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: 5,014
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 10.8%
Wants: 236
Gots: 867 | 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: 5,014
Photo of MAB
4.77/5  rDev +19.8%
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! (619 characters)

Photo of mostpoetsdo
4.77/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Ruby/amber-brown, with light tan, albeit a tad thin, head, leaving behind nice splotchy, circular lacing.

S: Citrus hops shoot up the nostrils, followed by the soothing, delectable scents of brown sugar, reminds me of a DIPA.

T: The "barleywine gone wrong" makes for one of the best beers I've had in a while. There is such a strong presence of citrus hops, that makes me think, "oh, DIPA," but then there is the incredible, yet not overpowering, sweetness of brown sugar that I just haven't experienced with any other beer. This brew walks the tightrope with a near-perfect balance of hoppy bitterness to malty sweetness. The contrast of sharp hops and brown sugar is like no other and works beautifully.

M: Excellently carbonated, medium body, very smooth, near creamy. Faint alcohol burn, but that's to be expected with the style.

D: I have nothing but positive things to say about this beer. It might be among my favorites of all time. (947 characters)

Photo of AScribjr
4.75/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Once agaian Lagunitas hit it out of the park...Pour dark amber with a nice thick head that stays with the beer. And a very lace. The Sweet Release is a nice winter beer, with great flavor. Drinkability is is so nice you must be aware of it's 9.9 ABV. This is a beer I will enjoy again, and I hope you enjoy this one also... (323 characters)

Photo of Campello_IPA
4.75/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottle to pint glass

A: nice clear copper, a finger of cream colored head. Good lacing on the glass.

S: strong citrus hop aroma, slight alcohol.

T: sweet, fruity hops, warm in the back.

M: medium carbonation, alcohol is very present but not at all off putting.

O: big and hoppy. If you're into that, which I am, this is a great beer! (338 characters)

Photo of threeviews
4.74/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 12oz bottle (Julian Bottled On Date: 315 = Nov. 11, 2014) into a 13.5oz Libbey, Belgian Tulip/Snifter glass.

Not much more to add than what has already been stated, but here goes:

A- Pours a beautifully clear, deep orange/copper color with a healthy, 1-finger, white, frothy head. Despite the elevated ABV, the head retention was quite strong. (5.0)

S- Heady aromas of sweet caramel malt and hops in the form of pine and citrus (lemon/lime, ruby red grapefruit) notes compete with beautiful results. Ultimately, the victory (with a slight margin) would be given to the malt backbone. (4.75)

T- A sweet and fruity pop of bitterness at the front of the tongue is followed by a palate-coating cherry/caramel sweetness. Never to play 2nd fiddle, the hops come back and deliver a dry, citrus-rind finish. (4.75)

M- Due to the almost 10% ABV, the body is surprisingly light and falls squarely into the category of 'medium.' In addition to the heavy-handed hop load, a good dose of carbonation keeps this heavy weight far from feeling heavy and/or syrupy. That being said, however, I do not see myself ever drinking more than (1) bottle at a sitting. (4.5)

O- Brown Shugga is a highly anticipated seasonal for many and with good reason. Although I have never composed a formal review, this is my 3rd year enjoying it and Lagunitas' consistency is phenomenal. (4.75)

Side Note: Those that are familiar with Stone's Lukcy Basartd will find a strong correlation with regards to the flavor and aroma profile of each. Thankfully, Brown Shugga is an seasonal release and the other is way more limited. (1,611 characters)

Photo of MrPlayboy
4.72/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Very interesting beer. It is like an IPA but has that biting bitter hop finish and cloying sweetness of a barleywine. Almost a washed cheese rind flavor like trappist cheese. I can't tell if I really like it or not. Which may be why this beer has captured my attention. Its like stinky cheese; you don't particularly like it but keep coming back because of how different it is. I will be aging some bottles to see what happens. Good stuff but then again I'm not sure. (467 characters)

Photo of saintwarrick
4.72/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On name alone, I had to give this brew a try. This brew pours a light brown/bronze with a nice creamy head that looks like hot cocoa. With brown sugar in the ingredients, that and caramel stand out the most in the aroma, reminds me of this caramel coffee creamer I have had before; also toffee and butter rum candy are very prevalent -- this beer is a damn candy store.

It smells sweeter than it tastes, which isn't bad at all. Subdued caramel and cocoa taste but not super sweet; very chewy and really damn smooth, that's the biggest thing that stands out. Little more nougat-like sweetness at the end with a big creamy rum note that shows through as it goes down. Only the tiniest bit of warming alcohol.

Wow, this is a dangerous, evil brew. That 9.9 abv is nowhere to be found, more like a 4.5. Well balanced and a delight to drink. Go grab some now. (855 characters)

Photo of dbell23
4.71/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a bottle into a tulip glass. Burnt orange in color with a three finger head that has good retention and great lacing. The appearance of this beer says drink me.

Smell is really nice and somewhat different. Sweet citrus hoppiness with a little booze. Drink me it says.

Taste is delicious and unique. Sweet hop syrup is what comes to mind. Hops with a orange peel flavor to start, with sweet/hop/malt in the middle, sweet clean hop finish with not much aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is perfect for a winter warmer. Good carbonation with a smooth finish. Almost syrupy in a very good way.

Overall a great winter beer. I'm not sure I'd feel the same way about this beer in the middle of August, but in the middle of January sitting in front of a fire this is a nice change from stouts and dark Belgians. If you like a little hop in your winter beers you'll like this one. Lagunitas makes some very good beers and this is one of them. (939 characters)

Photo of bonsreeb85
4.7/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

This is my 3rd bottle this season and I am finally getting a chance to take notes, so here it goes...

Dark amber with shiny velvet textured tan head. Remarkable staying power. Pure beauty.

The scent is that of rich caramel, chewy toffee, maraschino(sp?) cherries, brown sugar(duh), honeycomb and citrus hops.

The fresh citrus hops spike shines through the rich and malty backbone like a knife through hot bread. This beer could be too sweet if that hop kick in the teeth that I have come to expect from Lagunitas wasn't there. But it is, and it is GOOD.

What more can I say than the feel is top notch. Full, thick and velvety smooth.

I want to see what one of these would taste like in a year or two, problem is they won't stay in my house that long because i can't stop drinking the damn things! (802 characters)

Photo of sgulner
4.69/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

served in a goblet from draft. definitely lagunitas with the intense aroma, thick mouthfeel and good lasting roasty taste. not dry or sweet, good new age style interpretation (174 characters)

Photo of MEverritt
4.68/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- Darker Amber/Brown with very little head

S- Smells of sweet brown sugar mixed with a little pine tree.

T- Actually quite good. Plenty of hop flavor mixed with the sweetness of the brown sugar which helps hide the 10% abv.

M- Alot smoother then I expected with the high abv and sugar content. I drank two because the first went down so quickly. It seemed a little heavy at first but smoothes out after a few sips.

D- I thought it was a good ale. I actually want to pair it with some BBQ. "yummm i bet it will be awesome." With the higher abv I wouldnt put it into a session type beer but 2 or 3 would be ok. (615 characters)

Photo of apbarwood
4.67/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The color is a deep amber/brownish with a small cap of sandy-colored foam. Pretty good retention with nice sheets of creamy lacing. The aroma is unsurprisingly sweet with a nice caramel, toffee, brown sugar quality with a subtle citrus note. I'd like to make an air freshener out of this. At any rate, the flavor is superb with a big, thick caramelized sugar note taking the lead. There's a sort of sweet, sticky toffee flavor that blends nicely with caramel, brown sugar and like a bright red fruity center. Not overly hoppy but there is definitely something there. The finish is nicely dry with citrus and pine flavors coming into the mix. The hops do a really good job of keeping the sweet malt flavors from cloying and keeps me wanting more. It's full-bodied with a nice warming quality but never feels overwhelming. I absolutely loved this beer. Probably one of the best experiences I've had with a beer in the past year. People who like big, malty beers should definitely check this one out but I'd recommend it to anybody. This is going to make it into my annual winter seasonal haul. (1,091 characters)

Photo of HopToIt420
4.67/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brown Shugga' is a real winner. Aside from packing a punch at nearly 10% abv the flavor of this beer makes it a star. Smooth nutty malt base and a piney hop finish shine with a nose of hazelnuts and eucalyptus. Great beer with venison or any roasted gamy meats. (261 characters)

Photo of dsa7783
4.67/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz "Sweet Release" bottle purchased from Buy Rite on Oak Tree in South Plainfield for $3.99...
"Ale fermented with fresh brown sugar" on the front logo sticker...
Pours a very hazy, cloudy, and murky, brown appearance with a decent-sized frothy head that left a lot of lacing around the glass...
Smell was certainly on-point - very barleywine-like with tremendous aromas of caramel, vanilla, toffee, and brown sugar....
Taste strongly complemented the aroma, with powerful suggestions of a nice balance of malts and hops, toffee, caramel, candied sugars, dehydrated fruits, figs, and plums...
One of the best American barleywines I have sampled in a long time... Forget about labeling this as an American Strong Ale - this has barleywine written all over it, from the nose to the mouth...
Very creamy, rich, and thick mouthfeel, bursting with wonderful, sugar-laden, sweet flavors without being too cloying or over-bearing...
Excellent drinkability, too, without the slightest hint of the hefty 9.9% ABV...
Lagunitas did extremely well with this one, and one thing I really like about this brewery, is that they make their great beers available without the hefty, ridiculous prices often seen in other American breweries...
Definitely recommended... (1,254 characters)

Photo of TylerKitchens
4.67/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This is one of my favorite Holiday Seasonal brews. I've had Sucks now for a long time and this is the first time I've seen Brown Shugga' and I was blown away! (159 characters)

Photo of laituegonflable
4.67/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a bright, colourful red colour with pleasant beige head, bubbly and sparse with decent, non-sticky lace. Bubbles around, not bad. Not bad at all. In fact it's great.

Ecstasy. On the nose. Holy shit. Hops, loads of them - floral, tangy with sherbet, lemon, orange, tangerine. Spicy - with hot pepper, chilli, coriander, carraway, aniseed, and floral, with some lavender, seeds of paradise, thyme, fuck. It's ecstasy. This is the best-smelling beer in the world. Pure sex, in aroma form. I'm leaving my wife and marrying this smell.

Taste is pretty damn beautiful as well. Lots of spice to it but a nice tangy citric hop character and lots of toffeed malt providing rich, enjoyable sweetness. But yeah, that's that big, rich spice as well with carraway, star anise, coriander and licorice. Touch of lemongrass, pine and even dill, just a big, in-your-face freshness that screams out to be loved and fondled. I, for one, am only too happy to oblige. This is Heaven.

Smooth feel, a bit dry. Maybe not as full as it could have been but still pretty damn fine.

This is one of the best beers I've ever drunk. It's everything I could hope for from a beer and more. (1,166 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 auxiliary
4.65/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Pour was light brown color, pretty clear. Nice foamy head, and some lacing.

Smell - Malts, brown sugar, hops and alcohol.

Taste - Brown sugar, malts, alcohol taste to it

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied and malt taste.

Drinkability - Alcohol is high at 9.9, bery nice beer. i enjoyed this one, slow drinking beer. (333 characters)

Photo of MarkSCCOT
4.65/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle purchased at Green's in Atlanta into a pint glass.

A. Rod copper amber with a wispy white head that leaves generous wispy lacing. Good bubbles.

S. A sweet brown sugar smell, almost cloying, but altogethr pleasing. I can sense the malt, it is not overwhelmed but there is still a healthy hoppiness.

T. Oh god! This beer works. The brown sugar compliments the over hop/malt perfectly. I didn't think they could pull it off but they did,

M. A very creamy finish, but sweet to the point where the anv is well hidden. This does not taste like 9.9%!!

D. This is a timebomb!! It drinks like a session beer, but after 2 or 3 of these (and I mean the 12 ouncer's, not a bomber!!) you are hammered! This is a beer that should not be so easy to drink.

Summary: buy a 6 pack of this, hide the keys and enjoy!! (833 characters)

Photo of goodbyeohio
4.65/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

rereviewing due to the release of the 05/06 batch.. bottle differs by bright red and thicker letters spelling out 'brown shugga'... something tells me this beer is going to be different as it's a recreation of a mistake- and boy was i right!

pours a silky, clear dark amber with a taut ring of creamy foam with empty speckles where bubbles once were. 50% haze on top, swirly and twirly. spotty lacing on the glass.

hoppy nose brings out ripe red plum fruit and slight cough syrup aromatic drafts. orange liqueur dominates the scent here, defining this beer as an apertif more than a beery beer. bigger than i remember, still smelling good.

flavor repeats the aggressive hoppiness, brings the brown sugar in tasty spades. buttery brown sugar with vanilla and cookielike girth. thick and balanced mf/wise with a good level of carbonation. the more i think about it, the more i realize this brings the same flavors and accents with a slightly different twist on the overall recipe still just as good as it was last year.. a little crisper, a little richer. less boozy, and more hoppy. maybe it's just because its so fresh.

aw, who gives a fuck. this still an A+ beer and one i'd be happy to rereview every year until it disappears.. at bare minimum, ill be drinking it annually. (1,287 characters)

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.65/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Dark orange-copper with a faint roseate glow. Brown Shugga' looks like a brighter, sunnier barleywine. The magnificent head is the color of golden brown sugar, is the consistency of whipped butter and leaves a wonderful lace display. There's nothing about the appearance that I don't love.

A sweet, malty sipper would have been fantastic. However, if the nose is any indication, the brewery has seen fit to chuck in a generous load of American hops as well. Brown Shugga' smells like a DIPA that flavors its brown sugary malt side a fraction more than its citric hop side. If it tastes like it smells, I'll be in beer heaven.

The American strong ale, American barleywine and DIPA styles overlap to some extent. This Lagunitas offering could fit comfortably into any of them; maybe not so much the third. For my money, it tastes like a barleywine that's sweeter than it is bitter; like it has been sitting in my cellar for two years and has been smoothed and mellowed to perfection. Actually, that's exactly where it has been and that's exactly what has happened.

The flavor profile consists of wall-to-wall caramel malt coated with brown sugar and toffee pudding, studded with sticky dates and drizzled with caramel syrup. The 'boozy cherries' nature of some barleywines is present as well and comparisons to holiday fruitcake would not be out of line. Even though hops take a backseat to the malt juggernaught, a spicy, Chinook-like pungency is undeniable.

The beer is significantly sweet without crossing the line into cloying. There's enough bitterness present to take what could have been a sticky mess and turn it into pure, liquid poetry. The mouthfeel is everything I'd hoped for and more. Words like viscous, velvety and luxurious come to mind.

I've contemplated cracking this bottle open on many occasions over the past year. I'm glad I waited though. I have no doubt that time has been more than kind and has turned the beer into the glorious exilir that I'm enjoying so much today. I would love to have a case or two sleeping in my cellar right this very moment. Brown Shugga', how come you taste so good? (2,132 characters)

Photo of Jeffreysan
4.63/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

12 oz bottle, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, dark, yet clear, mahogany color with two full fingers of off-white head that slowly dissolved into a thin lacing of foam that covered the entire top of the beer.

Aroma: Very aromatic with tons of floral hops, clover, caramel and some faint notes of malt.

Taste: Delicious! Nice, sweet malty flavors up front, quickly followed by some assertive, but not at all overpowering or out of balance hops, and finishes with some more brown sugar/caramel-like sweetness. I also get notes of dried stone fruit, like prunes and raisins, as well as some faint hits of chocolate and vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Slightly chewy with little to no carbonation. With an ABV of 9.9%, there is quite a bit of alcohol on the palate, instilling a pleasant warmth.

Overall: Damn, this is a great beer! I love the balance between hops and sweet! Lagunitas, you knocked it out of the park with this one! (950 characters)

Photo of CaptainHate
4.63/5  rDev +16.3%
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. (870 characters)

Photo of Celt44
4.62/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Quite possibly, the best stong ale I've EVER had. B+ ????

Appearance is a dark amber/copper. Head didn't last exceptionally long. Good lookin' beer

Smell is absolutely beautiful - Hop, Malts, and sweetness...

Taste - utterly unique - Strong hops up front - malty in the middle - and a stong brown sugar ending, hence the name. How'd they do that? Alcohol hidden very well.

Mouthfeel - Smooth, carbonation average.

Overall - As of today - the most tasteful strong ale I'VE EVER HAD. PERIOD. Congrats Lagunitas, Brown Shugga's a work of art. (546 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)

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