One thing I’m figuring out that Lagunitas Brewing does is big beers. Really big beers. I had some of their holiday seasonal Brown Shugga and was surprised to see that it’s a 9.9% alcohol beer. That, along with a name that conjures up visions from a ’70s B-movie is almost enough to give you pause.
Never fear. You’ll be treated to a very sweet, very drinkable beer that should properly be styled a barleywine but has somehow snuck in as a strong ale (at least, according to BeerAdvocate). I want to say that they brewed this beer with lots and lots of brown sugar (which would make sense), but I can’t verify that story one way or another at the moment.
Appearance: Nice copper, slightly murky. Light tan head falling slowly.
Smell: Hops and sweet malt, sugary (Belgian candy?), probably the brown sugar. Very cloying.
Taste: Sweet bite accented by hops. Alcohol heat, strong character on tongue. Caramelized sugar, spun out and flossy.
Mouthfeel: Nice medium feel, lighter than I’d expect as a barleywine. Dry alcohol rolls around the mouth and leaves that numbing/prickly feeling.
On BeerAdvocate, it scores 86 out of 100, with 95% approval. On RateBeer, it scores 3.63 out of 5, in their 90th percentile.