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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 aleckpa

North Carolina

3.81/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured into my Lagunitas mason jar glass.

A- Half a finger's head, brown and some visibility through it. Reminds me of an imperial red ale.

S- Hops, which surprised me. And sugar, of course. It smells sweet.

T- Although the ABV is 9.9%, I don't taste a lot of alcohol. I taste hops, some mild bitterness and then back of the mouth sticky sugar.

M- This is somewhat of a thick beer. But it goes down smooth.

O- This is my first time having it. It's different than my typical IPA's and stouts. At 9.9% ABV, it's really drinkable. I think this is a great fall/winter offering. You can't beat the price of this 6-pack for the amount of alcohol in the beer. Even though I did enjoy this beer, I'm not sure if I'd pick up another 6 pack. But, it's well crafted and something I'd expect from Lagunitas.

Serving type: bottle

11-09-2013 21:37:30 | More by aleckpa
Photo of nickapalooza86


4.4/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a amberish copper with a finger of off white head, a lot clearer then last years offering.

Smell is, well it smells like a DIPA, Date is 297 3 which is crazy fresh, about 10 days old... Pine, Citrus, tropical notes, kind of a green earthy hop finish.

Taste is just super good and unique, citrusy and piney hops, huge bready malt backing, toffee, caramel, a lot of sweetness from the brown sugar, a little bit of alcohol on the finish.

Mouthfeel is full and syrupy, light carbonation, wetish finish. Works nice.

A great beer, Lagunitas is one of those breweries that I can buy anything from and know I am going to at the very least like it.... Not many breweries out there I can say that about, I like this one fresh, it is also great aged. At its price you are almost required to pick up a 6 if not more!

Serving type: bottle

11-09-2013 02:06:14 | More by nickapalooza86
Photo of kjlcm

New Hampshire

3.4/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Tried this one and while I like it I am not sure I can recommend. At 9.9% it is definitely a strong ale and I could not imagine drinking more than one of these at a sitting The brown sugar is quite pronounced from smell through taste. Along with the the hops and the strong malt backbone it is an interesting contrast. Ok, I will recommend!

Serving type: bottle

11-09-2013 01:47:55 | More by kjlcm
Photo of s_wit


4.4/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - clear orange/amber color nice light colored head with a lot of carbonation. Pretty good lacing.

S - light citrus with a crisp smell that comes later. Good smell, not extremely strong.

T - very strong taste, full of citrusy hops of front and finishes sweet but not as sweet as I thought. Nice and complex with lots of favors going on. This is the best thing about this beer. Some booziness or I would have rated it even higher here.

M - boozy, sticky, good carbonation, decent thickness but not great

O - I'm glad I tried this one as it was a really good beer. It was much better than I expected. Will probably have a couple more and cellar a couple.

Serving type: bottle

11-08-2013 03:03:42 | More by s_wit
Photo of dar482

New York

4.38/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

The beer comes a deep red ruby color with a huge fluffy tight off white head.

The aroma has super sweet caramel, candy sugar, toffee. It has a slight citrus along with deep pine and some of that garlic/onion. Good amount of heavy breadiness as well as some booze and yeast.

The flavor follows with a citrus and floral hint and onto tons of heavy caramel and sugary sweetness. Later into the beer, it actually causes you to smack your lips as the sugary just coats and coats your lips. The middle hints of some garlic and onion notes and then moves onto an extremely hoppy and bitter piney, resinous finish.

The beer dances that beautiful line between sweetness and bitterness. It really attacks hard on both sides. A really exceptional example of an American Barleywine.

Serving type: bottle

11-08-2013 02:26:35 | More by dar482
Photo of andrewjraab


4.24/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Orange / cherry glow, slightly hazy produced a towering fluffy head that reduces to a ring around the glass with a bubbly pillow in the center. Heavy lace and stick after each drink. Wonderful looking beer.

S - Citrus notes - Pineapple?, orange zest, resinous, oily, caramel.

T - Citrus and piney hop punch to the mouth - wonderful. This is followed by a sweet malty presence - caramel, brown shugga that balances really well. The mouthfeel is somewhat chewy, but it is amazingly drinkable considering type of brew and ABV.

O - WOW - glad I snagged this one off the shelf, I will definitely be going back for more perhaps to lay a few down. This is a DAMN good brew.

Serving type: bottle

11-07-2013 02:01:45 | More by andrewjraab
Photo of MostlyNorwegian


3.36/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Brown Shugga is dry. The raw cane sugar dries this beer right up so It has some boozy notes up top. A little raisiny and caramel in the sniffer with a bit of the hops in there too. This is the first one, and hey my guy didn't have any in the cooler and I am drinking it out of the bag at ambient temperature. I want slices of cured meat and pickled things with it at this threshold.
Very minimal lacing, if any with very very slight bubbling disruption on the surface with a quickly receding head.
Served it in a (red) wine glass. Handsome appearance. A slow motion beer. Not one for the quaffer. One to linger over while things get into the off ramp of life.

Serving type: bottle

11-05-2013 23:32:50 | More by MostlyNorwegian
Photo of scotorum


3.89/5  rDev -3.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-05-2013 06:37:16 | More by scotorum
Photo of SportsandJorts


3.84/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

appearance: a deep ruby red. good clarity and a finger plus of a tannish white head that leaves a bit of a lacing on the sides. looks tasty but I was hoping for a little more brown.

Smell: slightly weak for such a big brew. hops, citrusy and apricoty. good sweetness.

Taste: opens up with a blast of hops. grapefruit and apricot. a brief moment of super sweetness shines through. toasty malts. the malts are quickly taken back over by a lingering hop bitterness

Mouthfeel: slightly creamy. huge hop bitterness lingers. some warmth thats good for a cold night.

Overall: huge battle of bitter and sweet. bitter wins out for now. its good but i want to revisit this one when it is not so fresh

Serving type: bottle

11-05-2013 01:48:26 | More by SportsandJorts
Photo of Roguer


4.21/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a thick, solid, cream-colored 2 finger head from a turbulent pour. Good retention and awesome lacing. Liquid looks bright and clear, but it's actually extremely cloudy and translucent upon closer inspection. Brown ale with red highlights.

Pine hop notes through the nose, accented by molasses and, yes, brown sugar. Relatively subdued aroma for the big flavor.

Very sweet brew: caramelized sugar and molasses. It's quite hoppy, but that only manifests, flavor-wise, as some vinous pine notes. Develops nicely as it warms, without the sweetness becoming overpowering.

Lovely mouthfeel: silky and smooth. Almost no sting, but the beer is still lively and not at all syrupy. Slightly dry finish, with more alcohol presence as it dries.

You'd have no idea this beer clocked in at 10% ABV if you didn't read the bottle; it's unbelievably smooth. It works wonderfully as a night cap, or as a stronger brew during the day. Pairs well with food. It's a little strong as a lunch brew, but works excellently to relax after work.

This beer reminds me a lot - lot - of DFH Burton Baton (minus the oak). That's a very high compliment.

Serving type: bottle

11-04-2013 01:44:31 | More by Roguer
Photo of mcflypie


4.4/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Rich copper in hue. Not much lacing.

S: Hop, sweetness, slight lime.

T: Big hoppy taste in general with a little sweetness in the beginning as well. Malt and brown sugar in the background.

M: A robustly hoppy feeling that lingers like a strong ale should.

O: A classic. More hoppy then brown, this strong ale delivers a wallop and will keep you warm on a cold eve.

Serving type: bottle

11-02-2013 02:23:07 | More by mcflypie
Photo of Danimals_Beard


4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Sierra Nevada IPA glass, because that's all I had available at the time. Good creamy head, with decent lacing. Smells like brown sugar and molassesy with a hint of hops. Taste is sweet, a little hoppy bitterness, can pick up the alcohol, but is not overpowering, especially for a high ABV. Mouthfeel is about right for a strong ale. Descent carbonation. Not too bad.

Serving type: bottle

10-30-2013 06:02:33 | More by Danimals_Beard
Photo of Campello_IPA


4.14/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle to pint glass

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

S: strong citrus hop aroma, slight alcohol.

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

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

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

Serving type: bottle

10-29-2013 23:44:12 | More by Campello_IPA
Photo of BeerWizard


4.31/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours honey gold with a decent sized head. I'm drinking this out of a Bulleit bourbon glass so we're talking about two inches of ale and an inch and a half of head. Looks pretty stellar. The nose is tangy, barely funky, with pine and candied fruit; while the flavor is sweet up front, with apricot and peach on the tongue, and then bitter in the throat. There's also a spice element to it, and I also get like Pez or Smarties candy in the nose mid-sip. For 9.99% abv, you sure wouldn't know it - I've had 7's and 8's that tasted boozier than this does. Bottle says that it's brewed with brown cane sugar, which, you know, from the name and all I was picturing a molasses-derived brown sugar, but the raw sugar makes more sense. I remember having this at a beer festival a few years ago and being duly corrected after asking for the "brown." "It's not a brown, it's an American strong ale." Indeed. Thumbs up.

Serving type: bottle

10-29-2013 01:54:09 | More by BeerWizard
Photo of IAmAPenguin


3.81/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Aroma - Fresh hops with a clear brown sugar, cinnamon spice, toffee and molasses.
Appearance - Very reddish, crimson color with almost no foam and standard lacing.
Taste- Very crisp, malty flavors with notes of caramelized sugar, burnt caramel, toffee and thin molasses. Finish is smooth with herby hops. Overall, this is interesting. Its dark and malty flavors but its actually really easy drinking and thin. I don't get any alcohol at all which makes this one really dangerously easy drinking. Not a bad beer at all.

Serving type: bottle

10-26-2013 06:43:40 | More by IAmAPenguin
Photo of MoorBeerPlz


4.14/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from a 12oz. bottle into my usual New Belgium globe glass...

A: Poured a clear, bubbly copper/brown with gold tints. Beautiful light brown, foamy, 2 finger head that dropped off to a thin layer on the top and light lacing along the sides of the glass.

S: Bringing the glass close brought the aromas of hops, malt, pine and a sweet smell not unlike brown sugar as it's cooking. Maybe some citrus in there too.

T: Hops, followed by a molasses sweetness and ending with a sweetened hop finish. I detected some warmth at the very end of the swallow from the alcohol but it didn't detract from the overall taste.

M: Smooth, creamy feeling that slowly runs around your mouth. Dry finish but with a little residual on the tongue. I like how another reviewer called it; "stickiness".

O: Overall a solid, very drinkable brew. The anticipated sweetness is not nearly as bad as your mind expects from the name. I didn't really pick up on a brown sugar like flavor but that's beside the point. While the ABV is up there a ways, I wouldn't hesitate to buy this again. Good job Lagunitas.


Serving type: bottle

10-24-2013 02:10:35 | More by MoorBeerPlz
Photo of HattedClassic


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

Aged for about a year under less than ideal conditions.

The beer pours a light tannish head that stays afterwards. The beer iteslf is a clear dark amber that is almost brown by the looks of it.

A strong boozy and sweet malty smell. My nose picks up the scent from quite a distance. Some of the hop smell is there but it's slight.

Sweet malt taste dominates the tongue but still has hints of hops with a hint of booze. The beer is also a little sugary but certainly more sweet.

Biting carbonation and heavy bodied but also smooth and a little sticky afterwards.

A very good beer and one that I look forward to every year. Apparently, accidentally aging it makes it even better.

Serving type: bottle

09-19-2013 01:15:18 | More by HattedClassic
Photo of Omnium


3.94/5  rDev -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.

Serving type: bottle

09-15-2013 23:48:50 | More by Omnium
Photo of brurevu


4.48/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From my tasting notes: The brew poured a deep amber with ample head that billowed quickly and lasted throughout. The aroma is sweet hops, that is a good hop scent with sweet toffee and malt all rolled into one. The first taste was a wow moment. The full on signature Lagunitas hop profile with loads of the sweet malt and toasted sugary goodness to make for a perfect beer. It is definitely unique to say the least and dangerously easy to drink.. Not quite an IPA and not quite a barley wine, but a great brew nonetheless. I love all of Lagunitas’ beers and this may be my favorite.

Serving type: bottle

09-09-2013 18:01:15 | More by brurevu
Photo of TruePerception


3.19/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

(Previous review, transferred from beer journal)

Lagunitas' Brown Shugga' Ale: 9.9% ABV; Appearance: medium amber, a finger of fluffy head, good retention and lacing; Smell: lots of pine; Taste/Mouthfeel: pine!, faint sweetness, decent/pretty good, long finish.

Poured into a pint glass.

Serving type: bottle

09-01-2013 08:53:09 | More by TruePerception
Photo of PorterLambic


4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, dark amber/reddish brown color. Good sized tan head doesn't last too long but leaves good lace behind.
Smell is malt, hops, caramel, nuts and a whiff of sweetness perhaps from brown sugar. Pretty good balance, though a bit weak overall.
Taste is roasted malts, herbal/floral hops, alcohol, caramel, and nuts with a hint of sweetness. Again, the balance is fairly good.
Warming even at refrigerator temperature. Medium bodied, light effervescence all up front. Long lingering malt, herbal and nut aftertaste. Somewhat cloying finish. Not a bad beer, in fact, pretty good since it isn't all "west coast style" overly choppy. Glad I have more than 1.

Serving type: bottle

08-29-2013 15:57:31 | More by PorterLambic
Photo of Scrylol

Alberta (Canada)

3.31/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a one finger fluffy white head. Copper colored body, seems a bit hazy. Not bad.

Tropical fruit aromas, citrus, zest, and lemon as well. Slight malty sweetness note to it. Can smell some alcohol as well.

Bitter hop flavors with tons of citrus and zest on the tongue. Followed by strong alcohol notes. Slight caramel malty sweetness to it. Leaves a dry, bready aftertaste with hints of alcohol. Pretty low alcohol burn despite the amount I can taste.

Medium body, decent carbonation. Feels creamy and goes down smooth.

Decent strong ale, but I didn't find much brown sugar in it. Bit too hoppy in terms of balance, and unfortunately was able to taste quite a bit of alcohol (though it's not that bad).

Serving type: bottle

07-12-2013 06:14:47 | More by Scrylol
Photo of Mojo


3.59/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle -> snifter glass

A - tarnished copper color, with fluffy two finger head, awesome retention, and awesome lacing.
S - Kind of a burnt smell, nutty, and some alcohol
T- complex, malty brown sugar upfront with a dry charred boozy flavor on the finish
M - kind of a bitter aftertaste
O- not my cup of tea, but fairly complex flavor.

Serving type: bottle

06-01-2013 06:07:17 | More by Mojo
Photo of alaimoa


4.4/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle-dangerously delicious.. copper color with a sweetness that hides the higher alcohol content although you get the alcohol in the aftertaste that lingers until the next sip. Tastes like honey molasses malt and hops. A must have in the cellar

Serving type: bottle

05-27-2013 12:05:30 | More by alaimoa
Photo of Kmat10

Alberta (Canada)

3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A- Dark amber, one finger of head, lacing all over the glass

S- Caramel, citrus hops, can smell the alcohol

T- Nutty flavors, little bit of sweetness, fair amount of hops

M- Full bodied, moderate carbonation, you can notice the alcohol, dry finish and very bitter

O- Very good American strong, Very hoppy and bitter, good amount of malts

Serving type: bottle

05-20-2013 04:51:21 | More by Kmat10
Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 3,438 ratings.