Lagunitas Brown Shugga’

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Lagunitas Brewing out of Petaluma, California has been pushing the boundaries of craft brewing for the past several decades. As a hop head, Lagunitas cannot be ignored as they consistently produce some of the hoppiest beers available. The Brown Shugga is a Barley Wine or perhaps an American Strong Ale by style that was first released in 1997. According to Lagunitas, the story goes as follows:

“Brown Shugga was originally a failed attempt to make our Olde GnarlyWine Ale way back in 1997. Boatloads of Brown Sugar were added to the boil in an attempt to rescue the batch. The result was quite different from the Olde GnarlyWine we were looking for, but the Accidental Release of Brown Shugga that year was the beginning of an annual rampage caused by a beer that follows no style guidelines and can best be described as…. Irresponsible.”

Brown Shugga’ pours a beautiful bright orange and amber hued body with a thick and creamy yellowish beige head. Tons of sticky lacing splotches coat the glass all over and entice my hop senses. The nose has a bursting resinous hop aroma with a slathered molasses and brown sugar toffee malt. A hint of warmth and pungent alcohol is also duly noted in the aroma. From my previous experiences with this beer I anxiously wait for it to warm up a bit before taking the first sip. Cupping the glass in my hands and swirling the beer I notice a fine cloud of tiny carbonation bubbles in the body. The first sip is sweet brown sugar with a candied toffee and fruit flavour. Caramel and toasted bread malts accompany a never ending molasses and sugary sweetness. The finish is mildly bitter and astringent with an impressive floral and resinous hop flavour. Brown Shugga has a warming and pungent alcohol presence with a very mild aftertaste. Brown Shugga isn’t exactly a Barley Wine by current American conventions with a bit of a thin body and a lack of hop bitterness, but Brown Shugga’ pulls it off. With a bit of grace, Brown Shugga’ seemingly blends a strong brown ale with an IPA whilst adding a ton of sweetness. Very curious indeed…

Grade: 88/100      Price: $16/6-pack

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