Lagunitas Sucks (Brown Shugga’ Substitute Ale)

Reviewed by on December 18, 2014 in Holiday Guide

The Details

  • Brewery: Lagunitas Brewing Company

  • Origin: Petaluma, CA, US

  • Rated On: December 17, 2014

  • Best Before: Bottled October 8, 2014

  • ABV: 8.0%

  • Ideal Temperature: cold to cool

  • Style: American Double IPA

  • Rating: GREAT !!

The Review

One of the more interesting beer lore stories of the past few years, Sucks is Lagunitas’ self-deprecating ‘apology’ beer, first brewed in late 2011, as a replacement for their popular seasonal Brown Shugga’, which they apparently didn’t have the capacity for at the time.  Going at various times by the names Brown Shugga’ Substitute Ale, Holiday Ale, and Holiday Leftover Ale, it caught on, and now their so-called mistake is a big item for them – and in more than one sense of the word, as this year it comes in quart-sized, um, jugs.

This 32oz bottle pours a clear, bright, yet darkish golden yellow colour, with two fingers of loosely foamy, though chunky, and mostly bubbly off-white head, which leaves some splendidly grotesque cobwebbed lace around the glass as it slowly abates.

It smells of bitter citrus (orange, pineapple, and lime) cream, caramel malt, a further apricot fruitiness, and a twinge of somewhat dank pine essence slowly on the rise. The taste is fairly bitter pine resin and muddled citrus rind, soft bready caramel malt, middling apricot/peach, soft chalky notes, a bit of musty weediness, and a distinct lack of any overt booze warming. The carbonation is moderate, though a tad prickly at times, the body a kind of flaccid medium weight, yet still evenly and pleasantly smooth. It finishes off-dry, the hop fruitiness more up in front with the consistent grainy caramel sweetness, than lounging back with any lingering dry bitterness.

Hoppy? You bet your mistletoe-adjacent ass it is. Bitter? Hardly at all – Scrooge himself seems to have wielded control over that particular item on this wish list. Anyways, a worthy mea culpa/marketing stunt, whatever, it’s quite good, and way more approachable/poundable than I had been led to believe.   If you’d like something to complement those ubiquitous oranges and that pine tree essence wafting about, go find yourself some Sucks.

Brady White

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