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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: 5,406
Photo of OrestesMethuon
4.02/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I've been drinking (and loving) its substitute—Lagunitas Sucks—for years, but somehow I never found or created the opportunity to try Brown Shugga' until now, when I finally bit the bullet and bought a six-pack. Amusingly—though this is a very good beer—its Sucky substitute *is* the better ale; but I really love Lagunitas Sucks, so that's not a knock on its Sweet Release predecessor.

Indeed, as I wrote, this is a very good beer. It's richly sugary, yet aggressively boozy, balancing out the sweetness; it's smoothly, roundly brown, with a robust, but not overly-thick, mouthfeel, as well as a finish that much cleaner than one might expect from a brown-cane-added strong ale; and, for its style, it's surprisingly bitter (51.1 IBU), in a good way, showcasing a smart and sophisticated use of hops to add balance to an otherwise bombastic, blown-up beer.

With its sparklingly-clean caramel color, Brown Shugga' is really a brew of rare breed: heavy and strong, clean and shiny, balanced and smooth, a bit woody and benevolently saccharine, big but also blithely self-assured. Indeed: the brewer's belief that "this Special Ale is Something Unique" seems anything but misplaced.

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Photo of Lee_Adams
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

For hoppy beer fans, you'll love this. The sugar doesn't quite come to the fore like I'd hoped, but the look is beautiful, nice creamy foam after pouring, leaving lacing as it falls and taste is decently complex. With floral and fruity notes, the finish is bitter.

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Photo of Jeffreysan
4.63/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

12 oz bottle, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, dark, yet clear, mahogany color with two full fingers of off-white head that slowly dissolved into a thin lacing of foam that covered the entire top of the beer.

Aroma: Very aromatic with tons of floral hops, clover, caramel and some faint notes of malt.

Taste: Delicious! Nice, sweet malty flavors up front, quickly followed by some assertive, but not at all overpowering or out of balance hops, and finishes with some more brown sugar/caramel-like sweetness. I also get notes of dried stone fruit, like prunes and raisins, as well as some faint hits of chocolate and vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Slightly chewy with little to no carbonation. With an ABV of 9.9%, there is quite a bit of alcohol on the palate, instilling a pleasant warmth.

Overall: Damn, this is a great beer! I love the balance between hops and sweet! Lagunitas, you knocked it out of the park with this one!

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Photo of ParnellJoseph1138
4.27/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A-Enticing deep copper color

S-Readily apparent floral hop aroma and sweet smell

T-A fine malt presence but you really taste the sweetness of the sugar and then the orange, grapefruit character of the hops come through. A lot of complexity and character in this beer.

M-A rich full mouth feel

O-A fascinating beer with a unique combination of hops, malt, sugar. The malt presence becomes apparent first, the sweetness comes through next, and then it finishes with a hop bitterness.

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Photo of Jfn
4.45/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Awesome beer. With name thought it might lean to sweet but surprised that had decent hops. Great seasonal beer and thankful I bought last 6er today. Really nice look and smooth.

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Photo of drdiesel9483
4.19/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look - great Amber color with a great white head and good lacing.
Smell - piney malty sweet brown sugar smell and you can smell the booze
Taste - so similar to the smell but not as much of the booze taste.
Feel - full body with a creamy feel.
Overal this is a fantastic strong ale and so different with that brown sugar.

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

Middle of winter, not my choice. But makes a damn refreshing choice on any hot summer day. Gave this a poor rating before when I tried it in mid January, but had to raise that when I tried it in May.

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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 Keystone
3.05/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I don't know if I am drinking the same beer as some people? I was not sold on this one. Good feel to the beer and nice light carbonation as others have pointed out. However that was about it for me. Didn't smell good, too sweet on the front and the after taste is as if someone poured cheap vodka in my beer.

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Photo of Duhast500
3.84/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brown sugar

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a Sierra Nevada Celebration pint glass.

The color is a clear amber/gold with a finger of foamy head and some slight lacing left on the glass.

The smell has a slight Christmas cookie aroma that us a little sugar and a little but dough in the nose. There is a slight ginger aroma here as well.

The taste has a sweet sugar flavor that has a hint of bread and a nice cookie flavor that is slightly mixed with ginger and brown sugar.

The feel of this beer is medium bodied and has a nice drinkable feel to it. There is a nice smoothness that has a great silky feel

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.07/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From a 12 ounce bottle into a snifter.

Deep amber and copper in color with a sudsy, cushion-like head so big several craters develop at its center. The persists wonderfully and scatters lace as it retreats. The beer has excellent clarity and no visible carbonation.

Resinous, dank, fruity and, like the name suggests, sugary on the nose. Floral to boot. Melon is what my brain thinks of with successive whiffs.

Juicy fruit flavors explode onto the tastebuds. Citrus, melon again, boozy pineapple. Sweet malt flavors are pervasive but there's something distinct in there that isn't caramel, molasses or your usual malt-related flavors. There's a bit of a hot, solventy finish that, combined with the stiff bitterness, are a tad harsh. As I drink it, I'm reminded somewhat of a sangria, as some of the citrusy, sugary flavors are similar to that beverage, and it has the same rough-around-the edges drinkability.

I suppose this beer sort of defies the IPA/DIPA and barleywine categories, as it resembles both but is neither. It's far too thin and juicy to be a barleywine and far too sweet to be an IPA.

It's an aggressive beer and it packs a punch that you will feel immediately on the palate, the throat and on the noggin, but there's something appealing about it that keeps your drinking.

I have to say, if I set out to get drunk off of some good beer, this would be a good starting point.

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Photo of secondtooth
4.06/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Deep clean copper with my Gordon Biersch glassware. Nice tri-finger head of yellowish foam, and gorgeous, intricate lacing.

Aroma: Detectably hoppy, but with something else. Surely, the brown sugar is making its presence known here.

Taste: Strong, and very much a heavily-hopped ale, yet the brown sugar steers this one somewhere different, and away from the usual Imperial IPA territory (where this would be firmly categorized as, if not for this surprising infusion). There’s a bitterness present, but also plenty of toasty, sweet maltiness, and a dry, warming finish as well. A unique, heavy, and thoroughly enjoyable experience!

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Photo of UPMD_Bill
4.13/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle. Big frothy head, definitely sweet. A little balance from the hops but the added sugar dominates. A little peppery bite from the alcohol, but went down easy for 9.9%.

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Photo of longjumps
4.04/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

look: Copper hue with a big, off-white and foamy head. Visible bubbles at the bottom of the glass.

smell: I get more of a floral hoppiness than anything here.

taste: Initial hoppy bite followed by the sweetness of brown sugar and a good malt presence. Really easy drinking.

feel: Hard to detect the 9.99%, it is well disguised (in my opinion) by the smooth and slightly syrupy textures.

overall: Essentially, outside of Maryland offerings, my first foray into craft beer, and I'm really pleased with this. This is the first of a sixer and I'm certainly looking forward to the rest!

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Photo of mchegash
3.51/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured 12oz bottle into a Dogfish Head Signature glass

Appearance - 4.75/5
A beautiful red orange in color. Almost two fingers of slightly tan head, with great head retention and lacing. Clear, and tons of carbonation can be seen rising up the beer.

Smell - 3.75/5
Moderate amount of sharp piney hops, with some herbal/floral notes as well. Can't smell any of the brown sugar which I was anticipating, which is disappointing.

Taste - 3.25/5
Mostly can taste mellow pine-citrus hops with some earthy and grapefruit flavors. Beer is slightly sweet, with a little bit of malt taste. Again, I could not detect any of the brown sugar flavor, so I was highly disappointed. The taste isn't bad, but it tastes more like an IPA or a pale ale.

Mouthfeel - 3.25/5
Medium-light in body, smooth, slightly creamy. Carbonation is on the lighter side.

Overall - 3.5/5
I was disappointed with this brew. With all of the talk about brown sugar and such, I thought this beer would be sweeter, and have a richer malty taste. Instead I got practically an IPA. It's not a terrible beer, but overall was not a fan of the flavor.

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Photo of KillerJigger
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Was not what i was expecting. Maybe the smell was so awesome that the taste couldn't compete. Like smelling a flower and its awesome, yet eating it not so good. Hope that made sense. I'm definitely going to have another and review it once again. Was still very complex with tons of tastes that i loved. Had this on tap Saturday. And now im certain the bottles i had before were bad. Much better this time around.

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Photo of trebbates
4.08/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This beer was not what I expected. It was given to me and I was just going off the name. Without reading any of the label but the name, I thought it was going to be a brown ale. It poured into a pint glass with a beautiful copper color and the fluffy creamy white head immediately came to life, and stayed! It left quite a bit of lacing with each sip. Boy, what a nice looking ale. When I smelled it, the hops drifted up but not too strong, with some nice malts to blend in. The taste was just wonderful. The fact that I was completely caught off guard with the type of beer this was really enhanced the favors for me. No preconceived notions. The hops was right up front but not too strong. Think of a mild IPA. The malts were just right but what knocked it out of the park for me was the sweet flavors. Then I read the label. Brown cane sugar! It really works well with the malty flavors to produce what has become a new favorite of mine. It was not overly carbonated nor to thin. It was just right for me. While the sweetness of the cane sugar may be too much for some, this is one ale you should try. I was also very surprised to see that it had a 9.99% ABV! It completely disappears into what I think is an excellenty crafted ale. Kudos Lagunitas!

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Photo of BrownAleBollocks
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark brown with a tan head. Aroma is hops, resin, dark malts. Taste is sweet with bitterness, and a broe
wn sugar note. Mouthfeel is medium and smooth. Overall, a pretty good winter beer.

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Photo of joe12pk
4.02/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I'm sure this is a fine barley wine, but it was too sweet for me. It became more tolerable the longer it sat. Cheers!

Tried this again. Still a little cloying but has excellent hop profile. My first single bottle I tried most have been too old. Cheers!

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Photo of sprat1960
4.11/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Look: Light brown with flashes of orange and yellow; transparent. Pours with a 2 finger creamy white head that dies down leaving a smooth layer of foam on the surface of the beer and some sticky lacing on the sides of the glass.

Smell: Light, sweet, aroma with hints of malt. Nice. Made me want to drink the beer.

Taste: Lightly sweet (without being fruity or syrupy), brown sugar, malt. Very nice, unique flavor.

Feel: Slight above average. Thin, like a typical US commercial beer. But very nice light carbonation, unlike a typical commercial beer.

Overall: I enjoyed this beer and would gladly drink it again. It was an easy to drink beer with a unique flavor, but not something that I would go out of my way for. I think the hype surrounding this beer might have left me disappointed, though a very nice beer none the less.

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Photo of ajm5108
4.09/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

You can taste a faint hint of burnt sugar upfront but it gives way nicely to a medium malt / hop exchange...a little piney on the back at first but mellows as it warms...just sweet enough to add dimension but not sugary...

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Photo of Jguthpsu
3.29/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I will give this a higher rating because I can see why people like it. It does have a depth of flavor and is somewhat unique. However, I did not care for it as it was to bitter for me.

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Photo of tekstr1der
4.02/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep red mahogany color. Pine, alcohol and cooked sugar aroma translates into similar flavors, somehow masking the alcohol somewhat. Syrupy and smooth feel makes this surprisingly drinkable. A bit dangerous.

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Photo of hotpauko
4.07/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Typical Lagunitas style beer which means well made. This is a sweet beer so be prepared. High ABV noticeable but blends well. Recommend letting it sit to room temp which improves smooth mouth feel. Strong caramel alcohol laced aroma. The sweet alcohol taste takes over the malt and hops, but not too hoppy. Two stage beer. First the overall beer flavors followed by heavy "brown shugga" that lingers in the back of the mouth and tongue.

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Photo of boesesfleisch
3.88/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

It was pretty hard to believe this beer was nearly 10% ABV, as it drinks very easily. Has a very interested balance of malty sweetness and west coast hops. A Must try.

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