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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 MasterfulIdiot
3.88/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured into an Ikea brandy snifter. Appearance is translucent amber with a surprisingly thick brown head - especially for being in a snifter! There's lots of lace for the first few minutes, although that's mostly gone towards the end of it.

Smell is citrusy hops, with some alcohol burn. I was really surprised, since I was expecting more of a toasty brown ale, but this actually smells like it could be an IPA.

Taste hits you up front with lots of citrusy hops. Little bit of resin in there too. Swallow is nice and malty, and that's where the brown sugar taste comes in. Finish is pretty sweet from the brown sugar, with some well-incorporated booziness.

Mouthfeel is moderately thick, with some nice prickly carbonation that does well to cut through some of the maltiness and booziness.

Overall, this is definitely an interesting beer, although I'm really not sure what to make of it. I feel like they could have definitely gotten away with calling this a DIPA, although I guess they did a little better not attributing it to a style at all. I tend to like hoppy beers better when they're a little bit lower-ABV, and the brown sugar mixed with the booziness can make it seem a little sickly sweet occasionally, so I do have some problems with it. But the hop flavors are really nice, and the brown sugar is a nice addition, and it's definitely unusual and interesting, so I did really enjoy it!

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Photo of watermelon
4.07/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into a tulip glass.

A: Clear orange brown color with a thick foamy off white head. Good retention with lots of lacing.

S: Strong grapefruit hops in the nose mixed in with carmel malts.

T: Lots of grapefruit and pine hops as well as strong brown sugar malty flavor as the name would imply. Could use a bit more malt being that its a strong ale. For being 10 percent the alcohol is hidden very well.

M: Nice syrupy mouthfeel, hoppy bitterness lingers on the tongue.

O: This is a great beer at a great price. $10 for a 6pack of 10% beer that taste good is outstanding. This is a must buy.

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Photo of nvsblman
3.25/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Deep walnut brown with about a finger of brown head. The brown sugar (duh :) ) stands out most in the aroma, but there is also some toffee, some piney hops, and a light fruitiness. Distinct brown sugar flavor along with some fruit and a nice hoppy bite. Just a slight hint of alcohol that comes out a little more as it warms. It's pretty easy to drink given it's strength!

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Photo of Tolnik
4.32/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this reddish copper coloration beer into a pint glass. The foam that it gave originally was good and reduced to a good head. Sugary! wow sweet malt with a hoppy aftertaste. It does leave a good warm feeling in your mouth. Great winter beer. The beer has a great carbonation and keeps it up throughout the drink.

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

I'm so glad this comes in sixer's now. With the weather being chilly, this should certainly warm me up.

12oz. bottle pours a dark brown and mahogany hued body with a pleasant 1 finger ivory colored cap. The retention that followed was good, along with lacing.

Smell is of a sweet Barleywine. Hops mingle up front with brown sugar and molasses sweetness hiding underneath. The brown sugar really comes through on the nose and looks very promising.

All I can say is "Wow". Lagunitas is really onto something with the whole brown sugar infused yeast. Begins with a slight hop and citrus presence and slowly gives way to malt madness! Caramel, brown sugar, and molasses run very smoothly to the finish. Leaves a nice after taste that is lip smacking good.

Mouthfeel is a good full medium body. This beer could put some RIS's to shame because of its incredible sweet mouthfeel. Coats the mouth and tongue and borders the edge of being creamy.

Drinkability is fantastic. The high ABV is almost undetected while showcasing its flavor.

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Photo of 312HopBomb
4.24/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep amber color with a slight white cap. This is nice and clear.

The nose is sweet with prominent brown sugar. The hops peak through to mix it up.

The taste is sweet but not too much. A nice malty and brown sugga sweetness with a good dose of hops.

Mouthfeel is medium full with moderate carbonation.

I really liked this one. Had been wanting to try it but hard to find. Thanks to Jose for sharing!

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Photo of SSS
4.17/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A-Orange clear color with an off white head
S-Straight up Crystal 70/80, malty goodness
T-Boozy bitter bite at the front and a nice linger at the back end.
M-Peppery over carbonation, but it cleanses the palate
O-I must admit that this is a brew that tastes identical to something I brewed a few years back, it is so odd, so I am partial to enjoying it. That said, the alcohol is somewhat overpowering...

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Photo of rsyberg01
3.78/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

S - 12 oz bottle, no freshness date.

A - Pours a deep clear copper with an offwhite sticky head. Looks are inviting and certainly delicious looking

S - Molasses, citrus, pine, malty. Hops are big, not in your face big, but still big. A little bit off balance.

T -Brown sugar, piney notes as well, little bit nutty, fresh citrus, good warming in my chest which is the only alcohol hint.

M - Very smooth with a bite of dryness from the hop. Balance is good.

D - I wouldnt say its a session brew, but its still decent.

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Photo of jsdunlop
3.9/5  rDev -2.5%
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...

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Photo of CaptainHate
4.63/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I had tried a sample of this at the local supermarket and thought it was deserving of a much more in depth exploration. So I had my growler filled (at a very reasonable price) and took it to a meeting of my fellow reprobates who like listening to music and drinking beer.

I was pretty sure that this would be regarded fairly highly by my fellow hop-kissers and was not surprised. The other alternatives were Hopping Frog Christmas Ale (not bad) and Great Lakes Conway Ale (it's ok but I've had it before and wasn't particularly interested in bottles of it). Anyway this was a big hit and we drained the growler with scant regard for the alc content.

Even though Lagunitas dumps enough sugar in this to stimulate a diabetic coma, it really doesn't negatively impact the taste, nor does the fairly high alc content. This is a strong tasting but very balanced tasty ale.

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Photo of wschmit
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Into a regular pint glass.

A: A nice, caramel-orange hue with two fingers of lingering, sticky head. Very much like an old ale in appearance, methinks. Lots of lovely webs remain as the head slowly settles.

S: I can smell it from two feet away. Sweet, resinous, and hoppy, with some toasty notes. Overall very attractive scent.

T: Lots of residual sugar. There is a distinctly molasses/brown sugar taste to it, which isn't at all bad. I was expecting something slightly sweeter, but really it's a good balance of malt and hops. Hops are pretty floral, with medium bitterness.

M: As with the head, a bit sticky. At ten percent ABV, it's got a bit of viscosity, but really not too much body. I don't get any boozy burn at all.

D: High, for the ABV. I enjoy this a lot, and will be looking around for similar beers as winter rolls in. A very balanced beer, for this season.

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Photo of fitrock2112
4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured Brown Shugga' into a Belgian Tulip.

A - Pours a clear amber with a off white head that goes on forever.

S - Sweet grapefruit, pine, citrus. Typical IPA goodness.

T - Bitterness, juicy hops, citrus, grapefruit and pine. Mid palate getting some lightly toasted malt with some sweetness from the brown sugar. Finally, on the aftertaste getting more grapefruit, citrus and sweetness.

M - Smooth medium mouthfeel, medium carbonation.

O - Nice beer with many great flavors for this time of year. Recommended Cheers!

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Photo of TXHops
3.35/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Lagunitas Brown Shugga

9.9% ABV

Brown Shugga is Lagunitas' failed attempt at brewing Gnarleywine back in 1998. See, I can read the label... Apparently they dumped in a bunch of brown sugar to rectify some awful situation and the result was good enough to be bottled. Fair enough--at least they were honest with us...

Brown Shugga is deep, deep amber--like unfiltered clover honey. The 1" eggshell colored head couldn't support itself and after 2-3 minutes became about a sixteenth of its former self. However, it did last, and the bubbles were tiny. The remaining, thin head was cratered by little streamers of bubbles from below, creating a nice, uneven affect.

The aroma, while sweet and faintly alcoholic, was mostly hoppy--American hops it appears, though all three aromas are subdued more than I would have expected in a hopped up barleywine--extended aging? Actually, the restraint is kinda interesting--it allows for some complexity in the aroma--not all malt, not all citrus. Maybe I'm being suggestible, but I fancy I can smell the brown sugar a little too...

The flavor is a little different. It's thin. I don't just mean the mouthfeel, I mean the flavor, which is quite pronounced at first, seems to leave my mouth searching for it after a few seconds (though it’s far from dry). When the beer first hits my tongue, I can taste the gravity of the non-attenuated sugars quite clearly. It's clear by the esters and the heat moving around inside my mouth after each sip that there's more than just malt to attenuate. The use of non-malt sugar leaves its mark distinctly. A winey, slightly cidery flavor is present in each sip, though not at all overwhelming. The hops have a characteristic "burned" quality that I frequently picked up in highly hopped, higher alcohol beers. I've frequently contemplated why this flavor seems to exist in some beers and not others. Fullers ESB has it, so it's not just American hops, nor is it only hyper-hoppy imperials. In fact, the super hoppy stuff seems to taste more sticky than burned typically. Enough digression...

I found the beer enjoyable, though not great. No particular aspect of its character makes it stand out. Actually, I REALLY like the fact that I can get a bomber of 9.9% beer for less than $3, but price aside, this beer is unexceptional, though by no means bad. The slight cidery taste and the lack of distinction in malt flavor or in hoppiness leaves this beer truly average across the board.

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Photo of cooler4life
4.05/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured a half finger head that settled to a fluffy ring around the edge of the glass. Color is a dense orange brown. Some carbonation can be seen wisping around. Lacing and retention are great.

S: Crisp hops, rock candy!, red grapes, fresh pine.

T: Sweet and spicy. Lemon zest, maple syrup, grass, grapefruit. Balanced.

M: Spritzy carbonation combined with a peppery alcoholic burn provides nice interplay. Great mouth presence, slightly sticky.

O: Adding this one to my list of annual "Must Haves". You should probably tackle just one in a session, this one definitely holds it own.

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Photo of Fenris244
3.85/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark red with an off white 1 finger head, decent retention, carbonation looks thin.

really fruity, grapes and raisins come through well, which is weird because the first time i had this beer it smelled totally different. Some brown sugar notes as well as almost a short bread like aroma tucked away behind everything else.

Way different from the first one i had in flavors as well... Fruity in flavor grapes and cherry coming through well, hops are surprisingly strong and balance out the sweetness from the fruit flavors well. Shortbread like malty finish and the bitterness last for a while after the sip. The alcohol tries to hide but after the 4th or 5th sip the warming lets you know it there.

Heavier in body but keeps from being syrupy, the light carbonation is just enough to give it a lighter feel on the palate.

Tasty, different and pretty drinkable, i couldnt finish a six pack in a night or anything but i could definitely have a few.

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Photo of MaineBrewing
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured a clear dark amber with a little chill haze, slight red hue to the color. Head was thick and frothy a mix of medium bubbles and lots of fine suds.

S - Aroma is a dark complex amalgam of sweet malt. A candied cherry fruitness. tons and tons of molasses, rum like. Burnt sugar.

T - I have had this 6 pack for a few months, upon first release it was very hoppy. Its only probably been 3 months tops? the hops have fallen off completely to let the beautiful malt shine. This is certainly unique from other barleywine style ales as it is very rum like. SO I guess its less of a malt character and more of a candy, sugar. Lots of toffee. Although the aroma hops have faded, the finish is very hoppy, not so much bitter but just a nice bite, very quenching, and balances the malt sweetness well. Without this it would be way too cloying, but that is not the case. This beer is great.

M - Mouthfeel is par for the course, thick, just enough carbonation to keep it lively. finishes sweet but the bitter hops as mentioned above quell the sweetness.

O - This beer is probably my favorite from Lagunitas. If your looking for a traditional barleywine this might be a little too sweet and rummy, but it tastes great to me, just a unique flavor. Also I try not to make a review about price and value as I feel a beer should be judged on what it is over economics... but man, 9.99 for a 6 pack of this??? In a sea of 11.99 4 packs, such a great beer for 9.99 a sixer gets me everytime.

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Photo of bierguru
2.93/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A -
brown orange body head is foamy and creamy looking stays very well

S -
huge brown sugar smell which you expect do to the name but there are also mild hop fruity esters to it

T -
very malty at the beginning of the taste some hops in the middle and loads of brown sugar on the backend

M -
very light on the tongue kind of a dryness in the mouth

D -
overall worth a try but nothing i would really like often

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Photo of DrinkMoreBigBeers
3.93/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Note - Bottle says day 270 on the neck in small black print.

A - Poured this down the center and left a massive yellowish off white four finger head with different sized bubbles that left above average odd looking lacing. Nice dark blood orange semi-hazy beer.

S - I pick up some citrusy hops and a definite sweet maltyness from the sugars they used, which remind me of a strong sweet juice of some kind. As the beer warmed more I picked up some mango, peach and more subtle tropical notes.

T - Get the sweetness right up front, almost candy-ish which gets bitter and has a finish that reminds me of a bitter citrus rind off of a orange. The sweetness and bitterness fight one another for domination. Do not pick up on the alcohol on the flavor but can feel it after it goes down.

M - Nice chewy, soft full bodied beer that is slightly oily and is quit pleasant in the mouth. My tongue feels like it has been cleaned by something astringent after drinking for a while (like Listerine.) Would get higher marks if it was not so aggressive on my palate.

O - A really impressive closing beer which packs a lot of sweet flavors, and is not the most drinkable in my book. Gets cloying after half way through. Good luck with this one because it packs a sweet punch, Cheers! After further drinking I found that pairing this with something salty like nuts really helps cut the sweetness and makes this a better brew. Try it, you will not be disappointed.

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

I have long seen this and long passed over it. Consumed at The Flying Pig in Malvern, PA on Friday night past.

Poured from tap with a beautiful amber, ruby color. Nice white head sitting on top which made it look very appealing and enticing. A real good looking beer in a glass.

The aroma and taste were very enjoyable. Hard to not say the word sugar in the description but the beer melds the malt and hops in fine fashion with a nice sweet candy taste lurking in there as well. I really enjoyed it.

The mouthfeel was clean, crisp, and enjoying while this is one that you enjoy so much you would consider staying with this one all night long.

I really enjoyed this beer and will have to try it again on a more regular basis. I really think that they did a nice job here.

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Photo of MikeBrandman
4.62/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours from a bottle a delicious looking reddish brown. Translucent with slightly visible carbonation that supports one of the best looking heads I've ever seen. 3 fingers of creamy, offwhite head that stays around the entire time. Smooth, thick lacing that goes through the entire glass. Great looking brew.

S - Such a strong smell right after the cap has been removed. Rich brown sugar smell with a slight grape aroma as well. Slightly roasted smell too, almost chocolately. No alcohol smell, which is suprising for such a strong beer.

T - Again, brown sugar and grape tastes predominately. The chocolate and roast characters are more subdued than in the smell, but still definitely there. The sugary sweetness is effectively countered by the other tastes here; definitely a creative and well thought out beer. Complex taste that doesn't get cloyingly sweet or dull with time. Alcohol taste is there, but it doesn't get bothersome or offputting.

MF - Smooth and satisfying. Slightly heavy but buttery. Very good texture.

D - So, so drinkable. The awesomely complex flavor and the unique texture leave you wanting more and more.

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Photo of RunDWP
3.83/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a golden brown into a tulip with a light orange, fluffy head. Plenty of sheeting on the glass as I sipped. Sweet, molasses aroma. Flavor is dominated by brown sugar (surprise!) and malt, with a tea-like bitternsess at the finish. Thick and rich mouthfeel. It's rather sweet, not that complex, or balanced, but somehow it's a bit addictive, and I couldn't smell or taste the alcohol. Enjoyable, change of pace brew.

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Photo of warrenout330
4.13/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my duvel snifter

A- poured a clear golden amber color... thick white head, damn sticky lacing all over my glass.... love it

S- smells of sugar, maybe not brown, caramel malt, rye malt, earthy funk

T- I taste a more pronounced sugar fling, rye malt, earthy funk with a well grounded balance....

M- sugary, rye bitterness, earthy hop bite with a lingering sugar smack... noy like the cereal though

O- my first ever lagunitas brew ever.... this may turn me on to them but this brew also reminds me of 2 brothers cane & Abel with a slight lightness.... as far as thickness.... love this brew

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

Brown Shugga'pours a nice crystal clear dark copper color. Things are topped off by 2 fingers of light khaki head. The head falls to a ring. Adequate lacing is left down the glass.

The aroma is quite nice. Herbal/citrus hop notes make a strong showing upfront. Brown sugar and light molasis notes follow. Some baked sweet cookie notes round things out.

The taste follows the nose. Hops show up first. Herbal/mint hope notes are at the front. Hop quality turns a bit grapefruity. Cutting through the hops are brown sugar and light molasis notes. Baked sweet bread and sugar cookie notes round things. The finish is dryish with a lingering bitter-sweet note.

The beer is fullbodied. The carbonation is adequate and helps give the beer a velvety smooth mouthfeel.

THis is a tasty brew. The alcohol is quite well hidden, offering a smooth sipper. The nice balance between the bitter hops and the sweet brown sugar work well. This is a wonderful cold weather drink.

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Photo of Thanby
4.28/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a beautiful clear amber with a bunch of foamy off-white head that sticks like... well, sugar.

Surprisingly hoppy aroma, but the sticky sweet malt balances it nicely. Brown sugar is noticeable behind the hops.

First taste is the nice hop bouquet followed by a wash of sweet caramel malt, and the brown sugar sweetness.

Medium body, smooth and creamy as I've ever tasted, no trace of the ABV. Dangerous.

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Photo of Bitter_Echo
3.78/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very clear, dark, tannic oxidized rust color, very appealing. Smells not very hop forward, but malt, sweet, bread and grain and some caramel, but some noticeable alcohol and pine like hop notes. Tastes very sweet and malty and not at all bitter at first, the bitterness only emerging after a time (like their sumpin') and this tends to modulate the loudness of the bitterness overall. Nice late hop echo coming in later. Mouthfeel and carbonation is moderate fussy and just about right. Overall, another very good Lagunitas offering, although I don't like as much the loud malt notes in the beginning that really mute the effects of the hops...I want the hops right THEIR!

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