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Brown Shugga' - Lagunitas Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Brown Shugga'Brown Shugga'

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

4,192 Ratings
THE BROS
91
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,192
Reviews: 1,349
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 11.66%
Wants: 178
Gots: 412 | FT: 13
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
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Ratings: 4,192 | Reviews: 1,349 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of chris657
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%

Photo of BeerWhale
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours thick and caramel colored with a white head, and a strange aroma.

You can tell the increased sugar content by the sweetness on the front end of this creamy beer. The brown sugar adds a thick and smooth quality to the beer as is coats your mouth. It sits well on the tongue and the hops add a cutting, refreshing quality to the beer. After drinking your mouth feels relatively clean, when compared to something like a stout.

Overall a quality offering that has a well rounded taste and mouthfeel. Either as an introduction to craft beers or an evening session beverage, this offering is a very good example of quality craft brewing.

Photo of eatdrinknbmerry
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2007 12-oz bottle.

Fell in love with this beer when i saw the name of it. Very cool. Of all the x'mas ale labels, this is one of the more appealing ones. Nothing is more ugly than Pizza Port's Santa's Little Helper label. Anyway, to the beer.

Head: About 3/4" thick. Nice, stayed up for quite a long time.

A: caramel color.

S: A nice subtle tone of apricots, which I think smell great in beer. Gets the tongue ready for a deep-tasting ale.

T: A deliberate taste of brown sugar and slight undertone of honey or molasses. Maybe more on the molasses side since it's dark/bitter.

M: Very nice and smooth.

D: This one is much easier to drink than strong-flavored beers like Anderson Valley's Winter Solstice (2007). But I think the heavy molasses taste will make this less appealing to drink through the night.

Good beer overall, would definitely buy another 6er.

Photo of ktrillionaire
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Very dark crimson-mahogany color, with a brownish tower of foam that sticks heartily to the glass.

S - This is way malty, way malty, and sweet, which is usually a problem for me; in this case, the aroma is sublime and reminiscent of maple, molasses, and caramelized sugar with a hint of sweet liqueur.

T - Following up on the smell, the taste is very sweet but expressed in such a way as to avoid being cloying. There is a note of bitter hop that seems to meld with the effervescent effect of carbonation as well. And the alcohol, it is obviously there, it cuts through the malty sweet flavors and leaves a trail of woody esters to add a nice complexity to the finish.

M - Slightly syrupy feel due to the heavy sweetness.

D - Not more than an occasional treat, perhaps. It is the beer equivalent of candy or dessert.

Photo of BevMoAndrew
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Served into a Bruery tulip glass at about 45 degrees.

Pours a rich mahogany with a creamy, off-white froth that dissipates somewhat quickly...good lacing. On the nose, I instantly get hop characters of orange, grapefruit, & a touch of pine followed by a toffee, brown sugar, caramel, light cinnamon, grains, & subtle raisin. The beer is rich and creamy (slightly syrupy) on the palate with an uneven balance. For lack of a better term, it's like this beer is bittersweet. What I mean is that there is a definite hop presence and bitterness from beginning to end, but a sweet malt background that doesn't quite fit together. Overall, I really like the beer, but find myself looking for the balance. I think that the problem that I'm having is in the syrupy sweet texture. Oh well....good beer, but nothing to write home about.

definite hop character
sweet malt background

Photo of beergod1
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy brown-amber pour with a thin and foamy off-white head. Thin spotty lacing as well. The aroma is hoppy with sweet dark fruit and molasses coming through more as it warms. The labeling on this one really threw me off as I was expecting more of a sweet brown ale. Once my taste buds told me it was actually a Barley Wine I was able to accept the flavor. Very hoppy on the front end, along with some alcohol burn. The flavor mellows a bit as sweet malt start to seep in. The finish is round and fruity with an alcohol burn leftover. Above average, and kind of unique.

Photo of clvand0
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Been looking forward to trying this one. Pours an amber color with a moderate head that has excellent retention and leaves a lot of lacing on the glass. The aroma was of caramel malts, but nothing much more. I expected maybe some brown shugga... The flavor is somewhat caramel-like. Alcohol is apparent and there is a lot of sugar in the taste. Too much sugar. Slightly thin. Not a bad beer, but too sweet and thin.

Photo of Tupperwolf
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle, no freshness date, but I'm not usually concerned about that (especially with almost 10% abv). Poured into my tulip the color of cranberry-apple juice, a dark red-brown that drifted towards honey-brown as I drank and the light played through the levels of beer.. A thin little head of yellow-tan bubbles rose and fell to a ring around the brew and an island in the middle. Some strings of tiny bubbles, some thin lacing. Pretty good looking...

The scent brings to mind crabapples, cherries, and yes, a molasses-cinnamon-brown-sugar sweetness. Kind of light, airy, and sweet. Not too pungent or cloying.

There's a malty bite, a dance across the tongue of undecidedly sweet flavors; A bit of hop bitters on the back of the tongue and an alcoholic finish that reminds me of whiskey. The aftertaste is really long lasting and carries simultaneously some lingering piney hops and balancing brown sugar slickness. I really only get the distinct flavor of brown sugar after letting the aftertaste linger untouched in my mouth for a few minutes.

Mouthfeel is thick and chewy for an ale like this, and damn if it's not filling. I decided to partake of this to tide me over between lunch and dinner and I think I might have to skip dinner. A glass of this really filled me up. The alcohol is just present enough to add its two cents to the flavors, but it's a good contribution. Carbonation is minimal in this brew, but what's there does a good job.

Overall, this is an interesting beer to try. It's so damn filling, and the alcohol is present enough, that I'd say this makes for a good afternoon snack, but this is a really hearty beverage and I'm going to save the rest of the bottle for another time - dessert, maybe.

Photo of kwjd
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at the beautiful farmer's market in Los Angeles. Pours a copper brown colour with a finger of thick white head, leaving lacing down the glass. Smells of brown sugar (no surprise) with a lot of nuttiness and mild hops (I typed in "mold hops" in my iPhone, but I'm pretty sure I meant "mild"). Quite a refreshing beer, which is surprising when I came on here and saw this is listed as 10%!

Photo of strattor
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served at the Map Room in Chicago in a 10 oz chalice. An opaque golden brown with a very light cream-colored head.

A very rich, malty aroma with some fruity noted coming through, perhaps plum or raisin.

A very full bodied flavor, and not the syrupy sweetness I was expecting from a beer made with such massive amounts of brown sugar. It's a very dense, malt and fruit flavor, with a little warmth but not much spiciness coming from the alcohol.

A reall nice, full mouthfeel. Not chewy, but the beer lets you know it's there.

While strong, I would definietly order this up again. I nice beer to sip after dinner, perhaps.

Photo of OBeerMeGreatOne
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This is a review for the 2010 release. I have had last years as well and decided to give it another go. 9.99% ABV.
It pours a very deep amber with about a finger of head. I got no lace. The smell is pretty light for a strong ale. Toasted brown sugar, toffee and citrus drift into my nose holes. The taste starts shockingly sweet. Very malty, very sweet. It is almost balanced by citrus and pine hop flavor but not quite. A bit better than last years cola taste. It is still far too sticky and leaves a mouth coat for days. I get that its thick, strong and sugary but it becomes a bit much by the end. On the drinkability scale, eh, always an interesting beer to sample each year, but the ABV and sweetness scream hangover, even if you're careful. Still, pretty tasty if you are in the mood for sweet and heavy.

Photo of jsdunlop
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: nice looking copper hue with a thick, frothy head, few stray carb bubbles flowing to the top every so often.
S: cherries first, then a burst of alcohol and brown sugar, definitely some hop aroma going on as well.
T: fermented brown sugar notes, tart cherries along with a strong residual sweetness that coincides very nicely with the abundance of hops in this one. Alcohol content is masked very well throughout this brew.
M: Moderate carbonation and medium body, slick mouthfeel throughout.
D: Drinkability is definitely a highlight of this one, have to watch it though, as the 9.8% abv could bring some ill effects after more than a few of these...

Photo of Bassetdawg
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz brown bottle, served in shaker glass

Appearance: amber brown color, with small cream colored head with good retention and lacing.

Aroma: The aroma is dominated by brown sugar malt, though citrus hops are also present.

Taste and Mouthfeel: caramel malt and brown sugar dominate, though there is enough hops in the aftertaste to balance.

Drinkability: This is a solid American strong ale. It warms you up, but you would never guess the ABV

Photo of RedwoodGeorge
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

So is adding brown sugar to your recipe considered cheating?

The beer pours a nice mahogany brown with a thick off-white head... The head dies off in time leaving some clumpy foam at the top of the brew and lots of lacing on the glass.

The nose is entirely malt and alcohol with some fruity esters thrown in to keep things lively. Flavor is like a mega-amber with plenty of sweet grain notes, caramel sugars, apricot and plum fruit notes and a pretty severe alcohol bite. Hopping is pretty bold and balances the mega-malt approach with pine and citrus notes.

Mouthfeel is good - a bit of an oily note but just enough carbonation and bittering to end each sip well. Final note isn't hop bittering but alcohol burn.

Lagunitas' Imperial Red is one of my favorite brews and this is pretty much a "Double Imperial Red" with all the flavors amp'ed up. While it's quite tasty and very drinkable, the high ABV does detract a bit from the beer - first because you get pretty useless pretty damn fast but also because they didn't really tame the alcohol burn very well - it's a bit too obvious in the flavor mix..

Photo of Baileyuk
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Mild brown with a slightly red tint. Head was minimal but lacing was one of the best i have seen.

S - Sweet malts with a definate alocohol note.

T - Again sweet malts, hops were more pronounced than the smell would have suggested, although these were well placed. Alcohol flavor definantly present.

MD Mayve a little zippy from the carbonation (just a fraction). Was a good beer for sure although the sweetness and high alcohol limited my enjoyment a little, and the ability for another a lot.

Photo of coldmeat23
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 45 degrees

Pours a slightly dark, golden brown color. One-finger of creamy, light tan colored foam makes the head. Retention is fairly good. Lacing is good, but fairly slick.

Definitely has a sweet smell to it. Along with a bready yeastiness. Kind of like good bread, toasted with a light sprinkling of brown sugar and butter. Mild hints of molasses. Very mild hop zing.
It smells like it lies somewhere between a barleywine and an old ale. Which puts it right in my ballpark.

Very nice, indeed. Good level of sweetness, not cloying, at all. Great presence of sweet maltiness. Good brown sugar profile, though I was honestly hoping for it to be a bit more pronounced. Light caramel notes. Actually, an unexpected hops bite, right around the middle of the palate. Finish is sweet and seems to last for a decent little while.
This is much more balanced than anticipated.

This is the weak point for me. Lower end of medium bodied. Almost thin. It is smooth, sure, but it lacks a creaminess that would send it over-the-top, into the land of 'super-delicious'. Very under-carbonated.

Despite my personal concerns over the body/mouthfeel of this brew, it's deliciously drinkable. Damned if I can find the 9%+ABV in here, BTW. Very balanced and smooth and easy drinking. Lagunitas, please send me more (since I can't buy your products in my state).

Photo of feloniousmonk
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tawny kind of color,....a light caramel tone...

Rich, sweet malty nose....sweetness in the nose,

as well...brown sugar dominates anything...malty-riffic....lush brown flavy flavory...yummy, yum, yum...

rich, cocoa-tinged flavors, full, lush, very tasty...

Photo of JamesMN
3.89/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Crystal clear burgundy/copper color with a ton of thick lacing from a three finger off-white head that has since become about a third of the size. Really doesn't get much better than this in the appearance department.

Aroma: Piney sugar-coated citrus hops and definite caramel malt undertones.

Taste: Damn that's a lot of flavor. Lets talk hop character; immense pine, dankness, bitter grapefruit, and a lot of bitterness packed into 51.1 IBUs. Really wakes up the palate. The malt is noticeably sweet with caramel and just a hint of brown sugar, and helps to support all of the bitter hops without overpowering them. Finish is surprisingly tame given the huge flavor build up but the aftertaste leaves the palate aching with echoing bitterness and burnt caramel. The 9.9% ABV is all but hidden in the flavor but leaves a nice warmth in the throat.

Mouthfeel: Between medium and full in body with too much carbonation and average drinkability.

Final Thoughts: Brown Shugga' is exactly what the style implies. The hop character of an imperial IPA with the malt presence of a barleywine. At $9.99 a sixer it's pretty hard to pass up. Would I drink it again? Yes.

Photo of kismet
3.89/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pretty good late night winter warmer! this thick. sweet semi syrupy brew is very original in its flavor profile. the booze keeps things warm and sippable throughout the sweet, hoppy experience . i thought this one was way better as it warmed. things were very smooth at slightly cooler than room temp, this is more like sipping brandy or cognac rather than drinking a beer. i am definitely warmed all over after one...it packs a punch.

Photo of scotorum
3.89/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the 12 oz. bottle into a Samuel Adams nonick.

a: Clear deep amber with a huge beige head which receded slowly to heavy surface foam and very dense lacing.

s: Pine. Later, some vinegar. Uh oh.

t: Funky spoiled fruit under sharp hops. Fortunately the flavor does not linger through the dry finish. OK it's almost 10% ABV and does not burn the back of the throat much. But really. that and its sexy good looks are about all it has going for it.

m: Moderate with great body,.

o: Maybe I got a bad batch. Just not going for the funky dirty feet vinegar aroma and flavor. An isovaleric acid in the hops issue? Whatever it is, it's the first bad Lagunitas I have had. Reminiscent of my first Brooklyn Monster barleywine, which was like drinking liquid dirty gym socks (fortunately later bottles of that were better).

Not the expected "sweet release" the bottle label promised by a longshot. Love the appearance, which screamed quality. All downhill from there. If it was any worse it would have been a drain pour. Actually, it may be very soon.

If the others in the sixpack are better, I'll be back to re-review.

UPDATE 11/13/13: Had a second bottle tonight and fortunately it lacked the offending vinegar aroma and taste which caused me to drainpour the last few ounces of the first. However I did still get a dirty socks odor, and yet much more caramel malt and brown sugar in the flavor. Consequently upgrading my rating, which was a: 4.75 s: 3.25 t: 2.75 m: 4.0 and overall 2.75, ave. 3.08, to the above.

UPDATE 11/21/13: Third bottle from the sixpack lacked the vinegar and sock odor. Not sure what to make of that except the added sugar may result in some instability remaining in the bottle? Anyway this was even better but I won't bother raising the rating again unless the rest of the lot proves to be as good or better than this one. Hoppier but almost as malty as slightly cheaper ales I enjoy such as Shipyard Chamberlain and Geary's Pale Ale, but the higher ABV and somewhat meatier body makes the extra couple of bucks per sixpack for Shugga worth it as a nightcap.

UPDATE 12/19/13: Can't believe I waited this long to have another from the sixpack, but unfortunately this one is similar to the first, except the vinegar/dirty feet smell and taste are subdued enough that it is not as close to being a drain pour. Still, far from the promised "Sweet release." Funny how one bottle can be ok and yet another from the very same sixpack can be so much worse.

Photo of Franziskaner
3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Amber hued with a slight reddish tint. Minimal thin layer of minuscule white foam on top. Nice Brussels lacing. Oddly I sniff and sniff but I don't get a ton of aroma. I know there's some brown sugar and maybe that's what has eliminated most of the smell? Taste is initially sweet,but generous hopping gives it a nice bitterness and then a sweetness returns in the fade. Mouthfeel seems a bit carbonated and that bitterness pricks the tongue.

Photo of brewerburgundy
3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, goblet, no freshness labeling.

Brown sugar brown pour ends in brilliant red all the way through with minimal orange/yellow highlights. Minimal head as well.

Brown sugar, vanilla extract, citrus rind, whiffs of dank hop, pear, pvc.

Imperial IPA? is a question we could ask of this ale. The bitterness, grapefruit, rind, and resin make this a candidate for Arrogant Bastard impersonator. Not nearly as sweet as the nose suggests. Brown sugar, caramel shadows. Every bit of the 51.1 IBUs show and getting past them is proving difficult.

If one considers this an IIPA the mouthfeel, and other components, fall into place beautifully. Slick and perfectly carbed for my tastes.

The flavors make for what would be a go-to IIPA while the abv does not. This proves that if executed correctly brown sugar can make play a part in good beer.

Photo of wspscott
3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle in Duvel tulip
no date, but it is from a case I got last Dec. so at least a year old. Somewhat surprised I haven't reviewed this.

A: A hazy light brown color with no head at all. Not pretty, but not ugly, just looks like an average strong ale.
S: Very sweet, caramel and brown sugar, some hoppy bitterness and a definite fruitiness that I assume is yeast driven.
T: The hops have mellowed over the year, but are still very much there, although more hidden. It seems to be american hops, some definite citrus/grapefruit as it warms. The dark sugars are very obvious, different from what you get from caramel malts. Surprisingly, there is no sign of the alcohol other than a slight warming.
M: Very low carbonation, I don't remember this low, I wonder if it is the bottle or if I waited too long. Lots of residual sugar leaves this sweet and sticky. Feels "big".
D: I like this beer a lot. It is very different from a barleywine or DIPA. The sugar sweetness adds something different relative to malt sweetness. The large amount of hops help to bring towards balance, but there is so many hops and so much sugar that it is impossible to imagine this would ever be referred to as balanced. It is very difficult to imagine drinking more than one of these at a time given the alcohol and "bigness", but every time I remember I have some in the basement, I am happy. Definitely worth trying for anyone who likes "big" beers.

Photo of Dodo2step
3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

P- Pittsburgh Bottle Shop

A- dark caramel amber color with a 2 finer head that has some stayng power. 5 minutes later and it is still there. Nice spiderweb lacing.

S- pine hops with caramel hints. i also get some wafts of alcohol coming through.

F- strong pine on the mouth with hints of citrus. I also get some of the brown sugar coming through when the alcohol hits.

M- A chewy feel and the alcohol comes out as it goes down the throat. Smooth though with a punch.

O- Not a bad beer but after a while the alcohol overtakes the flavors and it becomes more of a grain beer. Very good though for the most part.

Photo of jaydoc
3.9/5  rDev -3.2%

Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 4,192 ratings.