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Brown Shugga' | Lagunitas Brewing Company

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1,519 Reviews
Brown Shugga'Brown Shugga'

Brewed by:
Lagunitas Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.99%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by kbub6f on 12-13-2001

For Trade:
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Reviews: 1,519 | Ratings: 5,406
Photo of SportsandJorts
3.82/5  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

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Photo of beagle75
3.82/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tulip glass.
2010 vintage

A: Hazy, dark amber color with less than one finger of diminishing parchment-tinted foam head. Light lacing remains on the glass.

S: Intensely malty; treacle, grain, and dark cherry and fig fruit are focused. No alcohol is detected.

T: Begins sweet, with simplistic stewed fruit and caramel. Acidity is mild into the middle where malt is intensely toasty--even turning roasty--some dark citrus emerges, and even a whiff of pine is detected. The finish exhibits minor diacetyl and is savory with umami and cumin spice. Mild medicinal bitterness lingers on the palate, with complex spirituousness also hanging around.

M: Medium viscosity, syrupy on the palate, with moderate carbonation.

D/O: Perhaps the finest of Lagunitas' high-gravity beers, this appears to be an American take on an old ale or wee heavy. Fruit and umami make for a distinctive combination, reigning over muted hops in this well-aged example. Like most of the beers coming out of Petaluma, this beer's intensity has a tendency to fatigue the palate, but less so due to the focus exhibited by its ingredients.

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Photo of nhindian
3.82/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a snifter.

A - Pours a deep caramel color, nearing a nice amber color. Crystal clear with a slow, steady stream of carbonation. Only could muster about a finger's worth of head out of this one and it didn't last long. Splattered lacing all around.

S - The smell kind of caught me off guard with this. Given the high abv, style listing, and that it was a failed Gnarleywine, I was expecting high malts and sweetness. I am getting lots of sweetness, but that's only as a result of the large amount of brown sugar in the nose. Outside of that it smells like a really fresh IPA. Lots of pine and citrus smells. The clash between the hops and malts / brown sugar is tantalizing.

T - Given the great smell, this beer had some expectations behind it. The front-end of this is a lot more malt and sweet than the nose, which carries through throughout the rest of the beer. About midway through, the hops shine through, but bring more bitterness than fruity notes. It's only near the end of the beer that this beer gains some floral and citrus notes, but the bitterness and sweetness continues through in the finish. Orange and grapefruit come through strongly at the very end.

M - Mouthfeel is medium to heavy with pretty low carbonation. Leaves a nice coating on the mouth, and a relatively long and flavorful finish.

D - Drinkability is moderate. As I get further in the beer, the sweetness and bitterness begins to take its toll and as it warms the alcohol really becomes apparent. Near the beginning, it's a fantastic beer, but it drags on as I drink more.

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Photo of kkipple
3.82/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brown Shugga' -- great name. Beer with brown sugar. Sign me up. Just the facts here.

A. clear, polished brown, 3cm tan head comprised of various sized bubbles.

S. Sweet, sweet brown sugar! Alcohol heat, molasses, singed grain, sweet malt and a much needed citrus hop note round things off.

T. Sweet, mostly. Sugar really shines through. Medium malt character, mild bitter hops that attempt to even out the aggressive sweetness. Slightly nutty. Warming. Roasty finish and all around very smooth.

M. Dry. Full. Milky-smooth. Finishes sweet (yup.)

D. A fine malty delight, although the sweetness is a little high for me. Sugary from start to finish, this is a good dessert beer -- would probably go stupid well with creme brulee. Recommended.

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Photo of flagmantho
3.82/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. My bottle reads 9.5% ABV rather than the above-mentioned 9.84%.

Appearance: nice true amber color with a finger of compact tan head. Appetizing.

Smell: bright, tart, hoppy. Hops are citrusy, floral and a little funky. Hints of tart cherry, apple and raspberry. I'm quite intrigued.

Taste: big malt flavor forms a substrate on which the hops play. Some of the nice fruit subtleties are drowned in more staid strong-ale flavors like plum and raisin. Hops provide some bite; overall, a pretty good beer.

Mouthfeel: on the heavy side of medium body with a moderate level of carbonation. I feel like this beer could easily go both ways -- higher carbonation for a creamier Belgian-ey feel, or lower for an old ale/barleywine type situation -- and be better for it. Still not bad.

Drinkability: well, I like it, but with its malt-bombiness and its high ABV, it's definitely not a session one for me. I might split a sixpack three ways, though.

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Photo of lackenhauser
3.82/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Light, coppery color. Nice small head that leaves some great lacing on down the glass. Hoppy aroma, sweet smelling. Big hoppy flavor blended with a bevvy of malt in the backround. Nice sweet flavor to it. Faint, faint alcohol note to it in the finish. Nice body. The whole package comes together quite well. Have wanted to try this for ages. Got a bottle from beerrun13 in a trade and a bottle from my Secret Santa callenak. Well worth trying on a regular basis.

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Photo of Hampton73
3.82/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pretty clear amber with some head.

Smell is brown sugar with American hops. Kind of nice.

The hops really are at the forefront in the flavor, with the brown sugar coming through. Not a lot of malt flavor in there.

Mouthfeel is thin with carbonation.

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Photo of DunkelFester
3.82/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2004 Release - O.G. 1.100, Alcohol 9.9% 51.1 IBU according to the label.

At cellar temp, pours a dull, hazy copper. Shouldn't be 'chill' hazed at this temp, but seems so. Strange, only because I don't remember the beer looking this way when I bought the case last January.

One finger of beige head that dissipated in a couple minutes (before first sip). A mix of slow- and rapid-rising bubbles - more effervescent than when young.

Strong aroma of sugary dried dates, raisin and fresh tobacco. Still a noticeable alcohol presence in the nose, lending an almost rum-soaked note to the fruitiness...although its subdued somewhat by time.

Wow. Totally different mouthfeel after a year of aging! This beer, for me, was the embodyment of "chewy" when it was young. Now, it's *much* thinner, though still not light. Drier. Hops cut through with an awesome, distinctly grapefruit-like, bitter finish. Gone, almost entirely, is the malty sweetness that I remember being so prominent in this one - despite its lingering presence in the aroma.

I'm really enjoying this beer, though I find myself thinking that the malt is almost too far gone, and the hop bitterness is stealing the show. Makes me wish this wasn't the last bottle I'd set aside. More aging would (hopefully) mellow the hops a bit, restoring balance.

Oh well.

This is a really nice brew. Alcohol is well hidden - aside from the aroma while pouring - and the somewhat thinner mouthfeel makes it more drinkable now than it was a year ago.

Not my favorite, but a solid barleywine (or strong ale, whichever it is now) nonetheless and a nice job by the folks at Lagunitas.

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Photo of drseamus
3.82/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: This pours a very nice red color with a pretty decent off white head. It looks like a barleywine to me, but I have no specific reasons why i think that.

S: Heavy malt is the dominant aroma in this. There are some hints of brown sugar, molasses, caramel, and dark fruits in there as well. It is a good smelling beer and makes me think it will taste awesome.

T: The amount of hoppy bitterness in there is really surprising. From the smell, I expected it to be sweeter and maltier but it is almost a hop dominated flavor initially. After the bitterness some of that sweetness does poke it's head through. I can't specifically taste any brown sugar in there but I can get some of the alcohol it produced.

M: This is a very smooth beer even with the initial bite from the hops. It is medium bodied which is nice given it's ABV.

D: A bit strong in both the alcohol and bitterness department to get a great drinkability rating, but it is good.

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Photo of StoutHunter
3.81/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I picked up a bottle of Brown Shugga for $1.89 at The Lager Mill. I have liked every single Lagunitas brew I have had so when I saw one I haven't tried yet on the singles shelf I knew I should give it a try. Poured from a stubby 12oz brown bottle into a imperial pint glass.

A- The label on this beer is ok and a little plain, most Lagunitas beer have eye catching labels and this one isn't too eye catching. It poured a clear and clean amber color with two and a half fingers worth of fluffy white head that left some nice looking lacing.

S- Wow this is one sweet smelling beer, the aroma reminds me of some of those super sweet doppelbocks. At first I get some nice bready caramel malts, but those are quickly overpowered by what I think is candied sugar and brown sugar. There was also some grassy hops at the end. I have never used this term before but the aroma makes it seem like this might be a "sugar bomb". This one also has a boozey smell to it.

T- First off I got to say I am very glad this isn't as sweet as it smelled, I don't think I have ever had a beer that smelled so sweet but wasn't that sweet in the taste. The caramel malts are nice and grainy and bready. After the malts come the sugar, it leans more towards brown sugar but I also pick up some candied sugar you would expect from a Belgian Dark Ale with some dark fruits like raisins and plums like you would also expect from that style. Like the aroma the finish has medium amount of grassy hops that gives it a subtle bitter aftertaste. The booze is hidden much better then it was in the aroma, but it still lets you know its a bigger beer with some warming at the end.

M- Sticky, medium bodied, and it had a pretty good amount of carbonation.

Overall I though this was a pretty good brew. It is kind of similar to WTF, if you replaced the hops with candied and brown sugar. It isn't the most complex beer but the flavors are pretty nice and everything comes together nicely. Normally I am not a fan of super sweet beers but thankfully the sweetness stayed in the aroma and wasn't that overbearing in the flavor. This beer isn't that drinkable, but if I didn't have shit to do in the morning and had another bottle, I would drink it. I could see this being a good bigger beer for the summer, it could be refreshing and might make a good campfire beer, I may have to verify it this summer. If you like stronger beers with some sweetness to it, this should be up your alley, and if your a fan of Lagunitas then this won't disappoint. This was another solid beer from Lagunitas, everything I have had from them has been good, so far my favorite Cali brewery. 2013 edit, tried the years release and it seemed very off to me, it was full of onion and garlic like hop aromas and flavors, i don't what's up with it.

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Photo of happy4hoppybeer
3.81/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into snifter glass a dark-red/light-brown with no head or lacing, making this apperance wise below average.

Aromas and flavors of sweet caramel,barley, some citrus. Medium body with just the right amount of carbonation.

A little on the sweet side, the sweetness alone restricts the amount to consume, the alcohol is noticeable but not overwhelming.

Very nice. Makes an excellent after-dinner brew.I wouldn't have more than two.

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Photo of smcolw
3.81/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Light brown color, clear. Long-lasting head that leaves ample amount of lace on the glass.

Very low aromas--some molasses/candy sugar; no discernable hop

Caramel flavors--more sweet than bitter, but the hop is present and balances this beer just enough. Very full bodied. Good carbonation. The aftertaste brings out the hop. Interesting journey through the flavor profile.

Regardless of the complexity, this is an easy to drink beer. It is VERY deceptive given the alcohol content (9.9%!!). I could not note the usual oiliness or aftertaste of alcohol. Drink this one with some caution.

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Photo of elgiacomo
3.81/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottled October 12, 2010.

Pours lightly hazy red/amber/copper with a large foamy off-white head that maintains a nice cap and leaves a lot of foamy lacing.

Aroma is caramel, toffee, brown sugar, citrus hops, herbal, bread, yeast, grass, floral. Moderate strength.

Flavor is rich caramel, toffee, brown sugar, a hint of chocolate, some molasses, dark fruits, some pine and citrus hops. Moderate sweetness with a bit of bitterness. Lingering finish.

Mouthfeel is medium to full, very creamy, a bit sticky, low to medium carbonation.

Good stuff. Not the best barleywine out there but still very good. Enjoyed it.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.8/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

What a pleasant beer. And talk about unique. . . if BA had a originality category, this would get a 5.

Pours out a reddish brown color. Beige head, about 5/8". Good lace. Aroma is sweet, like brown shugga!

The alcohol is extremely well hidden. You get a hop blast somehow, which I didn't expect in a beer with so much "brown shugga" in it. But it isn't over the top sweet that is a turn off. Had some bitterness to pair with it.

Easily Lagunitas's most original work. A great brewery, a real good beer.

Its not as good as Hop Stoopid or their Pale, but its in good company with all their others. . .

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Photo of Fatehunter
3.8/5  rDev -5%

Pours a half finger of head on a clear straw colored body.
The aroma has a mild grass and floral smell, with some lemon in the background.
The taste is bursting with flavors: lemon, grapefruit, brown sugar, strong caramel and anise. Great..
The texture is crisper.
Almost too drinkable for the high ABV.

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

Pours a nice amber/copper with a tall and thick tan colored head that laces the glass all the way down. The aroma is of some sweet malts followed by a hint of alcohol, then a big boppy bitterness followed by a very sweet brown sugar aroma to finish it off. The taste is the same as well. It has a strong sweet malt base with a very nice hoppy bitter with very little hint of the amount of alcohol that is in this beer. It then follows up with an overly sweet aftertaste of brown sugar. It tastes like a strong ale that was fermented with brown sugar in the end. The mouthfeel is good - very warming, fresh, and smooth. The drinkability is high especially for a beer of this gravity.

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

12oz Bottle

Appearance - The beer pours a clear copper colour with an average size frothy light brown/beige head. There is a low to average amount of carbonation showing and there is a fair amount of lacing on the sides of the glass. The head stuck around for a few minutes before it was gone.

Smell - malts, hops, cookies, caramel, orange, and brown sugar

Taste & Mouth - The beer has an average amount of carbonation and it has a very creamy and full bodied feel. There is a lot of brow sugar taste mixed with hops an earthy clove/all spice flavour. The alcohol is extremely well hidden and there are also notes of pine, oranges, and lots of malts. The beer finishes with a bitter hop and very sweet brown sugar aftertaste.

Drink - A nice sipper beer that is good for the holidays/colder weather. I'm happy I tried it.

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

12oz bottle. Pours a copper color with a thin head that dissipates quickly. Small amount of lacing. Aromas of hops, brown sugar, and an overall sweet smell. Taste is hops mixed with brown sugar. Sweet, boozey and somewhat bready. This beer has that nice hoppiness to it you expect from Lagunitas, but the brown sugar sweetness is almost too much. Overall I like it and this is a high octane brew that drinks well but it is very sweet.

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Photo of VaTechHopHead
3.8/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Rich dark red, slowly fading off-white head that leaves a moderate amount of lace, and completely filtered.

S - Lots of malts in the beginning and then the brown sugar aroma kicks in. I also smell a little spiced peach, molasses, and candi sugar.

T - The brown sugar and molasses flavors are most prevalent in this brew with a nice caramelized malt backbone. The hops are spicy with flavors of citrus and fruits, almost an apple cinnamon type flavor, that blend well with the sweetness of all the sugary flavors.

M/D - Medium-heavy body with below-average volumes of carbonation, but works well in this brew. Not harsh on the palate at all and hides it's alcohol quite well. Finishes a little on the dry side due to all the hops.

For the price of this beer (less than $2 for a 12oz bottle locally) it's hard to find another beer this big and full of flavor.

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Photo of LambicPentameter
3.8/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Reviewing from notes after drinking on 2/10/14. Enjoyed out of a 12 oz stubby brown bottle, but there is no dating to be found on bottle or label. My best guess is that this was from the Fall 2013 release of the beer based on when I purchased it. Poured into a large 22 oz snifter glass.

Appearance - Has a look that reminds me a little bit of the name, but maybe more reminiscent of cinnamon or caramel than brown sugar. Liquid is translucent and if it weren't for the darker color, I'm pretty certain I'd be able to see through it to some degree. Atop the body sits two fingers of dark khaki foam. Retention is moderate, but the head starts shrinking and contracting almost immediately, just slowly. Eventually, it comes to a stop with a slight film across the surface of the entire beer, with mottled pockets of thicker foam. The sides of the glass are coated with a finger of thin curtains from the lace.

Smell - Some notes of pine and tropical fruit peek through briefly, but this is definitely a grain-forward beer. Notes of caramel, molasses and toasted sugar all contribute sweetness, but there is also a pungency from the hops that insert the impression of bitterness and expand on the pine that peeked in at the very beginning.

Taste - Previewed quite well by the smell, the taste is sweet with notes of cooking caramel and the wonderfully crusty top of a creme brulee. Honeyed bread, dried fruit and some hints of maple syrup are all present as well as some slight bite from the hop profile, with pine and herbs coming through to round it out with some bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Medium-bodied and moderate carbonation, with a sweet finish that lingers on the tongue with just a bit of stickiness.

Overall, a quality beer, although I'd sooner have the straight up DIPA "substitute" for this beer (Sucks) rather than this strong ale that straddles the line between DIPA and Barleywine. That said, it's one of those beers where the whole is certainly better than the sum of it's parts. No individual factor stood out to me, but when taken together, it's quite a tasty brew.

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Photo of BigHeavy
3.8/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Duvel tulip. Beer was not allowed to warm before initial consumption, but was enjoyed over the period of about an hour.

A: Beer pours a very dark shade of burnt orange. Pour yields a 1 finger or so head which fades into a very thin cap, which is very splotchy across the top of the beer. Brown Shugga' is fairly clear and allows some light through, and lets you witness some nice bubbles. Minimal lacing. Really is pretty to look at.

S: What a unique smelling beer. Never smelled anything quite like it. Aroma is heavy on sweetness, with some malts (caramel?) and some brown sugar-like notes. Some faint Lagunitas-style hoppiness going on, along with some alcohol.

T: Again, incredibly unique. An almost cloying sweetness pounces on your tongue. Definitely lives up to its name, taste kinda like brown sugar dissolved in booze. It overwhelms whatever hops until the beer warms up a little. Hops are typical Lagunitas. Beer is definitely boozy on the tongue as well. Kind of a different taste I'm still struggling with a bit. Complex, but confusing to my palate right now.

M: Pretty carbonated for a big beer, at least in my experience. A little oily on the palate, as the sweetness coats your mouth.

D: This is one I only have as a night cap before bed, as I could never drink more than one of these at a time due to the initial cloying nature. The 10% ABV is noticed rather quickly, as it goes straight to the dome.

O: Not my favorite offering from Lagunitas, but still "good". Probably won't get another sixer this year, although I am hanging onto the last one from this pack to see how it changes. Interesting and though provoking beer, just not my favorite.

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Photo of deeznuts420
3.8/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

this is a great strong ale. if you get it fresh the hops pop through nicely and it isn't as sweet as the name suggests. it's a a very drinkable brew that definetly caught me off guard. the sweetness hits first but then it seems to turn into an american barley wine. great beer for the money. Lagunitas is the best value out of California out here in PA. A case of stone Ipa costs me 43 bucks while this is about the same price as this brew that is more complex and alcoholic. sucks is good but it's a totally different beer and is probably an easier drinking beer but if these two were side by side for the same price there's no question i'd pick the Brown shugga

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Photo of beerwolf77
3.8/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into my pint glass the beer is cloudy brownish amber. A solid two fingers of light beige head fade leaving a thick coating of lace.

The aroma has a huge hop presence. Mixing in with the hops is tons of sweet malt. It has the tartness of a DIPA or Barley wine. I really don't get any brown sugar just hops and malt.

The flavor is rather hoppy as well. I can pick up the brown sugar in the taste for sure. Loads of caramel malt and a sharp bitter finish. The abv is noticeable in every sip.

Medium body with moderate carbonation.

Overall I never really know how sum up strong ales. They don't really have a certain criteria to base an opinion on. I love barley wines and this reminds me of one. I gues that means I like it.

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

Poured from a 22 oz. 'bomber.'

A - medium brown, to amber color. Not completely clear - maybe some chill haze. Nice little white head forms and stays around the whole way for me, although retreating to the sides of the glass.

S - malt, sugar, very little hop aroma. But what hops are there smell of noble spiciness - saaz? Nice malty, caramelly aroma.

T - malt is up front in this one. Since the name is 'brown shugga,' I can taste the brown sugariness in this. Malty sweet, but some hop bitterness balances it out pretty well. There is some hop flavor here, but it's hard to pick up. Can definitely taste some hoppy grassy, floral flavors when I burp (sorry to be so crude). Alcohol is well hidden. A little disappointed that the flavor here isn't as big as it could be.

M - medium bodied, standard carbonation.

D - tasty brew, I wouldn't mind having several of these. Alcohol is masked in the flavor pretty well, but will hit you later.

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

Pours a small half inch beige head. Body is a clear amber color. Head retention was decent and lacing was above average.

Smell at first kinda reminds me of an english barleywine. Caramel malt and burnt brown sugar dominate. Light pine hops and some alcohol come through. A bit disappointed in the aroma, thought it would be more potent

Taste is similar to smell. Sweet malt is dominant flavor, caramelized sugar and faint butterscotch follow. There is also bits of spice like cinnamon or ginger that come through. Pine hops balance out the sweet malts and leave a light bitter aftertaste. For 10 percent the alcohol is pretty tamed

Mouthfeel is somewhat light for such a strong beer. Carbonation level is also a bit high. Lack of a smooth head doesnt help. Was expecting a richer, fuller body

Drinkability was pretty good. For 10 percent this beer was dangerously smooth. I had really high expectations for this beer which unfortunately werent met. Flavors were good but nothing stood out and made this beer memorable. Reminded me of a less flavorful version of Old Gnarlywine

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Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company
4 out of 5 based on 5,406 ratings.
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