Sugar Plum Brown Ale | Cigar City Brewing

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Sugar Plum Brown AleSugar Plum Brown Ale

Brewed by:
Cigar City Brewing
Florida, United States

Style: Herbed / Spiced Beer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Cigar City Brewing's official celebration of Christmas. A rich-bodied brown ale forms the stage for holiday flavors which dance a festive ballet highlighted by pirouetting leaps of Christmas inspired spices. Cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, rose hips and chamomile compliment the subtle chocolate and light coffee notes of the malt and the addition of roasted carob and chicory complete the performance. Brewed once a year to celebrate the Christmas season. Pair with fresh cracked nuts, fruit cake and share with friends and family. Merry Christmas from the CCB family!

22 IBU

Added by tpd975 on 01-03-2009

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Reviews: 61 | Ratings: 278
Photo of beergod1
3.88/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a mostly brown amber with an average sized tan head. The nose is mild, notes of cinnamon and ginger with some more subtle dark fruit under tones. Smooth mouth feel with a medium body and some carbonation. Flavor is spicy with loads more cinnamon and ginger notes some lesser chocolate notes are present as is the mellow nutty malt back bone. Some dryness on the finish with an aftertaste I can't put my finger on. But a Great holiday brew. I like the Warmer Winter A little better, but this is a good one.

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Photo of DrewShal9
3.47/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks wscaffe!
A: a purplish brown that's reminiscent of a barleywine with a white head that leaves a beautiful lace along the sides of the glass
S: ginger, cinnamon rolls, spices, and bready malt
T: intense and complex yet very tasty! Spices and sweet that finishes with plums.
M: somewhat light bodied with moderate amount of carbonation
O: very tasty brew that I want to revisit and try one aged!

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Photo of bierguru
3.45/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a dark woody purple/brown with a 1 finger light tan head. Excellent lacing.

Smell: Sweet winter spices with ginger dominating. Cinnamon and nutmeg also come through nicely. Faint fruitiness that lingers on the backend

Taste: Spices dominate up front followed by typical malty brown ale flavors , a touch of hops and a bit of fruitiness at the finish. Aftertaste is mildly bitter like the skin of a plum.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a good amount of carbonation.

Drinkability: High drinkability. You could easily have a few of these over the course of an evening.

Overall: Very good beer overall. Was not expecting much from the negative reviews i was getting from friends, but i enjoyed it very much

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Photo of adam42381
4.03/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from notes at World of Beer - Fort Myers on 11/9/11.

Poured on draft into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark woody brown with a 1 finger creamy light tan head. Excellent lacing.

Smell: Sweet winter spices with ginger dominating. Cinnamon and nutmeg also come through nicely.

Taste: Spices dominate up front followed by typical malty brown ale flavors in the middle before ending with freshly chewed grass, a touch of hops and a bit of fruitiness at the finish. Aftertaste is mildly bitter.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a good amount of carbonation.

Drinkability: High drinkability. You could easily have a few of these over the course of an evening.

Overall: Very good beer overall. Another fine offering from Cigar City. Definitely worth trying if you find it on draft.

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Photo of babaracas
4/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy dark garnet color with two fingers of dense cream colored foam. Settles to a thin ring leaving a few lines of lace on the glass. Smell: spice bouquet for reals - ground ginger and cinnamon and some floral notes. Base is toast, almond, with caramel and dark fruit notes. Taste: black plum and brown sugar are buried under orange, ginger, and powdery cinnamon. Toasted nutty finish. Creamy feel but with maybe a little too aggressive carbonation for a laid back holiday beer. Nuts and spices work together, yep. Bottled Nov 14 2011.

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Photo of wspscott
3.64/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

750ml bottle in Duvel tulip

A: Pours a hazy dark brown with a thin light-tan head that leaves a small amount of lace as it drops.
S: Very fruity with some definite spiciness.
T: The most prominent spice is ginger, but it is obvious that there are others in there, along with a hint of chocolate and a small bit of pepper in the background. Given the nose, I was expecting more malt driven fruitiness.
M: I don't know why, but I was expecting a "richer" beer, this comes across on the thin side. I think part of it is the mouth coating nature of all of the spices make it seem drier than it really is.
D: I like this a lot, but I think a little more residual sugars would really benefit the beer. I could see a little bit of Caramel 120 or Special B malt here. Overall, this is a very well made beer that I am happy to have tried, but it comes across a little too austere to be great or too make me want to purchase again.

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Photo of speter
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a deep hazy brown with a one-finger+ fluffy tan head. Light lacing.

S: The cardamom dominates the nose, although the carob and brown sugar notes provide a solid backdrop.

T: Like the nose, the cardamom dominates the taste and together with the other spices, creates a sense almost of nutmeg. The finish is quite bitter and spicy.

M: Light and refreshing, like an oatmeal cookie.

O: Not a bad little winter ale.

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Photo of ThePorterSorter
3.78/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks for sending this one doctorb2b... It pours a deep, dark red with a thin foam head. The beer smells like winter spices. Tasting the beer is no different from the smell, there is incredible winter spices that mix with a sweet brown ale body. This is definitely a cookie in a bottle and it doesis nice job with balance. This beer is quite seasonal and tasty, but just too damn hard to get ahold of!

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Photo of JizackFH
3.75/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - This beer pours a dark brown color. It is slightly hazy and has some ruby hues when held to the light. There is a little more than a finger of light tan head on top. the head has pretty good retention, and it leaves some scattered specs of lace behind on the glass.

S - The nose has some roasted malts and some spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and brown sugar. There are aromas of dark fruits like plum and fig. A subtle hop aroma comes through as well.

T - The taste starts off with some roasted malt and a nice spice bill. I am getting ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and some chamomile. Although a little outweighed by the spices, there are some nice dark fruit flavors like plug, fig, and red grapes. Also, I am getting a mild hop presence as well. The finish leaves some lingering ginger, cinnamon, and hop bitterness behind on the palate. I wish the dark fruit flavors stood out a little more.

M - This has a medium body and good carbonation. It goes down easy and has a smooth feel to it. There is some initial sweetness, and some tingling from the spice notes. There is also some hoppy bitterness mostly in the finish.

O - This has good drinkability. I could easily have a few go these in an evening. Overall, I think it is a really nice and interesting beer. The only thing is, I wish the dark fruit flavors made more of an impact in the flavor. I would love a bigger plum presence like I was expecting. I definitely enjoyed this one though, and I think it is worth trying out.

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Photo of ryanonline
4.42/5  rDev +24.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Light brown and clear with a thick and foamy off white head. Lots of lacing.

Smells like Christmas!!! Nutmeg and sugar and plum and cinnamon.

Tastes fruity and spicey, nice hop flavor too.

Mouthfeel is dry, creamy and a bit spritzy.

Drinkability is relatively good for such a complex beer.

Awesome, Christmas in a bottle.

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Photo of Chaney
3.88/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Whoa.... I'm really taken aback by all the negative reviews on this one. That wasn't my experience at all.

I had this on tap over at a Whole Foods in Orlando right off International Drive.

NOTE: BA says that this is 6%, but the menu said 5.8%. Okay, I really feel like a dork now.

A: Poured a murky brown with some purplish highlights as well. It had maybe a finger or so beige head that stained the glass on the way down.

S: Cinnamon stick, molasses, brown sugar, ginger, and dark fruit. Not too potent, but just right.

T: The cinnamon complemented and added to the enjoyment of the brown sugar elements. It was almost as if the cinnamon was just riding on top of the other ingredients. Overall, I would definitely put this in the "spice bomb" category, but it was surprisingly very disciplined in its lack of sugary sweetness. Nice!

M: This was pretty creamy, medium-bodied, and with a nice carbonation bill and ridiculous lacing. Surprisingly drinkable.

O: I looked at the menu and read the words "Sugar Plum" and though to myself, "Oh boy... here comes a sticky, cloying dessert." I'm happy I was wrong.

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Photo of VncentLIFE
3.37/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pour is exactly what Ive come to associate with Cigar City Browns. A muddy, murky brown. No real head.

Smell isnt exactly easy to discern, but that might be from the fire burning next to me. Nice notes of caramel, brown sugar, and plums. Smells like Holiday Spice Cake.

Very spicy. Dry from the nutmeg, cinnamon, and other spices. Tastes like an over-spiced spice cake. The body is light, allowing the spices to take the forefront. Its got the spices of some other winter warmers, so I guess I dont understand why its not a Winter Warmer.

In the aftertaste, I get a leafy tobacco feeling that is a bit off. I still really enjoy it. Who would have thought that I would like tobacco in a beer? guess Im moving up in the world.

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Photo of drgarage
2.54/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Had a bottle on New Year's Eve that I'd brought back from a trip to Florida earlier in December. I could not have been more disappointed in it -- it's utterly lacking in body, like a Bud Light hit up with all the spices in the world. More than anything, it just doesn't taste finished. It's possible that with another several months in bottle it would improve (if it was bottle conditioned, I can't remember) the way premature home brew does. But I wouldn't count on it.

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Photo of Holland
1.98/5  rDev -44.4%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: looks like a nice brown ale - dark brown, lighter highlights, tan head of a good size.

S: smell is full of spice like cardamom - very difficult to smell anything else.

T: taste is also overpowered by the spices; same kind of thing. Very dry tasting.

M: medium carbonation, medium body, about right for a "brown" ale.

O: not a beer I'd drink again. $8 per 750ml bottle is such a waste when you can get far better beers for that. This was really disappointing since it was the first disagreeable beer I had from Cigar City.

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Photo of BlackBearForge
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sugar Plum is a dark brown beer, nearly opaque with maroon hightlights around the edges. A light brown head builds quickly upon pouring and subsides to a thin covering with lots of lacing.

The aroma yields dark malts with orchard fruit notes and a touch of earthiness.

First sip yields some rather harsh spicing and leaves a rather flat and bitter aftertaste. Subsequent sips as it warms are quite a lot better and a traditional English brown base with added dark malts with dark ripe orchard fruits open up a bit. Strong hints of brown sugar, cloves, cinnamon and perhaps cardamon are present. Hop presence is low and earthy.

Mouthfeel is medium and a tad flat. Very smooth but a bit of creaminess would be welcome.

This beer really needs you to take your time with it especially if on first sip it doesn't seem all that welcoming. Sitting in the glass and warming does a world of good to open up the flavors.

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Photo of cjgator3
3.98/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle

A- Poured into a Cigar City tulip glass. Pours a dark brown color with a light tan head with great lacing and retention.

S- The aroma is malty with chocolate and filled with holiday spices. Smells great!

T- The taste starts out dry and malty with some sweetness lingering in along with spices and some hops in the finish. 

M- The mouthfeel is light to medium bodies with a good amount of carbonation.

O- Overall, Sugar Plum is a solid holiday ale that I really enjoyed. 

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Photo of Chico1985
4.05/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Cam and Sonny for providing this really interesting beer.

Pours dark brownish-amber, slight haze to it. Beige bubbly head retains fine.

It smells like Christmas, straight up. Big spice, pine needles, mistletoe?

Huge spice in this one but it works very well. Nutmeg, cinnamon, slight potpourri, fruitcake, nutty malts, caramel. Pulls off a holiday feel really excellently without the spices being a bother.

Mouthfeel is overall fine, but felt a little thin.

The 'brown ale' part is pretty much lost, but this is probably one of the most standout winter beers I've had. It epitomizes a holiday spice feel.

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Photo of cbutova
4.1/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to my cousin down in Tampa for getting me this. Shared 3 ways last night, reviewed from notes.

A- Dark red-brown with a big and creamy light tan head. Good frothy texture and nice retention. Spotty thick lace.

S- Tis the season to be jolly, reminds me of everything Christmas. Nutty toasted brown ale malt with a nice spicy dessert profile. Cinnamon, ginger, caramel and dark fruit.

T- Again, like a spiced fruit cake brown ale. Sweet brown sugar, toasted nutty caramel malt profile. Dark sweet fruits, caradamom, ginger and cinnamon. Raisin hint as well.

MF- Foamy body with a semi-thick feel. Some spice bitterness and warmth in the finish.

Really not a huge fan of spices in beer for the most part but this ends up tasting like a nice spiced cake when all is said and done.

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Photo of KickInTheChalice
3.45/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750 mL bottle into a pint glass. Thanks to hoppy99 for sending this up to me.

Appearance: My pour has a medium hazelnut brown color with a plum tint and dark ruby edges. A modest tan cap rests on top, fading slowly, and leaving a few spots of lace.

Smell: Brown toasted bread and caramel malt, plum and assorted dark fruits, cinnamon, and nutmeg. There are some other lighter spices that I cannot really place. That must be the cardamom, chamomile, rosehips, and the like.

Taste: The flavor starts off with a fairly mild sweetness. A little bit of caramel accompanies plums and dark fruits, but the malt has more of a toasted brown bread flavor. Lots of spices come in, with a burst of nutmeg and cinnamon for sure. Even though the spices are varied, it feels like they went too intense with the. Toward the end a strange bitterness does not really fit with what I would like out of the beer. A strange, pseudo-alcohol medicinal bite is in there as well.

Mouthfeel: The body starts medium and somewhat bold but ends up a bit dry and on the light side. The carbonation is medium and sits somewhere between creamy and crisp. Toward the end it starts feeling acrid, which I could definitely do without.

Overall: The spice blend is quite nice. If I had my way, I would up the malt a little bit, increase the body, and kill that weird bitter acrid finish. Even with some interesting flavor, those are too many improvements to warrant a really good score.

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Photo of shand
4.47/5  rDev +25.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 24oz bottle into a Sam Adams perfect pint.

Pours a ruddy brown color with two fingers of head that drops down to a centimeter of head clinging to the side. Nice lacing. Aroma smells like Christmas! There's a decent amount of sweetness and tons of spices. It actually reminds me a decent amount of their Oatmeal Raisin Cookie. The taste is that of an expertly spiced ale. This one goes down absolutely perfectly with a huge bouquet of spices, with plenty of caramel malts to balance out the equation. The cinnamon stands out the most to me, especially on the finish, where the slight cinnamon heat rides with the drying mouthfeel. Very well done.

The mouthfeel is on the thinner side of medium bodied and just a little bit prickly. This one drinks easily, especially considering the slog some spiced brews can be. Harpoon Winter Warmer take note: THIS is how you do a heavily spiced winter seasonal. I was a bit apprehensive going into this one, but it turns out this is a very enjoyable brew. Highly recommended.

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Photo of justintcoons
3.04/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured into a pint glass.

A: Pours a burnt ruby with 2 fingers of sudsy head that dissipates slowly. Excellent layer of lacing clings to the side. Moderate carbonation.

N: Smells like a bar of hand soap with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.

T: A clove-like spice really dominates overall. Some hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and rose petal appear on the front end followed by subtle roasted malts, cocoa and raisin mid-palette. Finishes with a bouquet of spices and floral notes along with some earth and leather.

M: Medium-full bodied, creamy, chewy and dry.

O: Way too many spices used for a 6% English Brown base. A higher octane Brown or more subtle spicing would vastly improve this beer. This one is on the verge of cloying and quite a disappointment.

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Photo of JayS2629
3.7/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a purple/brown color with thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves thin rings.

The aroma explains the name of the beer. Dark fruit notes of over ripe plum with spices and toffee. Hints of roasted coffee and floral notes peek through.

The flavor is malty sweet with tons of caramel and toffee, candied fruit, definite plum notes and a chocolate base with hints of roasty coffee. Toast-like edges with floral hints and black pepper in finish.

Nicely balanced, medium bodied, ok carbonation

Overall, a nice holiday sipper. One and done. A bit too cloying and spicy.

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Photo of BeerImmediately
2.66/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

750ml into Chimay glass.

Pours with almost no head over dark orange to brown body. No lacing.

Nice seasonal aromas of roasted spices, light fruity sweetness, and herbal esters. Somewhat smokey, as many CC beers are.

Flavors are somewhat harsh and roasty. Coffee grinds, ginger, and old cigar. No discernable sweetness. Not expected, or pleasant. Aftertaste is like next-morning-cigar-breath. There is a film on my tongue that won't go away.

Mouthfeel is appropriate for a 6% brown ale. Above average carbonation, but pretty thin... was hoping for more depth and richness.

One of the few times I have not been impressed with Cigar City.

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Photo of Gtreid
3.75/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750 ml. poured into a tulip.

A: Light, murky, purplish brown color. A nice foamy cap faded quickly to a thin rim, no lace.

A: I get the base brown, with the chocoalte and slightly smoky notes. Sweet notes, which I can only assume is the sugar plum. And I don't get much of the spice in the nose.

T: I think it is a bit better here. I get the spice, although not as much as I was expecting. I like the contrast between the sweet plum and the base brew. It finishes a bit more bitter than what I would like. All in all, not too bad.

M: Just like all the other Maduro's, medium body, perfect carbonation.

O: I like it a bit better than most who have reviewed it, but it is way down the list of the Maduro treatments. It is interesting, and I will have no problem finishing the 750. Cheers.

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Photo of ShanePB
3.34/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

750 ml bottle shared with Nick at Craft Ale House. Poured into a tulip glass.

A: Deep medium-dark brown and burgundy colored body with a fluffy sort of fizzy off-white head. A few vigorous swirls brings it back but the retention is lacking, and there's really no lacing at all. Nothing out of the ordinary, mediocre appearance even to style.

S: Decent amounts of spices initially - cinnamon, ginger, spicy clove and touches of dark fruits. Plum and raisin coupled with a sugary sweetness towards the back end. Not really overdone and definitely a pretty good smelling beer. Well spiced without losing the Brown Ale base of the beer.

T: Front of the tongue brings the toasted barley, caramel and faint dark malts. The spiciness comes in towards the middle with a plethora of different flavors. There's more cinnamon, ginger, honey, and a distinct peppery note lasting into the back end of the palate. Finishes crisp with just a hint of clove into the linger.

M: Very carbonated, perhaps too much for what I expected. This would work better with less bubbles, allowing the spices and other flavors to coat well instead of wash away quickly.

As soon as I heard about this beer being brewed and bottled, I had to try it and I'm not disappointed. It really is one of the better spiced Brown Ales although I haven't come across an abundance of them. Nice offering, certainly one worth trying when priced right.

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Sugar Plum Brown Ale from Cigar City Brewing
3.56 out of 5 based on 278 ratings.
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