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Brown Shugga' - Lagunitas Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Brown Shugga'Brown Shugga'

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,466 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,466
Hads: 5,127
Avg: 4
pDev: 21%
Wants: 248
Gots: 958 | 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: 1,466 | Hads: 5,127
Photo of Umbra
4.38/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased on tap at Jack's in Bmore. Served in a tulip glass, it was a hazy nut brown with half fingered head, lacing and retention was excellent. Caramel, toffee, and brown sugar aromas.
Many of those same aromas came through with a bunch of candied sugars and fruits. Got some cookie dough flavors near the end.
Slightly boozy finish is the only inclination of a heavy hitter. It was not cloying, nor sweet, nor overly bitter, as many American barleywines can be. Perfectly drinkable because of this, though I can't have too many.

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Photo of pershan
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had this on-tap at Frisco Grille in Columbia, MD.

The beer poured an orangish-brown with very little head into a chalice. I detected alcoholic esters with a slight citrusy hop aroma. The taste was an enormous explosion of hop flavor and alcoholic esters, blending nicely with a distinct citrusy sweetness. The initial taste dissipated into a long-lasting hop bitterness. A very tasty and drinkable beer - it is definitely one of my favorites from Lagunitas. Nice carbonation and lacing too.

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Photo of rebel1771
4.08/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a reddish brown color with a decent of white head that disappears quickly.

Definite hoppy aroma with sweet malts mixed in. Candied fruit aroma shows up in the end.

Sweet malts dominate the flavor with a nice oily hop bite along with it. Nothing overly complex but very tasty.

I was suprised the brew tasted like it did, from the name I thought it would be a much sweeter brew. That being said this is a really good brew that I enjoyed quite a bit.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.77/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a dark mahogany-hued body with a small beige head.

Smell: Earthy, sweet-smelling caramel maltiness with bright citrus, maple, and spruce notes.

Taste: Caramel malts with a hard candy sweetness. A drizzle of maple syrup. A nice mergence of citrusy grapefruit and Valencia oranges. Spicy spruce component. Lightly acidic. Moderate, resinous hop bitterness. A bit of hot alcohol warmth around the bittersweet finish.

Mouthfeel: A bit beyond medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Not nearly as graceful and seamless as some of the great barleywines, but decent enough for the price, I suppose.

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Photo of JamesS
4.23/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a rich dark copper with good head, little lacing, and a lot of sediment. Very ruch and malty scent, extremely sweet. A wonderful taste, very reminiscent of a scotch ale/wee heavy without the peat. It's fantastically smooth for a 9.9% ABV beer. A wonderful brew.

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Photo of erosier
3.8/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice amber/copper with a tall and thick tan colored head that laces the glass all the way down. The aroma is of some sweet malts followed by a hint of alcohol, then a big boppy bitterness followed by a very sweet brown sugar aroma to finish it off. The taste is the same as well. It has a strong sweet malt base with a very nice hoppy bitter with very little hint of the amount of alcohol that is in this beer. It then follows up with an overly sweet aftertaste of brown sugar. It tastes like a strong ale that was fermented with brown sugar in the end. The mouthfeel is good - very warming, fresh, and smooth. The drinkability is high especially for a beer of this gravity.

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Photo of FenwaySquid
4.52/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12 oz. short brown bottle, no dating of any kind, poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a crystal clear amber color, carbonation bubbles rising inside. The head formed about 1 finger thick and retained nicely.

Aroma: Caramel and brown sugar. Very sweet.

Taste: As was the aroma, it's very sweet. I mainly got caramel malts, some toasted malts come through as well, and the two mix nicely. I also noticed some hops in the background, nice bittering effect. The finish was mainly the toasted malts, turning slightly bitter.

Mouthfeel: Thick and chewy, yet extremely smooth and creamy. The carbonation was light, which balanced quite well.

Overall: Wow, is this good. Pretty easy to forget that it's almost 10% abv. Highly recommended to anyone and everyone.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.36/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance - deep orange color, a finger of creamy suds on top. They cling to the sides and leave a solid wall of shiny lace as the head falls back.

Aroma - smells like orange juice concentrate, kind of barleywine-ish.

Taste - big malty front, kinda chewy, sweet like cookie dough. Big flavor, met mid-stream by sharp zesty hops. A grapefruit twist, though not as citrusy as I expected. More grapefruit flavor on the aftertaste, closer to what I expected now, and a certain wave of warm alcohol to finish things off. Close to a barleywine in overall feel. The sixer went amazingly fast.

Mouthfeel - thick, smooth, a little heavy, I enjoyed all that. Carbonation is fairly zippy.

Drinkability - I'd grab another sixer of these for sure. They are a joy to drink one at a time, or three in an evening.

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Photo of dsa7783
4.67/5  rDev +16.8%
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...

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Photo of markaberrant
4.13/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - brilliant clarity, light copper/orange colour, moussy light tan head, lots of lacing down the glass.

S - malty nose, toffee, nuts, and just a hint of sweet grapefruit

T - the grapefruit comes through a lot more in the taste, but there is still no forgetting that this is a sweet malty beer. Overall clean flavours are quite enjoyable. Long satisfying aftertaste.

M - mild carbonation, but it is not syrupy. Medium body carries the flavours long into the finish. Noticable alcohol warmth, but quite comforting.

D - One heck of a brew, definitely one of Lagunitas' best

I suppose this takes an English approach to a barleywine with the lower hopping rates, but I really enjoy the american hops and clean yeast character. It is "relatively" sweet by US standards, but it is not thick and syrupy like a doppelbock, nor is it anywhere close to cloying.

I'm glad I went out of my way to track this down at Kensington Wine Market in Calgary, currently the only store in Alberta to carry it (maybe even Canada?). The Bushwakker used to carry it a year or two ago.

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Photo of zeff80
4.12/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a cloudy copper color with a small, tan, creamy head that left sticky rings of lace.

S - It smelled floral. There was also a malty, sweet aroma. I also picked up an oaky smell.

T - It tasted bittersweet and very malty. It was quite spicy, too.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth with a warm alcohol presence. A medium to heavy-bodied beer.

D - This is a very good Strong Ale. It just tastes great.

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Photo of paulthebeerguru
4.02/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Lagunitas Brown Shugga'
12oz. brown bottle

Poured into a snifter. Brown Shugga pours a light mahogany with a slightly off-white head that drops kind of quickly and leaves a halo around the edge of the glass, which leads to thin lacing. Aromas of fig, prunes and molasses are immediately present, with a hint of strong alcohol. Strong malty sweetness in the first sip, and the high alcohol lingers for awhile. Sweet malts are balanced nicely with the hops that finish the taste. Its actually hoppy-er than I thought at first, epecially for a 51 IBU Strong Ale. Solid mouthfeel, with a complex palate and perfect carbonation. Delicious and definitely worth getting.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap 2/17/08 at Track 84 in Warwick, RI, served in a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a light brown color, with a large off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malt, brown sugar, dark fruits and a good amount of hops.

T: The taste is sweet and malty up front, with flavors of caramel, brown sugar and dark fruit, but quickly becomes very well-balanced as a strong hops presence comes in with a slight alcohol bite. The after-taste is hoppy and sweet.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Very tasty, goes down dangerously easily, not too filling, strong kick, this is a very good beer to drink over the course of an evening until the ABV catches up with you.

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Photo of oakbluff
3.63/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a ruby chestnutt. Excellent clariy with a foamy white head. Smell- fruity sweetness. Taste- initial flavours are hops and fruit. Sweet malts come through in the middle and finish is bitter and dry. The extra sugar has fermented down nicely. Not cloying but you definitely know its there. Like liquid caramel. Good sipper on a winter night.

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Photo of AgingWarrior
4.09/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured this brew into a frosted mug. It poured a nice dark amber color with about a one finger light brown head. Plenty of lacing throughout the drink.

The smell was great! You can smell the sweet malts and the extra alcohol content with each whiff. I knew I was going to like the drink from the first whiff.

The taste is very smooth for the 9.9% ABV, a little on the sweet side which was unexpected, but still nice and smooth.

Mouth feel is great! A nice full feel and a great finish.

Due to the higher alcohol content the drinkability of Brown Shugga is a little limited. Maybe three or four at the max for me.
I'm looking forward to the next five in my six pack.

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Photo of Lothar666
3.51/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Poured an opaque dark brown amber body with hints of orange around the edges of the glass. Head was bone white and very creamy, a full two fingers thick and displayed excellent retention. Lacing was thick, sticky and white and just as creamy as the head.

S- Candy and brown sugar with a bit of strong alcohol and something quite tart in the background... Caramel Apples perhaps?

T- Raw fermented brown sugars and strong alcohol dominate the pallet, over a backbone of sweet dark malts and dark bread. A bit more of the caramel apple in the background but quite muted compared to the odor- hops make their presence felt a bit in the finish but even they are subdued by the overwhelming sugar flavor. Drinking this reminds me of drinking chinese tea the way I used to as a kid- with half the glass filled with honey and brown sugar.

M- Thick, viscous and a bit sticky and chewy... The burn in the back of the throat is a cross between what one would expect from a strong barleywine and from drinking a straight glass of high fructose corn syrup. For some this would be unpleasant, but I am a sweets junkie as well as a beer geek so the two go together surprisingly well.

D- Surprisingly drinkable for such a sweet, sticky and strong brew, but my opinion may be a bit biased due to my predilection for sweets. Still, I think that this one would get tiring after the first was done and I would probably move on to something a but more tame. However, this one definitely succeeds at being a unique beer.

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Photo of ndekke39
4.38/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: A 12 oz. bottle, decanted into a tulip glass.

A: It's a clear, tawny-leaning-toward-ruby color. A tiny bit of foam from the pour that quickly forms into a thin ring of white lace. Some consistent columns of carbonation keep some active foam on the surface as well.

S: Rich breadiness, brown sugar, toasted malts, caramel, warm spices, alcohol.

T: Really malt heaviness at the beginning: bready, a touch of sugar. Nice bitterness at the back of the tongue. Balances out the malty sugar. Warming alcohol.

M: Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth. I love this type of beer: good malty backbone supported by a chewier mouthfeel.

D: I'm a big fan of this beer. It's definitely meant for maltheads, but it's pretty well balanced and is nice and drinkable.

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Photo of Gehrig
5/5  rDev +25%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Brown Shugga reminds me of a Brian Regan sketch, when he is describing how good the food should be at a $1,000/plate political fund raiser: "Oh my God! This is so good!" This is nothing short of outstanding. I'm very reluctant to dole out 5s, but this is gets 5s across the board from me.

A dense, durable finger of slightly tan froth tops a copper-brown body, and the pint glass is decorated with layers of lacing--great presentation. The smell is amazing--full of hops, like a loaded IPA and close to a good DIPA, but there's much more as well. Lots of brown sugar allows this beer to more than live up to its name, but is accompanied by caramel and whiffs of fruit. A terrific nose, and one of the more complex ones I've ever had.

The taste is it, IT, for strong ale. Lots of hops, sugar, and fruit, and amazingly all are held in balance. I can't say how impressed I am with this. Ideally carbonated and smooth like a Larry Bird jump shot, the mouthfeel and drinkability on this are spot-on--not too sweet, not hop-dominated, just right. Upon reflection, I'm doubly amazed that the high ABV (9.9%) is so easily masked. Just superb.

This has officially joined my short list of favorite beers. I tried to think of ways in which to improve this that might result in a slightly lower score in some way, but cannot, and I'm glad for it. Five stars. Amazing beer!

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.05/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Unclemattie: Poured a cloudy medium brown color ale with a good size head with good retention and some minimal lacing. Aroma of sweet caramel malt with some notes of toffee. Taste is a very interesting mix between some toffee, caramel and butterscotch malt with a light hoppy finish that is well balance. Full body with limited filtration and some great carbonation with no apparent alcohol.

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Photo of shabbtastic
2.93/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Poured amber brown with a very weak head that faded into a small white cap. Laced very well for the weak head retention. Just can't understand the twist off cap though.

S - The label says brown sugar and that's exactly what you smell, very sweet indeed. Roasted Carmel malts with molasses tones and maple syrup.

T - Sweet up front which is very nice and balanced, but then WHAM! The rest of the ride is alcohol. I didn't find that very appealing. Overall the taste was very harsh. The sweetness did little to hide the alcohol IMO, very unbalanced.

M - Medium / full bodied and very dry.

D - This is a one and done. The high ABV makes it that way. Not a horrible beer but I would pass on this on in the future.

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Photo of Bassetdawg
3.92/5  rDev -2%
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

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Photo of neenerzig
3.9/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had a pint of this on tap recently at La Cav Du Vin. Served to me in a tulip glass. This beer is a clear, medium brown color. Decent sized head probably about 1/2 inch when drawn from the tap before settling to a decent surface cover with nice lace. Smells of brown sugar and malt along with some citrus hops are certainly present. Tastewise this beer is certainly sweet upfront with caramel and brown sugar present before the hoppy bitterness also makes its presence known almost immediately. I would not say the balance is not good, but neither primary flavor (the sweetness nor the bitterness) is stronger than the other. Very interesting indeed. Has a crisp, medium to full bodied mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. Drinkability could be a bit more easy to drink, due to its overall strangeness. I would certainly drink this again.


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Photo of ColForbinBC
3.77/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into my Fat Tire pint

Pours a crystal clear, mahogany color with tiny bubbles. A nice light tan head rose to about a finger and a half and then subsided in time. Little to no lacing.

You can smell the brown sugar as soon as you open the bottle and start the pour. But as soon as I dropped in for a better whiff, my nose fills with pine needles and a citric hoppiness that is a pleasant surprise. Don't get me wrong, the smell of brown sugar and caramel malts fill out the backside of the nose.

It really does have an interesting balance going on, er, lack of balance. But it's really not a bad thing, it works for them. You get slight flavors of hops right off the bat that leads way to a more dominant alcohol warming and a sugar/caramel finish. The warmth lingers with a slight tinge of sweetness. Pretty much same as the nose, but comes at you from different directions.

Medium bodied. Really sticks to the tongue and mouth. Kinda spicy.

It's good, but doesn't do anything great.

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Photo of Redwood21
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: I am digging the color of this beer, think liquid brown sugar...go figure. the head is decent, but prevents this beer from being any higher
S: decent sweetness with some citrus like aroma, kinda a weird combo
T: the weird combo gets sidetracked here. the sweetness and hoppyness sorta blend and sorta dont. its not bad but im not sure its as balanced as it could be,

a good beer jury is still out though.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Edit: I am reviewing the Brown Shugga as a Barleywine.. there is no way this is the same recipe as the last couple years.

Current batch 12oz.. picked up on Friday at Albertsons for $1.29 (they charged me the wrong price for sure).. poured into my Delirium tulip.

Good 2" head that leaves rings of lace atop a very clear cherry wood color brew.

Aroma is waay hoppier than I remember last years Brown Shugga.. piney hops are at the front and leave little room for much else.. but there is a big background of caramel malts ... this really reminds me of a PNW barleywine.

Flavor is an American barleywine.. Deep bitterness and solid caramel/toasted malt backbone with a nice pine hop flavor that melds well with fruity (fresh black cherry) yeasty flavors. Fairly thick body is expected with a nice prickly/yet creamy carbonation... long lingering hop and lite toffee finish.

Brown Shugga is a BW in '07/'08 .. Where's the Gnarleywine? I think I have a little left in my glass.

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Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 1,466 ratings.