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Brown Shugga' - Lagunitas Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Brown Shugga'Brown Shugga'

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

4,206 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,206
Reviews: 1,349
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 11.66%
Wants: 178
Gots: 413 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: kbub6f on 12-13-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,206 | Reviews: 1,349 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Rhettroactive
3.94/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of dank203
3.94/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of gr0g
3.94/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2012 bottle. Reddish-amber appearance with a head that leaves some pretty epic lacing behind. Even after a year, still some strong hop character on the nose, and it combines with a considerable maltiness to yield a ripe pineapple note that I always get with well-hopped strong ales. Considerable toffee presence.

Despite some age, there's a moderate bitterness in the flavor profile. This helps to balance out what would otherwise be a very malty-sweet ale. Thoroughly carbed but pretty delicate. Hint of fusel on the finish. A bit too hop-forward I think. This would be more enjoyable if the scales were tipped a bit toward the malty side of the scale, in which case it would be a pretty nice American Barleywine. Some vanilla and toasted coconut notes struggle to come through amidst the bitterness.

When I first tried Brown Shugga last year, it was a borderline drain pour for me despite the fact that I've enjoyed similar beers (Double Bastard comes to mind). Something about the particular hop/grain bill didn't work for me. With some age, palate adjustment, probably both, it's clear that this is a great beer. Only hopheads need apply, though.

Photo of Omnium
3.94/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle > Pint Glass

A - Nice amber color, two fingers of thick off white head, great lacing.
S - Sweet malt, fresh peaches, floral hops.
T - Not as good as the aroma, a little bit of lush hoppy fruit flavor, definitely alcohol, full malt sweetness.
M - Sticky and cloyingly sweet, alcohol burn, mild bitterness.
O - Good beer for sure, the aroma is knock out good, but the taste is just too malt intense and the alcohol gets to you after a few sips of it warming up.

Photo of Minnesota_beer_guy
3.94/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of tectactoe
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a copper, orange-amber hybrid color with pretty good clarity that is only compromised by a slight haze that drifts up and down the glass in the very center. A musky, off-white head forms on top of the beer, remains small, and holds fast as a thin ring along the top.

Brown Shugga's aroma is that of a strong, syrupy, peppery hop, right alongside sweet, booze-filled plums and raisins. Heavy, heavy caramel and toffee on the nose, sugary and sweet. Again, lots of hop aromas are coming out of this as well; spicy, herbal, ashy, oily, and pungent. I can't tell if this is an overly-hopped malty ale or an overly-malty IPA of sorts. It's got enough of a hop aroma to smell like a malty DIPA, but it could also pass off as a hopped-up barleywine with a malt structure like it has... I guess we'll see.

Brown Shugga is pretty thick and syrupy on the palate without being overly abrasive, though it is a bit sticky. The flavor profile that hits your tongue is complex and hard to exactly pin down. Heavy caramel and toffee make up the backbone; molasses, syrup, burnt brown sugar, booze, ripe raisins, sweet plums - this beer is a malt bomb, and that's a FACT. Sweet and sugary as they come with lots of residuals that stick to the palate and seem to hang on for dear life...

...BUT WAIT! Here come the hops - pungent, earthy, herbal, ashy, oily, and providing a bitterness that cuts through the sweetness at the last minute to provide a balance that you never thought would be possible after the first moments of the sip. The gradient of flavors across my palate still has me wondering exactly what kind of beer this really is. Talk about smearing style guidelines! Some boozy black cherries and leafy hops fade into the aftertaste with a sweet and sugary decrescendo. Carbonation was medium, maybe on the low side, with a fairly thick body.

Pretty tasty. Almost reminds me of an aged DIPA, but where the hop character is still fairly heavy and robust after the aging. Then again, it could be a malty-ass barleywine with quadruple the amount of hops used. Sweet, but not sickeningly so. Nice balance when all's said and done. Though the booze is noticeable, it's still fairly easy to throw back for being nearly 10% ABV.

Photo of JMD71
3.95/5  rDev -2%
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.

Photo of tigg924
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: 1/4 inch head, clear, caramel brown in color, high carbonation

Smell: caramel malt and citrus hops

Taste: toasted malt, dash of caramel, citrus hops, and brown sugar that starts in the middle and lasts through the end

Mouthfeel: medium bodied, moderate carbonation, nice mix of sweet and bitter. The sweet taste shows itself more as the beer warms.

Drinkability: A solid beer that is one per sitting for the high abv. As stated above the sweetness really comes out as the beer warms. I will look for this again.

Photo of hagbergl
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Lagunitas' Brown Shugga' is back this year...time to dig in for another beer review. Poured from a twelve ounce bottle into my Dogfish Head snifter.

Appearance (4.5/5): Burnt orange, reddish and a light tan head--3 fingers and excellent retention. Lots of alcohol legs and sticky lace.

Smell (3.75/5) Smell is piney grapefruity forward but you can tell this packs a massive malt load. Underlying sweetness evokes caramel, brown sugar (go figure), and molasses. There's a subtle alcohol note underneath but it's not very noticeable. Not terribly pungent but still good.

Taste (4.25/5): Brown Shugga' tastes maltier than the smell (and it better, given its name). Lots of caramel and brown sugar sweetness. Hoppiness and malt work together in concert. The hops are sticky sweet, not overly bitter--true to Lagunitas' trademark of a sweeter, floral hop profile. The taste is of candied grapefruit and orange marmalade. I also don't taste much alcohol in the flavor at all.

Mouthfeel (3.75/5): A little lacking in the carbonation department. Body is also a bit lighter than I want it to be. It's medium. Nice stickiness in the mouthfeel. Plenty of hop resin to go around. Like a lighter barleywine style ale.

Overall (4/5): Brown Shugga is Lagunitas doing what Lagunitas does–sweet, hop-forward beer that's unique and affordable. While it's not perfect–it lacks a bit in the smell and mouthfeel categories–Brown Shugga' is still a quality beer. I would say Lagunitas should dial down the alcohol just a tad and try for a better carbonation level. That would help cut the booziness and give the mouthfeel a boost. Overall, definitely worth checking out; it's tasty!

Photo of Hammer35
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: Beautiful deep amber color, great carbonation and a thick head. Good head retention and lacing as well.

Smell: Pronounced brown sugar aroma. Very malty, almost bready smell with light, citrusy hops.

Taste: Sweet brown sugar is very apparent. Malty and smooth for the amount of alcohol. A slight hint of hops at the finish, but not quite enough to erase the sweet, malty nature of this beer.

Mouthfeel: Definitely full bodied. Thick mouthfeel with good carbonation, but I could have lived with a touch more to tone down the heaviness.

Overall: Great job by Lagunitas again. Not my favorite offering from them, but that's more a fault of my taste rather than the beer itself. Great if you like sweeter beers or need something lighter than a stout to warm up on a cold night. Definitely a complex flavor profile.

Photo of Canada_Dan
3.95/5  rDev -2%

Photo of Smartestmonkey
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle tried on 1/2/08.

Pours a coppery light brown color. No head but a thin foam that fades to the sides and results in nice lacing as the drink is consumed. There is nice carbonation in the glass, nice bubbles. The aroma is first and foremost sweet strong malt with hints of vanilla, caramel, syrup, and some floral hop. The taste is much the same. Up front it's sweet malt, caramel, some spice, and maple syrup. I agree that the taste reminds me of brown sugar. In the end the taste is distinct bitter hop. This beer is well balanced, simple, and straightforward.

Photo of cvaypai
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz bottle to oversized snifter.

Appearance - Pours a coppery, orangey crimson brown and is hazy when looked through. Poured with a thin layer of head that dissipates very quickly clinging just to the sides of the glass. The lacing can be seen down the glass.

Smell - Oranges and cherries right up front, this is a different smelling beer. Other dark fruits can be found. Brown sugar and other sweet malts are detected, caramel. Very floral and fruity smelling and tons of smell coming from the hops. Resinous pine and grapefruit can be smelled on the end. Something just a bit off about the nose, can't put my finger on it.

Taste - Incredibly sweet up front, tastes of pears and apples, the sweet malt is right there with the fruit tang, coming in the like of caramel, brown sugar and other sweetness, possibly honey. Fruity bitterness on the end but not as much as I thought there would be, grapefruit and orange can be found. Just tons of flavors going on here. Very sweet almost like jolly ranchers on the end.

Mouthfeel - Carbonated well for the size. Very full bodied and heavy on the palate, it should be for a strong ale though. The sweetness is there biting the tongue, it feels nice in the mouth, almost cream like and smooth.

Drinkability - Not even a hint of alcohol, I could easily consume a few bottles of this and probably get pretty drunk at the abv. I wouldn't care though, it is almost refreshing for it's abv and style and I would definitely reach for another if I had one. I will be getting more.

Photo of rarbring
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A brown foggy beer, a tan head with no lacing but good curtains.

The smell is citric, with malty bread notes and a dash of sherry.

The taste starts sweet of dark bread, dried fruits, raisins and figs, then the sherry notes and a solid seedy bitterness.

Medium to low carbonation, small fizzy bubbles, a soft, yet complex, body, a long dry finsih.

A strong sensory rewarding beer, a complex character.

Photo of KeefD
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice amber color with no sediment, a two finger off white head that i had to produce with a hard pour, and some average lacing. Aroma is hoppy, notes of pine and citrus. The nose isn't all too dissimilar from the Imperial Red, maybe slightly more sweetness. Yes, this thing is sweet. Very sweet, but not drain-pouring, outrageously so. There's a nice balance between the dark sugary sweetness and bitter, citric hops. Sugar coated orange slices, hints of caramel and maple syrup. Alcohol is completely well hidden in the flavor, but it can be felt in the throat on the way down. Thick and creamy to say the least, the epitome of full-bodied. Yeah, the high ABV can be felt in the brain as the glass begins to empty. A nice brew, strong, sweet, bitter, balanced in a big way. I'm not sure how many more brews I can have tonight after this one.

Photo of jeff1973
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Piggly Wiggly tulip. Bottled in 9/2012, so a little over a year old now.

A - Dark burnt orange. Eggshell white head is very creamy looking and leaves good retention.

S - Stale hops, brown sugar (surprise!).

T - Burnt sugar, Black tea hops, caramel. No hint of alcohol. Very smooth.

M - Medium, creamy mouthfeel. Medium carbonation.

O - Really well rounded beer. I like it much better than the fresh version. It seems to be a much smoother and easier drinking version.

Photo of sweemzander
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured into an imperial pint. No bottled date.

(A)- Pours a clear copper amber color that produced a yellow-ish head that dissipated quickly, but left some lacing behind.

(S)- Has a big lemon zest aroma that has a light pine hoppiness folowed by a dry but sweet brown sugar.

(T)- Very similar to the aroma, but with a little lime thrown with the lemon citrus. Malty, but not very much so. Very reminiscent of a barleywine, but with far less malt.

(M)- A good carbonation level. A little bit too much citrus though; it gets a little bit in the way from wholly enjoying what little malt background this has.

(D)- A good beer with an interesting citrus kick. I wish I knew the age on this, cause it doesnt taste like its older due to how vibrant the citrus fruits are. Definitely would have this again though.

Photo of cvstrickland
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Poured into an imperial pint willibecher glass from a twist-off-topped 12-ounce stubby, Lagunitas' Brown Shugga is sparkling-clear and orangish-copper with a finger-thick crown of stained ivory foam atop. The head relaxes in short order, resting at a creamy sheet that sticks thin rings of lacing onto the glass.

The sugary-caramel aroma is laced with citrus zest and drizzled over mild toasted malts, imparting a savory component to the dominant perfumey sweetness. Mushy apple and a tart, darkly fruity note of chocolate-covered cherries gain prominence as the drink progresses.

The taste is predictably sweet and decidedly fruity, with a notion of ripe Golden delicious apples pickled in dark rum. Plenty of syrupy brown sugar-coated toasty malts languish under the lightly-boozy fruitiness, and a touch of drying, bitter citrus oil in the finish cleans up the sugar-smack surprisingly well. Grainy-sweet toasted malts and smoked cherries linger in the aftertaste. Given the potency of the drink, the alcohol flavor component is well-hidden, but not stowed so far out of sight as to vanish from the profile entirely. The cooling fruitiness the 9.5% ABV provides is an integral part of the flavor and the feel of the drink, and brings a fine flush to the cheeks and stokes a hearty warming in the belly.

Full-bodied with light carbonation, the brew is a silky-smooth sipper, and tastes great, just like a young girl should. Yeah, yeah, yeah... WOOO!

Photo of projectflam86
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a cherry copper color with a thin off white head that leaves a bit of lace.

S- The nose is really sweet with some caramel and dark fruit scents.

T- Nice sweet malt flavor with some brown sugar (obviously) and a bit of a medicinal finish. The alcohol is definitely there and it creates a nice warming effect on the way down. Really not finding as much hop bitterness as I would have thought.

M- Medium bodied with ok carbonation.

D- This was a pretty solid brew. Could have used a bit more balance with additional bitterness.

Photo of haazer
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at the Blue Dog in lansdale.

A- darkest cherry color in center of glass, see through ruby stone on top and bottom of brew. 1/2" eggshell head forms, fades slowly. The space where the head was has foam stuck to the sides of the tulip.

S- So I'm reviewing this from my iPhone, the bartender places it down, I'm writin up the beers look and it's about 18" from me and I already smell this thing! Wow, candy apple, sugar, citrus, lemon, strawberry and hops. This smells very much like an IPA, and a damn good one.

T- It says 'sweet release' on the tap, they're not kidding. Very sweet candy flavor in this. On the brink of cloying but just under. Actual flavor is cherry, apple, light bit of brown sugar, floral hops, pomegranate, and booze. The booze gives some heat to this.

M- Medium bodied ale. Very sweet, induces lip smacking. Heat from the abv also.

D- High abv and strong flavors make this a sipper. A lot going on in this beer, but it's named improperly. Yes it fits the style but brown sugar is almost non-existent. I guess the name suggests sweetness, which this has plenty of.

Photo of Wildman
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured a clear red amber color and formed a nice off white foamy head that vanished quickly coating the glass with lace. A small amount of carbonation was present. An aroma of malt, caramel, and some sweets that I guess is brown sugar. The flavor was of malt, a toasted caramel aspect and some elements of brown sugar. The body was lighter than I was expecting and the finish was bittersweet. If this beer is really 9.9 %, it hides it very well. Really no trace the the heavy alcohol is noticeable.

Photo of Anthony1
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a hazy reddish orange with a frothy, foamy white head, small amount of sticking. Aromas of fruity esters, melted brown sugar, a light caramel and a mild pine resiny. Moderate carbonation and a softly crisp, creamy smooth medium bodied mouthfeel. Pleasant tasting, brown sugar and caramel, a sour citric fruity, a herbal hoppiness, a light alcohol flavor shows up towards the end and a sour citric, oily and malty finish with a slight warming alcohol taste lingering in the palate.

Photo of RickKrumenacker
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Caramel in color...one-finger head that dissipated a little quickly, but leaves a thin ring around the top...pretty good lacing throughout

S - Sweet, sugary smell...smells a lot like a barleywine...some piney hops come through as well

T - Nice hoppy bitterness hits you right away...gives way to a barleywine-like sweetness...alcohol comes through, but isn't overpowering

M - Really coats the mouth...almost a little too sweet, but the hoppy bitterness balances things out

D - Very nice...not one that you can drink a ton of, but something that I will definitely look for again

Photo of mmcave
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Purchased at local liquor store unknowingly poured into chalice. Nice fluffy slightly off white head, with muffy lacing, head lingers about a centimeter from the surface. The body is a deep red with lots of dark sort of purply tones. Smells of malty sweetness, this doesn't really emanate a very thick malt rather a sweet malt with nice toast notes, the hops are not too over powering but provide a nice balance. Flavor is slightly thin and sort of a sharp sweet bitterness, which I'm sort of indifferent to. The mouthful is sort of flat and through that the sweet, sort of cough spryness gets a little not so tasty, but I have to give it props for a yummy hop burps. Honesty this could be useful, but I'm not sure I'll buy again worth a try though.

Photo of Mistofminn
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I tried this for the first time last winter, but never got around to reviewing it. I didn't feel that a review that was months after the original tasting were worthy of a review, so I waited patiently until this surfaced again. Fresh 2009 batch, first time I've seen it this year.

Pours a golden brown, amber color with a thick and chunky tan head. Slow laboring carbonation and clear texture, coupled with the brilliant shade of amber and the light tan head give this one a pretty good look.

I already know before I put my nose near the glass that this is going to be sweet. The bottles I had last year were in February or March...not fresh like this. Boom! There is a ton of hops in the nose in this one! Totally wasn't expecting that. I would venture to say that the hops actually out do the sweet brown sugar and malt notes. Intense!

The taste, unfortunately, is no where near as hoppy as the aroma. This is where the sweet brown sugar based malt comes in. Sweet and intensely malty, just like it should be.

Smooth and creamy, with a low carbonation. I would have liked to see a heavier body and a higher carbonation. Drinkability is pretty good.

Overall, another solid offering from Lagunitas. Every beer they make has that "Lagunitas" hoppy feel to it, and this one is no exception. I would be able to peg this as a Lagunitas brew in a blind tasting no problem.

Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 4,206 ratings.