The First Pour: Lagunitas Brown Shugga

Cicero’s understands that when it come to beer, most people’s favorite is the latest and greatest new beer. Very few beer lovers drink the same beer over and over again. Sure, you might go back to an old standard, but you always try the latest beer first. For that reason, and others, Cicero’s changes their menu every week. When kegs kick, we change them up, unless we decide to keep it tapped for a while longer because it kicked so fast. With that in mind, we strive to keep you, our customers informed on our weekly changes.  The “First Pour” series of blog posts will highlight and review the newest beers we have on draft for you. Again, we have a happy couple writing these posts for us. If you see them around, make sure and thank them for their hard work.



By Alaina Kantner and Mike Vecchio


ABV: 9.8%

Bitterness: Unknown

Availability: Year-round

In 1997, while trying to brew a batch of Olde GnarlyWine that had gone wrong, brewers at Lagunitas threw brown sugar into the boil in an attempt to rescue the batch. What came out was most definitely not Olde GnarlyWine, but a beer that didn’t follow any style guidelines whatsoever. This was the birth of Brown Shugga, and beer enthusiasts continue to demand this beer year after year.

We first had this beer almost a year ago in beer school when a representative from Lagunitas (wish we could remember his name because he was awesome) came and introduced all of us in class to the brewery. Brown Shugga is pretty great, but in general, if you haven’t had a Lagunitas beer, you’re really missing out. You should probably remedy that ASAP. Cicero’s almost always has a Lagunitas brew on tap and we haven’t tried one yet we didn’t like.

Enough of the babbling, let’s get to the beer! Brown Shugga pours as a clear, hazy, amber color with a touch of orange. A fluffy white head accompanies the pour and sticks around for a while. The smell is a wonderful blend of sweet malts (from the shugga, of course), hops, and a hint of a floral aroma. Once you take a sip you get hops up front, but those quickly give way to the sweet malty tones brought on by the brown shugga that’s been added to the brew. Once the sweet notes have passed, hop oil lingers but doesn’t overpower. This beer does not drink like a beer that boasts a 9.8% ABV and while we’d like to say it’s sessionable, it’s ABV disagrees with us. So let’s put it this way, sessionable by taste, not by ABV.




About the Authors – Alaina and Mike moved to St Louis from Ohio in 2008 and quickly jumped into the craft beer scene. Alaina has gone from drinking light lagers almost exclusively to enjoying maltier beers – most notably porters and stouts – and hefeweizens. In her free time Alaina enjoys reading, running, and attempting to teach their dog tricks. Mike has evolved from drinking highly hopped IPAs to enjoying a wider range of pale ales and traditional hefeweizens. Mike enjoys trying to teach his dog not to bark at anything that moves, reading about crime and gangs, and home brewing with his co-workers. Both Alaina and Mike have been attending Cicero’s Beer School for a year and credit it to helping them expand their knowledge of craft brew and assisting them to take the plunge into home brewing with their friends. Hopefully, they will bring in some of their home-brew one day.

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