, and with astounding depth, no less. Vanilla tastes wrap up zesty, orange peel-hops, leading the way as the first in an array of fruit-and-cream flavors that swell up out of this beer: molasses, burnt sugar, peach, graham cracker, pear, apple cider. And with all that sweetness, it's still drinkable beyond belief. That's what I love about this beer: it never gets cloying. Must be the brown sugar, because I've never had a beer this strong and sweet finish without a lingering note of tongue-smacking sugariness. Finishes balanced, in fact, leaving nothing but a fleshy stone fruit and whipped cream character on the tongue, light as can be.

This beer is superb - one of my favorite strong ales to date. Cheers! (1,098 characters)

Photo of schad
3.75/5  rDev -5.8%

Had high expectations via word of mouth, sadly disappointed. Decent malt backbone with tons of hops. Looks like a clear amber. Moderate lacing. Taste is overwhelmingly boozy followed by molasses and a hint of sweetness. Well worth the price. (241 characters)

Photo of Stevedore
4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle. Unclear bottling date. Poured into a snifter 12/1/2014.

A- Clear but dark caramel-brown body, one finger white head with ridiculous retention. There is still a thick collar and film on the beer after I stepped out for 20 minutes! Nice lacing as well. [4.25]

S- Rich caramel aromas, strong fruity grapefruit and citrus. A bit of pine resin as well. This is a very, very strong double IPA that is balanced and quite juicy. [4]

F- Caramel is now accompanied by toffee for a bit more complexity than in the nose. The hops shine through as they do in the nose. Citrus, grapefruit, pine. You could convince me there is also a floral aspect as well, though it wouldn't be as strong as the other components. Rich, sweet and hop-forward. Very nice balance. [4.25]

M- Medium bodied, nice carbonation that's in the right spot. A sipper due to the overall sweetness and the mild heat. A nice one for a cold night like tonight. [4]

O- Very nice "strong" ale; as typical of Lagunitas there is no real style category you can put this beer in. It's a mix of an American Double IPA with a rich barleywine; there isn't nearly as much maltiness in this beer as in a barleywine, but it is overhopped in a way only American Double IPAs can claim. Very tasty, flavourful and inexpensive brew. [4]

Final score: 4.13 (1,312 characters)

Photo of Furlinator
3.83/5  rDev -3.8%

Pours translucent copper. The one inch eggshell head fades to a thick cap and ring on top and leaves heavy curtains of lace.

The smell is of pine and faint citrus up front with burnt sugar and biscuit bread on the finish.

The taste follows the smell, with hop bitterness up front. Faint grapefruit, molasses and sweet malt are on the back end.

The texture is approaching heavy bodied with high carbonation.

A solid strong ale that is begins hoppy and finishes malty and sweet. (484 characters)

Photo of OldRickSputin
4.8/5  rDev +20.6%

Had low expectations for this one. I like many Lagunitas beers...they're nice. But Brown Shugga is SUPER NICE!

This is damn close to perfection!

Wonderful looking medium amber color with a massive head that never completely disappears. The lacing left behind coats the glass from top to bottom.

The smell is deceiving, very pleasant. It definitely changes with temperature and as the head dissipates. Starts off smelling like cinnamon roll and After a few minutes, it's more like Hop Stoopid, which I really enjoy - Fresh pine & some grapefruit/citrusy notes.

First sip is so sweet and wonderful that it seems like it might actually be tough to drink the entire 12 ounces. But just as the smell changes, so does the taste (same transition).

The people at Lagunitas should be given some awards for this. They crafted a truly unique, enjoyable beer drinking EXPERIENCE and then they went ahead and honored us by putting it out at a reasonable price.

It also has just the right amount of balls at 9.99% ABV. (1,025 characters)

Photo of WunderLlama
4.04/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into Pilsner glass

Clear copper color , faint carbonation, big, bouncy, billowy , dense two finger off white foam cap. Good lacings

First sniff was sweet. Subsequent sniffs were of grapefruit and then pine.

Sweetness on the sides and back of the tongue. Second sip gets a pine hop taste, hot too sharp. Slight bitter aftertaste. Well balanced.

Smooth and well balanced . Low sudsing. Imminently quaffable.

Very nice beer, repeatable. (456 characters)

Photo of AC-Mivsek
4.89/5  rDev +22.9%

Pours and attractive red. Nice white head, super sticky lacing, I could count every sip. Smells amazing, like a bowl of hops mixed with brown sugar. Taste is on point, super unique, piney hops combat sugary sweet in a ballet of utterly foundation-shattering deliciousness. Mouthfeel? Well this beer is 9.99% and its so delicious I could keep drinking until the tap runs dry, so it feels great in the mouth, and even better in the belly. Overall this beer is amazing. 9.99% delicious beer, for $9.99 a sixer. Lagunitas continues to amaze me and solidify it's spot as my No.1 coolest brewery.




9.99% sells for $9.99 a sixer. (626 characters)

Photo of barczar
4.17/5  rDev +4.8%

Probably the dankest, skunkiest aroma I've encountered in a beer, along with sharp notes of grapefruit. Flavor reveals a sweet caramel malt backbone contrasted by more sharp grapefruit. The finish is resiny, earthy, and lightly bitter. (235 characters)

Photo of santomark
4.5/5  rDev +13.1%

This is one mother of a beer! One of the best strong ales I've had and the sad thing is I can only get it this time of year. If you take a breathe of this in, it's like sticking your nose in a bag of brown sugar. Very sweet up front on the nose. Goes down malty, fig, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, a mildly spiced brew. Overall, I am in love with this beer. I wish they did some variety for this, age it in some whiskey, bourbon, rye barrels. Give it an even better kick. (472 characters)

Photo of bman13
5/5  rDev +25.6%

Such goodness contained in one 12oz bottle, that I can't take it. It looks like a dark double IPA. Dark amber colored pour with a 2 inch head that lingers for a minute or two. First thing I smell when cracking the bottle is.... you guessed it! BROWN SUGAR! not overly sweet knock you out brown sugar aroma, just a nice deep smell that isn't over powering. Also smells of tropical and piney hops, not much of a malt smell. The taste is just awesome, exactly like the aroma. This is so easy to drink it's dangerous. I'd even go to say that it's easier to drink than a pale ale. It's just so smooth being 9.99% ABV. In conclusion, this is one of the best beers I've ever tried. Thanks Lagunitas. (693 characters)

Photo of Nietzsches_Horse
4.51/5  rDev +13.3%

If you combined a nice American Barleywine, with a nice DIPA, and added a touch of brown sugar sweetness, you might end up with something like this. And if you also priced it very generously, and only released it during the long dark days of winter--when a nice, sweet, cheap and strong beer is most welcome--you'd probably be pretty close to answering the conundrum, "How come you taste so good..." (400 characters)

Photo of dredmahawkus
4/5  rDev +0.5%

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? (226 characters)

Photo of Bisco42
4.58/5  rDev +15.1%
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. (197 characters)

Photo of Fatehunter
3.8/5  rDev -4.5%

Pours a half finger of head on a clear straw colored body.
The aroma has a mild grass and floral smell, with some lemon in the background.
The taste is bursting with flavors: lemon, grapefruit, brown sugar, strong caramel and anise. Great..
The texture is crisper.
Almost too drinkable for the high ABV. (303 characters)

Photo of RexBanner
3.9/5  rDev -2%

Dark amber in appearance. Pillowy head that settles to a sticky ring leaving spider web like lacing on the glass.

Piney hop forward nose. Malt background, light maple syrup and whole wheat bread aromas.

Not as sweet as I thought it'd be. Malt body with a very, very light brown sugar taste. Everything is washed away by the piney, resiny hops.

Light to medium body. Lightly carbonated, finishes semi dry.

I must say I was a bit disappointed with this brew. Reading the reviews I imagined I was in for a unique malt forward, perfectly balanced strong ale. Instead I got something closer to an American barleywine. Overly hopped, out of balanced and one dimensional. One reviewer compared this to hairy eyeball. I disagree, as I feel that hairy eyeball is much more balanced and tastier than brown shugga. But as with everything else; if you've enjoyed this in the past then that's all that matters. Cheers! (911 characters)

Photo of WhiteHillsStore
4.5/5  rDev +13.1%

Pours a nice amber brown with a khaki head that leaves trails down the glasses. The smell is full of toasted malt and then citrus from the hops begins to come through. The taste was great with a nice balance. First some sweetness and wonderful grapefruit notes from the bitter hops. Very refreshing. (299 characters)

Photo of Boomblaze
4.42/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This is a 2013 so about 18 months on it. This has to be the sweet spot cause I had it after a year and it was messy. Now
that typical Lagunitas sweetness has really mellowed and the balance is perfect. Still getting some of the hops with a perfect mouthfeel and heavenly smoothness. This has given me faith in ageing there beers as the other shugga's and undercovers I aged were not that great. (400 characters)

Photo of Samp01
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark orange amber with a medium off white slowly fading head with good lacing. Aroma of sweet caramel malt, yeast and some citrus and pine as well. Taste has some good caramel malt, yeast mild orange and bitter hops. Palate is a medium to full body, carbonation is good and a smooth mouth feel. Finishes with a good caramel malt and yeast flavor followed by citrus, orange notes and bitter ending for balance. Considering this is a barley wine it is not as strong, reminds me more of an DIPA, but it is still good. Overall very good, smooth, balanced and flavorful brew. (576 characters)

Photo of untitledeuphoria
4.4/5  rDev +10.6%

Fall 2013 batch, drank 9.01.14, poured from a 12oz bottle into a 12oz Stange.

It had been a few years since I last had this beer, and upon coming across it at Good Beer NYC I immediately snatched up whatever I could. Here we go...

A: Pours a clear, glowing red caramel (reminiscent of barleywine coloring), two fingers of light khaki head, excellent head retention, sticky lacing, eventually fades to a moderate cap.

S: Molasses, bitter dark fruits, toasted malt, touch of hop oil, and with all of that sugar I just can't help but smelling some maple syrup too.

T: I swear this beer is a second cousin to a barleywine somewhere... upon first sip I get tastebud deja vu to past nights of drinking big barleys along the Atlantic coast. Anyways... Molasses with a hint of vanilla, caramel, bitter fruit, and fall spicing, most notably clove. Phenomenal taste profile, better than I ever remember it.

M: Smooth, alcohol is completely obscured, light carbonation, thick... leaves a coating well after swallowing, taste lingers well afterwards without any flavor deviation.

O: Absolutely terrific. Big Flavor, super smooth, great mouthfeel, huge ABV. I hate myself for not picking up more than I did. (1,200 characters)

Photo of Gmann
3.61/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep toasted golden color or a light brown. The pale khaki head is fluffy and slowly settles into a solid cap. Nice webby lacing on the glass.

The aroma seems a bit stunted, not very strong. I pick up some deep caramel notes and some toffee. Pineapple notes from the hops. Sweet aroma.

The flavor has more of a malt presence. Toasted grains with caramel sweetness. Toasted brown bread. A spicy herbal hop flavor, perhaps some pineapple. Fusel alcohol pops through in the finish.

The feel is light with prickly carbonation. Sweet on the palate but the carbonations keeps things fairly crisp though a touch sticky in the finish. The ABV is noticable and not all that pleasant.

A strong toasted ale. It has a nice bready flavor but the alcohol presence dampens the beer for me. Solid. (798 characters)

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

Pours a copper color or burnt orange, clear brew. Head is big and falls slow to a cap that lasts the whole beer, lots of nice sheet lace left behind.

Aroma is lots of toasted caramel with good fruit notes. Fruit coming from the malt and good citrus hops. Also some light pine notes mingled in for good measure.

Taste is like the nose good caramel malt sweetness with added sugars light molasses or brown sugar like but not quite that heavy. The good sweetness is backed by enough hops to keep it far from cloying, Citrus and pine mingled to balance it out but still remain sweet. Alcohol in not a factor well hidden at almost 10%.

Mouthfeel is is a big solid medium with nice smooth level carbonation. Nice feel doesn't seem like an 10% brew.

Overall I am enjoying this one, very favorable and tasty. (804 characters)

Photo of LambicPentameter
3.8/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Reviewing from notes after drinking on 2/10/14. Enjoyed out of a 12 oz stubby brown bottle, but there is no dating to be found on bottle or label. My best guess is that this was from the Fall 2013 release of the beer based on when I purchased it. Poured into a large 22 oz snifter glass.

Appearance - Has a look that reminds me a little bit of the name, but maybe more reminiscent of cinnamon or caramel than brown sugar. Liquid is translucent and if it weren't for the darker color, I'm pretty certain I'd be able to see through it to some degree. Atop the body sits two fingers of dark khaki foam. Retention is moderate, but the head starts shrinking and contracting almost immediately, just slowly. Eventually, it comes to a stop with a slight film across the surface of the entire beer, with mottled pockets of thicker foam. The sides of the glass are coated with a finger of thin curtains from the lace.

Smell - Some notes of pine and tropical fruit peek through briefly, but this is definitely a grain-forward beer. Notes of caramel, molasses and toasted sugar all contribute sweetness, but there is also a pungency from the hops that insert the impression of bitterness and expand on the pine that peeked in at the very beginning.

Taste - Previewed quite well by the smell, the taste is sweet with notes of cooking caramel and the wonderfully crusty top of a creme brulee. Honeyed bread, dried fruit and some hints of maple syrup are all present as well as some slight bite from the hop profile, with pine and herbs coming through to round it out with some bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Medium-bodied and moderate carbonation, with a sweet finish that lingers on the tongue with just a bit of stickiness.

Overall, a quality beer, although I'd sooner have the straight up DIPA "substitute" for this beer (Sucks) rather than this strong ale that straddles the line between DIPA and Barleywine. That said, it's one of those beers where the whole is certainly better than the sum of it's parts. No individual factor stood out to me, but when taken together, it's quite a tasty brew. (2,084 characters)

Photo of CaptCleveland
4.06/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into Hoppin' Frog snifter. No bottle dating.

Huge two finger off-white head, sitting a top a ruby/amber elixir. Thick patches of lacing.

Caramel, spice, pine and bready malts.

Sweet caramel, nice hop bitterness, citrus rind and malt biscuit.

Medium body, slick to oily. Alcohol well hidden.

A well done brew that has a lot going on. A nice sipper. (371 characters)

Photo of CalgaryFMC
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

So Alberta missed out on the Brown Shugga train this last season so I had to wind up in sunny (this time) Victoria BC to snag a 6-pack. How exactly do distributors make these sorts of decisions? In any event, I got to relive the experience and now can write a legit review of this beer on the basis of more than fuzzy memory traces (particularly fuzzy considering the ABV on this heavy hitter). Color is lighter than expected, a clear reddish brown with generous amounts of sturdy light beige head. Smell is intensely sweet and malty, yet with a hop presence that makes one think IPA, fruity with a wisp of pine. Is this beer a barleywine, a double IPA, or a key example of the shades of gray, ill-defined "Americans strong" category? Probably a hybrid that features elements of all these styles. The palate is extremely fruity for starters, fruit punch, grilled pineapple, and candied boozy peaches carrying the top note and some faint cherry and plum in the background. There is also a tangerine peel, pepper, and faint pine hop presence that serves to cut the heavy-duty brown sugar sweetness, and to my palate the sugar is not as prominent as the name and initial expectation might suggest. This beer is surprisingly drinkable, on the thin side of moderate, and the well-concealed booze makes things even more dangerous, although I find that the alcohol presence does grow over the course of a bottle or two. Moderate carbonation and finishes sweet yet with some added medicinal bitterness not apparent at the front end. Hoppier, lighter, and perhaps sweeter than its stablemate Hairy Eyeball but certainly a close cousin, with some IPA ancestry apparent as well. I'd drink this on a semi-regular basis if it was more available in my neck of the woods. Maybe my liver is glad it is pretty scarce. (1,800 characters)

Photo of KajII
3.6/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

[Suggested Glassware: Snifter]

The pour was a clear medium brown with a slight reddish hue and an average (1-2 finger) light cream colored sudsy head that lasted for a good while, finally reducing down to a thin film and large collar with good streaky lacing.

The aroma was boldly sweet upfront with sweet bread malts, light pine and citrus hops and a sweet doughy yeast along with notes of caramel, citrus (grapefruit), a dark fruity ester (figs and dates) and a mild alcohol tinge.

The taste was extremely malty sweet with a big caramel presence from the start to the finish, progressing with a moderate hoppiness, a slight citrus peel bitterness, a mild yeasty appeal and a strong presence of fruit along and ended with overwhelming alcohol taste. The flavor lasted a bit long in duration, with the bitter sweet alcohol taste fading slowly off the taste buds.

Mouthfeel was medium in body and a bit syrupy in texture with an almost medium carbonation.

Overall this was an impressive Barley Wine, with the fruity sweetness being balanced very well by the somewhat bitter hoppy flavor. This did take a little off the huge alcohol presence, but just a little...

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Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 1,443 ratings.