24 Beers of Christmas – December 20th: Lagunitas Sucks Brown Shugga’ Substitute Ale
Founded in Lagunitas, California in 1993, Lagunitas Brewing Company grew to become on the United States largest craft brewers, largely due to the popularity of their flagship Lagunitas IPA (available in the LCBO). In 2015, with an eye towards future expansion, Lagunitas accepted a bid of over $500 million USD from international beer giant Heineken for a 50% stake in their brewery. Though hard to stomach for many craft beer fans, the deal has helped bring their products, which continue to be of considerable quality, to a wider audience across North America and beyond. If not for this arrangement, it’s likely we would have still been stuck with regular old brown sugar in Ontario for quite some time.
Lagunitas Sucks came to be when the brewery didn’t have enough capacity to brew the fan favourite Brown Shugga, their American Strong Ale brewed with brown cane sugar, which itself only came into existance thanks to a messed up batch of Barley Wine. Sure the take home from this story is that Lagunitas make a lot of mistakes, but then again who doesn’t? If only all mistakes could taste as good as this beer.
Built on a nice, sweet and malty backbone, this beer shows off a great blend of “C” hops identifyable by their big juicy citrus and floral flavours. There’s a bit of grain bitterness from the use of rye, among the other non-barley additions to the bill, and realy nice biscuit, toffee and, yes, brown sugar flavours. Keep an eye out for some stonefruit and even cherry, along with some grassiness. Not a lot of bite to this one, as the grian sweetness tapers much of the hop bitterness, yet it doesn’t completely mask the heat from the alcohol.
Style: Alternative Grain (American Double IPA) – 8% ABV, 63.21 IBU, SRM – 45
Food pairings: Pork Tenderloin (orange glazed maybe?), Goat’s Milk Blue, Butterscotch Ice Cream
Availability: LCBO (Seasonal)