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

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Reviews: 1,519 | Ratings: 5,406
Photo of BDJake
4.12/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- burnt sienna with just under a finger of beige head that made some cool patterns on my pint glass

S- so syrupy, it made my nose hairs stick together- but intriguing, although almost same exact smell as SA imperial white, kind of creepy IMO but also a bit like raisin bread

T- fruity, malty, and yes, like brown sugar was used as an adjunct somewhere in the brewing process- not too bad though

M- thick and chewy, i was tempted to get a knife and fork- but warming as expected

D- great considering the relatively high abv- showing that not all strong ales have to hit you like double bass pedals, i.e. Stone

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

A: Slightly hazy, perfectly amber, nice, tight tan head. Looks good. Wonderful lacing during consumption.
S: Caramel, centennial/chinook hops/grapefruit, a bit of pine, pretty nice.
T: Super caramel malt and cherry hoppiness. Medium-level bitterness. Very little alcohol presence although it does sting on the lips a bit. Very smooth and drinkable for ~10%. The hops build on you during consumption. This more of a barleywine than an American Strong Ale - although I realize there isn't too much of a difference - but compared to say, Arrogant Bastard, this has less bitterness and hop punch. This is smoother, and generally more enjoyable.
M: Medium, could be a tad heavier, but this adds to the drinkability of the beer. The carbonation is perfect.
O: Completely solid, tasty beer, very drinkable for 10%, yet very nice as a sipping beer too. Not super interesting, but it does have some complexity to it for sure. I would completely recommend this beer.

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Photo of NoYouDidnt
3.22/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pretty color on the pour. Beautiful ruby. Grassy hop aroma. Rubbing alcohol, an astringent smell, orange juice. Taste, again grassy hop flavors. Bitter with an alcohol presence. A spicy heat to it. Overall, I am just not a big fan of the American strong ale category in general. This is no real exception to that. It's caught in between an iPa, a barley wine, and maybe a Scottish ale. All of which can be delicious. Their three way love child is not my fav though.

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Photo of Steamer
4.52/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A reddish brown, golden amber color - very nice; cream head that has good retention and lacing. Aroma of sweet apple cider, or could be apple pie with a hint of cinnamon. Malty, with just a bit of hops bitterness. No standout indications that it is a high ABV brew. Just a little alcohol burn in the throat, but not until after a few sips... very smooth. Medium bodied with some nice sugar stickiness. This ale could be dangerous, but in a very good way! So good I had to force myself to sip and enjoy rather than gulp it down.

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Photo of itsscience
3.92/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Served in a goblet.

Pours a hazy amber color with a half-finger of white head that retains well. The nose has earthy hops, sweet dark malt, honey, and alcohol. The taste is sweet with a strong boozy quality, but it finishes bitter and dry like an IPA. Mouthfeel is a little bit creamy with medium carbonation. It's a unique beer. The definition of a sipper because the alcohol is overwhelming and it seems even higher than its 9.9% ABV.

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Photo of untitledeuphoria
4.4/5  rDev +10%

Fall 2013 batch, drank 9.01.14, poured from a 12oz bottle into a 12oz Stange.

It had been a few years since I last had this beer, and upon coming across it at Good Beer NYC I immediately snatched up whatever I could. Here we go...

A: Pours a clear, glowing red caramel (reminiscent of barleywine coloring), two fingers of light khaki head, excellent head retention, sticky lacing, eventually fades to a moderate cap.

S: Molasses, bitter dark fruits, toasted malt, touch of hop oil, and with all of that sugar I just can't help but smelling some maple syrup too.

T: I swear this beer is a second cousin to a barleywine somewhere... upon first sip I get tastebud deja vu to past nights of drinking big barleys along the Atlantic coast. Anyways... Molasses with a hint of vanilla, caramel, bitter fruit, and fall spicing, most notably clove. Phenomenal taste profile, better than I ever remember it.

M: Smooth, alcohol is completely obscured, light carbonation, thick... leaves a coating well after swallowing, taste lingers well afterwards without any flavor deviation.

O: Absolutely terrific. Big Flavor, super smooth, great mouthfeel, huge ABV. I hate myself for not picking up more than I did.

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Photo of NickTheGreat
4.19/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

L (4.25) – Very nice amber color. This is honestly my favorite color. Nice little head too.

S (4.5) – Smells great. You really get that piney, bitter smell that you want.

T (4) – Tastes really good. Not quite what I was expecting by the style or name. I do not get much sweet or alcohol, but it is good.

F (4) – Has nice mouthfeel. Goes down well.

O (4.25) – I’m kinda new to Lagunitas stuff, and had heard a lot about this one. I thought it was good, but not top shelf, run all over town to buy, type of beer. Nice beer, and I’d add to my rotation.

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Photo of Mosley1212
4.08/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked this up at my local store tonight, because they were selling singles of it. Have been wanting to try this for a long time. Poured from the bottle into my DFH Signature glass.

A--Nice, beautiful caramel color to this beer. Also had a slight off-white, cream head, but that disappeared quickly after the pour. Slight head remains throughout, but not much.

S--Wow! The name is accurate. It smells of sweet brown sugar, caramel, and raisins. Has a heavy malt smell to it also. Reason it got points deducted is because of how overly-sweet it smells. Really hoping that doesn't follow through into the taste.

T--Unfortunately, it follows the nose pretty accurately. Heavy sweetness just consumes the palate. But once the initial sweetness dies down, the aftertaste is amazing. The flavors of the brown sugar and raisins play off of each other beautifully. It tastes almost like a decadent dessert that has had a bit of liquor poured over it. Points deducted though because of the heavy sweetness upfront.

M--It feels good on the tongue. A tiny bit of carbonation. The sweetness is overwhelming at first, but there's a bit of bitterness that comes afterward that is pleasantly juxtaposed to the sweetness. I like it.

O--It's a good offering from a brewery I haven't dealt with a lot. It makes me want to try other beers form them. This strong ale, to me, tastes like a more mellow barleywine. I would love to try this aged to see if the overly sweet taste goes away with time.

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Photo of WestValleyIPA
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle, from the motherland Lagunitas, into my Zatec fluted glass. Nice firm 2 fingers of tan head. Good retention and nice sticky icky lacing. Smells floral, sweet malt, a bit of Duncan Hines brownies. Sweet up front on the palate. Finishes earthy and bitter. Dangerous 10% beer. Johnny Dangerous.

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Photo of danadeny
3.92/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nice amber-brown body, clear, with a decent frothy head. Smell lightly or raosted malt, very sweet, minor floral hop. Tart hops at the end, roasted malt up front. Couldnt pick out a distinct brown sugar flavor but could tell from the overall sweetness (not sweet like DFH 120) that a decent amount of sugar was used. Mouthfeel is watery and light. Drinkability is smooth, ballanced, and sweet. What? this is a barleywine? i was thinking more of a Amber and Brown hybrid mix.

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Photo of BeerWizard
4.29/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours honey gold with a decent sized head. I'm drinking this out of a Bulleit bourbon glass so we're talking about two inches of ale and an inch and a half of head. Looks pretty stellar. The nose is tangy, barely funky, with pine and candied fruit; while the flavor is sweet up front, with apricot and peach on the tongue, and then bitter in the throat. There's also a spice element to it, and I also get like Pez or Smarties candy in the nose mid-sip. For 9.99% abv, you sure wouldn't know it - I've had 7's and 8's that tasted boozier than this does. Bottle says that it's brewed with brown cane sugar, which, you know, from the name and all I was picturing a molasses-derived brown sugar, but the raw sugar makes more sense. I remember having this at a beer festival a few years ago and being duly corrected after asking for the "brown." "It's not a brown, it's an American strong ale." Indeed. Thumbs up.

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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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Photo of brian44556
3.23/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured this into a Bell's Pint Glass. No date on the bottle.

Pours a dark amber color, with little off white head. Sticky lacing surrounds the pint glass. A fierce race of carbonation bubbles race to the top. Strong smell of piney hops, caramel, and burnt sugar. The smell was very interesting for a Strong Ale, the smell of this one could pass for a DIPA. This one is pretty bitter. The hops are pretty forward, I also taste hints of caramel and molasses. The taste is sweet up front, but has a very bitter backbone. The alcohol is well masked for being 9.99% ABV. Mouthful was pretty heavy and carbonation was moderate. Overall the beer was different in a...different way. Nothing stood on why I loved it or hated it. Pretty average beer, glad I had a chance to try, but wouldn't care if I ever had this one again.

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Photo of Kaiser81
3.26/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bought a 6 pack from BevMo today and poured into a pint glass

A - A reddish brown color with about a finger width of head. It leaves some nice lacing on the glass

S - It smells like a typical red with a faint hint of brown sugar after a deep inhale; nothing like I thought it would smell like.

T - Very mild taste; no alcohol bite, no sweetness from the "brown sugar" supposedly put in there. I'm kind of stumped to explain this.

M - Light body with light carbonation.

D - It's drinkable. I just wish I could get more distinct failures.

They say this was a barley wine gone wrong, and so a ton of brown sugar was added to the recipe. I get hints of the barleywine characteristics, but not much of the brown sugar. This beer confuses me.

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Photo of Onemoresolo
4.28/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Huge head, nice balance between pine and molasses-y malt. Fantastic winter brew.

I put a few bottles aside to see how this ages. Hopefully it turns into a brown sugar syrupy mess. Mmm

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Photo of brstls4drmrs
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - pours a translucent brown reddish color with a 1" froth. Nice thick lacing with a thin cloud of foam remaining. Foam sticks around like an annoying in-law but in this case, it's allowed.

S - smells hoppy sweet with some caramel and brown shugga. Some nice malt tones in there as well and possible some sort of citrus zest. Just a nice blend. It's like walking into a bakery and getting the aroma of sweet dough.

T - it's like the hops had a fight with brown shugga and it resulted in a draw. The guest referee was of a citrus nature which was very faint.

M - overall not bad. It was just a little thin and flat on the finish.

O - a very nice ale. I'm glad I tried it. Now I will buy more.

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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.

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Photo of laketang
4.16/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours out a deep caramel with a nice mocha head

I pick up banana and pineapple notes.

very big malt sweetness . a big beer with aggressive sweetness. caramel.

chewy, fruity finish.

for me, one is enough of this style in one sitting, but very tasty imo. nice treat.

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

Poured from a 22 oz. 'bomber.'

A - medium brown, to amber color. Not completely clear - maybe some chill haze. Nice little white head forms and stays around the whole way for me, although retreating to the sides of the glass.

S - malt, sugar, very little hop aroma. But what hops are there smell of noble spiciness - saaz? Nice malty, caramelly aroma.

T - malt is up front in this one. Since the name is 'brown shugga,' I can taste the brown sugariness in this. Malty sweet, but some hop bitterness balances it out pretty well. There is some hop flavor here, but it's hard to pick up. Can definitely taste some hoppy grassy, floral flavors when I burp (sorry to be so crude). Alcohol is well hidden. A little disappointed that the flavor here isn't as big as it could be.

M - medium bodied, standard carbonation.

D - tasty brew, I wouldn't mind having several of these. Alcohol is masked in the flavor pretty well, but will hit you later.

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Photo of industrialswill
4.97/5  rDev +24.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My Oh My !!!

This is some good stuff!
Dark brown with a thick tan colored head.
Powerfull smell with the promise of a strong beer up ahead.
Tastes exactly like what I had hoped, a full boogey ale full of rich roasted malt and a nice hop balance. The heat from the 10% ABV is so nice. This is practically the perfect beer for me. Hope these are available in Heaven.

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Photo of MasterfulIdiot
3.88/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured into an Ikea brandy snifter. Appearance is translucent amber with a surprisingly thick brown head - especially for being in a snifter! There's lots of lace for the first few minutes, although that's mostly gone towards the end of it.

Smell is citrusy hops, with some alcohol burn. I was really surprised, since I was expecting more of a toasty brown ale, but this actually smells like it could be an IPA.

Taste hits you up front with lots of citrusy hops. Little bit of resin in there too. Swallow is nice and malty, and that's where the brown sugar taste comes in. Finish is pretty sweet from the brown sugar, with some well-incorporated booziness.

Mouthfeel is moderately thick, with some nice prickly carbonation that does well to cut through some of the maltiness and booziness.

Overall, this is definitely an interesting beer, although I'm really not sure what to make of it. I feel like they could have definitely gotten away with calling this a DIPA, although I guess they did a little better not attributing it to a style at all. I tend to like hoppy beers better when they're a little bit lower-ABV, and the brown sugar mixed with the booziness can make it seem a little sickly sweet occasionally, so I do have some problems with it. But the hop flavors are really nice, and the brown sugar is a nice addition, and it's definitely unusual and interesting, so I did really enjoy it!

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Photo of MaineBrewing
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured a clear dark amber with a little chill haze, slight red hue to the color. Head was thick and frothy a mix of medium bubbles and lots of fine suds.

S - Aroma is a dark complex amalgam of sweet malt. A candied cherry fruitness. tons and tons of molasses, rum like. Burnt sugar.

T - I have had this 6 pack for a few months, upon first release it was very hoppy. Its only probably been 3 months tops? the hops have fallen off completely to let the beautiful malt shine. This is certainly unique from other barleywine style ales as it is very rum like. SO I guess its less of a malt character and more of a candy, sugar. Lots of toffee. Although the aroma hops have faded, the finish is very hoppy, not so much bitter but just a nice bite, very quenching, and balances the malt sweetness well. Without this it would be way too cloying, but that is not the case. This beer is great.

M - Mouthfeel is par for the course, thick, just enough carbonation to keep it lively. finishes sweet but the bitter hops as mentioned above quell the sweetness.

O - This beer is probably my favorite from Lagunitas. If your looking for a traditional barleywine this might be a little too sweet and rummy, but it tastes great to me, just a unique flavor. Also I try not to make a review about price and value as I feel a beer should be judged on what it is over economics... but man, 9.99 for a 6 pack of this??? In a sea of 11.99 4 packs, such a great beer for 9.99 a sixer gets me everytime.

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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 BrewSomerville
3.28/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Aroma: Caramel, Honey, floral, molases, brown sugar.

Looks: Orange/copper colour. Nice sized, creamy coloured head. Left some rings of lace behind.

Taste: Marmalade, carmalized sugar, burnt sugar, hot alcoholic solventy.

Mouthfeel: Big body, almost chewy. Lightly carbonated.

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Photo of 11-52_4hops
4.36/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Caveat - just got done shoveling snow, so might be a bit of a pro-bold brew bias. So be it.
Clear copper color. Reasonable head with some lacing. Strong malt and hops nose. Taste is a pleasant assault of malt, brown sugar, and heavy. The sweetness and the bitterness work very well here. I really like this beer -- has me hoping for more snow so I can earn another couple. Bonus .25 for Lagunitas fun to read labels.

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