Friday, January 2, 2009

Lagunitas Brown Shugga' Review

Brewery: Lagunitas Brewing Co. | Beer: Brown Shugga'
Style: American Strong Ale | ABV: 9.5%
Serving Method: 12 oz. bottle poured into pint glass

Lagunitas Brown Shugga'While brewing a batch of their Old Gnarlywine back in 1998, things went a little askew at the Lagunitas brewery. But instead of just ditching the batch, they saw the process through and ended up liking the finished product so much that they ended up bottling and selling it. And that's how this beer, Brown Shugga', was born.

There's a bit of confusion as to whether this is a Barleywine or an American Strong Ale, but I ended up going with the latter based on what I could find online. Unfortunately, Lagunitas doesn't provide much information about Brown Shugga' on either their website or the packaging itself. Here's what the bottle reads:

Feeding brown cane sugar to otherwise cultured brewery yeast is akin to feeding raw shark to your gerbil. It is unlikely to ever occur in nature without human intervention. And it looks weird besides. But it has happened and now it's too late.
Bizarre label aside, let's see how the beer is.

Appearance: A crystal clear, rust-colored body with brilliant orange highlights and a finger-and-a-half tall, off-white head that dissipates quickly. What's left leaves passable lacing.

Aroma: As you would expect, the nose is very sweet with a big brown sugar malt body. There's also some dark fruit, maybe cherries. Not much as far as hops go, but there's plenty of booze ready to bite your head off.

Taste: Lots of spices over a very solid brown sugar and caramel malt base. That big 9.5% ABV really makes its presence known, but never steps over the line (given the style). The hops perk up a little in the finish but are soon beaten back by the booze and residual malt.

Mouthfeel: A thick and chewy body that leaves a good coating on your mouth. You can easily feel the booze in your cheeks.

Drinkability: For sure a sipper, based on both the intensity of flavor and alcohol content. If you sessioned this, it would knock you straight on your ass.

Verdict: Brown Shugga' is a decent enough little Winter evening sipper. Having tried it now, if given the choice between picking up a bomber or a six-pack, the bomber would win for sure. Six bottles is a little much for me, so I'm planning to cellar what's left of the six-pack I bought to see what happens.

Grade: B

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