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Brown Shugga

Last night, we decided to go to Hahn’s Hibachi, a new Korean barbeque joint next to the Toronado for dinner after I got back from the Mac World Expo (see Smirks for the story). The food was as good as it was last week, but instead of ordering the Pile of Pork, I ordered the Mountain of Meat. Both were good, but I really prefer their pork to their beef, so next time, I’ll probably just get the

Pile of  Pork again.

One of the nice things about Hahn’s is that they have a decent selection of craft-brewed beers. Unfortunately, the Murphy’s Stout was out (hey, that rhymed!)… so I decided to get the Deschutes Brewery Black Butte Porter. Black Butte is a very nice sort of mild porter. It went well with the pork, but it wouldn’t have been drinkable on its own. Anyway, when we finished, it was close to 9pm, which mean that Ian was about to come on shift at the Toronado. Hell, dinner at Hahn’s Hibachi followed by beer at the Toronado is a great Wednesday night ritual… and who are we to break from tradition?

We got into the Toronado at 8:45. I noticed a couple of new beers on the board, and since Janet likes stouts, I suggested that she tried the Beamish Stout. She found the Beamish to be extremely roasted (it tasted like espresso to me) and though it was good, she preferred Guinness to Beamish, which she then ordered as her second (and final) beer of the night. Now if they’ll only take the Beamish off and put on the Murphy’s Stout, Janet will be all set.

I, however, found a delightful surprise on the board. The mythical Lagunitas Brown Shugga was finally on tap. Brown Shugga, like many beers, was a complete mistake. The head brewer at Lagunitas was away while they were brewing this year’s barleywine. Since Barleywines are very high in alcohol, you need to start off with a high Original Gravity (OG), or sugar content, for the yeast to convert into alcohol.

However, when the beer was ready to ferment, the OG was way too low, so the assistant brewer called the head brewer, and he suggested that they put in some brown sugar into the mix to raise the gravity. Blame it on faulty communications or someone drinking too much Lagunator while on the job, but they added over 200 pounds of refined brown sugar to the mix. When the head brewer came back, they realized that this wouldn’t make a good barleywine. But, since they already had a ton of the brown sugar laden proto-barleywine in the fermenter, they decided to keg it and pass it to a couple of bars. Hence, Brown Shugga was born.

Robert was on shift, and I ordered up a 13 oz tulip glass of this 10.25% alcohol nectar, expecting it to be extremely sweet and heavy, like an Aventinus. Janet looked at me when I ordered it, thinking that a beer like this was bound to make me quite loopy, quite quickly. This was not the case.

Brown Shugga is sweet, but not in a heavy malty way… but in a sweet candy sort of way. It wine terms was closer to a rainwater madiera than a tawny port. Extremely drinkable with a light palate and mild hop taste. To hell with the flowery descriptions… it was fan-freaking-tastic.

Before the night was over, I would consume two full pints of Brown Shugga before the two of us bid adieu to Ian and took the long block-and-a-quarter walk home. Still, even after almost 50 ounces of Brown Shugga, I felt clearer than if I had just one Aventinus. Funny how that works.

Brown Shugga, how do you taste so good?

Posted in The Barfly Chronicles.

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