Brown Shugga' | Lagunitas Brewing Company

1,572 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:
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Reviews: 1,572 | Ratings: 5,595
Photo of mynie
4.42/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

How on earth have I never reviewed this before?

First off, kudos to Lagunitas for releasing such a strong, wonderful seasonal so widely, and doing so while keeping the cost solidly below east coast local offerings. As much as I appreciate the efforts of the fancy-beard crew at Cumwater brewing, or whatever the local place is called, I can't justify spending 15 bucks for a four-pack of their so-so beer when I can buy this for 11 a sixer.

This pours a dark amber that's not really brown but kind of like sunstruck brown sugar. Nice heard and fierce effervescence, for a beer of its strength.

Smells like a US old ale or strong ale: lots of stuff going on, stylistically intense and messy but never getting out of hand. Aggressive, old school west coast hops against super duper intense amber malt.

Tastes like it smells: a wonderful goddamn mess. It's not bitter and then fruity, like most very hoppy American beers, nor is it at all fruity heavy. It's just bitter and then sweet. Aggressive, bright, piney hops and then aggressive, sugary, bready malt.

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Photo of redjellydonut
4.94/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The best beer I've ever had. I stumbled across this last winter in Texas, not realizing it was a seasonal. Had I known, I'd have bought out every six-pack I could find. I didn't know beer could be like this. I've always preferred dark, malty beers over the IBU-laden ales that seem to dominate the craft beer industry. Brown Shugga is the hoppy beer I've waited my whole life for. It represents the perfect blending of bitterness and malt, sweetness and bite. The only misgiving I have about it, and it's a very small one, is the volume of alcohol. It's only a liability because it prevents me from drinking as much of it as I'd like. A 10 ounce tulip of this stuff is really all my brain can handle in the evening after work, but my tastebuds scream for two and my tastebuds almost always win out.

It pours with a thick tan head and leaves the most beautiful lacing ever, like the wind-whipped contrail of an old Saturn V. It's thick on the tongue, but astringent as it goes down. it's almost a shame to drink it because it looks so beautiful in the glass...dark rum reds, golden brown sugar syrup...the most beautiful beer you've ever seen.

It's a belly-warmer, to be sure, and is just sweet enough to go with a gooey chocolate or gingerbread cake. Otherwise, I'd be inclined to drink this nectar all on its own.

Lagunitas has become my single favorite brewery and this is my single favorite of their beers. Just amazing!

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

Full disclosure: I normally dislike beer over about 25 IBU. This one clocks in at 51. I have to say, though, that this one is pretty tolerable for a beer style I don't go for. The hop taste is very fresh and floral rather than the usual sour gym sock you normally get with overhopped beers. The sweetness of the brown sugar taste also balances out the hop bitterness pretty well. I won't personally buy again but for those that like a hopped beer this one will be great.

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Photo of m_hall
4.22/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Standard pour from a 12 oz. bottle into a nonic pint yields a clear deep amber colored ale, topped by an imposing three finger tall cream head. Retention and lacing are both superb.

Nose is hops-forward, pine-y, with and underlying fruity sweetness and toasted malt.

Flavors come in sweet- caramel, toffee, along with lighty toasted biscuit. Fruit notes of apricot and dark cherries come in through the mid-palate, along with some clove-like spice, finishing dry with fairly strong pine hops and lingering molasses.

Feel is medium-full, creamy, with fairly light carbonation and a subtle alcohol warmth that very much belies the stiff 9.8% ABV punch it delivers (this is a beer that can and will sneak up on you, be warned.)

I have to admit, it took me a while to "get" this one... I had purchased a six-pack of this approximately seven months ago (Lagunitas doesn't seem to put a date on their bottles, so I can't tell precisely how old this is.) While I remember thinking it was a good beer back then, the sweetness was quite brash and the finish somewhat overly hopped to be as great as it could be. However aging seems to have brought out the best in this; The sweeter notes from the brown sugar used in the brewing have matured and now work very harmoniously with those now more evened-out evergreen hops. That combined with the burly but appropriate alcohol make Brown Shugga' an outstanding strong ale. I would urge anyone trying this to not write it off right away if it doesn't suit them- put a few up for a bit instead. Your patience may very well be rewarded.

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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 BeerSamurai34
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This is super surprising. It was very sweet and not overly strong. It has lots of notes of brown sugar, dark fruit, and toffee. I really enjoyed this one even though this is not my normal style.

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Photo of edward_boumil
3.89/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

L: Nice light brown color, light tan head, very frothy and hangs around for a bit. Quite clear and bubbly
S: Smells quite nice, hard to describe though. Dark fruit notes present like that of a dobbelbock or dubbel. Has some floral hop notes as well, sort of spicy on the nose. Toast also present.
T: Really good, only complaint is it is a little over hopped. A lot of the nose repeats but its quite bitter, somewhat piney and resinous, though clean.
F: Very crisp, but very bitter which gives an astringency and takes away from what would be a more refreshing beer. Body is pretty light and smooth otherwise.
O: Pretty solid and I really like it. Will probably have this again if I see it.

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Photo of plumberman63
1.87/5  rDev -53.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

bitter, nasty coffee flavor. I hate coffee. was told by the guy at the store it was sweet. I told him I didn't like bitter beer. But did have a good color and aroma. jut not to my taste.

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Photo of mckdebbie1
4.29/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

I hated this beer at first. Hated it so much that 5 of the 6 sat in the beer fridge for over a year. I thought I could pass it off on someone eventually. And after awhile, like deciding to have a second child, I couldn't remember what was so awful about having the 1st, I said "sure, let's try this again". I am glad I did. The sugars must have eaten away at everything I found so unpleasant the first go around. Aging really helped this one and now I am sad I only have 4 left.

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Photo of gustavmahler-09
4.38/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark brown-gold, with two-finger head that lingers. Smells of raisins, caramel, not very present. Taste explodes, raisins, prunes, chocolate, alcohol and, yes, brown sugar. Feels creamy, lush, smooth. Maybe the best barleywine I've had.

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Photo of Slowjamcdub
3.25/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

This one will throw you for a loop on first taste lol. Shugga over load! Yeah still trying to figure out if I really like it or just like the 10% alc lol. But for real it's good it's a nice sipper. Remember it's really sweet!

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Photo of HorseheadsHopHead
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Comes in a clear, fizzy amber color with a generous, creamy, beige head. Sheets of lacing are left down the sides of the glass.
The aroma offers caramel, molasses, pine, plums, candied orange peel, cherries, and dried apricots.
On the palate, you get a nicely balanced malt sweetness. Lots of caramel, molasses, and toasted bread. Near the finish you get dark fruits; red cherries, plums, figs, and dried apricots. The finish is mostly caramelized sugar sweet, but with some balancing pine, and a light alcohol warmth.
The mouthfeel is medium-full, medium-light carbonation, and smooth and creamy.

Good stuff. It tastes very similar to a barleywine. Less complex, but maybe more drinkable. Another winner from Lagunitas.

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Photo of HopHunter19
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - nice big beer with amber/reddish color body and a huge white head that leaves nice lacing
S - caramel, orange, peach, vanilla, butterscotch, slight mustiness/old ale/oxidized quality
T - caramel, orange, grapefruit, peach, slight mustiness/old ale/oxidized quality
M - heavy, alcohol covered, aftertaste is orange rind, caramel, musty strong ale
O - good beer, definitely rivals bigfoot in my book, will cellar and see how it does

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Photo of Gobearswalter34
4.18/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a sunburnt orange with a one-finger, fluffy head that dissipates quickly. A little carbonation. Lots of lacing.
Smells of grapefruit and candied hop.
Bitter brown sugar candied, citrus hop taste. The bitter hop hangs around for a little while.
Mouthfeel of a medium bodied ale which really gets toe salivary glands going. this is good, but not as good as Sucks.

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Photo of MeanMotaScootah
3.83/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

If you like sweet and big - you'll love this beer. There is a mild fig mixed with whiskey aroma but beyond that it's very malty. It has a very creamy mouth feel with a ton of cherry caramel on the front end and a mellow sweet finish. There is very little hops in the beer. The alcohol is nicely hidden (much like many of the big beers that Lagunitas puts out) so be careful with this one - it drinks like an amber but will take you down like a Tripel. I almost think if they made this with a Belgium yeast it would taste very Belgium. It's a great beer for the style.

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Photo of Myotus
4.12/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured at 50°F from a 12oz bottle (2015 release) into a snifter. Consumed on 28Feb16.
LOOK: Pours with a fingers worth of khaki foam that dissipates into a line within 45 seconds. Copper in color with a slight amount of cloudiness. Rising bubbles are medium in size and moderate in quantity. There is an abundance of small, grayish white particles floating throughout the beer. I'm not sure what they are. Lacing is thin and subtle.
SMELL: Strong aromas of molasses, tree nuts, plums, figs, and black cherries entangle with mild leather, caramel, sweet bread, and brown sugar aromas along with subtle hop aromas of pine, oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit.
TASTE: Strong molasses, fig, plum, and black cherry flavors first enter into to the palate. Mild hop flavors of orange, tangerine, and grapefruit immediately follow and bring balance to the sweetness. Mild caramel and brown sugar and subtle leather flavors further unveil the taste profile. Subtle flavors of tree nuts, vanilla (that wasn't in the aroma), piney hops, and bitter hops enter lastly as all previous flavors persist.
FEEL: Full-bodied and subtly carbonated. Goes down smooth and creamy. Finishes very dry. A mild and welcoming alcoholic warmth can be felt as it goes down the throat.
NOTE: A great beer for being one that is massed produced and distributed. This reminded me of an American Barleywine, without the intense hop flavors. Everything was nice a balanced here.

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Photo of Beginner2
3.65/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Listed in the "1001 Beers To Taste Before You Die".

It was very hard for me to like this beer the first time I had it.
The hops grabbed ahold of my tongue and would not let go... in fact, I was worried I might not get my tastebuds back.
Determined not to buy this again, this wild stallion rears its head again in a 6 pack brought as a gift by a neighbor who we invited over for dinner.
Then, Brown Shugga' sits in my cellar for a year; thinking we might get along better if it has time to mellow.
I drank it last night and. speechless, could not write a review.
Nor could I finish it. Nor would I pour it down the drain out of respect to everyone who likes this beer.
So, I let it sit overnight in an uncovered tulip.
I had a sip first thing in the AM before I made my coffee.
Brown Shugga' was better... but still not good for me.
Moral of the story: mellowing with age is a relative thing.

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Photo of q33jeff
3.65/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance Is clear reddish brown; lasting white creamy head. Aroma Is hops caramel. Taste is hops, honey , caramel, charred wood, orange, cloves. A good sweet mix of hoppy and malty ale. Feel is creamy, light carbonation, thick finish.....good beer, but I don’t think I would want more than 1 in a Row. A nice choice for thanksgiving.
I've had more than 1 in a row and it's fine.

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Photo of dee4maine
4.53/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

what a great bargain Strong ale. drink it fresh or age it, either way one is in for a treat of caramel, malt, spiciness, tangerine hint, molasses. mouthfeel is very appropriate and makes the flavor linger.

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

pours dark reddish transparent and clean. two finger head dissipates after few minutes. aromas of sweet candy and malt. medium body with mild carbonation. front palate of some biscut followed quickly by a sweet cherry taste and little malt sweetness quickly followed by some resinous hops maybe some orange rind in there and a slight alcohol tinge. this is a great beer in one of my favorite styles. alcohol is well hidden and sweetness is balanced out with plenty of good hops. I get this every year and will continue to do so.

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Photo of akolb
4.13/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a nice copper with a white head. Smells of caramel malts and hops. Wow, this beer has a nice taste! Sweet, fruity, complex, malty, orange marmalade, with a bitter finish. A fair amount of alcohol burn. Nice and full-bodied. A great, unique beer.

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Photo of Hat_Fulla_Beer
4.14/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 ounce bottle poured into tulip to celebrate my survival of another bike ride home on the icy sidewalks of Edmonton.

Pours a deep, slightly hazy copper-orange with half a finger of light khaki head that leaves under-construction city skyline lace as it recedes.

Smells of big caramel malt, stewed citrus fruit, tropical fruit, toast with brown sugar and a lot of perfumed, piney hops.

Tastes of spiced orange preserve, roasted caramel malt, raw brown sugar, raisin tarts and more bitter piney hops.

Feels big and sturdy. Full bodied with creamy and supportive carbonation. Finishes dry

Verdict: Highly recommended. It won't tickle your sweet tooth, though.

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Photo of stompilator
4.22/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12oz. glass into a snifter.

A - Pours a deep amber, frothy off-white head.

S - Caramel, burnt sugar.

T - A big, complex malt profile comes right out the gate. Starting as a heavy, toasty caramel, the malt flavor becomes more layered and reminiscent of a doppelbock in its sweetness, toastiness, biscuit notes, and viscosity. An earthy, spicy, slightly berry-like hop character near the back end of the palate along with a subtle boozy bite. Finish is sweet, and surprisingly bitter.

M - Full-bodied, not too heavy for such a sweet beer.

O - Somewhere between a Winter Warmer, Doppelbock, and Barleywine, this is a thought-provoking, unique beer.

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Photo of dacrza1
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

DATE TASTED: January 30, 2016... GLASSWARE: Maudite snifter... OCCASION: helping Shan chop food for a new dish and preparing to show the boys The Desolation of Smaug... APPEARANCE: slightly opaque, sparsely bubbly amber orange brown body... the head is off-white, thick and chunky to begin... then it settles to an erratic, uneven heap of bubbles, soap and clouds--frankly, a surprise for a beer that sports a 9.8 % ABV... AROMA: a blast of raw sugray sweetness, coats the usual suspects in the hop bomb that Lagunitas lights--I sense Citra, the Columbus, the garlic of Summit... being a barleywine, the maltiness is a powerfully sweet, nondescript monolith of bread loaf... PALATE: heavy, slightly syrupy... active at the teeth and equally animated at the end... a force to be reckoned with... TASTE: dank, earthy, resinous and deeply infused with the sugary sweetness of cane; fewer floral notes of which to speak, and the malts solidify a forceful, meal-of-a-glass to experience... offers up a side dish of vegetable overtones, including prune and green bean... OVERALL: Having had--and enjoyed--the Sucks as a substitute, this presents an altogether heavier, sweeter, demanding version of its substitute--just what a barleywine should do...the overall drinking experience is sippable, stoic and contemplative...drinking into dinner,t the beer complimented a skillet comprised of chicken, potatoes, onions, mushrooms, brussel sprouts, and bacon... quite a victory in that consideration....

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Photo of Bouleboubier
3.93/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

L: brilliantly clear deep amber liquid, huge frothy tuft of amber-tinged creme-colored foam, sticking all over... looks lovely!

S: west coast barleywine hops and malt... hints of pine, black pepper, and mint, but full of spice, grapefruit, lemon/lime... little bit of cigarette ash... with a name 'Brown Shugga', I'd prefer to be smelling more of it

T: the hops combined with the up front booze make for a citrus eau de vie light grappa, or something... soft, brown malts lingering in the aftertaste as well as medicinal esters and fading, vaguely herbal bitterness... no bottle date, but this shows some age on the hops (and bready malt)... not much richness in the malt, so despite the smell suggesting something akin to Bigfoot, it's very much (late) hop forward and somewhat drier than expected

F: between the fossilizing hop resins, ostensible dextrins, and generous swells of ethanol, this is a majorly smooth

O: yeah, I wasn't a huge fan of this years ago (actually, this beer almost immediately turned me off to Lagunitas, for years) when I first tried it and time and experience hasn't made me appreciate it more... this is one of those west coast beers that's hopped out of balance for the sake of it and hasn't a distinct identity, despite the name 'Brown Shugga' on the label touting

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Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company
4 out of 5 based on 5,595 ratings.
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