Brown Shugga'
Lagunitas Brewing Company

Brown Shugga'Brown Shugga'
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Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
Style:
Strong Ale - American
Ranked #33
ABV:
10%
Score:
91
Ranked #3,983
Avg:
4.07 | pDev: 11.06%
Reviews:
1,681
Ratings:
6,007
From:
Lagunitas Brewing Company
 
California, United States
Avail:
Rotating/Seasonal
Wants
  308
Gots
  1,475
SCORE
91
Outstanding
Brown Shugga'Brown Shugga'
Notes: IBU 51.1
Reviews: 1,681 | Ratings: 6,007 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of maxpower
maxpower from Missouri

3.87/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle pours a deep reddish-brown in color with a beautiful creamy beige head that leaves sticky sheets of lace in the glass. Strong aromas of grapefruit and caramel candy. Full bodied with a thick almost syrupy mouthfeel. Sugary, dark fruit and caramel flavor.

Jun 05, 2020
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OK_Denise from Oklahoma

3.89/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Wowser, this is a pretty stout Am Strong Ale!! For me, it is is a bit overpowering with the initial bite and then the finish is a bit bitter. It is a really good beer for this style, but I cannot say that I find it to be a great beer. I know that is weak but that is just due to my taste. As always, I recommend you try this (if interested in the style) and form your own opinion.

May 24, 2020
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dd53grif from Michigan

4.02/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a copper color with a foamy tan head that lasts quite a while. No discernable aroma. Tastes of brown sugar. Starts out sweet but finishes with a hoppy bitterness.

Apr 30, 2020
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Reef from South Carolina

4.09/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottling code from September 2019

Dark translucent copper, one finger of beige head, clumpy lacing. partial cap, variegated bubbles.
Caramel, dates, dark honey, spice cake aromas
Light hop tart orange citrus, pine, yet also brown sugar, and caramel flavors
Substantial body, alcohol noticeable, initial hop bite, but nice balance that drinks too quickly. Lingering hop tingle. Carbonation dissipates steadily but is stubborn given the ABV.
Evergreen standby in the winter months.

Mar 04, 2020
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defunksta from Illinois

3.45/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a deep, clear, orange color (slightly amber) with a moderate off-white head. SRM of 17. (3.50)

Aroma: Strong aromas of sweet caramel and syrup. Syrupy soaked, brown-sugar baked, French Toast. Mostly syrup, brown sugar. Some cardboard as the sweetness rides up the nose. (3.50)

Flavor: Flavor follows the nose folks with a dirty, sweet but also dank hop flavors. Straight syrup and bitterness, but enveloped completely by a syrup, brown sugar, and cardboard sweetness. Then you think you're done. But another wave of sweetness drizzled-syrup comes through. As you can guess, another wave of sweetness lingers through the end. (3.25)

Feel: Heavy, sweet, syrupy. Actually good carbonation, but then it gets enveloped by the sweetness. Surprisingly enough carbonation to keep it from being resinous though. (4.00)

Overall: A thick, heavy, syrupy rendition of a beer. Tons of brown sugar, caramel sweetness. There are hops. But completely enveloped by the sweetness. If you took a 9% imperial IPA, then dumped brown sugar in for another 2-3% of sweetness, then that is this beer. Caramel, syrup, and then even cardboard sweetness. The sugar hides the alcohol but discloses a syrup-soaked cardboard flavor. Dear God, please don't make this Diabetes Bomb again. (Final Rating: 3.45)

Jan 01, 2020
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bigbellysailor from Maryland

4.21/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark brown/amber. Smells sweet like brown sugar and maple. Hoppier than I expected and a sneaky 10% ABV. Very tasty ...drink it ice cold. Will buy occasionally.

Dec 12, 2019
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Freonicus from Tennessee

4.9/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

One of my favorite beers. This bad boy is sweet, strong, and sassy. Don't miss this spectacular beer! Best of all you can get it at Kroger (Fall months) for $10 a six pack.

Dec 05, 2019
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PathofChaos from Maryland

4.53/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance:
Pours like a dark, orange-blossom honey. Deep amber. Bubbly, with a nice tan-hued head.

Bouquet:
Heavenly molasses, ripe fig, sugar dates, and dark fruit. Like a gothic flower arrangement, blooming with dark tantalizing sweets.

Feel:
Smooth, supple, and thick-bodied, as if a classy beer and maple syrup created a silky progeny together. Despite this, Brown Shugga' teases the tongue with how briefly it lingers, seducing you from one blissful sip after another in rapid succession.

Taste:
The hops ride in like surfers on a satin tidal wave of molasses. Bold hops wrapped in a thick curtain of fig, dates, lustrous brown sugar, and a touch of ripe plum. Hints of caramel in the aftermath. A veritable doppelganger of the bouquet and pairs spectacularly well with a steak or a gourmet burger.

*****DISCLAIMER*****
For those of you who've had bad experiences with this beer, like the authors of the low-score reviews, you are not alone. Ever since this first bottle, I have not tasted a single bottle of Brown Shugga that replicates the amazing taste described above.

I was so determined to re-experience the same flavor as that one excellent bottle that I called Laguanitas to ask them what the deal was. They said those beers are meant to be refrigerated always so if it's been a long time out of a fridge then that'll negatively impact the flavor.

Therein lies the problem: Laguanitas brewery is in California, which is on the opposite side of the continent from me. Even when a case of Brown Shugga arrives brand new at the liquor store, the date on the bottles inside still show it as 100+ days old. That means 100ish days of careless storage on trucks with no refrigeration.

Dec 02, 2019
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Duendito

4.44/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Ok let's start with flavor, if you need something to "taste" go spend on Utopias or something like that, now if you the average person that goes to a bar and likes beer this is for you, it has a bittersweet flavor, nothing overwhelming like animal or guiness, medium body, slightly alcoholic aftertaste, nothing too special but something good for having a time with friends or family, overall a very very good beer

Dec 01, 2019
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ZachEze

1.3/5  rDev -68.1%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

The label was cool and that was all I liked about this travesty of a beverage. Never in my life did I think I would need to scrape my tongue after just one sip of beer. This was god awful. I would rather have a Busch lite than this. Took two Yuenglings to wash the taste out of my mouth.

Nov 30, 2019
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Troy-Hawaii from Hawaii

3.33/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Bought a 6-pack bottles $8.99 Target
Smell of molasses and caramel
Clear amber color
Medium-heavy mouthfeel
Medium carbonation
Sweet molasses, malt favors, alcohol aftertaste
Overall an ok beer for me. With this high alcohol level I expected more complex flavors and this does not deliver.

Nov 29, 2019
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snuffconformists from Norway

1.87/5  rDev -54.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

I’m perplexed why this beer is rated so favorably by others. I would categorize it as a light barleywine that has sickening sweetness which the brew designers attempt to balance out by a gag reflexing characterless bitterness, resulting in an aftertaste of sucking on a bar of soap. The best thing it has going for it is a high alcohol content, but the problem is, that its so hard to choke down that its hard to drink enough of it to get buzzed before you give up and just go get a much more palatable high gravity malt liquor. Almost all lagunitas brews have this same soapy bitter aftertaste, for the life of me, I don’t get the appeal.

Nov 28, 2019
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woosterbill from Kentucky

4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a tulip. Beers of Fame tick 176/250.

L: Crystal clear orange-cedar body beneath two fingers of dense, fluffy off-white foam. Strong retention and lacing. Lovely.

S: Sweet, biscuity malt dominates, with some citrusy hops in the background. Simple and to the point.

T: Follows the nose, but with a couple added layers of complexity. Honey and caramel notes add to the expected sweet character, but the aggressive hops close things out with a solid bitter bite that prevents the beer from getting cloying. The overall impression is of honey and orange marmalade mingled on whole-grain toast. Quite pleasant, and very drinkable for the ABV. Hardly any alcohol flavor at all.

F: A bit on the light side of medium-bodied, with lots of bubbles. A little light and fizzy for the style, but not bad.

O: Really nice beer, but not one I'm going to be buying by the sixpack. More to my taste than Arrogant Bastard, but in the same no-man's-land where Strong Ales lose me - not hoppy enough to be malty DIPAs, not rich enough to be American Barleywines.

Nov 26, 2019
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jmcki13 from Virginia

4.71/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Absolutely awesome! Pours a dark brown/amber with a thick khaki head. Smells sweet like brown sugar and maple. Tastes a bit hoppier than I expected but not overwhelming, once the hops fade you can really taste the malty, maple, syrupy flavors, which eventually give way to a slight boozy aftertaste as expected from the 10% ABV. Feels a bit heavy as you'd expect from a strong ale. All in all a great brew that I'll definitely be buying again.

Nov 11, 2019
Photo of Irminspillar
Irminspillar

4.22/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

L: Pours a deep garnet color with a super thick khaki head that sticks around for a while before fading out. The beer looks exactly like maple syrup.

S: I was a little surprised by how faint the smell was. Not much in the way of booziness, but definitely notes of brown sugar, oats, bread and maple. I appreciate that it isn't pungent.

T: Brown sugar and maple syrup are distinct with hints of molasses, vanilla, oats, and grass and hay at the end. This beer doesn't taste boozy, but there's smooth notes of cognac and cherry in the body.

F: Somewhat heavy, but not overwhelming. The weight isn't anything surprising, but it's also not disappointing.

Overall: I was stoked to see this was finally being stocked at the local Hy-Vee, and I was pleased by the beer overall. If you like sweet beers that aren't too heavy this is a good one to try. I'll certainly be keeping this stocked up over the winter while it's available.

Nov 10, 2019
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Guppy314 from District of Columbia

4.12/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From a bottle, pours as a clear amber with a tall off-white frothy head. Aroma is muted, perhaps citrusy hops. Taste is hops-forward without tons of bitterness. Sweet caramelly malts follow with hinds of both dark-fruit and grapefruit. In total, a nicely balanced and interesting beer! The high alcohol content - 10% - doesn't come off as "boozy", but overall it's a heavy feeling beer that makes you reach for some other beverage for your seconds.

Nov 10, 2019
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MercInc from Wisconsin

4.21/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured at 55 degrees in a pilsner glass. (all I had at the time) Dark Amber in color with an off white head. Had aa sweet nose, almost like the brown "Shugga" of the name. could just feel the booziness of the 10% ABV. nice finish.

Nov 02, 2019
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TooManyGlasses from Canada

4.44/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Single from Trader Joe’s in Cleveland.
Pours a beautiful rich clear copper with 2+ fingers of creamy white head.
Aroma initially muted - sense of fermented apple - as warmed boozy caramel, toffee, maple, slightly bready and hints of dates.
Tastes of sweet toffee, caramel, brown sugar sweet but hoppy bitterness working hard to slip through with sticky resinous pine note.
Full bodied and appropriately boozy - sticky resinous bittersweetness lingers.
Wow this is good stuff.

Sep 21, 2019
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TheRougeBastard from North Carolina

4.39/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Necter of the gods! Perfect Double Bastard substitute for those of us Jonesen since 2016. Slightly boozy, Carmel with a nice malt back! Prost Brown Shula!

Sep 08, 2019
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rudiecantfail from Pennsylvania

4.33/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 ounce bottle poured into a tulip glass.

L---Dark, orangy-brown color. Not clear, but not because it's hazy, just because it's dark. Nice one inch, tan head with ok retention. Lacing is quite nice.

S---Malty & sweet. Brown Shugga, indeed. Lots of caramel & molasses. Goddamn, this smells good.

T---Like the nose, but better & more complex. Very, very caramelly (if that's a word). Brown Shugga shows up in molasses & maple syrup. Very sweet, but not cloying, sweet in every good way possible. Hops are clearly noticeable, but not in an amount to catch up to the maltiness.

F---Pretty heavy feel. No real alcohol noticeable, despite ABV. Almost syrupy.

O---This is really, really good stuff. I'm actually thinking about going back out tomorrow and buying a shitton more.

Jun 06, 2019
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Fenderbender0789 from Wisconsin

5/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Brown Sugga. The name sucks but the the beer is on a playing field waay higher than most if not all!
Hard for me to describe it other than an excellent, top of the line strong american copper red ale that blows away the competition!-Beware tho, a few of these and youll also have a buzz like no other beers. Thanks Lagunitas!-Many Blessings...

Apr 28, 2019
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tzbel013 from Tennessee

4.68/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

What a sneaky smooth high octane beer this is! Doesn't really conform to a specific style other than malty, sweet, but not too sweet, smooth with only hint of the hops at the end. Hides the the high alcohol contain extremely well without the boozy finish. Too easy to drink and only a seasonal offering!

Apr 16, 2019
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SierraNevallagash from Maine

4.5/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle - no visible date - poured into a spiegelau at 46F

**Note: This bottle is not dated, however, I have had it in my refrigerator for at least 3 months, so freshness is suspect, and may negatively affect my tasting experience. Any characteristics that I associate with lack of freshness will be noted**

Pours a nearly crystal clear deep reddish copper hue, with a finger of light sandy beige foam that leave some sticky rings of lacing behind. Head slowly dissipates to an irregular island, and a super thick collar. Some constant streams of effervescence nake their way to the top through what looks to be a pretty heavy body.

Nose: They really aptly named this one. Super sweet caramel malt, Manuka honey, brown sugar, toffee, maple syrup, vanilla, sweet bread, a hint of molasses, coconut, and some subtle, but very floral hop notes, presenting as lavender, juniper, lilac, lemon blossom, and satsuma. There's some figgy - almost sherried dried dark fruit notes, like raisin, plum, date, dried cherry, currant, and a hint of apple. There's some cognac and rum-like qualities to the nose. Ultra sweet, decadent, and richly complex. Stellar nose.

Palate: Sweet caramel malt once again leads the way, greeting the palate in an explosion of sweetness, unfurling with notes of soft caramel, wildflower honey, lots of malted barley, brown sugar, coconut sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, buttercream, raisin bread, birch beer, lightly roasted oak, calvados, as well as tons of sweet dried dark fruit character - namely fig, date, and cherry, as well as some plum, currant, raisin, and even some sweet Muscat grape. Massive malt presence. Reminds me of a sweet, mature single malt scotch. Specifically Oban or Dalwhinnie. Not nearly as much hop character as I expected from a brewery like Lagunitas. Under-hopping was a wise choice here. Bittering this up would take away from its drinkability, and remove the attention from the sweetness, which is clearly the star of the show. No hop bitterness at all. Not an IPA. The hops are there, and they provide a beautiful bouquet of springtime fruity, floral notes, like a flower garden, and orchard blossoms, with the faintest hint of citrus, lavender, bergamot, spruce tips, cedar, and fresh cut grass. Finishes sweet, malty, floral, with lots of vanilla, honey, caramel, and just the slightest little hoppy twinge, and a hint of booze. Spectacular.

Mouthfeel/Body: This ale is just a beast. A soft gentle giant. The body is thick, slightly viscous, incredibly chewy, round, and full. Chewy is the word. So much texture and fullness. Sticky, dense, nand heavy. Incredibly full-bodied. A little bit of warmth from the 10% ABV. Big ales like this will always have low levels of effervescence, as the bubbles just can't fight their way through the density of the liquid, but this is a tiny bit more bubbly than I expected, which works wonders in lifting the body up a little, and increasing the drinkability a little - although this is one you want to sip and savour.

Overall: I'm disappointed in myself for not trying this sooner. This is a homerun if I've ever seen one. It's deliciously sweet and decadent, with an astonishing level of complexity that melds aspects of several different styles together. There's a little bit of scotch ale, old English ale, Amber ale, pale ale, and even some characteristics that are usually achieved via barrel aging - all blended together, with a commendable restraint on the level of hops used, by a brewery known for their heavy-handed hopping. This is a phenomenal dessert sipper, with remarkable balance, complexity, drinkability, and satisfaction. A unqiue and truly world-class American strong ale that I would even dare say rivals Founder's BA Curmudgeon's Better Half, and at a fraction of the cost. Amazing stuff. Seek this one out.

Apr 14, 2019
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harrypowers from Massachusetts

4.1/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a reddish brown with a quickly disappearing head.

Hoppy and sweet. Hides its 10% ABV well.

I like this year's release better than 2018's if my recollection is good. It seems lighter and less sweet.

Mar 22, 2019
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Mugman8 from New York

4.18/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a reddish brown color with thin head, but nice lacing. The aroma is of sweet fruit and malt and taste is smooth but complex, and you know there's big kick (10% ABV). Like this one a lot!

Mar 17, 2019
Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 6007 ratings