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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 optiontwo
3.51/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 Oz. poured into generic pint glass

Appearance: Ruby Red/Brown color, decent carbonation and lacing, one inch head.

Smell: Smells like a nut brown to me but I know it's not. Sweet caramel and nuts in the aroma.

Taste: That's more like it. The description of this beer is right on. A good American strong ale with the sweetness of cane sugar. Sweet brown sugar flavor upfront with slight alcohol heat towards the end and finally a nice crisp hop bite. I feel as if the sweetness would be a bit cloying if it weren't for the amount of hops used. Ultimately the taste is quite nice.

Mouthfeel: Thicker than most strong ales I've tried but that's not a bad thing. Carbonation feels right.

Drinkability: Taste is sweet and crisp, mouthfeel is thick so these kind of contradict each other when it comes to drinkability, but with it being 9.5% I'd have to say that it's not very high.

Overall: Another great brew from Lagunitas that I'll definitely be picking up again.

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Photo of LairdChisholm
4.36/5  rDev +9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a clear copper color with a less than one finger, off white head very little lacing to speak of. There are many small streams of carbonation bubbles going to the top.

S - Strong smells of sweet malts with brown sugar and molasses and citrus malts. Good balance.

T - Incredible balance here. There is a mixture of brown sugar/caramel malts with citrus/grapefruit hops. There is a semi sweet after taste that makes you want to take another sip.

M - Good amount of carbaonation with medium to light mouthfeel.

D - Considering the ABV, this drinkability is dangerous.

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Photo of mbusster88
3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours clean brown/red color with good thick head. No carbonation present on this and a good amount of lacing.

S: Smells very sweet and bold. Good amount of malt profile in the nose and some heavy sugary notes.

T/M: Taste is very sweet up front with a ton of sugar and sugar cane type flavors. Very easy on the palate. Good body to this makes it favorable to drink. However, I was looking for just a bit more flavor than i got.

D: Good beer to try, not my favorite of the style but it does make me want to try more. I would get this one again to try but probably wont make it a staple in the fridge.

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Photo of DrewV
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a crystal-clear golden amber in the glass with a 2-finger foamy head after an aggressive pour.

S: Typical Lagunitas aroma, a bit sweeter perhaps and a bit less citrus. Some caramel malt in the mix. Not bad. By comparison, Maximus and Lucky13 both have shockingly awesome aromas. But all is not in the smell...

T: A bit reserved in the flavor, strangely enough. Some tasty flavors coming through, but nothing prominent. I guess I can detect the brown sugar in there just due to the mild sweetness and hint of molasses, but no real overpowering flavors that I might expect. Similar to Undercover Shutdown, but a bit more relaxed. As the glass warms, however, the flavors really open up and the typical strong ale flavors come through. This brew MUST be allowed to warm up. A bit boozy as it warms, but nothing objectionable.

M: Well carbonated, but not quite the body I would expect from a big ale like this. Again, the carbonation and full-bodied feel tend to improve as the beer warms. Once it gets above 50 degrees, it truly does become a "strong ale."

O: The 9.9% ABV is pretty well hidden, but comes through as the beer is allowed to warm up. Overall this is a significant contender in the strong ale category. Definitely one to wait for year after year.

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Photo of TheDinger
4.02/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Growler fill at GBX. Poured into snifter and it's a nice copper/amber pour with a huge 3+ finger pillow head. Smell is unique and a bit unexpected. Getting the hop bomb of citrus and pine mixed with some sweet malts. Not getting much shugga, but it smell quite good. Taste is just as interesting. Part barleywine, part IPA, part SA. Not sure, but it's sweeter that I thought it would be. The hops are actually a great finish and don't overpower it. A quite complex brew that was tough to sit down. Lots of carbonation, perhaps too much as this was quite dry and a bit metalic. Overall- A pretty good effort and a nice blend of sweet malts and american hops. Weird to explain and put into a category, but a must try and one I will hit out of the bottle to see what may be different. Enjoy-

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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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Photo of jkdrummer
3.63/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a brilliant red amber hue. Firm head at first but fades. Steady carb. Initial taste is sweet sweet sweet, some malty-ness in the background. Gave me sticky lips. Bitterness follows but not that pleasant. After a few sips the obvious alcoholiness takes over, they aren't kidding with the 9% ABV either. A strange brew but a unique taste of sweet brown sugar that isn't found in any other ale that I know of . . . Try it.

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Photo of bhyndthebottle
4.28/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Always a nice beer from Lagunitas. Taste follows the smell of rich caramel malts and citrus hops. Finish has a nice spicy kick that finishes rather clean and dry. Good n' hoppy!

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Photo of masikon
4.48/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours into a pint glass lighter than expected, transparent "whiskeyish" copper and yellow with a nice barely off-white head which leaves some nice lacing after recession. Nose has clear brown sugar hints as well as hoppy fruity aromas, also slight boozy hint which cleans the sinus'. Taste is smooth and thick with sugary sweet flavors suggesting honey or even maple syrup. Mouthfeel is full with very well hidden alcoholic esters, like many have pointed out, at almost 10 percent this is one easy drinking brew....definitely tread lightly with this one. A very high caliber brew from lagunitas.

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Photo of fsimcox
2.76/5  rDev -31%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours transparent ruby amber. When I hold it up to the light, I see right through. Off-white, slightly tan head. Smaller than I expected. Less than a half inch of foam that dissipates rather quickly. Some lacing.

Smells of sweet malt, liquorice, a little citrus, and a hint of the alcohol.

Sweet, creamy brown sugar upfront, hops in the middle, and a warm bitter finish. Some grapefruit aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is silky and creamy, some carbonation, and a warm finish. Sweetness and syrup feeling lingers.

A nice holiday beer. Very good on a cold night, but not something I would want every day.

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Photo of Tank880
4.08/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Crisp and flavorful. The ac is there but not at all overwhelming. Having this now on a damp cold night. This is one of the better beers I have had of late. I wish the bouquet were better however I feel my novice nose is to blame. Will be looking for it again.

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Photo of kpantz
3.92/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Executive Summary: Since "American Strong Ale" is a bit of a catch-all, I didn't really know what to expect. Reading the label, I figured I could count on some aggressive sweetness (OG 1.10) and not too much in the way of hoppiness (51 IBU). Wrong. Totally wrong. But in a good way. This is actually pretty tasty.

Appearance: Reddish-amber, somewhat cloudy with a cream-colored head, about a finger thick, but quickly reducing to a film. Moderate lacing.

Smell: Largely this smells like a cross between a green barleywine and a weak-nosed imperial IPA. Some hops in the nose as well as some weak malt and yeast notes. As the beer warms, the brown sugar finally starts to emerge.

Taste: Definitely sweet right at the beginning, but a "dirty" flavor moves in, followed by a pretty nice hop flavor (with associated bitterness in the back-end). I'm actually pretty surprised how prominently hops figure in this beer. I was expecting a sweet mess, but instead I feel like I'm drinking an over-balanced imperial IPA. Kinda strange. As with the aroma, a bit of warming and a lot of swirling gently coaxes some of the brown sugar out of hiding, but not enough to change the overall impression.

Mouthfeel: Not bad. A little sticky, but the body itself is pretty light. Carbonation level is on the high side of just right.

Drinkability: Actually pretty drinkable given the shock factor here. Even though I didn't get anything I expected to out of this beer, it's pretty enjoyable. Goes down smoothly, and even the belches taste pretty good ;)

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Photo of blindtiger24
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: Slightly hazy copper with good carbonation. Great lacing on the sides of the glass from the sticky head.

S: Dank, woodsy hops jump right off the first pour. Smells like many other Lagunitas IPA varieties.

T: Big, tangy, sticky, citrus and pine hop flavors. Definitely some biscuity, bready notes as well. Melds with a nice, sugary, malt, candied nut flavor at the end.

M: Boozy, warming, sticky from those hop oils and lip smacking malt sweetness.

O: An enjoyable beer, but I would prefer a little less intensity of the hop flavors in favor of more malt or spice complexity. Overall, enjoyable, but seems more a true IPA our double IPA than a strong ale.

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Photo of TheViolator666
3.71/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12 fl. oz. bottle poured into snifter.

A: Pours with a fingers width off-white head. Copper colored body with ruby red highlights. Very nice clarity.

S: Sugary sweet, piney hops. Not much complexity.

T: Tons of piney hops in the front but seem to give way to the high amount of sugary sweet malts, caramel and molasses flavors. The malts linger in the aftertaste as well a hop bitterness. Not too hot, but could hide the alcohol better. Very similar to a Barleywine.

M/D: Full bodied. Carbonation leaves soft bite on the tongue and accompanies the alcohol on the way down. Definitely a sipping beer, 1 is plenty!

Pretty good, but I expected something a bit better.

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Photo of itcomesnpints
3.28/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a translucent copper with a medium-sized head of clean white foam. Retention isn't spectacular.

Smell of sweet caramel malt, raisins and alcohol can be detected. You really have to strain your nostrils to find it though.

Sweet malt, then bitterness, then more bitterness, then some alcohol. Nothing complex here.

Mouthfeel is fine. Hides the high abv well.

I had one of these and that was enough. For such a big beer you would like to find comparatively large flavors. Personally they just weren't there for me. It's not likely that I'll come back to this one.

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Photo of dredmahawkus
4/5  rDev 0%

Its pretty good...and very drinkable....but I was expecting better....I remember this being better then this! I dunno....guess you have to try it! I got a case! half gone so its not that bad!! lol Its better then bad its good?

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Photo of Joeyphunk
3.61/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Rubbing alcohol notes In the taste, not sure the malts were balanced correctly. A weird brown to be sure, not sure it represents the style. Did the bartender give me an ipa on accident? I think this is an ok strong beer but not the best example. I am glad i drank it, but i won't seek another.

When I had it the second time ( cause I forgot I tried it) It was a different beer - leading me to believe that Scotty's brew house had a bad keg

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Photo of LordofTime25
3.41/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Pours to a dark orangish amber with a thin one inch head that leave nice lacing on glass.

Sweet malts hit you at firt with a slight hint of hops.

Very heavy on the sweet malts and slight hops taste.

Very good mouthfeel nice medium body with good carbonation.

Not something I would drink alot of.

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Photo of gregb13
2.53/5  rDev -36.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Looks nice in the glass. Well-carbonated for a strong ale. Nose is heavy booze, with a touch of brown sugar sweetness. Taste... wow, booze and more booze. Sweet, bordering on sickeningly so. Nothing else really stands out. Would much rather have their replacement (Sucks) than this.

**Re-review a couple weeks later... Smelled and tasted great, though still a bit boozy. I think maybe my initial review was of a compromised bottle. The place where I bought the 6-pack had been out of Shugga' for several weeks at least, but lo and behold, I spied a sixer in a plain label mixed pack with Lagunitas caps, way behind the other beers. Pulled it out and discovered 6 bottles of Shugga' and was ecstatic! Well, maybe something happened to the previous bottle I reviewed, because I came back and drank two a couple weeks later and it tasted wonderful.

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Photo of JMD71
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sampled & reviewed on 3/9/07:

Ap: Brilliant copper hued & sparkling. Slight haze. 1/2 finger of head drops back quickly. Carbonation steady. Lacing persisent, but falls back as the glass empties.

Ar: Strong citrus fruits, such as tangerines. Some malt presence with a solid alcohol body. Brown sugar toast is noted but not overly strong.

Ta: Very sweet entry leads to a rich, malty middle with moderate hop bitterness which fades into a heated finish. Once heat recedes, sweetness reasserts itself. Rich plum pudding with brandy butter. ABV well hidded - good balance!

Mo: Full bodied & chewy. Slightly syrupy, but not overly so. Good carbonation which helps offset the warming mouthfeel from the high ABV. Carbonation leaves mouth fairly clean with a bit of an astringent aftertaste from fusel alcohols.

Dr: Slow sipper as I know its strength, but if I didn't know better this would go down quickly. The sweetness from the brown sugar really tames the formidable ABV.

Comments: Very tasty! Very full flavored & well balanced. Enjoyed this all the way through & definitely warrants a repeat purchase.

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Photo of surfer4life
4.24/5  rDev +6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass from a 12oz bottle

A - Hazy golden brown with a thick off color white head. Some sediment and good lacing.

S - Very sweet malt, almost reminds me of how a belgian quad smells. lots of spice in it, raisins and obviously, brown sugar.

T - Not a sweet as the you would think, actually some hop bitterness to it. The front is sweet, I get vanilla and caramel. Hoppy in the middle and sweet brown shugga on the end!

M - Full bodied with medium carbonation. Coats the mouth perfectly and leaves it wanting so much more.

D - Far to drinkable, I will look for it again and should like to have it on tap.

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Photo of jtd1969
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Orange golden,fairly clear, with a tint of red. Slighty cloudy mainly due to abv... Good carbonation. Good lacing

S - Pleasant sweet citrus smell, some slight sugary malt
T - Lots of burnt sugar with caramel... Throw in some clean citrusy/grassy/spicy hops... A treat... Big and Bold at 9.9

M - Big smooth beer that lingers with hops, good carbonation

O - WOW, It is so good! I really enjoyed this beer!

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Photo of fourplayed
4.55/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap into 16oz beer glass. Clear dark amber color with 1 finger head.

Pine and floral Hops are up front, sweet notes of caramel.

Taste of Hops up first -pine and citrus, mild sweet sugga', malt backbone.

Medium body, med carbonation, Bold Hop bite and dry finish, medium alcohol warmth 10% abv very well hidden.

Overall this is a very nicely balanced brew, though the Hops are bid and up front, the malts and sweet sugga' are present and make this a nice flavorful brew. Lagunita's continues to amaze me. Several bar patrons told me this is the best version over the last several years. not as sweet and hops tones down from years past.

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Photo of Blitzstyle
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a SA glass from a 12 oz bottle. Nice 2 fingers of creamy head, some decent retention that blankets the brew when it fades. Redish amber in color.

Sweet caramell malts, brown sugar, piney and orange hop aromas.

Very sweet and sticky, brown sugar and caramell malts right up front, balanced with a good amount of piney hop bite! Alcohol in the after taste but it is hidden well.

Sugar sweet with a hop bite to keep this from being to surupy, thick and rich. Alcohol is hidden very well I was suprised to see it at such a high abv. Could pound several of these if I wasn't being carfull.

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Photo of 1whiskey
4.05/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

v.2005, 22 oz. bomber

Big fluffy 2 1/2 finger head...impressive for such a "big" beer. Dark amber color, slightly hazy, visible syrupy appearance.

Smells like hops and brown sugar...no suprise here.

Taste proves there's truth in advertising....I taste brown sugar. Oh, and hops. 50+ IBU's, just what you would expect from Lagunitas. This tastes like half barlywine, half IIPA, spiked with brown sugar. What more could you want? Alcohol is VERY well hidden.You can't find it....but it will find you if you're not careful.

Syrupy mouthfeel, but still fairly carbonated. Drinkability? So deadly, it should be illegal.

I actually think that the 2004 version is better, but this is still outstanding. I would like to age a few of these, but I don't think I could resist the temptation.

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