Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Brown Shugga' | Lagunitas Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,519 | Ratings: 5,406
Photo of sonicdescent
3.53/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a dark red with a white frothy head that sticks a while.

Smells strongly of molasses and malty scents, not much hop presence.

Tastes of brown sugar definitely present but not as strong as I had expected. Gets better the more you drink, but only tops out at average.

Body and Carbonation are at medium.

It isn't that this was a bad beer, I would probably not choose to purchase it again however.

 445 characters

Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.06/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle. Pours a deep clear amber with hardly any head. Aroma of sweet malt, crystal malt, light fruits (grapes?). Flavor is mostly sweet and syrupy, some lemon, and bitter hops in the finish (although I wouldn't say that this was a hoppy beer...). Heavy and slightly harsh palate. Certainly drinkable, but I wasn't really a fan.
6/4/6/3/14 (3.3/5)

 347 characters

Photo of jaydanahy
5/5  rDev +25%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Sweet sugar goodness! For those brown ale fans, this is a fun one...if the gold standard is Sam Smith, this is in the discussion. It's a beautiful brown pour, very strong in alcohol...I would limit the consumption with a nice session beer behind it..

 250 characters

Photo of cvstrickland
3.97/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Poured into an imperial pint willibecher glass from a twist-off-topped 12-ounce stubby, Lagunitas' Brown Shugga is sparkling-clear and orangish-copper with a finger-thick crown of stained ivory foam atop. The head relaxes in short order, resting at a creamy sheet that sticks thin rings of lacing onto the glass.

The sugary-caramel aroma is laced with citrus zest and drizzled over mild toasted malts, imparting a savory component to the dominant perfumey sweetness. Mushy apple and a tart, darkly fruity note of chocolate-covered cherries gain prominence as the drink progresses.

The taste is predictably sweet and decidedly fruity, with a notion of ripe Golden delicious apples pickled in dark rum. Plenty of syrupy brown sugar-coated toasty malts languish under the lightly-boozy fruitiness, and a touch of drying, bitter citrus oil in the finish cleans up the sugar-smack surprisingly well. Grainy-sweet toasted malts and smoked cherries linger in the aftertaste. Given the potency of the drink, the alcohol flavor component is well-hidden, but not stowed so far out of sight as to vanish from the profile entirely. The cooling fruitiness the 9.5% ABV provides is an integral part of the flavor and the feel of the drink, and brings a fine flush to the cheeks and stokes a hearty warming in the belly.

Full-bodied with light carbonation, the brew is a silky-smooth sipper, and tastes great, just like a young girl should. Yeah, yeah, yeah... WOOO!

 1,454 characters

Photo of albern
4.41/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is the easiest 9.9% ABV beer you will find. It pours a thick, syrupy, relatively clear ruby amber color with a slight off white head. Not much lacing or retention. The nose on the beer is very sweet brown sugars, sweet malts, a liqueur like cherry flavor, and estery and oily hops. The nose is quite amazing.

This is a thick, full bodied beer, very sweet, very sticky, but loaded with very nice oily and estery hops that are delightful. There is a very thick, sweet, caramelized maltiness, there is a warming booziness, but liqueur like sweet. The joy in this beer is that the piney and estery hop balances so well against the sweet, but slightly boozy caramel and candied malts. The two complement each other so well that this is not a harsh hop biting beer nor is it a over the top ABV beer with a throaty burn. The beer is a sipper, but this is well worth seeking out.

 878 characters

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

i can certainly echo everything in the previous posts and reviews of this beer - i really like brown shugga - an excellent brew for all the reasons previously posted - my sixpack of 12oz squat bottles appears to have screw caps - i find them impossible to unscrew by hand, even with one of those kitchen drawer rubber grip bottle opening things - removing the cap with an opener reveals that there are indeed screw threads on the neck of the bottle - perhaps the high malt/shugga content has welded the thread interface tight with heavy molasses-like sugars - all the more fun to get at the prized liquid -

 606 characters

Photo of MEverritt
4.68/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- Darker Amber/Brown with very little head

S- Smells of sweet brown sugar mixed with a little pine tree.

T- Actually quite good. Plenty of hop flavor mixed with the sweetness of the brown sugar which helps hide the 10% abv.

M- Alot smoother then I expected with the high abv and sugar content. I drank two because the first went down so quickly. It seemed a little heavy at first but smoothes out after a few sips.

D- I thought it was a good ale. I actually want to pair it with some BBQ. "yummm i bet it will be awesome." With the higher abv I wouldnt put it into a session type beer but 2 or 3 would be ok.

 615 characters

Photo of dmk139
4.82/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was a surprisingly drinkable beer considering the high IBU and ABV. The balance between the bitterness and the sweetness is very unique for me. Poured into a Pilsner Glass left it with a nice frothy head with a strong lace. I can find absolutely nothing wrong with this beer.

 280 characters

Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.88/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a clear red-orange color with a small head after a pretty aggressive pour. The head falls quickly and there are very few bubbles rising to maintain the head.

Aroma: I initially got a good amount of citrus hops and some spicy notes from the alcohol. There is a little bit of sweetness, but for the most part, the hops and alcohol are in charge.

Taste: The flavor is also hoppy with some evident sweetness from the sugar. The sugar has a slight syrupy impression that is as much mouthfeel as anything. The beer is attenuated, but it certainly isn't dry. The dryness comes from the hop bitterness as anything. The balance is slightly tipped toward the sweetness in the end with the alcohol setting as an evident warming to linger for a little while in the finish.

Opinion: This is a pretty good beer. I like that it is still balanced slightly toward the sweetness. It is not a beer that I would drink a lot of, but it is pretty tasty and this is the last beer that I bought from a 6-pack. I don't regret that purchase, so you may want to try one too.

 1,068 characters

Photo of Bung
3.21/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle. Hardy copper/amber pour with a nearly non-existant white head. Non-descript hops with slight malt and brown sugar aroma. Flavor dominated by hops, not overly bitter, just overly present. Not sure how anyone could get sweet out of this. I want to sit and disect this but it's just an IPA with some brown sugar. Clean finish sure, drinkability good especially for the abv. Probably great if you're a straight hop head. The base of the beer tastes like EVERY SINGLE other beer I've had from Lagunitas. Malt and roast are just too words they don't like to incorporate. It's like they just keep taking their IPA and adding different small items and calling it a different named Strong Ale. Everybody is always so high on this brewer and I guess I just don't get it. West Coast bitter beer, the thought being this is crisp and clean and organic in some instances. Rambled enough. I was unimpressed with this and will age 1 but look to donate the other 4 I have. Even their capuccino stout was just a heavy brown. Ok, now I'm done.

 1,038 characters

Photo of kbnooshay
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a clear orange amber color with a very thin off white head. Smells like a hopped cough syrup. Weird. Well this tastes like a barelywine with brown sugar in it! A LOT of brown sugar. This is citric and super sweet. The hop flavor is definitely grapefuity. Hints of molasses and dark fruit really make this interesting. Feel is super slick and oil with slight tingling from the carbonation. I could drink a few of these but the result would be drunkedness.


 474 characters

Photo of Slatetank
3.85/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I had this ale courtesy of shertz, poured chilled into my Great lakes christmas glass.

A - Garnet w/ a good deal of clarity. A thick rocky beige head. The lace is quick to collect and has a fine bead.

S - Like a pine cone with a very sap filled odor-lots of resinous hops. The scent has subtle golden delicious notes w/ a hint of tropical fruits, potent nectar.

The texture is smooth w/ an intense sweetness and full but balanced carbonation w/ the hops acidity trailing.the feel is like candy with a hop filled center. The sweetness lingers long after the ale has been swallowed.

T - almost like a sugar cookie w/ a subtle molasses and brisk balanced hoppy pine flavor which is angular jutting out of the crystal malt and a relatively strong alcohol note parallels this taste. The brown sugar gives the taste an intense caramel flavor like candy corn with a hop bitterness, it is both flavorful and balanced for a strong ale which not an ordinary trait.

D - A great ale- I enjoy it immensely, it was a pleasant nightcap for me. I could possibly handle a couple or a bomber but on this night one was plenty which is my reasoning for only above average here. This is not a boring beer - Brown Shugga: "how come you taste so good?"

 1,234 characters

Photo of KevinBrewer
3.41/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I had this beer on tap at Blue Palms in Hollywood. It is a translucent, slightly hazy reddish brown. The head was white and fluffy, but it dissipated quickly without much lacing to speak of.

The aroma is predominately of earthy hops. There is a slight sweet malty smell in the background. I would appreciate more complexity in this area.

Sweet malt and brown sugar grab the tongue at first, followed by the same earthy hops that were present in the nose. The hops stick on the palate and almost take center stage. There is a slight hop bitterness in the finish, but the earthy hops are most memorable. The aftertaste is slightly grainy. I cannot taste the alcohol at all.

The body is medium-light with a dry finish. The high alcohol content is most noticeable in the mouthfeel.

I had to switch to a lighter beer after this one because of the high alcohol content. The taste was pleasing, but heavy, and I felt like I needed some refreshment after drinking it.

 964 characters

Photo of lhaqq
3.78/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Orange/light copper slightly cloudy body with little white head.
S: Not too much of a smell. Some candy sugar but also some bitterness from the hops.
T: Tastes like a decent IPA meets a triple, sans most of the sweetness of the triple. Has the bitterness of an IPA but just tastes heavier, and more sugary.
M: Compact lively carbonation. Still feels light in the mouth despite the heavy taste.
D: Dangerous, I think. My friend said she could taste the alcohol, but I thought it was pretty well masked. At least according to the server, the abv is actually 12% which, if true, is even more impressive given the lack of alcohol taste and the often overly sweet concomitant flavor.

 681 characters

Photo of tconboy
4.07/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a light golden reddish brown with a nice head and thick clumpy lacing. Smells of sweet dry honey and a nice little balance of smoothness and bitterness from the hops. The strong ABV hidden well. Definitely an enjoyable beer, would likely get another if available, but not going out of my way to track this down.

 317 characters

Photo of rasta16ry
3.98/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I drank this after work on draft at the Ginger Man in the middle of the week, so I got a table and a waitress. She brought it over in a snifter glass, so I had quite a bit to work with. There wasn't much of a head left but it was a really nice amber color and some white lacing was there on the glass.

I didn't get so much of the hops smell as I did the malt and brown sugar, which made it very sweet.

Personally it seems to me that it tastes much better than it smells. The smell made me a little nervous because of the sweetness, but after tasting it I really had a better feel for the hops, which are there, and how they cooperate with the brown sugar. Ultimately the combination really masks the alcohol content, which I understand is around 10%.

I got two of them, because I liked it so much, but that's really the ceiling for me as it is a deceptively strong beer. Definitely worth the little extra it costs, and a very enjoyable beer.

 944 characters

Photo of Lunchmade
4.17/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A very smooth, syrupy brew that seems like a mouthful of candy. This beer goes down easy and has a sneaky high alcohol content. There are hints of citrus but they are very subtle. The added sugar does make this a treat of malty sweetness. I am always very surprised that these go down so quickly as usually higher ABV's are more of a sippin' brew.

Great before bed beer, but make sure you brush your teeth as that sugar blast will definitely do damage ;)!

 456 characters

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

A: Golden brown, almost amber. Inch-high head with some staying power.

S: Pink grapefruit, with a little molasses beneath but not cloying.

T: Sweet citrus, again with the grapefruit, though subtle and delicious. The sugar definitely adds something to the feel in the mouth.

MF: Definitely fills my mouth, with good carbonation level to boot.

D: Probably too drinkable. I had to go fast, unfortunately, and it went down smooth as you please.

 444 characters

Photo of rhinos00
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

A- Clear, red amber. Pours a fingers width of off-white head.

S- I feel like the aroma on this brew had potential. There were very faint hints of citrus and hops combined with a malty sweetness. If the aroma was amplified a bit, it would really benefit the beer.

T- Quite interesting indeed. Found a nice malt presence with a little citrus. The unique part was the infusion of brown sugar cane. It offered a sweetness vastly different from anything else I have had. That being said, this beer had it's moments, then it didn't.

M- Medium bodied with a nice, sugary sweetness that stuck to the tongue.

D- Whoa! The nearly 10% abv sneaks up on you like no other. That being said any traces of alcohol are literally undetectable. Enjoy this one to the fullest.

Overall, this brew is on and off. At puts this may be a high quality brew and at others times, just plain average. I really enjoyed the infusion of sugar cane, which offered a unique taste. Recommended.

 1,014 characters

Photo of kimcgolf
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours to a dark orange-red with thin off-white head that lingers well and leaves excellent lacing. Nose is malty dark fruit and hoppy citurs, with just the right blend of alcohol. Like most Lagunitas, mouth is full and chewy, with the taste accenting the fruits and alcohol of the nose. This all rounds to a long warming finish, in which the 9.9% abv also makes itself known (after a couple).

A fine beer on a cold winter's night.

 431 characters

Photo of supercolter
3.11/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This to me was only slightly better than the Hairy Eyeball Ale. In fact I would say these to beers are nearly identical except for two things. The Brown Shugga has higher alcohol content but it is hidden better with the flavor and so it is not as offputting. Also, there seems to be a bit more molasses or brown sugar used and a bit less dried fruit which makes it slightly more balanced.

 388 characters

Photo of cagocubs
3.9/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Brown-Orange dark amber with very think white head. Foam accumulates on edge of beer throughout drink.

S: Sweet molasses scent up front. Also features citrus with spice.

T: toasted and fairly bitter from hops off the bat. Followed by alcohol taste that was saved by a great late release of sweetness in the aftertaste. An exciting beer to experience.

M/D: Medium body thats flavor lingers in your mouth with great aftertaste. For being 9.9% it is masked beautifully in this strong ale. It is easy to drink.

 547 characters

Photo of Magpie14
4.57/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: orange and red hues, just a touch on the cloudy side. Capped off with a thin and fizzy head. The color is rather pleasant and maintains a certain radiance and warmth to it. The walls of the glass were almost bare as lacing was token

S: sweet profile that makes me think of butterscotch and belgian candies. Roasted malts, and an essential companionship of lemon and pine hops

T: malts give a good bottom end and allow the sweeter stuff to mingle in the mouth. Sweetness of brown sugar, caramel, and soft medicinal honey syrupy appeal (not a bad thing). I think the medicinal characteristics are a direct result of the hops (lemons, pine, grapefruits) that do the trick of cutting through the sweetness from time to time. Also hits with a bit of bite and spiced cherries and fruits.
All in all this guy is pretty balanced for what flavors their are, and their is a bunch and nothing is over the top! Great sipper

M: mild and creamy body, super agreeable and gratifying. Body has the strong ale style right, all while maintaining a good hop profile. Alcohol notes pop through after sitting, in any event I hardly realized

D: what the devil! why have I not had this before? I have found new favorite to add to the list, sheer wonder in a bottle. Without a doubt one of my favorite strong ales to this date

 1,309 characters

Photo of username8000
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On tap at Flying Saucer.

This poured a nice coppery red color with a thick beige head, although it dissipated rather quickly.

The nose was sweet like maple syrup and citrusy with hints of cinnamon.

The taste was very similar to the nose, but more sweet than citrus. Very smmoth and thick with a pleasant lingering finish. The alcohol was evident, but not overpowering.

Although I enjoyed this one, it was a bit sweet for me to have more than one or two.

 457 characters

Photo of SShelly
4.13/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at blue palms.

Comes out a nice medium copper/red with fluffy offwhite head.

Smells of citrus, some serious cascade/centennial late in this beer, touch of sweetness behind the hops.

Flavor is malty sweet, very smooth, any bitterness is just balancing the beer. Maybe a touch to the sweet side of things but that lends more to my personal preference. Unlike the nose there is only a touch of hop flavor I can find in this.

Nice medium mouthfeel, medium carb. A very easy drinking "bigger" beer. I approve.

 515 characters

Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company
4 out of 5 based on 5,406 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.
  • Extreme Beer FestĀ® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!