Lagunitas Sucks (Brown Shugga Substitute Ale) + Week 1 Recap

I’ve wrapped up a week’s worth of beers so far, so I think it’s time for a brief recap:

  1. Southern Tier 2XIPA was fantastic way to kick things off
  2. Pangaea Lilja’s Sasquatch Stout was too heavy on the Sasquatch, too light on the stout
  3. O’so 3rd Wheel Belgian Blonde was a dreadful beer-flavored soda beast
  4. Founder’s Dirty Bastard was a perfectly delicious Scotch Ale
  5. Tallgrass 8-Bit Hop-Rocketed Pale Ale was good enough to please a hard-hearted hop-hater (and came in a preciously adorable can)
  6. Tyranena Devil Made Me Do It! Imperial Oatmeal Coffee Porter was liquid euphoria
  7. Milwaukee Brewing Co. Booyah Farmhouse Ale was a tasty and refreshing harbinger of spring

Best of the week: Tough call between So Tier 2XIPA and Tyranena Devil Made Me Do It. Slight advantage to Devil for sheer absurdity.

Worst of the week: Undoubtedly O’so 3rd Wheel. Nearly undrinkable; I poured half down the drain.

Lagunitas Sucks: high-octane hop bomb

Lagunitas Sucks: high-octane hop bomb

Back to our regularly scheduled programming. Today’s selection, Lagunitas Sucks Brown Shugga Substitute Ale comes with a heartwarming tale of tenacity. It seems that during some construction at the Petaluma, CA brewery in 2010, Brown Shugga, a beloved seasonal, couldn’t be brewed. Dreary, Shugga-less days loomed ahead in 2011, so the Lagunitas crew crafted a stand-in designed to capture the sentiments of those dark times. Thus, Sucks was born. It was so popular that they gave it another go this year.

Miniscule text wrapping the border of the label summarizes Sucks’ origin best:

E.K. Ross would have enjoyed our suffering in 2010 when we saw we couldn’t brew our Brown Shugga. But in that time of deepest despair, as is common to artists everywhere…broke, hungover, abandoned by the muse and prepared to take a job at Arby’s, we found in that darkness the spark of inspiration that would yield up this nearly sanctified recipe!

A 7.85% Imperial IPA at 63ish IBUs, Sucks is a high-octane hop bomb. Despite my usual aversion to hops, I didn’t find this to be particularly offensive. In fact, Sucks’ intense hoppy flavors were nicely balanced by malty undertones, which reigned in the bitterness and fairly well mitigated all the aspects of IPAs that I find unpalatable. All in all, a  pleasant experience.

Lagunitas Sucks Brown Shugga’ Substitute Ale

Style: Double/Imperial IPA
Availability: Limited release
ABV: 7.85%
Hops: Not specified
Notes: Hoppy, with notes of hops accentuated by…more hops. Bolstered by a bit of maltiness that adds complexity and mitigates bitterness.
More Info:
My Take:  Pleasantly surprised by this hop bomb. Or maybe that’s just the 7.85% ABV taking.

Southern Tier 2XIPA + Gail Ambrosius Truffles

Southern Tier 2XIPA and Gail Ambrosius sea salt caramel will rock your socks off.

Southern Tier 2XIPA and Gail Ambrosius sea salt caramel will rock your socks off.

It’s happening. I’m turning 30. In just one short month, I’ll pack up the hazy memories of a tumultuous decade and set off toward the enlightened and refined existence that surely lies ahead. I will, of course, commemorate this momentous transition with beer. 30 beers, to be exact.

During the 30 remaining days until my 30th birthday, I’ll try one new beer each day and document it here on Brew du Jour. I’ll make note of my progress on the enlightenment and refinement front as well, although I predict slow going.

Gail Ambrosius Beerific Taster's Box LogoI’m kicking things off in style with a fabulous Southern Tier Double IPA. But I’m not stopping there. The inaugural day of the project calls for a little extra flair, so I’m turning to Madison’s patron saint of chocolate, Gail Ambrosius. Your see, over the holidays, the roommate (henceforth known as “brewmate”) and I picked up a Beerific Taster’s Box from Gail’s shop and have become thoroughly smitten with it. The box contains 7 spectacular truffles, along with a list of suggested beer pairings. Chocolate and beer?! Yes…oh yes. The combination is brilliant. If you’ve not experienced this particular form of culinary ecstasy, you should consider your life incomplete until you do.

Back to the matter at hand. Southern Tier Brewing Company has been serving the good folks of southwestern New York state for about 10 years, and its wares have been available nationally since 2009. I had never tried a Southern Tier brew before, but I’ve long heard good reviews. 2XIPA handily supports Southern Tier’s good reputation. Available as part of the year-round standard line up, 2XIPA is a malty, slightly citrusy Double IPA that packs a wallop at 8.2% ABV. The facts:

Southern Tier 2XIPA

Style: Double India Pale Ale
Availability: Year-round
ABV: 8.2%
Hops: Not Specified (although the label notes “4 types”)
Notes: Malty, citrusy, sweet but not syrupy. Not particularly hoppy. Lingering notes of grapefruity bitterness.
More Info:
My Take: Delicious. Highly-recommended.
Chocolate-covered crown-mangler

Chocolate-covered crown-mangler

As for the chocolate…2XIPA proved an ideal partner for a chocolate-encased Caramel Sprinkled With Grey Salt.  Normally, I find caramel objectionably sweet (and a reckless threat to large investments in dental work recently), but the bitterness of the IPA balances the sweetness of the caramel perfectly, producing a remarkable flavor combination.