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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:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,519 | Ratings: 5,407
Photo of Billolick
3.6/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

on tap at the BTAH in NYC, Poured copper, nose of dried fruit and some caramel. More caramel and sweet notes of brown sugar and cookie dough. Yes, this is a fairly sweet barley wine. Some drying elements come in late and as it warms, Smooth, medium bodied brew. Some warming alcohol also present. Too sweet for me. When I ordered this one somebody asked if I had diabitis

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Photo of drabmuh
3.48/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Latest release. Beer is brown and clear forms a thin white head but leaves very little lacing behind.

Aroma is overwhelmingly sweet. Smells like a strong barleywine.

Beer is medium to full bodied and completely sweet. I guess the name makes sense, since it tastes like sugar water. Drinkability is moderate and mouthfeel is fine. There is almost no bitterness I bet this beer is meant to sit on the shelf of some cellar for 10 years before its very drinkable. Yeah. That's what I think.

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Photo of GClarkage
3.77/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12/26/04- Purchased at Piazza's Market in San Mateo, CA

Presentation- 12 oz bottle with no date, poured into my Duvel glass.

Appearance- Orange-amber cloudy pour with many floaters. Nice thick chunky head, but very little lacing to be found.

Smell- Sweet and sticky smell. Lots of sugary scents going on.

Taste- Sugar, sugar and sugar. Brown sugar, molasses, browines, chocolate a bit or raosted taste in the bitter hops.

Mouthfeel- Very chewy and bitter.

Drinkability- A bit too much on the sweetness scale to me. I like my barleywines, and this was decent, but it feels like I need to chase this with some jolly ranchers stix and some fun dip.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.73/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured in to a Duvel snifter

A - A nice deep amber colour with half a finger of white head.

S - Sweet malts; caramel with some citrus in the background.

T - Sweet lightly roasted malts. A caramel and sugary sweetness dominates the profile with a nice citrus hop aftertaste. A nice balanced ale.

M - Medium body with a somewhat creamy/silky mouth feel. A good amount of carbonation.

D - This is a very well balanced and enjoyable ale. Would never guess that the ABV is almost 10%. The sweetness becomes a little too much after getting the bottom of the glass.

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Photo of tempest
3.98/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had a bottle that was sitting in the cellar for about 6 months. I was actually surprised by how much I liked this beer. I reminded me more of an old ale or barleywine for the rich malt and biting hops, but it's all good. This beer was tasty. The flavor has a mix of tart cherry, caramel, toffee, and raisins, all with a hint of molasses. The medium body was a little more drinkable than your average 10% American beer, and I wouldn't mind having another. Certainly one of my favorite Lagunitas beers.

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Photo of Tone
4.37/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy, dark amber color. 1/3 inch head of an off-white color. Good retention and good lacing. Smells of hops first, then sweet malt, alcohol, brown sugar, and finally some slight banana aromas. Fits the style of an American Strong Ale. Mouth feel is very smooth and thick with an average carbonation level. Tastes of hops up front, then sweet malt, then brown sugar, strong alcohol throughout, and finally some slight fruit/belgian yeast flavors. Overall, a really smooth brew that packs a punch - good palate and nice blend of flavors.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
4.4/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A nice bright copper/burgundy pour. Hints of red and brown along the rim. Good head, dense foam with some clumping and lacing as it went down.
Aroma of malt and caramel. Hints of apricot and sugarcane. Hops and some dry pine are faint, towards the back.
Tastes rich in malt, but not overpowering. Some pumpkin pie spices are available but hard to find. Definite maple/brown sugar influence, but only if you think about it.
Smooth. Doesn't stick, seems kinda light. The alcohol sneaks up on you. I was feeling good.
The aftertaste is a bit much for me. Too sweet for my dry tastes.

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Photo of WesWes
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a dark amber/red color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice balanced aroma of malts and hops. It's warming to the nose, but also enticing with loads of hop smells. The malt aroma is composed of lots of pale malts and a wonderful array of specialty malts, which provide the "Brown Shugga" element. The taste is great. It has an incredibly smooth malty taste that weighs heavy on burnt toffee flavors. It goes down easy and finishes silky smooth with a nice hop blast that lingers. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a tremendous beer. It packs a bundle of flavor; a fine drinker.

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Photo of Gavage
3.15/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: pours a hazy amber color with a 2" head that falls pretty quickly.

Smell: pumpernickel bread, brown sugar and caramel candy sweetness are easy to detect by the nose well outside the glass, but is only partially pleasant.

Taste: sweetness abounds here. Big brown sugar tones, caramel, ripe plums, and a balancing piney bitterness are the up front flavors. Some alcohol and bread-like tones round it out.

Mouthfeel: smooth from start to finish. Medium bodied beer. Long sweet sugary aftertaste.

Drinkability: this beer got a bit annoying as the bottle emptied. The sweetness just got tiring. A 10 oz glass was enjoyable, but goes downhill during the refill.

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Photo of DoubleJ
4.19/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Shipmates. 16 ounces of strong beer, yikes! On to the beer:

Copper colored, has a little bit of head retention and leaves a little lacing. Whoa! Smell that. Humongous caramel glazed pineapples hitting the nose. Sugary like the name, also some toasted sugar. Like the aroma its flavor is a big burst of toasted brown sugar pineapples. The aftertaste leaves a slightly burnt sugar aftertaste. While the beer is intense, the alcohol is buried very well in this beer. At almost 10% ABV, it is very drinkable.

Keep them coming Lagunitas.

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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 LiquidAmber
4.18/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Review from 2/2010 notes. Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours an attractive medium red brown. Light head leaves a ring of foam and slight lacing. Hoppy, citrus and sweet malt aroma. Crisp intense hops up front. Medium barley wine like body and taste with caramel malt and faint citrus. Light brown sugar background. Like a cross between dark IPA and barley wine. Another hit from Lagunitas. Nice.

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

Re-visited 30 Dec 14

Pours a nice clean/clear amber color, very nice carbonation, nice creamy one-finger plus off-white head, which leaves some sticky lacing around. The nose is malty, hoppy, slight spicy. The taste is kinda sweet, malty, some hop notes, slight spice. The ABV is hidden very well. Medium body, well rounded brew. Very drinkable, this is a good ASA, another great brew from Lagunitas, highly recommended. Glad to see this here in UT!

Thanks goes out to jpm30 for this brew.

Pours a cloudy amber color, nice carbonation, small fizzy off-white head, which leaves some sticky lacing around. The nose is malty, hoppy, slight spicy, and lots of caramel. The taste is sweet, malty, some hops, slight spice, and a good dose of caramel. The alcohol is hidden well. Medium body, well rounded brew. Very drinkable, this is a good ASA, another great brew from Lagunitas, highly recommended.

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Photo of dvmin98
4.32/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Has a deep amber appearance with a head that sticks around for a little bit, then laces along the glass.

Smells nice and hoppy; more than I expected.

Flavor is hops and biscuit, with some citrus notes

Mouthfeel isn't too sharp. Feels good on the tongue and the carbonation sits there for a few.

Overall, I really like this beer. I've been waiting a long time and I think its better than Holiday Sucks, which replaced it last year, although I did enjoy HS.

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Photo of tone77
3.23/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has an amber color with a small head. Smell is of hops and alcohol. Taste is very hoppy, some notes of sugar and alcohol. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and has average drinkability. Overall this is a fairly decent brew.

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

12oz fresh bottle into a Stella Artois glass late at night by myself. It's been about two years since i've had this offering.

Deep rich amber with some copper and brown spots throughout. A steep pour yielded a nice somewhat frothy beige head that lasted for a bit before dying a horrible death. It eventually went around the glass but it left some window streak lacing which while not great, at least it's something for this strong ale.

Smelling funky fresh with a deep sweetness, could it be from brown shugga, yeah, i guess so. Big brown sugar with caramel/toffee and a bit of toasted malt. Just smelling this you can tell it's big and might be hiding something. Getting just a outline of dark fruit including some plum. The hops don't show up at least for me, but believe me, they are in there.

And the hops show up in true Lagunitas fashion mixing very well with this sweet brew. The malts win, but the hops make a good citrusy appearance. Shugga is malt forward with the sweetness that goes along with that and a big brown sugar taste. Caramel/toffee and just the faintest hint of roasted coffee in the background. Finishes sweet and somewhat fruity with mo brown shugga...

The body is big malty and sweet. I would say a good step above medium bodied. The alcohol is not present at all and that's a feat considering this is near 10%, Perhaps it's all that sweet sugar. No hotness what so ever. A nice hop feel with some small bitterness enhancing the feel on this. This is a fresh bottle, I believe that if the hops were not so charged, this would taste like shit. The hops are keeping this one together, drink up.

I thought this stuff was seven percent when I had it last. I think ten percent is a bit high for this sweet style of beer but Lagunitas pulls it off making this very easy to drink and not a chore. The sweetness while big is settled nicely by a nice west coast hop blasting. I drank it much faster than I thought I would.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.94/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a hazy light amber color with orange highlights. It is topped by a thin, wispy light amber tan head that is generated by a quick swirling to actuate this beer's medium carbonation. The aroma is lightly sweet smelling with notes of candied orange peel, pine needles, toffee, alcohol, a hint of molasses and sherry.

The taste is only lightly sweet up front, at least for a beer of 1.100 starting gravity. The beer is quite malty with notes of caramel, a bit of toasty malt notes in the finish. The finish is lightly astringent with notes of fresh hop character as well as a solid bitterness that allows the malt and Brown Shugga to shine through. This beer is certainly on the malty side of the spectrum, but the hops certainly add a discernible character, that though supporting is a nice respite/ counterpoint to what would otherwise be lopsidedly oriented towards the malt. The brown sugar is evident but not overwhelmingly so, its most obvious contribution being a lightening of the body and palate. There is also a sort of twang in the finish of this beer which has a hint of molasses to it.

This beer is pretty enjoyable, and I like that it is not too sticky sweet. It reminds me a lot of the first sample of their IPA that I had, because the IPA tasted like it had lots of unfermented wort in it, and I almost wonder if I had a bottle of the Brown Shugga' that had been mislabeled. Regardless, I do like this beer and I certainly recommend it if you find it.

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Photo of Hopheadjeffery
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted in a Rastal Teku glass from a 12 oz bottle. Look is orange amber with an off-white head and sticky lacing. Smell is caramelized sugar, hop oil, apricot and pineapple notes. Taste is caramel, toasted bread, hop oil, spice and citrus flavors. Feel is chewy in body and smooth in the finish.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Edit: I am reviewing the Brown Shugga as a Barleywine.. there is no way this is the same recipe as the last couple years.

Current batch 12oz.. picked up on Friday at Albertsons for $1.29 (they charged me the wrong price for sure).. poured into my Delirium tulip.

Good 2" head that leaves rings of lace atop a very clear cherry wood color brew.

Aroma is waay hoppier than I remember last years Brown Shugga.. piney hops are at the front and leave little room for much else.. but there is a big background of caramel malts ... this really reminds me of a PNW barleywine.

Flavor is an American barleywine.. Deep bitterness and solid caramel/toasted malt backbone with a nice pine hop flavor that melds well with fruity (fresh black cherry) yeasty flavors. Fairly thick body is expected with a nice prickly/yet creamy carbonation... long lingering hop and lite toffee finish.

Brown Shugga is a BW in '07/'08 .. Where's the Gnarleywine? I think I have a little left in my glass.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
4.12/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lagunita's Brown Shugga' - Initially the recipe was intended to be a Barleywine, but they failed, and re-labeled the brew as Brown Shugga. It developed a following and is now an annual offering.

Appearance: Brown Shugga appears clear and brownish, with a good sized off white foam and lace work.

Smell: Piney hops and a hint of sweetness. At the onset, I was anticipating the taste. I would go as far to say that the aroma to this beer was excellent.

Taste: Caramelized brown sugar! Hops! Indeed, it falls flat as a Barleywine, but this is a finely crafted Strong American Brown Ale. A nice resinous piney hop presence with a strong malt backbone. Warming.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: A bit chewey in the mouthfeel, alcohol is big but not overstated here. A pretty delicious beer and I do plan to drink more of this.

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Photo of biegaman
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Caramelly brown tones are smothering an otherwise luscious red colour, giving Brown Shugga' a distinguishing candy apple appearance. Although clear, bits of coagulated protein remain suspended. Its head, a rudely fashioned clump, is hardy only if properly summoned (some swirling is required to keep it roused). Lacing, however, will result.

This beer was born from a botched batch of the brewery's Olde GnarlyWine, a fact that came as no surprise to me because the two smell awfully similar, if not nearly identical. Knowing of its inclusion, I do note some brown sugar on top of the pineapple, coconut and cantaloupe that have festered in a simmer of heated caramel and toasted biscuit.

These style beers are already teeming with notes of sweet toffee and dark fruits, the brown sugar only enhances them. There is a rotating door of flavours; the instant one flavour falls out it is replaced by another. Plums, molasses, dates, cherry, cantaloupe, toffee, chocolate, apple crumble and, naturally, brown sugar. It is like a tootsie-roll doused in some honey-like nectar and then wrapped in a hard candy shell.

This is like a barleywine in all senses but one: drinkability. This beer belongs in a pint glass not a snifter. Go ahead, check with the alcohol, it won't say nothing. It is neither destructively bitter with its hoping nor sickeningly sweet with the malts (and cane sugar). They've really balanced the sweetness (and hidden the alcohol) well.

Brown Shugga' is as sweet and tantalizing as it sounds. Most beers of this style and strength drink with a callousing nerve and stiff backbone; this one melts over the palate with tender pulses and delicate jitter. If only everyone had as much reason to be proud of what they do as the people at Lagunitas Brewing... what a world that would be.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.58/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Hollingshead's,

A: Pours a dark amber, with a medium white head, medium lacing.

S: Light, but I get some molasses and malt.

T: Brown sugar and molasses is clearly evident, very malt, light hop burst at the end.

M: Creamy, medium-bodied, nice full carbonation character.

D: A good beer by Lagunitas, I wasn't wowed by it, but pretty solid.

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Photo of Zorro
4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a thick hazy reddish brown ale with barely a hint of a tan head. Looks a LOT like fresh motor oil going in to the glass.

Smell is lots of citrus hops with a hint of wood in the smell. The malt is almost an after thought here very light malt scents mostly honey and flower nectar with a faint scent of molasses. After this warms up the rum scents and flavors come out to be savored.

Taste is very hoppy with a lot of tropical fruit flavor in the first sip. In the first taste I detect pineapple, coconut and mango/pine. Powerful hops here and it really lubes your teeth with the hop oils. After about 3 sips the malts make themselves known, honey and brown sugar and some cookie dough. Very tasty I could see calling this a barley wine.

Mouthfeel is good but not as thick as the pour might have suggested.

A tasty sipper of a beer here which is quite mild to me but I am sure Hop exposure has thrown of my taste a little bit. Probably not the thing to serve a Budweiser drinker. I like it though.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.47/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an orange amber with a moderate head that fades quickly. Smell is quite alcoholic and with strong aromas of honey, some apricot, malt, and faint hops. The taste is very warming and with carmelized brown sugar flavors balanced by lots of hops.Its just a little bit sweet, not at all overwhelmingly so. The alcohol is very well hidden. Absolutely delicious balance between sweet and bitter. Mouthfeel is full bodied but not thick. Not sticky. Good carbonation. Very drinkable- perilously so.

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

12oz bottle, very fresh. More in the cellar to see how this one develops. As it is now it’s pretty big and brutal with a lot of booze on the nose and in the flavor. Pours dark reddish amber, with a big cream colored head and a good deal of lacing remaining on the sides of the glass. Sweet, malty aroma, yes brown sugar and toffee; booze as mentioned; piney resinous and grapefruit hops. Flavor follows suit. There’s nothing subtle about this one; it’s sweet and sugary; lots of bitter pine and grapefruit hops that linger quite a bit in the aftertaste; sweet and sticky finish; up front alcohol, big time toasty bread and caramel malt character.

Medium-full body; medium carbonation; very smooth, rich and creamy feel. I guess I don’t get the excitement over this one that much; it felt like a chore to drink; way hot and heavy-handed. It’s obviously well-made and somewhat tasty, it just struck me as unnecessarily massive, even on a cold night. Very much a cross between a highly hopped barleywine and a big DIPA.

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Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company
4 out of 5 based on 5,407 ratings.
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