Brown Shugga' | Lagunitas Brewing Company

1,577 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

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Reviews: 1,577 | Ratings: 5,617
Photo of GrumpyGas
3.96/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz draft pour into a short goblet boasts a red tinged amber body floating start of near white bubbles.
Citrus hop aromas dominate with a grass background.
Malt joins evenly in flavor for a nice balance.
Mouth feel is bubbly and almost wet on the finish.
Restrained and tasty.

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Photo of Holderness
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L -- Pours a lovely reddish amber with a two finger, densely foamy, off-white head. Head dissipates slowly, and leaves significant lacing on the glass.
S -- Equal parts citric hops and caramely malts. Faint aromas of peach, pineapple, and brown sugar
T -- True to its name, brown sugar! dominates with a nice biscuity malt backbone. Pineapple and boozy flavors also shine through. Not nearly as hoppy as other popular Lagunitas releases
F -- At 9.7% ABV, it's hard to not to have a full and robust mouthfeel. The sugary sweetness is not overpowering, but balances the high alcohol and maltiness well. No strange aftertastes
O -- One of my new favorites

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4.05/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Absolutely one of the best combinations of hops and mild malty sweetness .
Being I'm a stout guy and not so much a hop head, this is a great combination.
I only bought one to try, , ,but I'm grabbing some sixers to have as I was very pleased with this brew. :)
Very refreshing taste and palate change from my heavy brews .
Highly recommended for many reasons . Taste, combo, price and high abv :) ;)

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Photo of MMOSNN
4.24/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look - a golden amber with a two-finger off-white head and spotty lacing.
Smell - citrusy hops, brown sugar, and caramel malts all mix together very well.
Taste - this beer is very unique, it follows the nose but this combination of flavors is so bizarre, but in a good way.
Feel - great carbonation, full and slightly chewy body, and smooth finish.
Overall, I can't make sense of this beer but the complexity draws me in. I want to age some bottles to see how it develops.

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Photo of Turbo
3.56/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Nice amber color and smells great, but the important thing is the taste. I purchased without looking at the alcohol content. This is a sipper, as it will warm the belly as it goes down. Pretty well balanced for a beer with this high of alcohol content. Overall, it is not my cup of "beer", as I prefer ales/ipas where I can throw back three or four. If I make it through this I will be done for the night - call me a "light weight". Well worth trying once, but I won't be coming back for more. Those who run-a-way live to play another day! Overall, my lower rating is based on this just not being my style.
Update: Half way thru and liking it more and more. Sips are becoming larger. Maybe I will have another....

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Photo of Vetbidder
3.84/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm getting a sweet smell on top of a biscuit like malt scent. I'm not getting the hop scent that I would expect from a Lagunitas offering. This tastes much different than my normal beer selections. Interesting but sweet and slightly bitter at the same time. Alcohol content is fairly well hidden. I'm almost tasting some Euro skunk in the aftertaste, very yeast like. Having a hard time trying to compare this to anything else I've had. It's a big beer and creamy but not too carbonated. Afterthought.... this is some powerful stuff ! Upping my overall score by .25

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Photo of mynie
4.42/5  rDev +10.5%
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.

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Photo of redjellydonut
4.94/5  rDev +23.5%
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!

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Photo of HoodviewBrew
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Full disclosure: I normally dislike beer over about 25 IBU. This one clocks in at 51. I have to say, though, that this one is pretty tolerable for a beer style I don't go for. The hop taste is very fresh and floral rather than the usual sour gym sock you normally get with overhopped beers. The sweetness of the brown sugar taste also balances out the hop bitterness pretty well. I won't personally buy again but for those that like a hopped beer this one will be great.

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Photo of m_hall
4.22/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

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Photo of stevoj
3.99/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hard to believe this was considered a mistake. Dark amber with Thin beige creamy head. Aroma is subdued malt and molasses. Taste comes on a bit stronger, palate aftertaste stronger still. Slight hint at alcohol warmth. Very good on a cold winter’s day.

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Photo of BeerSamurai34
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This is super surprising. It was very sweet and not overly strong. It has lots of notes of brown sugar, dark fruit, and toffee. I really enjoyed this one even though this is not my normal style.

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Photo of edward_boumil
3.89/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

L: Nice light brown color, light tan head, very frothy and hangs around for a bit. Quite clear and bubbly
S: Smells quite nice, hard to describe though. Dark fruit notes present like that of a dobbelbock or dubbel. Has some floral hop notes as well, sort of spicy on the nose. Toast also present.
T: Really good, only complaint is it is a little over hopped. A lot of the nose repeats but its quite bitter, somewhat piney and resinous, though clean.
F: Very crisp, but very bitter which gives an astringency and takes away from what would be a more refreshing beer. Body is pretty light and smooth otherwise.
O: Pretty solid and I really like it. Will probably have this again if I see it.

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Photo of plumberman63
1.87/5  rDev -53.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

bitter, nasty coffee flavor. I hate coffee. was told by the guy at the store it was sweet. I told him I didn't like bitter beer. But did have a good color and aroma. jut not to my taste.

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Photo of mckdebbie1
4.29/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

I hated this beer at first. Hated it so much that 5 of the 6 sat in the beer fridge for over a year. I thought I could pass it off on someone eventually. And after awhile, like deciding to have a second child, I couldn't remember what was so awful about having the 1st, I said "sure, let's try this again". I am glad I did. The sugars must have eaten away at everything I found so unpleasant the first go around. Aging really helped this one and now I am sad I only have 4 left.

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Photo of gustavmahler-09
4.38/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark brown-gold, with two-finger head that lingers. Smells of raisins, caramel, not very present. Taste explodes, raisins, prunes, chocolate, alcohol and, yes, brown sugar. Feels creamy, lush, smooth. Maybe the best barleywine I've had.

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Photo of Slowjamcdub
3.25/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

This one will throw you for a loop on first taste lol. Shugga over load! Yeah still trying to figure out if I really like it or just like the 10% alc lol. But for real it's good it's a nice sipper. Remember it's really sweet!

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Photo of HorseheadsHopHead
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Comes in a clear, fizzy amber color with a generous, creamy, beige head. Sheets of lacing are left down the sides of the glass.
The aroma offers caramel, molasses, pine, plums, candied orange peel, cherries, and dried apricots.
On the palate, you get a nicely balanced malt sweetness. Lots of caramel, molasses, and toasted bread. Near the finish you get dark fruits; red cherries, plums, figs, and dried apricots. The finish is mostly caramelized sugar sweet, but with some balancing pine, and a light alcohol warmth.
The mouthfeel is medium-full, medium-light carbonation, and smooth and creamy.

Good stuff. It tastes very similar to a barleywine. Less complex, but maybe more drinkable. Another winner from Lagunitas.

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Photo of HopHunter19
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - nice big beer with amber/reddish color body and a huge white head that leaves nice lacing
S - caramel, orange, peach, vanilla, butterscotch, slight mustiness/old ale/oxidized quality
T - caramel, orange, grapefruit, peach, slight mustiness/old ale/oxidized quality
M - heavy, alcohol covered, aftertaste is orange rind, caramel, musty strong ale
O - good beer, definitely rivals bigfoot in my book, will cellar and see how it does

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Photo of Gobearswalter34
4.18/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a sunburnt orange with a one-finger, fluffy head that dissipates quickly. A little carbonation. Lots of lacing.
Smells of grapefruit and candied hop.
Bitter brown sugar candied, citrus hop taste. The bitter hop hangs around for a little while.
Mouthfeel of a medium bodied ale which really gets toe salivary glands going. this is good, but not as good as Sucks.

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Photo of MeanMotaScootah
3.83/5  rDev -4.3%
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.

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Photo of Myotus
4.12/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured at 50°F from a 12oz bottle (2015 release) into a snifter. Consumed on 28Feb16.
LOOK: Pours with a fingers worth of khaki foam that dissipates into a line within 45 seconds. Copper in color with a slight amount of cloudiness. Rising bubbles are medium in size and moderate in quantity. There is an abundance of small, grayish white particles floating throughout the beer. I'm not sure what they are. Lacing is thin and subtle.
SMELL: Strong aromas of molasses, tree nuts, plums, figs, and black cherries entangle with mild leather, caramel, sweet bread, and brown sugar aromas along with subtle hop aromas of pine, oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit.
TASTE: Strong molasses, fig, plum, and black cherry flavors first enter into to the palate. Mild hop flavors of orange, tangerine, and grapefruit immediately follow and bring balance to the sweetness. Mild caramel and brown sugar and subtle leather flavors further unveil the taste profile. Subtle flavors of tree nuts, vanilla (that wasn't in the aroma), piney hops, and bitter hops enter lastly as all previous flavors persist.
FEEL: Full-bodied and subtly carbonated. Goes down smooth and creamy. Finishes very dry. A mild and welcoming alcoholic warmth can be felt as it goes down the throat.
NOTE: A great beer for being one that is massed produced and distributed. This reminded me of an American Barleywine, without the intense hop flavors. Everything was nice a balanced here.

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Photo of Beginner2
3.65/5  rDev -8.8%
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.

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Photo of q33jeff
3.65/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance Is clear reddish brown; lasting white creamy head. Aroma Is hops caramel. Taste is hops, honey , caramel, charred wood, orange, cloves. A good sweet mix of hoppy and malty ale. Feel is creamy, light carbonation, thick finish.....good beer, but I don’t think I would want more than 1 in a Row. A nice choice for thanksgiving.
I've had more than 1 in a row and it's fine.

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Photo of dee4maine
4.53/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

what a great bargain Strong ale. drink it fresh or age it, either way one is in for a treat of caramel, malt, spiciness, tangerine hint, molasses. mouthfeel is very appropriate and makes the flavor linger.

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Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company
4 out of 5 based on 5,617 ratings.
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