Lagunitas Sucks (Brown Shugga Substitute Ale) | Lagunitas Brewing Company

1,598 Reviews
Lagunitas Sucks (Brown Shugga Substitute Ale)Lagunitas Sucks (Brown Shugga Substitute Ale)

Brewed by:
Lagunitas Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.85%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
This sad holiday season we didn’t have the brewing capacity to make our favorite seasonal brew, the widely feared BrownShugga’ Ale. You see we had a couple of really good years (thank you very much) and so heading into this season while we are awaiting the January delivery of a new brewhouse we are jammin’ along brewing 80 barrels of IPA and PILS and such every 3 hours. A couple of months back we realized that since we can only brew a mere 60 barrels of Shugga’ every 5 hours, that we were seriously screwed. For every case of Shugga’ brewed, we’d short 3 cases of our favorite daily beers. It’s a drag. This year, we brewed something that we think is also cool and brews more like our daily brews. The new brewhouse will help insure this kind of failure never happens again. It’s a mess that we can not brew our BrownShugga’ this year and we suck for not doing it. There is nothing cool about screwing this up this badly and we know it. Maybe we can sue our own sorry selves. There is no joy in our hearts this holiday and the best we can hope for is a quick and merciful end. F*@& us. This totally blows. Whatever. We freaking munch moldy donkey butt and we just want it to be all over...
So this substitute beer is a ‘Cereal Medley’ of Barley, Rye, Wheat, and Oats…. Full of complexishness from the 4 grains, and weighing in at 7.85% abv, Then joyously dry-hopped for that big aroma and resinous hop flavor.

Added by Jules11788 on 11-07-2011

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,598 | Ratings: 10,188
Photo of car2052
4.43/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12 oz. bottle to snifter.

A: Bright orange
S: Pine, mango, orange, grapefruit, bready malt.
T: Very nice tropical fruit flavors and pine against sweet bready malt.
M: medium.
O: Love the hop flavors, just wish for a bit less sweetness.

 250 characters

Photo of Squire123
4.08/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Beautiful lighter shade of gold with good cap and lacing.

Aroma is like stepping into a dark conifer forest. The hop aroma comes full on in an unobtrusive way, there's a lot of it but it's not pushy. Hints of spice dance about like a sprinkling of sunbeams lightly filtered through the boughs above.

Yes, the flavor is resinous, just like the brewery says, but it's a pleasant bunch of buds. Grains come through in the buttery rich body but it's hops that lead the band. Finish is clean with a pleasantly bitter aftertaste.

Overall this is a complex beer with positive points. It is a broad shoulder, big body, big flavor, big hop brewnput together in a cohesive whole that fulfills and doesn't disappoint.

 716 characters

Photo of Jeffrey-J10
3.73/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle poured in Imperial Pint
- Rich golden color, with a drop of copper highlights
- Nearly translucent
- Big foamy head, full 3 fingers - hangs around awhile
- Mild aroma
- Yeasty, like fresh sourdough
- Malty
- A bit of fruit...maybe apple?
- Roasty on the back, almost smoky
- complex flavors
- smooth, surprisingly creamy considering the light appearance
- carbonation on the front
- Interesting and complex
- should be good with bold food flavors
- stands up well as warms to room temperature

 537 characters

Photo of patre_tim
4/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Golden and hazy with a few slow rising bubbles. Topped with a half finger of foamy white head.

Smells of cat pee, cat nip, herbal notes and a hint of lemon and fruitiness, really dank and fried onion like.

Tastes of cat pee, cat nip, herbal notes, a fair amount of what I like to think is brown sugar, and some butter.

Medium somewhat syrupy body, dry finish. Medium level of spicy carbonation.

Got in Petaluma California at the 7-11 just down from Lagunita's Brewing. Drinking in Motel 6, Petaluma. Its been on my wish list and I would have had it at Lagunita's brewhouse, but it was closed when I arrived at 10:30pm. Very hoppy in a catty kind of way, and well done but different.

 692 characters

Photo of NicolasBird
4.48/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear dark yellow or light orange with a finger and a half of head. Head goes down but stays covering the top the whole drink through. Smells like grapefruit, hops, and I got a sweet and very slight molasses smell, could just be me. Definitely a lovely smell though. The feel is really nice, thin but slightly sticky feeling, not a whole lot of carbonation. Taste is amazing, very unique. I almost can't describe it other than it tastes just as it smells, like an IPA, but not... A little bit of bitterness and bite, but sweet and citrusy, just beautiful. Super tasty beer, I buy it quite often and always enjoy it. Lagunitas really has some fine beers.

 661 characters

Photo of Beers-es
4.14/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

From a couple months old bottle, pours orange with a finger or more of foam. Nose is muted fruit mostly. Taste is citrus, pine and some backing malt, with moderate bitterness in the finish. Good substantial feel. Nice beer, probably better when it's fresher.

 258 characters

Photo of stevoj
3.8/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Aroma comes on like a Belgian tripel, so far so good! Light amber with sparse foamy head. Some spicy nature in the taste, also reminiscent of Belgians, with the ever present NW hops touch. This is a really, really good beer.

 224 characters

Photo of Turbo
4/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reading the ratings, it appears you really like it or you really dislike it. I liked it. Lagunitas beers all seem to have a similar citrusy theme. I have not come across a bad Lagunitas brew. I feel this beer is very well balanced for an 8.0 percenter and really enjoyed it. However, I can only have one or two of these and I have to call it a day.

 353 characters

Photo of StuMonkey
2.99/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

I was not impressed. There was no balance whatsoever.
To be fair, I am a fan of Stouts and Porters and like the ones with a good finish. This beer reminds me of smelling a bottle Pine-Sol disinfectant, with an aftertaste of what I imagine Pine-Sol tastes like.

 261 characters

Photo of TH28
4.19/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Appearance is golden with slight haze and thick creamy white foam cap. Intense hop aroma, with strong citrus and hints of pine. Great bready malt flavor up front with a strong but well balanced hop bitterness that doesn’t overpower. Medium creamy mouthfeel, especially for an IPA. Finishes with a clean hop bite and touch of warmth from the alcohol.

 351 characters

Photo of Dms844
4.34/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Beautiful in the glass, golden amber color with a fluffy white head and tiny bubbles.
Smells of citrus, grapefruit and lemon, very inviting.
Tastes like it smells citrus fruit up front and leaves a mellow bitterness on the tounge. Has a sticky feel, it coates the mouth with great flavor that leaves you craving the next sip.
One of my favorite IPAs, complex flavors that stay with you long after you finish it and make you want to suck down another one.

 460 characters

Photo of Rogerlb
3.68/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is the way a lot of imperial (double) IPAs tend to taste. They are sweet in a sickly citrus way. I think it's the booze along with the slick malty backbone as well that makes them feel heavier and doesn't feel as clean or snappy. They tend to be overly carbonated, hoppy tastes (bitter, earth) are being leveraged against a stronger sugar content and seems often out of balance. Sometimes they are astringent rather than pleasantly "strong."

Lagunitas consistently makes solid samplings of many styles-- their Hop Stoopid is a reliable DIPA that is more aggressively hop-forward and pine-y than this one. Their Imperial Stout is also one of my favorite go-tos, not least because of the price. $4.99 for a bomber can't be beat (although 2 more bucks usually gets you a better beer). This, a "substitute" to BrownShugga (which I never had), is another generic example, more candied citrus than Hop Stoopid, almost sickly in my opinion and there's little of the nuance a world-class DIPA demonstrates. The BrownShugga in the name must indicate the original intention, a brown-sugar, caramel-y malt base in which bread and some rye/hop character sneak in early and then late.

The 8% listed on the label (the 7.85% here may be a different brewing ago?) can be felt in the taste and may have thrown things off. It didn't really click with me. Not bad but maybe seems to be trying too hard.

EDIT 12/1/16: got myself a Brown Shugga. Damn, that's a good beer. First, it's got a maltier and nevertheless as sweet hoppy flavor as this. Also at 9.8% it's stronger and the alcohol is more prominent. BrownShugga is closer to a brown ale, dark and muddy although still in DIPA territory. This, "sucks", is a pale imitation now I see. A little more sweet, a little less body, a little less alcohol. I was a bit harsh but now I know the truth.

 1,836 characters

Photo of Flipadelphia84
4.3/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a light amber color. Thick off white 1 finger head with a ton of lacing. Dark fruit, caramel, and raisin on the nose. Flavor is well balanced but on the malty side. A little sweetness at the end from the unfermented complex sugars. Not typical profile for a DIPA as hops are not the star here but very tasty nonetheless. Medium low carbonation with a light medium body. Overall, this is a great IPA that leans to the malty side of the spectrum. I am not sure when this beer was bottled but I assume it had a more present hop character when it was fresh. Love the malt and great story behind the making.

 612 characters

Photo of MoGuitarNthemonitor
4.11/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I love Double IPA's. This one looks perfect, smells great but it's lacking just a little on citrus notes. It's not a terribly bitter beer and the feel is light. I can't say it's my favorite Dbl IPA but it's close.

 216 characters

Photo of Strike00
4.18/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

L: pours a clear golden amber with a 1 finger off white head that lasts a bit
S: smells bright and hoppy, no deep smell to speak of
T: my initial taste is malty, but the hops quickly through, sweet like a lot of DIPA's but not overly so
F:medium bodied and sticky, not overly carbonated

O: really liked this. very good DIPA

 326 characters

Photo of Tenessee_Jed1972
3.04/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

2016 batch.

Golden yellow color. Looks like an IPA. Tastes very bitter and has that classic Lagunitas smell that is characteristic of many of their beers, along with a piney hop aroma. Honestly I would not say that this beer "Sucks" but for being brewed by Lagunitas, it isn't that impressive to me. They have way better offerings in my opinion and this is one of the worst ones for me.


This beer is not a pimple on Brown Shugga's ass, and certainly not a worthy substitute. Just my opinion.

 503 characters

Photo of singletary
3.2/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

The color is a orange hue, the smell is very piney hops. The flavor follows the smell, hoppy but not overpowering. A nice finish with a malt flavor on the backside. Overall a nice beer still a little more hops than I like but one that I did find as a nice alternate to the lagers I usually have.

 295 characters

Photo of colts9016
3.78/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A foamy creamy head that is one finger thick with good retention. The color of the beer is a nice orange color with some amber tints. The clarity of the beer is clear with some good carbonation bubble.

Rich floral, pine, and grapefruit with some tropical notes come first I smell this beer. A light grass, and toasted bread with yeast finish it.

Definite grapefruit, tropical, herbal, resin, and some floral notes on the palate. The beer is lightly toasted with a touch of caramel, grass, and yeast

The mouthfeel is bitter, tannic, carbonated, and finish crisp.

The beer is good I think the hop is a tad underwhelming to me. The malt has a very nice back and could hold a touch more hop character. Good DIPA

 716 characters

Photo of BeerAndGasMasks
4.3/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Back home we would say it's Wicked Good! From the older bottle, it pours a golden amber with a moderate head. Really nice scent tickles the nose (no, I don't feel like describing it) and tastes very nice. Yummy!

 214 characters

Photo of johnnyd10vt
3.46/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Definitely a west coast IPA. One of the strongest I've ever had. Slightly darker than a lager, thin lacy white head. Not much smell. Super hoppy like you'd expect a west coast IPA to be. The hops have a little bit more bitterness and a little less grapefruit/citrus than my favorites.

 284 characters

Photo of Bierliebhaber3
4.31/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Double IPA with a color somewhere between golden and coppery with a healthy white foamy lacing. Before you even sip this beer there is a very strong, pleasant citrusy / hoppy smell that hits you. The taste confirms the smell. It has a strong grapefruit flavor with more subtle pine and orange flavors and a hop profile that seems stronger than the 65 ibu it is listed as. It has some definite bitterness, but it isn’t overwhelming like some DIPAs. I would say it is about equal to that of a standard grapefruit. The bitterness doesn’t linger and you are left with a very crisp, refreshing feeling at the end of the drink. This would be a great DIPA or a great beer in general on a summer day. It’s not the best DIPA I’ve ever had, but it’s definitely up there and even though IPAs aren’t typically my favorite. Lagunitas is a brewery that I really like overall and it’s cheaper than many others that I think are inferior to it and this beer confirms that.

 969 characters

Photo of HorseheadsHopHead
4.3/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Looks clear golden orange with lightly streaming carbonation, a thick, sticky off white head, and leaves sheets of lacing.

On the aroma, you get pine upfront, and then zesty, spritzy citrus oils; orange peel, a bit of grapefruit, and then some underlying peach and pineapple.

On the palate, upfront you're smacked with lots of grapefruit and pithy orange. This transitions into sweeter tropical fruits; peach, pineapple, and a touch of mango. There is an underbelly of malt sweetness, biscuit bordering on caramel, but smooth and not obtrusively sweet or sugary. The finish transitions to a sharp bite of pine sap and the characteristic Lagunitas chalk/rubber note, but it's a faint suggestion here and not obnoxious and detracting like some of their other beers. Finishes surprisingly clean, neither super dry nor overly sweet, with only a touch of bitterness and lightly lingering pine needles and orange pith.

The mouthfeel is medium, medium-lightly carbonated, very smooth and bordering on creamy. Lightly dry on the finish.

 1,036 characters

Photo of James954
4.38/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Gonna be a short one from a 12 oz bottle...

This is Lagunitas' Lil' Sumpin Ale with a sweet kick to it. Not really my thing, but they nailed the goal of what they were looking to accomplish. I'm going East Coast vs West Coast on this with Founder's vs Lagunitas. This is what AB vs Miller should have been.

 307 characters

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

Last one of six I purchased and drank a week or so ago. It has a definite strong smell to it and a strong taste, but one I can enjoy. Not something I can drink all day, but one I'd drink again. I bought the six pack in May and apparently they were brewed in January (according to description). I poured it into a beer glass and saw little to no foam and only a little nit of lacing. Still enjoyed it though!

Tastes and smells like a beer!

 446 characters

Photo of bbtkd
3.52/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Lagunitas Sucks Brown Shugga' Substitute Ale, 7.85% ABV, 63 IBU, American Double/Imperial IPA style. Well let's see if it lives up to its name. Pours medium thickness, orange/golden, a bit hazy, 5+ fingers of foamy white head that stuck around, spotty lacing. Nose is sweet malt, taste is malt and some funky bitter tastes I can't identify. OK mouthfeel, and overall I can't say it sucks, though I'm not a fan. I do like it better than the Brown Shugga' it is a substitute for!

 482 characters

Lagunitas Sucks (Brown Shugga Substitute Ale) from Lagunitas Brewing Company
4.31 out of 5 based on 10,188 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.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.