Monday, November 19, 2012

Beer Review: Brown Shugga'

Reviewing the Brown Shugga' from Lagunitas Brewing Company out of California. This is one of Lagunitas' better regarded beers.
Score: 92

Bottle stamp code is 26365315, meaning it was bottled on or around 09/20/12. Served in a Minneapolis Town Hall Belgian-style tulip and enjoyed on 11/09/12.

Appearance: Pours a nice copper color with three fingers of foamy beige head that takes forever to settle.  Leaves a thick lacing on the side of the glass as it recedes. Amazing lacing, unreal retention. 5/5

Smell: Caramel malt, grapefruit, grassy hops and molasses/brown sugar. Reminds me of six-month old Three Floyd's Behemoth with some brown sugar added. Citrusy pine as well. Faint alcohol esters tingle the nose towards the back end of a whiff. Bold and balanced. 4.5/5

Taste: Not quite as smooth or balanced as the nose led on. The alcohol is much more present than it was in the nose, and the flavor is much more malt-forward that the nose led on. Lemony caramel malt and a touch of earthy, slightly spicy hops that remind me a little bit of hop profile of Oskar Blues' Deviant Dales. The hoppy bitterness lingers on the middle of the tongue in the finish. There is some brown sugar on the mid-palate, but to a lesser degree than was present in the nose. The alcohol tingles the palate slightly. I am not quite sure I would call this one "boozy," but it is apparent this beer is not of a low ABV (it is 10%). As the beer layers, the IPA-like qualities of tend to wash over the palate more and give it a more consistent citrusy bitterness throughout. Though the above taste description may sound like I did not enjoy this beer, that could not be less the case. I found this brew quite tasty. The disappointment comes from an aroma that built me up for a flavor that the beer did not deliver. Nonetheless, this is a really solid brew. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Just shy of full bodied with below average carbonation. Oily, but dense on the palate. The beer's viscosity and low carbonation allow it's bitterness to sit and layer on the tongue. 4/5

Overall: Labels are overrated, but I was shocked to find out that this one was a strong ale. I thought it was an IPA and would have guessed American barleywine in a blind tasting. The nose is excellent, and the appearance is great, while the taste is merely "good." I would certainly drink this one again -- especially at the price.

Recommendation: Seek a bottle of this out, particularly if you like IPA or American-style barleywines. Casual beer drinkers may be put off by the bitterness.

Pairings: Glazed ham.

Cost: $9.99 for a six pack.

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