Sunday, December 22, 2013

Lagunitas Brown Shugga (4/10)

While preparing for all these December seasonal beer reviews, I did some research on beer forums online.  I looked for all the beers that forum visitors rated highly from among the Christmas and winter beers.  A name that came up frequently was Lagunitas Brown Shugga.  The beer features a strong malt load, combined with Brown Cane Sugar, as well as hops.  It’s available starting in October.

At a tasting at Weiland’s Gourmet Market a while back, I got to meet a couple of their employees and try their products.  While I think their IPA is a little smoother and easier to drink than most other IPAs, I also think that everything Lagunitas makes tastes the same.  That is, everything they make tastes like an IPA… and I really don’t care for IPAs.  Still, as highly rated as Brown Shugga was, I had to try it.  I picked up a 6-pack at Kenny Road Market for around $10 and brought it home.

The color is a clear reddish amber with a thick white head that dissipates somewhat slowly.
The aroma is a mix of caramel and hops, with hops being front and center.

The flavor is… well… what I expected.  It’s quite hoppy.  This hoppiness is offset only by the sweetness of the brown sugar used in brewing it.  Ultimately, for this “not an IPA fan” beer guy, it’s too much like an IPA and too little like a holiday or seasonal beer.  As an experiment, I've cellared a couple of bottles to try during the Christmas 2014 season.

Beer Advocate readers and “The Bros” seem to love it, giving it 90/100 or “outstanding”.  Rate Beer does also, giving it a 97 overall.  While I respect those ratings, for my taste this is just not a pleasant beer to drink.  I’m giving it a 4/10. 

Flavor Profile:

Sweet, Malty, Dry, or Bitter: Bitter foremost, with sweet in the background
Spice Level:  None
Hops Level: High
Dominant Flavors:  Hops first and foremost, then sweet caramel
ABV: 9.99%
IBU:  Unknown, but I’d estimate in the 40-50 range
My Rating: 4/10

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