Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Brown Shugga' | Lagunitas Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,519 | Ratings: 5,406
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.

 436 characters

Photo of MoorBeerPlz
4.17/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from a 12oz. bottle into my usual New Belgium globe glass...

A: Poured a clear, bubbly copper/brown with gold tints. Beautiful light brown, foamy, 2 finger head that dropped off to a thin layer on the top and light lacing along the sides of the glass.

S: Bringing the glass close brought the aromas of hops, malt, pine and a sweet smell not unlike brown sugar as it's cooking. Maybe some citrus in there too.

T: Hops, followed by a molasses sweetness and ending with a sweetened hop finish. I detected some warmth at the very end of the swallow from the alcohol but it didn't detract from the overall taste.

M: Smooth, creamy feeling that slowly runs around your mouth. Dry finish but with a little residual on the tongue. I like how another reviewer called it; "stickiness".

O: Overall a solid, very drinkable brew. The anticipated sweetness is not nearly as bad as your mind expects from the name. I didn't really pick up on a brown sugar like flavor but that's beside the point. While the ABV is up there a ways, I wouldn't hesitate to buy this again. Good job Lagunitas.


 1,095 characters

Photo of TrevorGW
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a six pack of this the other night. I didn't even realize it was a Holiday beer until I read the ridiculous prose on the bottom of the six pack case. A bit verbose, Lagunitas! But I forgive ye, for ye maketh delicious hoppy beers.

Pours a transparent crimson amber color with a one and a half finger head that is respectably retained. Lacing is sparse.

Smells of bright and fresh Willamette hops with a sharp maple coming through shortly after.

Interesting and entertaining taste. It first hits you with a hop explosion which quickly fades into a splash of bready sweetness (cranberry muffin comes to mind). Yum yum.

Full-bodied all the way, without being syrupy or chewy.

Dangerous at nearly 10% ABV. I drank this down pretty quickly and felt the buzz.

You have got to try this beer. I was happy to find it in a sixer for only $10.

 849 characters

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

Poured from a bottle into a Sam Adams sensory pint glass.

A - Deep copper color with a two fingered head nice retention and ample lacing.

S - loads of of sweet malt, clove, vanilla and a little pine. strong hop scent.

T - Sweeter than I normally like, but makes a nice change of pace. Full flavored, brown sugar and hop prominent, bitter hoppiness. Vanilla, a little spiciness and boozy finish.

M - Full bodied with a good degree of carbonation and sticky sweetness left on the tongue slightly cloying.

D- Very tasty strong ale if you're only having one. Otherwise it's on the sweet side and, oddly for a strong ale...strong alcohol. Great to warm on any cold night.


 682 characters

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

Dulcie picked this up at Wholefoods. Being big fans of the Lagunitas we are interested in trying new things. That said, I was a little circumspect about drinking a beer that seemed to speak of sweetness in the name. The 10% alcohol level was certainly a compensating factor; but actually it was a revelation in the glass. It poured a clear coppery teak colour with very little carbonation; the nose was redolent of molasses, but in the mouth you have an interesting tension between the bitterness of hop and the residual sugar. The key is, it wasn't sweet at all, but beguilingly smooth and syrupy with some caramel butterscotch notes. In an inexperienced hand it could be extremely dangerous: hugely drinkable. A top five find for us.

 735 characters

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

Received from Callenak in HBIF3

A great looking beer in the glass. Murky brown beer with a rich and creamy tan head. Plenty of lacing although the head does dissipate to almost nothing as I drink.

Smells and tastes like brown sugar. No, really. It does. Notes of sherry, vanilla, and bourbon as it warms.

Rich mouthfeel. Smooth and creamy and a bit chewy.

A fairly drinkable beer although it does get a bit hot as it warms.

 435 characters

Photo of theBubba
2.15/5  rDev -46.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Nice head that lasts, nice amber color, nice lace afterwards.

Smell? Hops! Anyone who says "Smells like oatmeal with butter" is eating some pretty strange oatmeal or maybe good oatmeal on another planet. Beam me up Scotty.

Taste? Hops.

Mouthfeel? Okay if yer brain can filter out the hops.

Overall this beer doesn't do it for me. I've still got that shitty bitter hop taste in my mouth. Gotta go and brush up. I suppose I was mislead by the label. I expected something more of sweet malts and less hops. But of course I should have known better. West coast beers= HOPS. I guess I slipped up.

 595 characters

Photo of Duane_Opfer
3.97/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle with no date. Poured into a pint glass. Consumed on 12/08/13. Review written from notes.

A - Brownish red with a finger of dense small bubble, off-white head. Mostly transparent with moderate carbonation. Head lasts. Distinct bands of carbonation.

S - Not very fragrant. Citrus hops and caramel malts.

T - Clearly a strong ale, but sweet... brown sugar does come through. Almost completely masks ABV. Malt flavors are forward. Some hoppy critrus flavors.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Dry and sticky, likely from the sugars.

O - Despite a lower scoring, very enjoyable and very easy to drink, in fact too easy to drink considering the high ABV.

 676 characters

Photo of cadenwhitaker
3.6/5  rDev -10%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A sweet Two Hearted? That's what I first thought of while drinking. At first the citrus really threw me off, I was expecting something more Nutty. Halfway through the glass I got more of the sugga' (if that's what they call it) and by the finish I could feel the alcohol and less of the citrus that boned me in the beginning.

 333 characters

Photo of Rjhami
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured 12 oz into NB globe. No freshness date that I could see.

Red-orange amber color with a thin head that leaves spotty lace. Rings within the creamy head simmer around the glass.

Malty sugar balances a hoppy tone that finishes with a little yeast. Can not detect hardly any alcohol in the nose. Big malty flavor with earthy, sweet notes and a touch of peppery spice. The sweetness ensues but not too much at all.

Medium-heavy bodied and slightly chewy. Nice carbonation, not too prickly yet less than syrupy.

This beer is well balanced in every facet. It is hard to believe that this is 9.99%, it could certainly sneak up on you. It really reminds of a Belgian Strong PA. The sugar makes it different but is not overdone. An excellent value here.

 757 characters

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

From notes 12/21/10. Had on-tap at the Dancing Bear. Served in a Victory Golden Monkey snifter.

A- Brownish-red/amber, hazy, one finger off-white head, nice lacing.

S- Cherries, cranberries, faint brown sugar.

T/M- Silky, carbonated tinge(like champagne), slightly bitter finish.

D- Awesome. I could drink a lot of this. The alcohol is integrated very well. Great texture, nice finish, extremely well balanced from start to finish.

 435 characters

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.

 572 characters

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

Ok, I had my 2nd one tonight and truly appreciated this beer. I am not sure what an American Strong Ale is, but to me, this was a very good double IPA with a great sweet undertone that really balanced the hop bitterness and flavor.

 232 characters

Photo of BurpingtonDC
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into an imperial pint glass. It's no secret that Laguinitas makes a mighty fine ale, so without further adieu...

A - This is a beautiful brew indeed. Deep copper color with a three fingered head and ample lacing.

S - great smell, hints of sweet malt, clove, vanilla and a little pine. strong hop scent.

T - Sweeter than I normally like, but makes a nice change of pace. Full flavored, brown sugar and hop interplay--sweet at the fore then finishes with a prominent bitter hoppiness. Vanilla, a little spiciness and boozy finish.

M - Full bodied with a good degree of carbonation and sticky sweetness left on the tongue.

D- Very tasty strong ale if you're only having one. Otherwise it's on the sweet side and, oddly for a strong ale...strong alcohol. Great on a cold winter night.

 807 characters

Photo of Kakaraht
3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Amber in color with a thumb of thin white head.

S: It smells like an American IPA, very floral and citrusy. Really it smells like every other beer they produce.

T: I don't taste anything that could be brown sugar, mostly a light caramel flavor being overpowered by hops. The hops go through a wide range of citrus and floral flavors changing as the beer warms.

M: Medium body, the bitterness lingers quite long.

D: I was hoping for something more sweet with less of that very common American IPA flavor. It is a good beer other than that, just not what I was looking for.

 578 characters

Photo of mastodonj
4.47/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Has a large although short-lived head, light beige with huge lacing.
Exceptional nose, complex. Sweet but not cloying. Malty.
A warming taste with tart-sweet and adult flavors, read: bold alcohol but not astringent.
Overall, a great ale. Perfect for a cold evening.

 265 characters

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.

 661 characters

Photo of Kudashov
1.9/5  rDev -52.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

22 oz Brown bottle poured in a pint glass .
we have Ian Brown on the Hi-Fi with some golf on the TV . Bottle has dog on label and cap and it looks like " Pete " from Our Gang . Aroma is instant as cap is taken off . My sense of smell is not that good but I could smell this before cap was put down . I smell raisins , sugar , & molasses . Like treacle bread . My first gulp is pleasant and nice lacing present on glass . Slick mouthfeel and sweet on the end . Just not sweet enough ( which I already am but ..) . I like sweet but this was not my type . This brew is not what I was looking for .

 595 characters

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

Poured into a pint glass which revealed the beer's dark amber color. Not much head, and a velvety carbonation. Malt, malt, malt. Surprisingly little hoppiness, but I don't care. This malt bomb's ABV adds the right counter point. The booze isn't hidden, and it's upfront to say the least. A little sweet and heavy on the mouthfeel, and it lends this beer to sipping. Warms up nicely on the tongue. The malt wallop is quite heavy, but this one may benefit from some shelf time.

 475 characters

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

Pours a great deep brown with slight reddish hues. Small tan head leaves nice laces around the glass. Looks delicious. Whiff pre-pour is surprisingly filled with hops, not so much after in the glass. Once in the glass, it's pretty much all sweet brown sugar in the nose. Taste on this is an almost overwhelming sweetness, nice malty backbone that has a slight hop bitterness lingering in the background. Feel is slick and oily. Not heavy at all for such a "big beer". Dangerously drinkable, especially if you happen to have a sweet tooth.

 538 characters

Photo of dditto2
4.05/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Beautiful amber.Very thick white head. Hoppy smell, sweet and spicy. Taste is sweet with hops and malt balanced very well. Strong: 9.9%abv. It is a very good beer from a mix n match sampler.

 190 characters

Photo of Mickeyp2814
3.54/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

If you like beers with a high bitter factor this is for you. I was expect something totally different. I should have read the description. However I like this beer. It's definitely not a beer you drink after yard work or even one you simply chug. It's a beer to be appreciated. Take your time and enjoy the bitter and boozy notes.

 330 characters

Photo of jlb307
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this in a trade from gorby10826 (Thanks, Mike). Not sure the age, but the label on my bottle looks different from the one on the picture above.

A: Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. Amber color with a reddish hue. Only developed about a 1/4" head which didn't last long at all. Not much lacing, either. Looked like a little bit of sediment was present. Very nice looking.

S: Smelled like an aged IPA. Citrus and pine coming from the hops, but an underlying sweetness that compliments it a lot. Little bit of alcohol smell to it, but not a lot. Sugary to be sure.

T: Pretty much like it smells, so not very complex. Still tasted very good but was hoping for a little more. Don't get me wrong, this is a great tasting beer. Taste of caramel and vanilla hung around for a while. Little bit of alcohol twinge.

M: Could have been better. Was a little thin for my tastes when compared to the flavor.

D: Very good beer and dangerously easy to drink. That 9.5% hit me sooner than I thought. Would happily have it again, and hope to have it again soon.

 1,065 characters

Photo of Lothar666
3.51/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Poured an opaque dark brown amber body with hints of orange around the edges of the glass. Head was bone white and very creamy, a full two fingers thick and displayed excellent retention. Lacing was thick, sticky and white and just as creamy as the head.

S- Candy and brown sugar with a bit of strong alcohol and something quite tart in the background... Caramel Apples perhaps?

T- Raw fermented brown sugars and strong alcohol dominate the pallet, over a backbone of sweet dark malts and dark bread. A bit more of the caramel apple in the background but quite muted compared to the odor- hops make their presence felt a bit in the finish but even they are subdued by the overwhelming sugar flavor. Drinking this reminds me of drinking chinese tea the way I used to as a kid- with half the glass filled with honey and brown sugar.

M- Thick, viscous and a bit sticky and chewy... The burn in the back of the throat is a cross between what one would expect from a strong barleywine and from drinking a straight glass of high fructose corn syrup. For some this would be unpleasant, but I am a sweets junkie as well as a beer geek so the two go together surprisingly well.

D- Surprisingly drinkable for such a sweet, sticky and strong brew, but my opinion may be a bit biased due to my predilection for sweets. Still, I think that this one would get tiring after the first was done and I would probably move on to something a but more tame. However, this one definitely succeeds at being a unique beer.

 1,505 characters

Photo of RexBanner
3.9/5  rDev -2.5%

Dark amber in appearance. Pillowy head that settles to a sticky ring leaving spider web like lacing on the glass.

Piney hop forward nose. Malt background, light maple syrup and whole wheat bread aromas.

Not as sweet as I thought it'd be. Malt body with a very, very light brown sugar taste. Everything is washed away by the piney, resiny hops.

Light to medium body. Lightly carbonated, finishes semi dry.

I must say I was a bit disappointed with this brew. Reading the reviews I imagined I was in for a unique malt forward, perfectly balanced strong ale. Instead I got something closer to an American barleywine. Overly hopped, out of balanced and one dimensional. One reviewer compared this to hairy eyeball. I disagree, as I feel that hairy eyeball is much more balanced and tastier than brown shugga. But as with everything else; if you've enjoyed this in the past then that's all that matters. Cheers!

 911 characters

Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company
4 out of 5 based on 5,406 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.
  • Extreme Beer FestĀ® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!