Brown Shugga' | Lagunitas Brewing Company

1,572 Reviews
Brown Shugga'Brown Shugga'

Brewed by:
Lagunitas Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.80%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by kbub6f on 12-13-2001

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,572 | Ratings: 5,595
Photo of Kakaraht
3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Amber in color with a thumb of thin white head.

S: It smells like an American IPA, very floral and citrusy. Really it smells like every other beer they produce.

T: I don't taste anything that could be brown sugar, mostly a light caramel flavor being overpowered by hops. The hops go through a wide range of citrus and floral flavors changing as the beer warms.

M: Medium body, the bitterness lingers quite long.

D: I was hoping for something more sweet with less of that very common American IPA flavor. It is a good beer other than that, just not what I was looking for.

 578 characters

Photo of Rizalini
3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into my Deschutes tulip...

A - Pours a crystal clear amberish/mahagony color, with a dense 2 finger cream color head. Great lacing sticking to the side of the glass.

S - Fruity citrus, followed by a sweet malty molasses aroma.

T/M - Not as hoppy as the aroma leads to, but does have a nice solid malt backbone. The brown sugar/molasses flavor compliments nicely while not being over sweet. Medium-syrupy mouthfeel, slightly under carbonated.

O - A nice strong ale that's very well rounded. Alcohol very well hidden, making this one very easy to drink. Cheers

 589 characters

Photo of brentk56
3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a fairly clear medium amber color with a rocky beige head that leaves plenty of splashy lacing

Smell: Caramelized brown sugar, some piney hops and a touch of fruit; plenty of alcohol in the aroma as well

Taste: Burnt caramel and a distinct fusel alcohol flavor appear as I swirl it around my mouth; after the swallow a good presence of piney hop bitterness makes its presence known; the alcohol reappears on the finish as does the brown sugar sweetness

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and syrupy; moderate carbonation

Drinkability: While the sweetness is not cloying, it does limit the amount of this beer you will want to consume; otherwise, quite intriguing

 672 characters

Photo of DaggerEyes
3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Amber orange hued body. Thin light tan head.

Interesting nose...brown sugar, fruit, slight almond scent. Ameretto. Maybe a bit of orange peel. Pine sAp and pine needles. A brighter boldier hop profile than I had anticipated

Medium bodies beer with a moderate ammount of carbonation. Sweet sugary hoppy a little bit of spice.

 328 characters

Photo of hopsolutely
3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From notes taken at brewery yesterday, where it was listed at 9.9% ABV:

Pours a beautiful dark chocolate colour with impressive head and lacing. Thick but not oily mouthfeel, remarkably "normal" given the high ABV. Aroma of sweet, roasted malts with caramel tones and some plum or other fruitcake spices. These aromas translate into the finish, where I did not expect the almost overwhelming sweetness in the finish.

Overall struck me more as a sweet and malty barley wine rather than a strong ale. Glad to have tried it, but did not order a second.

 552 characters

Photo of lokieman
3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12 oz bottle into glass:

A: Pours caramel brown with a 2 inch off white frothy head that dissipates quickly

S: I'm first hit with Lagunitas' typical hop profile...followed by a sweet, caramel malt aroma. Smells like an extra malty barley wine with a ton of west coast hops. Not bad...

T: Very similar to the nose...hop forward with a malty finish. Hoppier than one would guess from the description but enough sugary malt flavor to balance out the finish. Don't necessarily get the brown sugar but a definite sweetness comes into play. Good...not great.

M: Nice, sticky mouthfeel typical of most barley wines. Viscous enough to layer the mouth with flavor but only slightly cloying.

O: I love Lagunitas and their approach to brewing. They make affordable, tasty beers with a great abv to price ratio. Brown Shugga falls behind Sucks and Stoopid for me but a very good offering that I certainly look forward to. I have a six pack hanging out in my pantry that I'm going to sit on for a while...curious to see if age will mellow this one out.

 1,057 characters

Photo of ruckzuck
3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - amber, red, bit of a head, bit of lacing

S - brown sugar, some malt

T - brown sugar, some malt, hoppiness comes through, alcohol is also there

M - medium-heavy body, solid, not too much carbonation, bit of alcohol

D - well, this is quite strong and quite sweet. Definitely enjoyable, but I'm not sure I could do more than 2 (and that's pushing it) in a sitting due to the strength and fullness of it. Of course as the alcohol continues to sink in I start to reconsider another. Ha. Either way I like it. Check it out!

 525 characters

Photo of taigor
3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap poured into 8oz glass.

A - Dark amber color with medium head that leaves lots of lacing around the glass.

S - Caramel, malts and of course sugar.

T - Expected lots of sweetness but instead it is slightly sweet and mostly hoppy bitter. Malts and caramel are present as well.

M - Medium bodied with lots of carbonation.

D - Good but has too much bitter aftertaste.

 374 characters

Photo of shapudding
3.69/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

Ok, so maybe I really was interested in getting this ‘cause I like saying the name! Well, I also have always loooved anything with brown sugar in it too! Poured out amber an semi-unclear with a nice huge froth of milkshakey, creamy colored head with a huge froth and a few bubbles showing and moon crater layer. Tons of lacing that started immediately and went all they way down. Nice malty scents with hoppy bites but not too much going on. Smooth and thick, creamy, but not too heavy. Feel silky with the carbonation coming out and just gliding over your tongue. I was really wondering if this would be too sweet, but nope. You get a taste of dark brown sugar -not as deep as molasses, just caramelly dark, with peppery hops. Twinges of orange rind in the background. This one may be a bit heavy to sit down with as a sesssion, but it is damn nice as a sipper, and for a few in the evening.

 893 characters

Photo of socon67
3.69/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours light brown and white a slim white foam. Mild lacing.

S - Smells of... brown sugar. Really, the scent of carmelized sugar is there. Als some slight spicy notes.

T - Solid flsvor, sweet and robust with earthy components. A bit of belgain yaeast is felt on the back end.

M - Honestly not all that well balanced. Could be more subtle. Too much of an "in your face" beer that hits the tongue, and the palate, too heavy.

O - A bit disappointed, but only because I like other Lagunitas beers so much. Worth a try, but not a beer to seek out.

 549 characters

Photo of drunkenmess
3.69/5  rDev -7.8%
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 ☆☆☆

 582 characters

Photo of imstimpy
3.69/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Look: It pours a redish cider color with a decent and persistent head.
Smell: It smells sweet! Apples and other subtle fruit.
Taste: 9.8%!? It tastes full of hoppy nectar. It is sweet, but delicately so, balanced with malt.
Feel: It is deceivingly thick with a long aftertaste.

Overall, it is a good beer. I'm a little concerned the sweetness will get old but the first half glass went down easily.

 399 characters

Photo of BMMillsy
3.69/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Tried this one at Gainesville HOB. Wasnt sure what to call this one. When served, I was told it was a barleywine. But it ended up to highlight huge bitter hops, grapefruit, and then a bit of caramel. Medium slick on the palate. A lot more focus on the bitter with this one, and curious if it ages into a maltier brew. Good brew, but was hoping for more sweetness with a name like brown shugga.

 393 characters

Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.69/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Wiseman Jorge brought home a sixer and decided to share. Damn, 9.5%!

Appearance: A ruby red body when held to the light. Thin khaki cap drags decent lacing. Very gentle carbonation within.

Smell: Cherry pie feeling, brown sugar (duh), and maybe some maple syrup. Getting some barley too (weird). Smell is all sweet - not getting much of anything else out of it.

Taste: Well, I must say that they've masked the alcohol pretty well. A lot of sugar in this one, but not so much as to make it unpleasant. Tons of brown sugar, molasses, red berries, some oak and a touch of bourbon.

Mouthfeel: Syrupy and heavy with tons of mouth-numbing and warming effects. Medium carbonation tickles me mouth.

Drinkability: A little too sweet and too alcoholic to drink very many. Alcohol actually starts to burn after a while. Still, this is kind of expected from a strong ale. Worth a try, but don't go searching for it.

 908 characters

Photo of CountryRebel001
3.69/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pour a clear, amber color with a white head. Smell us very hop forward, citrus, tropical, and alcohol. The smell through me off, was expecting a brown ale by the name but more like a ipa. Taste very bitter, off balance. Bitter and sweetness with some fruity notes and then nasty bitterness to finish. Horrible finishing taste of a bad ipa, not like the other Lagunitas if tried. Has a nice carbonation, very thin. Overall I did not like, and wouldn't recommend or buy again. Maybe I was thrown off by the name expecting more a dark beer, just was not very good to me. The balance was just very off to me, too sweet and bitter combined not good. I have another bottle I'll keep and try again just incase my taste was off tonight.

 728 characters

Photo of siege06nd
3.69/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Bill for letting me bum a bottle off of him. Poured into my Sweetwater standard pint glass...

A. This revered beverage pours a moderately hazy, caramel amber color. Lacing is about a quarter finger of slightly offwhite stuff that deposits some speckled lacing across the glass.

S. Quite a bit going on. Piney and citrusy hops balanced almost perfectly by caramel, nutty, and fruity malt. It all rolls up into a bread, hoppy bouquet that is near perfectly balanced. Really nice candied fruit notes, but the unmistakeable spice and zest of the hops reigns supreme. An interesting and tantalizing nose on this beer.

T. Very hop forward, with waves of the citrusy, piney, herbal stuff hitting first. While assertive and straightforward, the hops retain a lightness and buoyancy that keep them from being overwhelming. Present behind all the spicy zest is a light, nutty fruitiness. Mostly stone fruits, this provides a counter balancing sweetness and an interesting counter melody to what is mostly brash, bitter hopping. The finish is all booze...bitter, hot and not altogether pleasant. Would be interesting to see how this one settles down over a year or two.

M. Carbonation is fairly heavy for the style...the spritziness of the beer covers the flavors slightly, to my disappointment. Otherwise, it is a blast of hops, sweet malts, and booziness. I couldn't imagine having more than one of these in a sitting, it's just too polarizing.

O. A solid beer, but not one I would seek out again and again. Out of a fresh bottle, it is bitter, juicy, sweet, hoppy, and boozy. While these characteristics are fairly well integrated, the boldness of the flavors kinda knocks you back on your feet. I think age would do this one well, helping to refine some of the brashness that is apparent when it's fresh. Solid and certainly worth a try, but not a repeat visit for me.

 1,877 characters

Photo of brianandpiper
3.68/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip.

A Hues of deep gold and orange. Leaves the glass covered with a thin lacing. Slight head thins out but never leaves. Lacing leaves tiny bubbles as you keep drinking.

S Sweet nose mixed with citrusy hops. You can sense the alcohol, the beer smells hot. Notes of sugar and grain. Alcohol overpowers some of the hop aroma.

T Interesting combination. The sweetness and hops blend well. As the beer warms it begins to taste sweeter. Hops still finish strong in a piney, citrusy way.

M Medium body with medium to heavy carbonation. Keeps the beer from being cloying.

O Pleasant overall. It is very well balanced. Full body with good carbonation. Great hop aroma and taste balanced with sweetness and alcohol.

 743 characters

Photo of dstc
3.68/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A friend in California always gives me a box of mixed beers for Christmas and this was one of them.

A: Reddish/brown. Real nice head that faded slowly leaving a nice off-white lace on the tulip glass I poured it into.

S: Rich but a little metallically.

T: Good! I loved Dark Belgium Ales and was interested to see how this would compare and was pleasenlty suprised. Left a bit of a bitter aftertaste that I found somewhat unpleasent but that didn't stop me from enjoying this beer.

M: Warm and tasty. I can feel the 9.9% abv on this beer but like it.

D: Yes indeed. Well done America! A fine dark ale that satisfies my Belguim cravings.

 651 characters

Photo of zoso1967
3.68/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a reddish amber color with a slightly tan head. The head is made up of both very large and very small bubbles and has great retention and lacing.

The aroma of this beer is very hoppy with a nice mix of grapefruit, zesty orange and a bit of pine. It also has a pretty good hit of sweetness that gives the citrus a sort of candied character.

The flavor is also hop forward with more of the grapefruit, orange and pine. It also has a slight dank and minty quality to the hops. The malt presence is evident with plenty of sweet sugary character. Caramel, toffee and brown sugar seem to be the main flavor components of the malt profile. To me this beer seems a bit on the malty sweet side and there is a bit of an unpleasant tug of war between the crazy sweet malts and the dry hop bitterness.

The mouthfeel is medium with a lively amount of carbonation. The beer finishes with quite a lot of stickiness and leaves flavors of sweet citrus fruits on my tongue after swallowing.

Brown Shugga' goes down pretty easily, but the stickiness and maltiness hurt the drinkability of this beer for me. I really dig the hop flavors, but I am not such a fan of the malt profile. This is a very interesting beer none the less, and a nice hopping offering to get me in the mood for some of the crazy DIPAs that will be coming out soon.

 1,337 characters

Photo of MPLS
3.68/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My third Lagunitas brew, decided to buy a 6 pack and give er a shot in this cold December.

A: Hazy orange-brown, carbonation evident, small 1/4 foam.

S: Smells sweet, hint of alcohol and really trying to imagine brown sugar and molasses.

T: I liked pulling out the sweetness, the sugar, but didn't appreciate the alcohol

M: Medium bodied, pleasant, gladly stain my teeth.

D: Drinkable when served cold in cold weather, wouldn't be pleasant warm.

 450 characters

Photo of BrewDrinkRepeat
3.68/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a brilliant red copper. Tall off-white head that lingers a long time.

S: Strong malt aroma, with a definite nose of brown sugar as expected. No discernable hop aroma (which would be out of place for this beer anyway).

T: Tastes big and sweet, slightly cloying. No forward hop bitterness, but a definite tingle at the back of my throat so I know they're there. The impression of brown sugar lingers after the swallow.

M: This is a rich beer -- not thick like as tout, but definitely a big mouthfeel. Very similar to other beers where sugar is added to boost the fermentables. Pleasant alcohol warmth that get somewhat less pleasant as the beer warms up.

D: Considering the sweetness this is a surprisingly drinkable beer. That been said, I probably would not buy another one -- not so much because of any real faults in this beer, but this style doesn't appeal to me that much. I found myself not wanting to finish it after I poured the second half of the 22oz. bomber. (I might like it more in a 12oz. bottle.)

 1,031 characters

Photo of wcintula
3.68/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This is one wild beer. Poured into a Sam Adams 'Guinness-shaped' pint with a brown body and decent tan head, good on the lacing. Smells sweet and spicy a little hops. Oh boy 51 IBUs is perfect for this beer, any less might allow the shugga to be overpowering. The hop-taste is great and refreshing through all the other action in here. It's a very heavy beer, with good carbonation. Had two of these but rather would share with a friend than drink em both.

 456 characters

Photo of wagenvolks
3.68/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Wow...could've sworn that I reviewed this beer before. Anyway, 12oz bottle into a beer mug.

Pours an attractive, sequin-amber body with good clarity and a hefty cap of taupe foam. Excellent head retention, as expected for the hops Lagunitas is famous for, but surprising given the high ABV. Rich, floral hops in the aroma with notes of brown sugar and grapefruit zest. Same tropical fruit yeast esters dominant in most Lagunitas brews.

Brown malts, boozy, creamy body with a good dose of grassy bitterness from the hops. Not the best strong brown ale I've come across, but it works. Crisp, well-carbonated medium-thick body that lays a heavy blow of booze to the stomach. A little too dry on the finish for all those hops, but this is still a tasty beer and I'm glad I have another 5 Brown Shugga's to go around.

 814 characters

Photo of trevorjn06
3.68/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a copper/brown color with nice amber highlights and a very thin layer of froth on the surface.

Aroma is caramel, brown sugar/molasses and a faint earthy hop smell. Fairly straight forward.

Taste is definitely on the sweet end of the spectrum, though there is just enough hop bitterness to balance it a bit. Flavors of caramel, brown sugar, honey and a bit of hop bitterness wash over my tongue, this beer is not shy. The finish leaves brown sugar and alcohol flavors lingering but is relatively crisp, not too sweet.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium/low carbonation and a nice mouth-coating feeling.

Overall this beer is quite drinkable for it's strength and not cloyingly sweet as I expected. The flavor profile is relatively simple, though satisfying. I would drink this again.

 795 characters

Photo of hooliganlife
3.67/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

pours a very deep ruby brown. light fluffy creamy head quickly disappears. light retention, little to no lacing

mainly floral, bright and sweet. slight hint of pineapple

lots of sweetness but not in a bad way. mixes well with the floral and citrus hops to balance out. a tad too sweet in the bitter finish though. malts are mostly hidden but become more and more dominant through the finish and the aftertaste. slight pine bitterness through out.

fairly thick for a brown, almost syrupy though

good but way too high of an ABV and way too much sugar.

 554 characters

Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company
4 out of 5 based on 5,595 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.