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Brown Shugga' - Lagunitas Brewing Company

Brown Shugga'Brown Shugga'

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

3,438 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3438
Reviews: 1291
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 11.69%

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
Ratings: 3,438 | Reviews: 1,291 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of ppoitras


4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle obtained as part of BIF XMas from wezil. Thanks for the opportunity.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/8" tan head over the cloudy dark amber brew. Head fades to an uneven layer of bubbles pretty quickly, but exhibits average lacing. Aroma is whoa, all about sweetness and powerful alcohol. Taste actually throws me for a loop, showing sweet malts as expected, but then fruitiness, and nary a taste of the distracting ethanol-laden nose. Mouthfeel and drinkability are very nice for the style. For a slow start this one came on as the experience went on. Worth a try, almost too drinkable...

Serving type: bottle

03-07-2005 00:15:00 | More by ppoitras
Photo of mattcrill


4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks go out to BA absolutesites for the chance to sample another goodie from Lagunitas!

Presentation: States on the label that it is a "Sweet Release". The label also says that it's accidental and they have no idea what style it fits in to.

Appearance: Pours thick and is firebrick red with a pillowy ivory foam.

Smell: Sadly, not much going on here. Light carmel and dried fruit comes to mind but that's stretching it.

Taste: Carmel malts, some dried dark fruits, maple, maybe brown sugar (could be influenced by what I'm drinking). Very clean finish with a slight touch of alcohol on the tongue

Mouthfeel: Medium to thick with a long aftertaste. Coats the throat like cough syrup...but not in a bad way.

Drinkability: This one should be savored and enjoyed. A very drinkable barleywine. The alcohol blends very well and is no way over the top. A finely crafted beer.

Notes: I've had my fair share of barleywines lately and they are not my favorite style. But I've had the privelege of sampling some damn fine examples of this style. A style that should be savored, sipped, and enjoyed. This one is no different.

Big thanks to absolutesites for this one!

Serving type: bottle

03-06-2005 01:26:26 | More by mattcrill
Photo of sulldaddy


4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another treat from Watermelonman! I am sampling a 22 oz bottle in a tulip glass at room temp. The beer pours a clear copper and mahogany color with a large off white head foaming up easily. Aroma is grassy hops mixing with caramel and brown sugar. Some lite alcohol hits as well. First sip reveals an average carbonationand average body. Flavor starts malty sweet with caramel and brown sugar some raisins too. I find the finish to be very hoppy with pine and grass mixing leaving a dry bitter flavor on my tongue. Very easy drinking for 9.9 %. Quite a tasty brew and one I would track down again.

Serving type: bottle

03-04-2005 03:01:37 | More by sulldaddy
Photo of IronDjinn

Alberta (Canada)

4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From a 22 oz. brown "Sweet Release" bottle, I actually like the little blurb on the side of the bottle this time. This pseudo barleywhine pours out a very appetizing ruddy copper hue, hazed with suspended particles when held up to the light. Thick and creamy off-white head with good retention, and some massive sticky lacing. The nose is sweet with light malt and fruit, with some nut and dried fruit notes in it. And mango. Weird, I smell mango. Nice touch! This is also one very tasty mistake Lagunitas has on their hands. Boozy from the start, but mild, the malt blends very nicely with the hops, dancing cheek to cheek the whole way through. Sweet caramel malt coils itself around a refreshing fruity hop character, and they are both hepped up on a good dose of brown sugar, which helps them tango the whole night long. The sugar makes itself more apparent on the finish where it takes on a nutty flavour, and then recedes into a mild citrusy sunset of an aftertaste. The mouthfeel is light and very drinkable, but not watery, it holds its own over the palate. This Brown Shugga is deceptively drinkable, you have to know where you're going to stop before even going in, or suffer a high abv% brown sugar hangover catastrophe the next day. Not that I know anything about that, some guys told me about it once, no fooling. This Brown Shugga should definitely be chalked up to being what we call in the hot shop one of those "happy accidents", that should henceforth be repeated time and again. A shame that it's only a seasonal, but happy to have it available even as far north as Calgary.

Serving type: bottle

02-23-2005 19:06:09 | More by IronDjinn
Photo of carln26


4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured a bright copper to amber color, very clear with a nice cream colored head. Very dense for a barley wine. The aroma has the distinctive doughy character I find in all the offerings from Lagunitas (it must be the yeast). The nose also has some malt candy and figs from the malt and a light citrus/grapefruit character from the hops. The head settles nicely to a thick lace. The taste has a wonderful malty sweetness. More of the figs and hard candy character along with the doughy hints I detected on the nose. Mild hop bite, and just a hint of alcohol warming. Denser mouth feel than I anticipated. Nicely drinkable. Unusual, yet pleasing version of the barley wine style.

Serving type: bottle

02-09-2005 23:28:11 | More by carln26
Photo of Hibernator


4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Lagunitas Brown Shugga Barley Wine
Sweet Release
22 oz brown bomber
Purchased for $5.75 while in NYC at a corner store. Nice to see this brewery represented in the city.

Pours a warm chestnut brown color. Light to mid brown in appearance with a tan colored head.

Whiffs of malt, plum, pecan pie, and esters.

Syrupy malt mouthfeel. Ripe plum juices covered in melted brown sugar sweetness. Fresh fruit soaked in alcohol presence, but the malty chew takes over.

I like. Very tasty and drinkable at 9.9% ABV. Pick this up if you see it on the shelves. I wouldn't go out of my way to find this, but its a good beer and a solid effort at the style.

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2005 01:07:51 | More by Hibernator
Photo of CVC


4.6/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Came in a 22 oz. "Sweet Release" bomber; served in a pint glass.

Pours a brownish copper color with a two-finger, off-white head. Leaves a lotta lace. Smells sweet--malts and brown shugga'. Tastes of plums, brown sugar, and rum. Has a very thick and full-bodied mouthfeel, and ist so drinkable for a barley wine.

"This ale is accidental and we have no idea what kind of style it conforms to. We were making Gnarlywine in 1998, messed up the recipe, an [sic] this is what we got." What a great mistake!

I've been drinking a lot of this lately. Awesome in many ways: taste, ABV, and price ($2.79 per bomber). Like everything Lagunitas does, this beer is extremely drinkable. The appearance, smell, and mouthfeel are all superb, too. I think I'm gonna keep buying this stuff regularly before it goes off the shelves.

Oh, Brown Shugga', how come you taste so good?

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2005 02:40:41 | More by CVC
Photo of danadeny


3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nice amber-brown body, clear, with a decent frothy head. Smell lightly or raosted malt, very sweet, minor floral hop. Tart hops at the end, roasted malt up front. Couldnt pick out a distinct brown sugar flavor but could tell from the overall sweetness (not sweet like DFH 120) that a decent amount of sugar was used. Mouthfeel is watery and light. Drinkability is smooth, ballanced, and sweet. What? this is a barleywine? i was thinking more of a Amber and Brown hybrid mix.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2005 19:39:34 | More by danadeny
Photo of fdrich29


4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased at Bauer Wine on Newbury Street in Boston after one of Beer Panther's tastings. Todd bought a bottle so I followed suit (ok I'm admitingly a beer lemming).

In very small print around the bottle is written "We were making Gnarlywine in 1998, messed up the recipe, and this is what we got. This ale is accidental and we have no idea what kind of style it conforms to."

Huge, thick robust head. Smells very much like a Stone product, AB or the like. Sweet, pine nose. Pine taste up front with sweet caramel pulling in the rear. Mouthfeel is smooth but leaves an oily coat on the tongue.

Very tasty product, and quite enjoyable after shoveling out from a blizzard.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2005 23:09:21 | More by fdrich29
Photo of Crotor


4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours clear, bloody, dark amber, with one of finger tan head with some floaties.

It has an agressive pine-hop nose, and then it smells a bit buttery, with some caramelized malt.

Prominent, candied-caramel malt with an equally agressive pine hop flavor combatting it comprise the major elements of the flavor. At 51.1 IBUs, the bitterness is downright restrained, but the hop flavor remains massive. Pine-resin molassas, that's what it is. There is some alcoholic heat, but it's surprisingly subdued considering the brown sugar in the equation.

Medium-heavy body with moderate carbonation make for a pleasant and appropriate mouthfeel.

Overall, a damn fine little barleywine from a brewery I'd previously written off. Maybe I need to give Lagunita's another chance...

Serving type: bottle

01-14-2005 01:22:54 | More by Crotor
Photo of kmo1030


3.75/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

nice dark copperwith a sticky tan head that laces well. caramel molasses smell. i notice a good amount of a fresh cut pineapple and mildy alcoholic smell too. very sweet up front, reminds me of a maple flavored frosting. brown sugar shows up big towards the middle with just a bit of dark fruit, fig, prune, and some pears. the herbal hops at the finish round things out some, but don't balance by any means. sort of thin bodied for the flavor. not too distracting, but noticable just the same. decent drinability, i think i'd prefer it in a 12 oz bottle though. not something i'd drink regularly, but a nice change of pace.

Serving type: bottle

01-14-2005 01:01:18 | More by kmo1030
Photo of TheLongBeachBum


4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: Yet another 22 ounce Bomber from Lagunitas, this one is described as a ‘Sweet Release’, as opposed to a Limited one like they usually are. Brown Shugga’ is described on the main label as an Ale that was accidentally created when they screwed up a batch of Gnarlywine back in 1998. Lots of crazy Lagunitas blurb as usual, and a declared strength of Alc. 9.9% Vol., so this one is just a tad shy of double digits.

Appearance: This looks beautiful in my large handled 24 ounce Mug. The use of an oversized large Mug allows the head to race up the glass unrestricted and form a creamy deep smooth light brown mass. This has a gorgeous deep amber body that is perfectly clear, a dark brown mass that has a darker orange-red aspect, looks very inviting; this is a lovely color indeed. Above average carbonation and a fine bubbled conditioning that contributes to excellent head retention. Lovely thick smattered lacing on the glass walls. Superb poise in the Glass.

Nose: Lots of freshly crushed brown sugar, tons of it in fact. Molasses, Devon toffee, caramel, toasted malts and a decent amount of sugar soaked alcohol.

Taste: Very much like the nose, the earlier tastes encompass and contain all of the aroma’s in equal amounts, yet the end tells a different story, it hints at the 9.9% alcohol and a bitter hop character soon breaks through. It finishes with a smooth warming hint at the original intention of this brew, a nice strong sweet malt laden Barleywine latter third, which impresses a lingering finish on the tongue with some hop-oil bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Sweet and creamy, a little harsh with the sweetness but a light hop-oil bitterness does tend to balance this a tad in the end, though it does take some getting used to, it is a solid brew with big balls.

Drinkability: A little heavy and sweet for me in the long term, but I had no problems with the whole Bomber myself. In fact as time went by I realized I had quiet effortlessly supped 22 ounces of a sub 10% Barleywine.

Overall: Nice! Definitely one of the better “special” Limited Releases from Lagunitas. Well worth trying!

Serving type: bottle

01-10-2005 04:11:37 | More by TheLongBeachBum
Photo of bigbeerdrinka


4.47/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice ruby / amber color with a fairly large white head that leaves a nice lace on the glass. Aromas consist of caramels and toffees with a mix of brown sugar and some piney resinous hops. Initial flavors start off quite sweet with a strong backing of caramels which is followed by a nice hint of vanilla. There is also a nice flavor throughout of brown sugary sweetness that almost has a toffee like aspect to it. The finish is totally west coast with a strong mix of citrus and piney hops that adds just enough bitterness to round things off. The body to this beer is completely fantastic with a great chewy / creamy like feel to it. Overall this brew wasn't the most amazingly complex or in your face beer but it was definetly a fantastic barleywine that just hits the spot...

Serving type: bottle

12-31-2004 06:39:48 | More by bigbeerdrinka
Photo of clvand0


3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2004 19:43:43 | More by clvand0
Photo of kmpitz2


3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Shared with me by clvand0. Thanks to him for that.

The beer poured a golden amber color with one finger of head that sticks around well after the pour. The nose was sweet caramel, not quite as deep as I want. Fairly one dimensional. The flavor had more hop than the nose would tell. The flavor was too sugary for me. The feel was too thin for a barleywine. I want at least a heafty moderate feel on this style. Overall, not a bad beer, but too sugary and not thick enough for me.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2004 02:39:04 | More by kmpitz2
Photo of GClarkage


3.75/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12/26/04- Purchased at Piazza's Market in San Mateo, CA

Presentation- 12 oz bottle with no date, poured into my Duvel glass.

Appearance- Orange-amber cloudy pour with many floaters. Nice thick chunky head, but very little lacing to be found.

Smell- Sweet and sticky smell. Lots of sugary scents going on.

Taste- Sugar, sugar and sugar. Brown sugar, molasses, browines, chocolate a bit or raosted taste in the bitter hops.

Mouthfeel- Very chewy and bitter.

Drinkability- A bit too much on the sweetness scale to me. I like my barleywines, and this was decent, but it feels like I need to chase this with some jolly ranchers stix and some fun dip.

Serving type: bottle

12-27-2004 21:43:48 | More by GClarkage
Photo of alexgash


3.3/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This "sweet release" fills the glass with a dark rusty copper, with bright orange highlights. Head is small, off-khaki, and doesn't last too long. Nose is made up of sweet, buttery caramal rolls, brown sugar (crazy, eh?), alcohol, and subdued vegetal/floral hops. Cake-icing sweet malt flavors start out. Sugary sweetness mixes with apple/pear brandy notes and toffee. Hops finally arrive near the finish to counter some of the sweetness. Medicinal/herbal hop bitterness isn't enough to handle the treacle sweetness. Add in the obvious alcohol presence and it's a little too cough syrupy for me. Mouthfeel is big and syrupy. Not bad, but not my kind of BW.

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2004 00:21:12 | More by alexgash
Photo of Reidrover


4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bought in the typcal Lagunitas 22 oz bottle.
Very attractive looking ale, a nice chesnut brown beer, with a gorgeous creamy off white head, that goes and leaves behind very luxurious lacing down my glass.
Nice aroma, not as strong as some of this strength, but i detect a fruity smell, plumy. Also demerara sugar.
Nice sweet taste, but not sickeningly so. I can definatlly tell this is made with darker sugar.Sweet taste, almost sherry like..a quick finish and some nice alcoholic warmth going down the throat.
This is pretty nice on the tongue and I enjoyed the alcoholic warmth..though its not blatant in this beer.
Very drinkable for one so strong..maybe dangerously so!

Serving type: bottle

12-11-2004 07:33:11 | More by Reidrover
Photo of BrewMaster


4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a large glass goblet. Golden reddish brown in color with a big tan head on top. There is a sweet caramel and molasses smell typical of a barley wine. The flavor is very potent with a sharp sweetness in the middle and lots of tangy, toffee, and carmel flavors throughout the beer. For an American Barley Wine it is a bit under hopped in my opinion. More than anything else is tangy and sweet and quiet enjoyable.

Serving type: bottle

12-04-2004 00:15:56 | More by BrewMaster
Photo of CRJMellor


3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours hazy copper color, with a 1/2 inch white head. Sticky patches of lace left on the glass.
Aroma has definitive brown sugar and caramel notes with some light dark citrus fruit notes.
Flavor starts with caramel and brown sugar. Finishes with herbal hop notes which accentuate the sugary notes.
Mouthfeel is smooth and and little bit oversweet. Finish is light herbal and spciy hops that cut just enough sweetness off this one.
Drinkability is pretty high. Had no idea what to expect with this one and it really was a pleasant surprise.

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2004 22:56:16 | More by CRJMellor
Photo of RootedFool


4.6/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured a tad too aggressively into my Celebration Ale pint glass ('tis the season), and the head fires up toward the rim of the glass, lush and dense, and bright tan in color. Some nice, husky streaks of lace cling to the glass. The body is reddish brown, almost crimson, without a shade of haziness -- just solid, and bright.


Huge waft of sweetness kicks out immediately, with a tight center of snappin' cracklin' hops. Shimmy shimmy ya! Everything about the smell is bold, sweet and deep.


Opens with an almost puckering blast of tart sweetness (apple tart) on the front. The middle has a heavier, brown sugary sweetness, that spreads out over the base of my palate as a symphony of delicious hop bitterness blazes above, like Santa's sleigh, except instead of reindeers its pulled along by a posse of hops. The finish is so sweet, but just right -- balanced perfectly against the fading hop bitterness -- and not overpowering at all. Alcohol is also evident, slighty, in the finish; I feel it warming my throat and jolly old gut.

I'm glad I gave this beer some time to come down from fridge to cellar temp. The flavors are big and need the breathing room.

The mouthfeel is delightfully heavy, rests on my tongue like a chubby child would on Santa's lap. Lovely.


Serving type: bottle

11-17-2004 05:11:52 | More by RootedFool
Photo of surfmeister


2.17/5  rDev -46%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Interesting, and yet, undrinkable.
Pretty deep red/brown color, murkiness undercuts the appearance though, thick head with cascades of brown bubbles with an aggressive pour, caramel, sweet, nutty fragrance, taste was a cloying, sick molasses-like sweetness coupled with an overbearing alcohol punch, all other tastes were basically blotted out, mouthfeel was slimy and alcoholic, this beer ended up in the drain half way through, you shouldn't have to try this hard to like a beer

Serving type: bottle

11-06-2004 23:38:08 | More by surfmeister
Photo of mickeymac


4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From a 12 oz bottle, it pours a reddish-brown with a fair-sized off-white head that lingers. The smell is hoppy with a noticeable hop smell that still seems somehow subdued. Having brewed with brown sugar, the smell and taste were familiar and welcome. On top of that are traces of caramel. Drinkability is scary for a 10% beer. Lagunitas is hit and miss, but this is a hit.

Serving type: bottle

11-03-2004 05:30:54 | More by mickeymac
Photo of tavernjef


4.28/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Color is a slightly chill hazen copper color, slow and separated carbonation bubbles, finger high cap of firm froth, starts whitish but becomes more yellow as it fades. A thin broken skim remains on top after the head completely wisks away and a solid amount of frothy bubbles collar the rim and lacing in intricately woven strings and broken sheets.

Aroma is bit sugary and malty sweet with some nice caramel factions and very dull fruitiness, albiet, its not a strong wiffer, it seems to come and go in its strength. A bit of warmth seeps into the nose as well.

Taste is quite nice, mellow and smooth start, very mellow caramel and cookie sugars and of course some very nice brown sugar start it out as it glides right down. The finish is the clincher, at least for me it is, very late intermingling hops and spices breath up back across the palate with some warming attributes to give it that extra boost of oomff. Then the lips feel as if its been eating pancakes with butter and brown sugar after a long while later. Hmmm...I must want some breakfast foods or something.

Feel is glidingly smooth and sugary upfront, good slick feel on the way down thats extremely easy goin'. Yum! Body seems about medium, quite creamy on top, late is whole 'nother beast here. It settles in with the sugars fading off and turning to some nice hopped spiced of grass and herbs with a happy warming that soothes the soul.

Ahhh....the karma worked its magic with this one. What a nice surprise and then some.

Super special note: Always check your boxes when a trade has made its way to your door! Thanks xlperro!

Serving type: bottle

06-07-2004 23:34:18 | More by tavernjef
Photo of jackndan


4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Brown Shugga': And here I was all ready to assert that this was a barley wine, it absolutely has that same creamy, melted butterscotch flavor, with a sharp snap of sweet and hops toward the end that I've tasted in other BW's. I peeked at their description on the site though, and I'll be damned if two hundred pounds of brown sugar does not make for one fine brew. Pours a barely hazy golden amber, with a nice initial head that leaves a thin skin on the top throughout, and a bit of lacing. Definite sweetness and sugars in the aroma. As already suggested, smooth and buttery mouthfeel, very nice. I'm half way through and the beer gets a wee bit cloying, this is not a beer that you'd have several of in an evening. I'd have another one tomorrow, and more than one any night between October 15 and April 15, so I'll not be too harsh on the drinkability.

Nice taste, but I'm not convinced that this is an Strong/Old Ale.

Serving type: bottle

05-22-2004 03:20:14 | More by jackndan
Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 3,438 ratings.