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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 bruachan
3.33/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

great to see this stuff distributed on the east coast

golden-amber with some decent lacing up top. the head is not huge but persistent. well carbonated

floral hop aromas with a touch of citrus. the malt does sneak in, but it's mostly vegetal. sweet tasting, with a considerable hop character, despite only 51 IBUs. it could use some ageing, as the booze seems a little harsh. the complexity can't compare with hibernation or nosferatu (or even arrogant bastard) and it's surprisingly dry. i suppose that's the reuslt of cane sugar

this is gold to some, but i'm not sure i fit in that category. i'll stick it in the cellar

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Photo of Winter
3.33/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear dark copper with a light khaki head. Aroma primarily consists of caramel, malt and brown sugar. The mouthfeel is medium in body. This was a lot hoppier than I was expecting from a beer made with raw sugar. It's not really that sweet at all. Piney, floral hoppiness is in the forefront of the flavor profile. The maltiness leaves a somewhat sticky mouthfeel. The hops impart a drying finish toward the back. Alchohol is hardly noticeable.

I'm a little underwhelmed after trying this one. I guess i was expecting something a little sweeter under the guise of a brown ale made with raw (brown)sugar. This one disappoints.

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Photo of Scrylol
3.34/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a one finger fluffy white head. Copper colored body, seems a bit hazy. Not bad.

Tropical fruit aromas, citrus, zest, and lemon as well. Slight malty sweetness note to it. Can smell some alcohol as well.

Bitter hop flavors with tons of citrus and zest on the tongue. Followed by strong alcohol notes. Slight caramel malty sweetness to it. Leaves a dry, bready aftertaste with hints of alcohol. Pretty low alcohol burn despite the amount I can taste.

Medium body, decent carbonation. Feels creamy and goes down smooth.

Decent strong ale, but I didn't find much brown sugar in it. Bit too hoppy in terms of balance, and unfortunately was able to taste quite a bit of alcohol (though it's not that bad).

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Photo of bsp77
3.35/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into tall glass.

Appearance: Somewhat dark reddish-amber with nice light tan head.

Smell: Tangerine-accented orange, slightly tart grapefruit with some sweet caramel. Sugary and alcoholic.

Taste: Very hoppy with grapefruit, orange and pine. There is a caramel- and toffee-like malt backbone and a nice layer of sweetness. Ends somewhat bitter and balanced, but the sticky sweetness is cloying and distracting.

Feel: Surprisingly light, effervescent body for the high abv - must be due to the brown sugar. Only somewhat dry finish and more boozy than warming

Drinkability: Comes across as a light, grapefruit-hoppy Barleywine. Sounds good, but too sticky and boozy.

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Photo of notsoprobeer
3.35/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Deep amber in color with a white head that dissipated quickly. No lacing on the glass. Aroma is brown sugar and and citrus hops. Flavor is brown sugar, caramel malts, and some spices that I can't place. There are some citrus hops in the flavor, but they lurk in the background. Medium to heavy bodied with medium carbonation. It has a very sweet finish that isn't cloying and long lingering. This is a good thing, in my opinion, as I've recently had a few beers that left an unpleasant long lasting sweetness. I was very surprised to see that this is 9.9% ABV. The alcohol is very well hidden, so proceed with caution!

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Photo of TXHops
3.35/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Lagunitas Brown Shugga

9.9% ABV

Brown Shugga is Lagunitas' failed attempt at brewing Gnarleywine back in 1998. See, I can read the label... Apparently they dumped in a bunch of brown sugar to rectify some awful situation and the result was good enough to be bottled. Fair enough--at least they were honest with us...

Brown Shugga is deep, deep amber--like unfiltered clover honey. The 1" eggshell colored head couldn't support itself and after 2-3 minutes became about a sixteenth of its former self. However, it did last, and the bubbles were tiny. The remaining, thin head was cratered by little streamers of bubbles from below, creating a nice, uneven affect.

The aroma, while sweet and faintly alcoholic, was mostly hoppy--American hops it appears, though all three aromas are subdued more than I would have expected in a hopped up barleywine--extended aging? Actually, the restraint is kinda interesting--it allows for some complexity in the aroma--not all malt, not all citrus. Maybe I'm being suggestible, but I fancy I can smell the brown sugar a little too...

The flavor is a little different. It's thin. I don't just mean the mouthfeel, I mean the flavor, which is quite pronounced at first, seems to leave my mouth searching for it after a few seconds (though it’s far from dry). When the beer first hits my tongue, I can taste the gravity of the non-attenuated sugars quite clearly. It's clear by the esters and the heat moving around inside my mouth after each sip that there's more than just malt to attenuate. The use of non-malt sugar leaves its mark distinctly. A winey, slightly cidery flavor is present in each sip, though not at all overwhelming. The hops have a characteristic "burned" quality that I frequently picked up in highly hopped, higher alcohol beers. I've frequently contemplated why this flavor seems to exist in some beers and not others. Fullers ESB has it, so it's not just American hops, nor is it only hyper-hoppy imperials. In fact, the super hoppy stuff seems to taste more sticky than burned typically. Enough digression...

I found the beer enjoyable, though not great. No particular aspect of its character makes it stand out. Actually, I REALLY like the fact that I can get a bomber of 9.9% beer for less than $3, but price aside, this beer is unexceptional, though by no means bad. The slight cidery taste and the lack of distinction in malt flavor or in hoppiness leaves this beer truly average across the board.

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Photo of alexgash
3.35/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This "sweet release" fills the glass with a dark rusty copper, with bright orange highlights. Head is small, off-khaki, and doesn't last too long. Nose is made up of sweet, buttery caramal rolls, brown sugar (crazy, eh?), alcohol, and subdued vegetal/floral hops. Cake-icing sweet malt flavors start out. Sugary sweetness mixes with apple/pear brandy notes and toffee. Hops finally arrive near the finish to counter some of the sweetness. Medicinal/herbal hop bitterness isn't enough to handle the treacle sweetness. Add in the obvious alcohol presence and it's a little too cough syrupy for me. Mouthfeel is big and syrupy. Not bad, but not my kind of BW.

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Photo of billab914
3.36/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Dogfish shaped pint glass. Poured a dark brown, slightly red in color with a one finger white fluffy head. As I drank it the head faded but left pretty good lacing on the sides of the glass.

The aroma is very piny with a little citrus and a moderate sweetness to it. it has a very interesting smell to it, I almost seem to get a sweet Worcestershire sauce aroma to it.

The taste is hoppy with a sugary sweet finish. It has some pine present along with some caramel malt, but the brown sugar seems to dominate the taste.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Drinkability is average, it's too sweet for it to be that drinkable. It was a decent tasting beer to have one of but it's a little too sweet and high in alcohol to have much of.

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Photo of akorsak
3.37/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A 650 mL bottle purchased somewhere that I just can't recall.

A: The ale is a lighter than I expected. Rather than a dark brew, the ale is a lighter orange color, reminiscent of an IPA with its lightness. The orange has brown highlights and remains several shades below the amber of the bomber. The head was huge on pour, over three fingers that left thick patches of lace throughout the glass. Only upclose is the incredible amount of sediment visible, to the point that it looks like pulpy orange juice (at least from a pulp perspective).

S: The aroma is heavy on the malts, thick and concentrated like an old ale. There is a definite brown sugar aroma that could easily pass for dark Belgian candi sugars.

T: The ale is all malt and alcohol heat. The malts are as strong as the nose betrayed. The intense flavor dries out the mouth, leaving a scorched earth feeling that normally only comes from a DIPA. The alcohol presence is strong throughout, never afraid to bring the heat. Through the alcohol head, there is some undefined sweetness, but I could not easily tie it back as brown sugar.

M: The mouthfeel is quite intense, making this more of a cold weather beer. I find the alcohol to be a little too much, stripping most of the flavor out of the ale.

D: One bomber is too much. This would be better off in a 12 oz bottle. The brown sugar is a nice touch, lending a hint of Belgian-style to the ale.

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Photo of MostlyNorwegian
3.37/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Brown Shugga is dry. The raw cane sugar dries this beer right up so It has some boozy notes up top. A little raisiny and caramel in the sniffer with a bit of the hops in there too. This is the first one, and hey my guy didn't have any in the cooler and I am drinking it out of the bag at ambient temperature. I want slices of cured meat and pickled things with it at this threshold.
Very minimal lacing, if any with very very slight bubbling disruption on the surface with a quickly receding head.
Served it in a (red) wine glass. Handsome appearance. A slow motion beer. Not one for the quaffer. One to linger over while things get into the off ramp of life.

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Photo of Schmaltzy
3.37/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle into Chimay glassware.

A - deep copper color that is slightly cloudy with very little 1/2 finger head that dissapated quickly leaving only small amounts of lace

S - Caramel/Brown Sugar with some Grand Mariner/Orange Liquer flavors coming through with a faint hops component.

T - Caramel and loads of it, nice bitterness to the hops on the mid/back palate, finishes with the grand mariner flavor on the back end.

M - Medium body, sufficient/light carbonation, alcohol is definately there and a dry finish.

D - This beer sounds all to good but is just way too sweet for my palate. Definately a big beer, but very sweet and the hops are super bitter making for a very dry piney finish. Too Sweet and Too Bitter, if that makes sense

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Photo of ZAP
3.37/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A-orangish amber color....nice frothy vanilla head.

S-Sweet sugary malt...a hint of maple...Ok but doesn't grab you by the throat and scream "drink me mother fucker"...decent but not great.

T-Very sweet flavored...heavy molassses, brown sugar, maple malt backbone....there is also a unique piney hop bitterness.

M-Very full bodied and thick...this is a big boy no doubt.

D-I like sweet beers and I like this to a point. Here's my problems with this....it feels too sweet and the hops used just do not blend nicely at all with the malt...kind of a muddled drinking experience that isn't bad but isn't great either...some bitterness on the long finish really confuses the hell out of my buds after the almost sickening onslaught of sticky sweetness at the start..

I'd still say it's worth a try and I'd rate it a little above average overall...

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Photo of jasonpeckins32
3.37/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a transparent amber hue with no head, yet the carbonation still looks nice. Smells sweet and malty.

This has a very unique taste. I'm surprised at how much the brown sugar comes through in the flavor. Its syrupy sweet with a few mild hoppy notes. A strong alcohol-warming in the finish.

This is a nice medium-bodied beer. The syrupy taste doesnt transfer to a syrupy mouthfeel, which is a good thing.

Drinkability, well, its good for one or two, but I wouldnt want to drink them all night. Still a a good drinkability though considering its 9.83 abv.

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Photo of ADR
3.38/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Clear and dark copper appearance, creamy light yellow head of 1/4 of an inch and good lasting duration. Dripping ring laces on the glass. Sweet caramel aroma, very little sense of hoppiness. Malty and somewhat toffee-ish, slight buttery oil, but bittered from start to finish. Heavy sense of mouthfeel but moderate alcohol impression, but seems somewhat singular, over sweet, and even monotonous from beginning to end. Has plenty of features of an Old Ale, can certainly be warming, but to me, the flavor is unidimenshional with no unfolding qualities. It is interesting to see more hops arise than seem to show in the smell.

Source: Liquid Solutions

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Photo of lester619
3.38/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Pours a deep orangish bronze/amber. Thick three inch solid white head and big lacing. Very malty and sweet smelling. Caramel, brown sugar and molasses on top of a fresh bread smell. Taste is also malty sweet. Malt, caramel toffee and molasses on top of a thick substantial bicuity body. All this sweetness is cut by a spicy herbal hoppy kick at the finish. It's still more bready and sweet than bitter though. I can feel some alcohol burn on on my lips. The mouthfeel is very satisfying. Thick, creamy and chewy. This is a big beer with good, complex flavors. With the thick sweet bready body combined with the ABV, it doesn't drink very easy. I would have a hard time drinking multiple bottles at the same time. I guess at 10% your not supposed to.

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Photo of travisdiener32
3.38/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a fresh bottle for my first taste of brown shugga. Poured into beer flute.

Appearance is light brown to amber, with ample head. Smell is of of light brown sugar and surprisingly ample hops. Taste is also heavy hops, with a slight brown sugar finish, akin to a DIPA without any citrus notes. Brown sugar does become more apparent as the beer warms, however the hoppiness does seem to dominate the flavor profile. Mouthfeel is great for the style, not overly heavy or light.

Overall a good beer but a little too unbalanced to be considered a great or go to beer for the style. Try it out, but there are much better offerings from Lagunitas.

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Photo of Bighuge
3.38/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Clear burgandy. Thick, dense off-white head. The froth coats the glass heavily as I drink. Aroma is sweet. Very sweet. Caramel sweet. And there's a whiff of alcohol as well. And some tropical fruits. Rummy alcohol notes are noticed up front on the palate. And the alcoholic bitterness lingers long after the sip. The flavor is pretty sweet, but not quite to the cloying extent. Sweet and alcoholic sum up this beer quite well. And there's some estery goodness in the mix as well. Passion fruit tones and such. Medium bodied and lightly carbonated. Decent enough, but not really noteworthy.

Here's a shout out to the LBB for the sample. Thanks bud.

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Photo of devo1980
3.38/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

For me, just not a fan. Has a very strong flavor that is unique to any beer I have had before. I can see why some folks would love this. It has a very interesting aftertaste that is sort of sweet, but overall I would not buy this again.

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Photo of fisherman34
3.38/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Deep red colour... almost brown. Strong malty aroma, with a faint hint of citrusy hops. This is one sweet beer, but not in a cloying way. Flavors of carmel malts and molasses are dominant, with just enough hop bitterness to keep things from going off the deep end. No alcohol flavors (although there was some present in the aroma as it warmed up), but I could sure feel some warming sensations in my chest as I drank it.

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Photo of kjlcm
3.39/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Tried this one and while I like it I am not sure I can recommend. At 9.9% it is definitely a strong ale and I could not imagine drinking more than one of these at a sitting The brown sugar is quite pronounced from smell through taste. Along with the the hops and the strong malt backbone it is an interesting contrast. Ok, I will recommend!

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Photo of Jordan
3.39/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Simple, the word of the day. Faint, almost undetectable sweet aromas. Light bodied. Very plain palate consisting of little more than clover honey sweetness that dissolves into a brash hop bitterness soon after it hits the tongue. For those with undeveloped taste buds, and a liking for high ABV brews, this one is for you. Unsophisticated and unprovocative, the mode most people in this country prefer.

Sorry Lagunitas, but you are quickly losing merit with me.

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Photo of Weston19
3.39/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a copper color with high carbonation. Starts off with a two finger head that eventually diminishes into a half a pinky. Head looks very creamy.

S: As is the norm with Lagunitas, the beer smell fantastic! It has a sweet smell that expresses brown sugar (obviously), grape fruit, and some pineapple although lightly there.

T: Brown sugar, light hop flavor at the back of the palate, alcohol in the mid palate, there is some grapefruit at first but the taste is overpowered by the alcohol flavor. Honestly I'm kind of disappointed by the taste. Based on the smell of the beer, I expected more hops and a more balanced flavored. The alcohol is a bit overpowering and completely covers up the hops. I've had beers at this ABV before and higher that did a much better job at concealing the alcohol flavor. The only good thing that happens is that as it warms up, the brown sugar taste becomes stronger so it allows you to focus more on that than the alcohol flavor.

MF: Mildly dry and some burn in the back of the throat due to the alcohol.

O: As this warms up it gets sweeter but there isn't much there besides the sweetness and the alcohol taste. You can definitely smell the hops but they're hardly present in the flavor. I've had much better from Lagunitas. At $10.99 for a 6 pack, this is probably the last time I'll buy a pack.

 1,340 characters

Photo of Sammy
3.4/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This was OK, nothing special, with an edge of the brown suger in the taste. Initially above average foam, and a bit of colour. Average mouthfeel and drinkability. Of course, on the sweeter side, with sweet characteristics, caramel and the like. A decent beverage, only big in the alcohol.As a barleywine, this is quite smooth.

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Photo of gearbike
3.4/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Hazy brown pour from tap. Duh. I get the name after drinking this one. Strong sugar taste as in tasting the brown sugar when baking. Has a smooth malty background. A medium to thick body and the high alcohol make this a nice warmer. Even though the flavors are complex the overall result seems a bit flat. So not really exterordanry and at the same time it would not work as a session beer do to the high sugar and alcohol.

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Photo of hoplover82
3.4/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Hmmm... This "American Strong Ale" pours a clear dark red color with no head at all. There is no retention at all. Thin and delicate lacing.

The aroma is of dark fruits. Brown shugga comes through. No hops. Some alcohol.

The flavor is a lot more alcohol with dark fruits. Even some bright friuts like peaches. Grapes are there. It reminds me of some raisin cookies or something. ALcohol comes through even more as it warms.

The mouthfeel is full bodied with a little dryness in the end.

Can't have more than one maybe two of this one.

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