First up is Lagunitas Brewing Company’s Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale (Brown Shugga Substitute). Quite a mouthful, and so’s the beer. It seems that they didn’t have the capacity to brew Brown Shugga,their traditional beer for this time of year this year, and so they offer this instead. I didn’t get around to trying Brown Shugga in previous years, and it looks like I’ll be waiting at least another year. This Imperial IPA makes me not care about that so much, to be honest.
It’s not really a Christmas beer per se, despite the packaging. But it is good. It’s a lovely clear golden color, with a smallish head that disappeared fairly quickly on pouring into the glass. Smell is very inviting, lots of hops and pine resin with a touch of malt.
It’s nicely carbonated but nothing crazy. Medium body. It’s a bit sweeter than I expected at first, but then the hops and citrus take over. Grapefruit, orange, maybe even mango, and with some gentle malts and a slightly bitter finish, but not off-putting. The malts kind of kick in at just the right time with just the right intensity to balance the bitterness. This beer is very smooth and easy to drink.
I’ve yet to be disappointed with a Lagunitas product though this is the first one I think I’ve actually reviewed.
If you’re a regular reader of the blog you’ll know that a well-designed label is worth a lot in my book, and this is one of the best. It’s clear just from the bottle that they feel badly about being unable to produce their (presumably quite popular) Brown Shugga this year, and there’s no one to blame but themselves. I can’t think of too many companies that would have the stones to call themselves out right in the name of one of their products. And if you weren’t convinced they feel sorry about the Shugga, their mascot reminds you a second time that they suck and the label border apologizes even further: “There is nothing cool about screwing up this badly and we know it,” reads one part of the text which really amounts to one big mea culpa.
After you try the beer though, they seem to suck a lot less.
UPDATE: It’s since been re-released as Lagunitas Sucks (Holiday Leftovers) with a redesigned package (the Santa cookie has a bite taken out of him). I’ve heard rumors it will become an UNlimited release. Hoping that’s true.
Taste: A A great Imperial IPA, and a little unexpected given the whole Christmas theme of the packaging. It’s a Christmas beer in name only. They should put this in regular rotation year round.
Drinkability: B+ Nicely hopped, but balanced. It’d nudge into the A- range if not for the ABV which they manage to disguise very well. Very smooth.
Vitals: Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass at about 48F. 7.85 ABV, and 63.21 IBU’s (thank you, helpful label!)