A Big Bottle of Beer Candy
A Review of Brown Shugga' by Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Posted on 10/14/2012 by Chops
So what do you get when you dump buckets of brown sugar into a fantastic American strong ale? Well you get the Lagunitas Brown Shugga' of course! This delicious seasonal brew recently hit the beer shelves and beer geeks have been clamoring for it. Why is it so sought after you ask? Well, reread the first sentence of this review. It really is that simple and Lagunitas even describes it as so. They have found the perfect combination of malty sugary goodness. It has the power to wow even the most stubborn of strong ale enthusiasts. Put simply, it's just a big bottle of beer candy.

In the glass, this beer has a clear rusty brown coloration. It comes with a rocky white head that has really good retention. On the nose, you are greeted with a sugar-infused roasted malt that takes the form of molasses. You would think that a beer this big would have a more complex intro. But even at 9.9% ABV, you can summarized the aroma in one word: molasses. Not that this is a good or bad thing, just unusually simple for such a big beer.

Course, this beer's simplicity doesn't last for long. That first sip instantly shifts into unhinged complexity with a wild mouthfeel. It starts off as syrupy smooth, then steadily transitions into a malty sweet middle ground. From there the malt congeals into a sticky molasses finish, complete with a trapped hop bitterness that lingers for a very long time. The alcohol profile is perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this beer. It's actually a cumulative burn. At first, you can barely taste the sweet burn as it rests faintly in the background. But as the beer warms, it steadily intensifies until you have a full brown strong ale. It's never oppressive mind you, just well hidden to start. A savory earthy malt acts as a base flavor. The brown sugar enhances this malt and the hop profile amplifies the brown sugar. The resulting concoction is constantly evolving into a more intense experience (wicked cool). The beer significantly smooths as it warms, so if you really like that rich malty sugary goodness, be sure to take your time with it.

Overall, the Lagunitas Brown Shugga' is a fantastic brew that perfectly captures the American strong ale experience. The style itself is fairly open to interpretation and the brews that stand out are able to put unique spins on a broad category. Brown Shugga' knocks it out of the ballpark and is one of the very few strong ales that are accessible to all levels of beer fans. That alone gives it massive appeal across the board. It's very accessible, easy drinking, and endlessly enjoyable. Part of me really wants to call this the perfect session strong ale, but that's kind of an oxymoron. You definitely want to drink several in a sitting, but that might not be the best idea. Beer candy is certainly tempting, just exercise some self control. Cheers!

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Brown Shugga' by Lagunitas Brewing Co.
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