Brown Shugga'
Lagunitas Brewing Company

Brown Shugga'Brown Shugga'
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Strong Ale - American
Ranked #33
Ranked #4,414
4.07 | pDev: 11.06%
Lagunitas Brewing Company
California, United States
Brown Shugga'Brown Shugga'
Notes: IBU 51.1
Reviews: 1,682 | Ratings: 6,019 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by JohnnyK:
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JohnnyK from North Carolina

4.5/5  rDev +10.6%

Nov 14, 2013
More User Reviews:
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OldRickSputin from Illinois

4.8/5  rDev +17.9%

Had low expectations for this one. I like many Lagunitas beers...they're nice. But Brown Shugga is SUPER NICE!

This is damn close to perfection!

Wonderful looking medium amber color with a massive head that never completely disappears. The lacing left behind coats the glass from top to bottom.

The smell is deceiving, very pleasant. It definitely changes with temperature and as the head dissipates. Starts off smelling like cinnamon roll and After a few minutes, it's more like Hop Stoopid, which I really enjoy - Fresh pine & some grapefruit/citrusy notes.

First sip is so sweet and wonderful that it seems like it might actually be tough to drink the entire 12 ounces. But just as the smell changes, so does the taste (same transition).

The people at Lagunitas should be given some awards for this. They crafted a truly unique, enjoyable beer drinking EXPERIENCE and then they went ahead and honored us by putting it out at a reasonable price.

It also has just the right amount of balls at 9.99% ABV.

Dec 01, 2014
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mynie from Maryland

4.42/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

How on earth have I never reviewed this before?

First off, kudos to Lagunitas for releasing such a strong, wonderful seasonal so widely, and doing so while keeping the cost solidly below east coast local offerings. As much as I appreciate the efforts of the fancy-beard crew at Cumwater brewing, or whatever the local place is called, I can't justify spending 15 bucks for a four-pack of their so-so beer when I can buy this for 11 a sixer.

This pours a dark amber that's not really brown but kind of like sunstruck brown sugar. Nice heard and fierce effervescence, for a beer of its strength.

Smells like a US old ale or strong ale: lots of stuff going on, stylistically intense and messy but never getting out of hand. Aggressive, old school west coast hops against super duper intense amber malt.

Tastes like it smells: a wonderful goddamn mess. It's not bitter and then fruity, like most very hoppy American beers, nor is it at all fruity heavy. It's just bitter and then sweet. Aggressive, bright, piney hops and then aggressive, sugary, bready malt.

Nov 29, 2016
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redjellydonut from Texas

4.94/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The best beer I've ever had. I stumbled across this last winter in Texas, not realizing it was a seasonal. Had I known, I'd have bought out every six-pack I could find. I didn't know beer could be like this. I've always preferred dark, malty beers over the IBU-laden ales that seem to dominate the craft beer industry. Brown Shugga is the hoppy beer I've waited my whole life for. It represents the perfect blending of bitterness and malt, sweetness and bite. The only misgiving I have about it, and it's a very small one, is the volume of alcohol. It's only a liability because it prevents me from drinking as much of it as I'd like. A 10 ounce tulip of this stuff is really all my brain can handle in the evening after work, but my tastebuds scream for two and my tastebuds almost always win out.

It pours with a thick tan head and leaves the most beautiful lacing ever, like the wind-whipped contrail of an old Saturn V. It's thick on the tongue, but astringent as it goes down. it's almost a shame to drink it because it looks so beautiful in the glass...dark rum reds, golden brown sugar syrup...the most beautiful beer you've ever seen.

It's a belly-warmer, to be sure, and is just sweet enough to go with a gooey chocolate or gingerbread cake. Otherwise, I'd be inclined to drink this nectar all on its own.

Lagunitas has become my single favorite brewery and this is my single favorite of their beers. Just amazing!

Nov 21, 2016
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Lahoi from Kentucky

4.27/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Wow. An amazing beer. Way too easy to drink for a 10% ABV beer. In fact, it was so smooth I drank it much faster than I should have, and, along with the other beers I had, I felt it the next day. But it was worth it!

It's hard to compare this beer to others in the category because I've never had anything quite like it. It's so complex. Just when I thought I'd pinned down a flavor or note, I would detect something else. This is a slow, sipping beer like that of a barleywine or some stouts, especially those aged in bourbon barrels. Yet don't get me wrong: this beer isn't anything like a barleywine or a barrel ag d stout. Again, it's like nothing else I've enjoyed.

Jan 14, 2016
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4.84/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Strong and super tasty, excellent brew.

Mar 07, 2015
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MeanMotaScootah from California

3.83/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

If you like sweet and big - you'll love this beer. There is a mild fig mixed with whiskey aroma but beyond that it's very malty. It has a very creamy mouth feel with a ton of cherry caramel on the front end and a mellow sweet finish. There is very little hops in the beer. The alcohol is nicely hidden (much like many of the big beers that Lagunitas puts out) so be careful with this one - it drinks like an amber but will take you down like a Tripel. I almost think if they made this with a Belgium yeast it would taste very Belgium. It's a great beer for the style.

Mar 02, 2016
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Damian from Massachusetts

4.83/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Drank from a 12 FLUID OZ bottle purchased at Crazy Bruce's Liquors, West Hartford, CT

Poured a gorgeous, crystal clear, dark crimson-orange with a tight, creamy, two-finger, light saddle head that slowly faded to a thick ring of froth. Lots of spotty lacing stuck all along the glass.

The aroma was intense and enticing. As the name suggests, brown sugar was immediately noticeable. Rich, caramel malts also came through strong along with hints of Christmas cookies and a touch of alcohol. A nice mix of sweet and spicy.

The flavor was full, rich and incredibly well balanced. So smooth and creamy. Tons of bready, rich, sweet malts came through up front. Brown sugar and gingerbread were noticeable in the center. Juicy, ripe fruits (peaches and apricots) came through as well. Sweet, citrusy hops (some orange peel) appeared in the finish along with indications of orange liquor. A sweet, sticky coating of this orange liquor-like flavor lingered in my mouth (as well as on my lips) long after the beer was finished.

Mouthfeel was creamy, smooth and medium-full bodied with a fine, mild carbonation. Silky smooth on the palate. Syrupy and sticky.

Drinkability was simply off the charts. The alcohol in this beer is hitting me hard but where did the liquid go? I simply cannot believe I am almost finished. I have labeled other beers as being "dangerously drinkable" but this one puts them to shame. 9.9% ABV? This certainly must be a typo.

Simply put, this is an exceptionally well-rounded beer. Its sweet, sugary aspect is apparent, yet it never becomes cloying or messy. (This beer borders on being a sweeter version of a barleywine, and a damn fine one at that.) Brown Shugga' actually reminds me a great deal of Lagunitas's own Sneak Release Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale, but slightly better. I advise you to seek out this magical beer at any cost.

Jun 13, 2008
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TheBishop from Montana

4.94/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

This beer is ridiculous. My liver hates it but I love it. Everything about this beer is over the top from the ABV to the taste but not so much that it is off putting. I have had beers in the 10 percent ABV range that taste like, well booze. But this one you can hardly notice it at all which is not entirely a great thing. I drank 4 of these before my wife got home and I was hammered, she was not happy, but I was.

Apr 17, 2014
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DrWho from Pennsylvania

3.83/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

First off I look at the other reviews and I think am I drinking the same beer as these other people? I am a novice reviewer and take what I say with a grain of salt. Cut to the brass tax, I liked this beer but it won't make my favorites list.
I was expecting a real sweet taste and I must be one of the oddballs out there because I didn't taste much sweetness at all.
I drank it straight from the bottle, did I mention that I am a novice? One person mentioned a slight grapefruit taste and I agree. Another person said you could never tell that this is a 10% beer I agree with that too, absolutely no alcohol burn. Brown Shugga' goes down real easy, I am a sipper, not a guzzler but if I was I might be tko'd. This beer has very little bitterness in my opinion. Try this beer you might like it, one thing I can't get over is how much my experience with this beer is different than others.

Oct 27, 2018
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Bugcatcher from Tennessee

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

Wonderful beer. Perfect amount of sweetness. I will be buying this again for sure.

Mar 07, 2015
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m_hall from Virginia

4.22/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Standard pour from a 12 oz. bottle into a nonic pint yields a clear deep amber colored ale, topped by an imposing three finger tall cream head. Retention and lacing are both superb.

Nose is hops-forward, pine-y, with and underlying fruity sweetness and toasted malt.

Flavors come in sweet- caramel, toffee, along with lighty toasted biscuit. Fruit notes of apricot and dark cherries come in through the mid-palate, along with some clove-like spice, finishing dry with fairly strong pine hops and lingering molasses.

Feel is medium-full, creamy, with fairly light carbonation and a subtle alcohol warmth that very much belies the stiff 9.8% ABV punch it delivers (this is a beer that can and will sneak up on you, be warned.)

I have to admit, it took me a while to "get" this one... I had purchased a six-pack of this approximately seven months ago (Lagunitas doesn't seem to put a date on their bottles, so I can't tell precisely how old this is.) While I remember thinking it was a good beer back then, the sweetness was quite brash and the finish somewhat overly hopped to be as great as it could be. However aging seems to have brought out the best in this; The sweeter notes from the brown sugar used in the brewing have matured and now work very harmoniously with those now more evened-out evergreen hops. That combined with the burly but appropriate alcohol make Brown Shugga' an outstanding strong ale. I would urge anyone trying this to not write it off right away if it doesn't suit them- put a few up for a bit instead. Your patience may very well be rewarded.

Sep 03, 2016
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Boomblaze from Massachusetts

4.42/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This is a 2013 so about 18 months on it. This has to be the sweet spot cause I had it after a year and it was messy. Now
that typical Lagunitas sweetness has really mellowed and the balance is perfect. Still getting some of the hops with a perfect mouthfeel and heavenly smoothness. This has given me faith in ageing there beers as the other shugga's and undercovers I aged were not that great.

Nov 09, 2014
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plunkinberry from Pennsylvania

3.63/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Hoppier than expected for something called Brown Shugga - guess I expected something sweet and maltier. Still good.

Feb 26, 2015
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Brutaltruth from Ohio

4.27/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed from a 12 oz bottle in a Duinen snifter.
After a long hiatus the wondrous Brown Shugga' is back and brilliant as ever. Pours a thick ruby brown with a great off white head and fantastic lacing from the slowly dissipating foam that dies down to a nice thin layer. Nose of dark sugars, citrus hops, and tons of sweet malts. Flavors are complex and ever changing with warmth. There is the firm malt backbone of brown sugar followed by waves of juicy tropical hops flavors of pineapple and orange layered on even more malt on top of malt while keeping everything in balance. Peaches come through as it warms along with some apple and pear like qualities. GREAT mouth feel with nice carbonation and a coating of citrus hops makes this a unique brew to be had and savored.

Fantastic brew from a world class brewer.


Dec 06, 2014
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clausthaler from Massachusetts

3.72/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Try it but don't buy the full pack, get it as a single especially if you have not had barleywine type things. They are unique and Not for everybody. First off, this will f&*& you up, compared to other beers at a similar ABV this one would consistently put me to sleep for some reason after just one. It's really sweet but not particularly molasses-y; though that comes through, its not as carmelized as a darker beer. I was expecting big things but it was not something I will try again.

Nov 03, 2018
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HotDogBikeRide from Texas

4.07/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Translucent dark brown from a refrigerated Spec's down here in Beaumont, TX. Just 2 months old, only running for a few months this time a year anyway.

Anyway, dark but mostly translucent brown/mildly amber ale. Lots of lacing.

Smell is very muted, some barley, grains, and dominatively malty. Taste is somewhat similar in that aspect, with a lighter mouth feel then many malty beers. Pretty easy mouthful, not much carbonation though. Alcohol well hidden but not an overwhelmingly pleasing beer.

That being said it's not a bad deal for the warm winter buzz the beer provides. When each beer (9.7%) is equal to 2 of the strongest macros it's hard to complain. I imagine at higher alcohols with this style it's hard to make everyone completely happy. That being said Stone among many other companies do so without a problem.

They claim it has a moderately high IBU but I can't detect many hops in the ale. Pretty much a heavy malt bomb with the advantage of it being lower medium bodied in order to quaff it down easily. Gets you very drunk very fast, and for the money I can't complain. I love a nice heavy beer buzz.

Dec 21, 2016
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JuicesFlowing from Kansas

4.27/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Lagunitas largemouth glass.

Deep copper with slowly rising bubbles underneath a thick foamy cream colored head.Thick lines of lacing remain. Cedar fills the nose -- earthy, woody, spicy cedar. Some brown sugar sweetness can be found. There is that trademark Lagunitas aroma in it. The palate is washed with dark brown sugar, cedar, cinnamon spiciness, and a spruce finish. It tastes like a Lagunitas beer, which is a good thing. The mouthfeel is surprisingly smooth.

Overall, I was impressed. Scary how easily drinkable this is for the high ABV. Great holiday beer.

Dec 14, 2014
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57md from Pennsylvania

4.15/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Dark copper in color. The nose is hoppy. The flavor profile has a blend of subtle malty sweetness and hop bitterness – the hop bitterness comes out on top.

I’m probably giving in to the marketing too much but I swear that I can catch the faint essence of brown sugar. This beer certainly paired well with baked ham and potatoes for a classic Sunday dinner with the family.

Mar 04, 2015
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Bouleboubier from New Jersey

3.93/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

L: brilliantly clear deep amber liquid, huge frothy tuft of amber-tinged creme-colored foam, sticking all over... looks lovely!

S: west coast barleywine hops and malt... hints of pine, black pepper, and mint, but full of spice, grapefruit, lemon/lime... little bit of cigarette ash... with a name 'Brown Shugga', I'd prefer to be smelling more of it

T: the hops combined with the up front booze make for a citrus eau de vie light grappa, or something... soft, brown malts lingering in the aftertaste as well as medicinal esters and fading, vaguely herbal bitterness... no bottle date, but this shows some age on the hops (and bready malt)... not much richness in the malt, so despite the smell suggesting something akin to Bigfoot, it's very much (late) hop forward and somewhat drier than expected

F: between the fossilizing hop resins, ostensible dextrins, and generous swells of ethanol, this is a majorly smooth

O: yeah, I wasn't a huge fan of this years ago (actually, this beer almost immediately turned me off to Lagunitas, for years) when I first tried it and time and experience hasn't made me appreciate it more... this is one of those west coast beers that's hopped out of balance for the sake of it and hasn't a distinct identity, despite the name 'Brown Shugga' on the label touting

Jan 25, 2016
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Beginner2 from Illinois

3.65/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Listed in the "1001 Beers To Taste Before You Die".

It was very hard for me to like this beer the first time I had it.
The hops grabbed ahold of my tongue and would not let go... in fact, I was worried I might not get my tastebuds back.
Determined not to buy this again, this wild stallion rears its head again in a 6 pack brought as a gift by a neighbor who we invited over for dinner.
Then, Brown Shugga' sits in my cellar for a year; thinking we might get along better if it has time to mellow.
I drank it last night and. speechless, could not write a review.
Nor could I finish it. Nor would I pour it down the drain out of respect to everyone who likes this beer.
So, I let it sit overnight in an uncovered tulip.
I had a sip first thing in the AM before I made my coffee.
Brown Shugga' was better... but still not good for me.
Moral of the story: mellowing with age is a relative thing.

Feb 26, 2016
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NHJimD from New Hampshire

4.73/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Sweet smell, crisp, bitter taste. This is a real winner!

Mar 08, 2015
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4.55/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

One of the best tasting beers I've had

Mar 17, 2015
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whatthehull from California

4.75/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

From notes:

Poured into a snifter/tulip/wine glass from a 12oz bottles

A - a beautiful translucent, blood red copper, nearly tan two finger head and some serious sugar lacing/legs

S - lots of sugar (brown specifically), sweet hops, fresh baked bread (yeast), oaky, musky funk, slight peach/pineapple, citrus orange,

T - rich sugar, nice huge sweet and toasted/roasted malts, nice booze, chewy grains, fruity and earthy hops, terroir, bread yeast, floral, pine, some pineapple and peach,

M - full bodied, well balanced, nice complexity, medium acidity, medium carbonation and a huge sweet feom start to finish

D/O - this is one of my favorites. The fact that this ale happened by accident adds to the awesomeness of this ale. Hearty, balanced, refreshing and perfect for this time of year when the weather can't decide if it is season appropriate or not. If you aren't a fan if huge sugar, malt and hops, this one is not for you and on the other hand this one is for you in so many great ways.

Final thoughts - at nearly 10% abv and less than $10 a six pack, what more could you ask for from a brewery that has mastered the seasonal ale

Sep 22, 2018
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drunkenmess from Michigan

3.69/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Finally found some of this. Not the Sucks, the original...
Pours very easy n nice, almost a dark golden/amber not hazy look to it, with an all around head that lasts thru out also adequate lacing to boot. Smells of sugar beets, brown sugar, light hops and sweetness. Tastes almost like liquid candy. Tastes of Super sweet and a slight tartness with a bite of hops. Intoxicating yet light on your pallet, besides all the sugar lol. Ummm... alittle too sweet for me but as Lagunitas becoming one of my favourite brewer's I defintley respect what they have done here. Respect ☆☆☆

May 12, 2015
Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 6019 ratings