Brown Shugga' | Lagunitas Brewing Company

1,583 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: 1,583 | Ratings: 5,644
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

Photo of illidurit
3.52/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pour: 12 oz stubby bottle to pint glass. Dark browned orange color with a creamy but small tan head.
Nose: Huge sweet citrus doused with maple syrup. Almost like a sweet double IPA.
Mouth: Pretty similar to the aroma; grapefruit with maple syrup is the dominant flavor. There's some bitterness, astringency, and alcohol too. Medium full body, substantial ( and maybe a bit much) carbonation. Average drinkability.

 413 characters

Photo of CHSLBrew
4.17/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass.

A-Clear dark-amber beer, topped with a hearty, tan head. Retention was low.

S-Citrusy-orange hops with some resiny hops underneath. Hints of spices. There was a sweeter, perhaps malty aroma behind the hops, which also could have been attributable to the brown sugar.

T-Toasty and beefy (in size, not flavor) with a light brown sugar note. Bitterness is assertive and balancing with quite a bit of hop character, may be a sweetish resinous character and orange-iness. A slight alcohol flavor melds into the other flavors.

M-Medium body with a springy, bright medium carbonation. Some grainy feel materializes, from the thick hoppiness. A nice boozey feeling lingers in my mouth, no at all harsh.

D-Very drinkable, in its complexity and ease of consumption. This is an interesting beer with strong hop character and bitterness, balanced well by the smooth malt flavors, with a hint of something wild with the brown sugar mixed in.

 959 characters

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

Opened 12 fl ounce bottle and poured into Snifter glass.

Pours 1" head that dies down to ½" of froth atop a slightly hazy dark Caramel brown brew.

Smells of malts; I almost get a slight hint of gingerbread - but maybe it is imaginary. Taste is sweet and of molasses and vanilla. Hops are pleasant and provide balanced bitterness. I was expecting this brew to be a whopper, it was quite pleasant and very easy to drink. Not something I would drink on a regular basis, but I know lots of people who would really love this stuff.

 529 characters

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

Picked up a 12oz. single for $1.50... seemed like a good deal.

Pours into a globe glass a beautiful bright red color with great clarity and nice thick white head. Good retention and excellent lacing all around.

Aroma is sweet and really hoppy with pine and citrus like many a west coast IPA. Really pleasant in this respect.

Flavor is intense starting sweet with big malt and brown sugar leading gradually towards a hop smack on the tongue. Lots of great hop bitterness makes this beer blur the line between strong ale and double IPA. Maybe not enough IBUs (51) but certainly well balanced for having such a high OG (1.10).

Mouthfeel is very good, full bodied but not too thick or cloying. Good carbonation and smooth on the palate.

Drinkability is also good for the style but high ABV hinders it somewhat.

 811 characters

Photo of KI9A
4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Clear, amber, OK head, nice lace.

S: Citrusy, sweet.

T: Matches up with smell. Sweetness offest by hop bite. Lots of malt, fair amount of hops. I'm digging this stuff.

M: Coats the mouth, lingering hop bittnernes.

D: Where is the 9.9%? Wait, I feel it now. Thought it might be too sweet, judging by the packaging, what a nice surprise! Can't wait to see what the other reviews say!

 388 characters

Photo of seanbhudson
3.85/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy amber/copper color with a large off-white head that dissipates at an average rate. Some lacing.
Molasses, brown sugar and alcohol.
Sweet malt with a molasses flavor and hint of vanilla. There is a nice earthy bitter finish to balance it.
Full bodied with a syrupy texture. Soft carbonation. Slight alcohol burn to finish.
At first I thought this would be too sweet but it is surprisingly smooth and the bitter finish balances it out.

 519 characters

Photo of malcontent
3.66/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Brilliant, deep amber body wit a copious, sticky tan head that smears lacing up and down the glass' sides.

Carmel/maple goodness collide with a sharp citrus hop kick creating an almost pineapple-like effect on the nose. Weird...but fun.

Nope, it tastes like pineapple, too, and I'm not sure I love that. Certainly the depth of flavor is startling with brown sugar clearly on display and that same, pine-y/citrus hop character charging ahead flanked on either side by rye bread/molasses interplay and, well, pineapples!

Full-bodied ale is certainly appropriate for the style and the slight slickness is acceptable for a style that requires serious hopping to counterbalance a wallop of a grain bill. Still, drinkability is hurt somewhat by a big 'ol dose of booze and that same flavor reminiscent of a certain tropical fruit...

 829 characters

Photo of MrMcGibblets
3.51/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle cellared for about 1.5 years. i thought this would be brown in color, but it was a clear bright amber/copper with lots of big particulates/floaties. minimal creamy head and lacing. caramel, brown sugar, molasses, and a hint of aged rum in both the aroma and flavor. big sweetness upfront gives way to surprisingly noticeable citric/resiny sharp hop bite at the end. medium to full in body with a creamy mouthfeel and long sweet/bitter finish which ends as drying. unexpected and interesting.

 504 characters

Photo of mataelbata
4.8/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

this beer was recommended to me and serves as my introduction to Lagunitas Beers. I love it. It is such a drinkable beer at 9.9% abv. It deserves respect. I don't think that it will improve with age, it is perfect as is! I would definitely try more of Lagunitas.

 262 characters

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

Poured into a straight pint glass. Minimal head leaves light but sticky lacing. A very pretty reddish-brown. Sweet aroma with nice hop touches. Flavor matches aroma closely. Smoothly sweet at the front with a balancing hop tang at the finish. Faint alcohol taste, but not in a bothersome way. Body is just a little lighter than full. Very drinkable, but this beer will sneak up on you. Because it's smooth, sweet and easy to drink you might not notice it preparing to pop you. Very enjoyable, becoming a yearly favorite.

 520 characters

Photo of erikm25
3.98/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured a light crimson with nice amber highlights. The head was two plus fingers of off white fluff. Strong retention and lacing that leaves sticky sheets all around the glass.

S: This does live up to the name but also had some pine hops. Caramelized sugars with rounded sweet candy apple aromas. Gently balanced between heavy sweetness and spiced citrus. Some dark cherries toward the back.

T: Amazingly smooth and rich. Brown sugars with caramel and bready malts add some thickness to each sip. There are some nicely textured spices thrown throughout. Little bit of toffee and butterscotch flavored candy. Even with the high ABV they have done an impressive job hiding it. Finish balances out with just the right amount of bitterness.

M: This is full bodied with moderate carbonation.

D: Picked up a six pack of this and the first one was very drinkable. However, I can see how the richness and the alcohol could probably start to sneak up. Regardless, a pretty solid offering.

 986 characters

Photo of olmatty
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- Frothy white two finger head with decent retention, light lacing and an amber rust liquid.

Smell- Smells like brown sugar with a strong whiff of brandy

Taste- Brown sugar sweetness layerd over a sharp malt backdrop. Hints of plum, licorice and even peach. Strong brandy alohol accompanied by bitter hopiness.

Mouthfeel- Full mouthfeel and smooth carbonation. A chunky brew.

Drinkability- Most enjoyable brew, yet as much as you'll enjoy it the high alcohol content, 9.5% and super full palate will probably limit this session to one or two. But, you'll definately want to go back for more.

 609 characters

Photo of Riccymon
2.71/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Poured amber/brown from the bottle with about a finger of off-white head. Aroma was mostly hoppy, similar to a pale ale or IPA, and the taste came off the same way. I didn't notice a lot of balance to the beer--citrus, almost pineapple-like hoppiness accompanied by some sugar sweetness. I almost felt like I was drinking a boozey (the ABV was up-front) pineapple upsidedown cake. Mouthfeel may have been the high point, as Brown Shugga' drank like a nice, full brew. With the ABV as high and noticeable, however, I wouldn't want to drink many of these.

 553 characters

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

From notes:

Appearance: Poured a dark red amber, with a khaki colored head. Minimal head rentention. Very clear.

Smell: Smells of damp sticky hope, very sweet and of grapes or raisins. Almost syrupy in fragrance. You can almost smell the alcohol.

Taste: Sweet and dark. Malty and a little hoppy, but not overwhelming. Taste sticks around for a while.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied beer and minimally carbonated. Feels "slick".

Drinkability: A medium bodied beer, with a sweet and heavy feel. It's a little syrupy and the booze may be limiting to drinking a lot. A good one to try though.

 587 characters

Photo of Proteus93
3.9/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of dkachur... thanks, Dan! I can't believe I haven't picked it up myself in all this time.

A: Rather bronzish with a nice two finger creamy foam of head. Retention is pretty good, and it has pretty good lacing.

S + T: Brown shugga is right, both in aroma and flavour. Big caramelized sugar blending in quite nicely with a toasted malt and a little spot of hoppiness. A rather nicely balanced beer.

M + D: A little big, kind of sticky... it leaves a fair bit of residue behind, which has me smacking my lips for a while after each sip. A little rich, perhaps, but a good beer... solid beer. I'd be game for more, though the alcohol makes it a bit of a slower indulgence brew.

 696 characters

Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company
4 out of 5 based on 5,644 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

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.