No apology necessary
A Review of Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale by Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Posted on 12/10/2012 by Chops
In the highly competitive world of craft beer, it pays to keep your sense of humor. The Lagunitas Brewing Company in particular has tickled our funny bones many times, from their Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale to their Censored Amber Ale (both named for hilarious stories involving other consumable recreational activities). They make it painfully obvious that they don't take themselves too seriously. They are brewers who love what they do, and the fact that they do it exceptionally well is beside the point.

Last year brought us yet another amusing story. Every year Lagunitas releases a highly coveted seasonal beer: the Brown Shugga' American Strong Ale. But unfortunately, the brewery was over capacity and was unable to produce it. Faced with a disappointed public, most companies would construct some sort of lame excuse to diffuse any negative feedback. Not Lagunitas. They owned up to every ounce and promptly released the Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale as a heartfelt apology. ''We screwed up. We suck. Please accept our apology beer.'' Seriously, who can hate on a brewery with a sense of humor like that? So, I decided to hold onto a Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale from last year so I could send it off in style when Brown Shugga' triumphantly returned.

In the glass, this beer has a lightly hazy rich honey coloration. It comes with a frothy white head that has really nice retention. On the nose, a warmly sweet malty aroma fills the area around the glass. This beer has a lot of different notes playing off of each other. On one side, you have a sharp piney citrus with a hint of spice. On the other side, you have a warm sugary honey-like note along with some ripe mango. They are nicely balanced to create a zesty and welcoming introduction.

Knowing Lagunitas' pension for rich and powerful Imperial IPAs, I was expecting an explosion of hops to start. Not so here, this beer drinks quite smooth for the style. The hop profile is appropriately quelled, allowing an array of savory flavors to emerge. Along with the honey-like sweetness, I found some herb infused bread, notes of caramel, and tropical fruits like mango and pineapple. The overall IPA flavor is certainly large and in charge, but it resides more as a solid base than a point of aggression. It's an excellent character trait that I feel really defines this beer. The alcohol burn is pretty mild and only appears as a background note. The beer finishes clean with a piney bitter aftertaste that is lengthy, tangy and quite pleasant.

Overall, the Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale is a delightful brew with a fun personality. I can easily recommend it to most beer fans. Hop heads and Lagunitas faithfuls will certainly love this brew, but it still might be too big for novices. I would imagine most of the interest in this beer has come from the Brown Shugga' fan base, so there should be no worries there. Strangely enough, I was very sad to see this beer disappear from my cabinet. As a stand alone beer, it's definitely a winner and I hope Lagunitas continues to make it in some fashion. Maybe they can rename it the Lagunitas Apology Accepted Ale and add it to the core line up.

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Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale by Lagunitas Brewing Co.
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