Do you have a beer that constantly surprises you?
Do you have a beer that, with each taste, a smile creeps across that sweet mug of yours, and you chuckle to yourself about how damn good that last sip was?
Do you have a beer that inspires you?
I took a sip of beer a few nights ago and stopped in my tracks. I was overwhelmed with thoughts of my (in retrospect, very short) craft beer journey.
This was the first IPA that blew me away. Holly Kay and I were at Tap and Barrel in Smithtown to see our dear friend Matthew Spitz (from the absolutely unbelievable Moustache Brewing Co.) and his band Royal City Riot, whose sole mission was to groove our mind, body and spirit with their reggae/ska/dancehall jamz, and groove our mind, body and spirit they did. My goodness. (Please refer to my Love Letter to Moustache Brewing Co. to learn more about Matt and Lauri Spitz, their baby, Moustache, and how amazing they are.).
I saw they had Lagunitas Sucks IPA on tap, and I was drawn to it, of course, because of the name. I was still naive about IPAs at that point (please refer to This Blog Post in which I have my brother Chris, who’s new to beer, try 3 >100 IBU IPAs, and the results are as expected!), and wanted to try something new.
I took one sip, and thought “THIS is the reason I got into craft beer.” I was overwhelmed with brown sugar (which is interesting when you hear the story about this beer), plum sweetness, and toasted caramel from the malts, balanced with a blast of lemon and orange zest citrus from the hops. One of the most flavorful, balanced IPAs I had ever drank.
Lagunitas Sucks! Also, my foot!
We could talk about how Heinekin purchased a 50% stake in Lagunitas, which would lead us down the wormhole to AB InBev and their acquisition of multiple Craft Breweries in an attempt to conquer the Craft Beer market.
But we’re not here to talk about that.
I want to talk about the time I didn’t get that promotion I had been working so hard for, and Holly came and picked me up from work (because she’s amazing) and surprised me with a 32oz bottle of Lagunitas Sucks (because she’s incredible. Also, beautiful. She has unbelievable brown eyes. Have you seen those eyes? My goodness.). She handed it to me, gave me a big old bear hug, and said “Honey, that sucks.” I drew myself a hot bath, popped open that bad boy, enjoyed the sweet, citrusy blend of magic, went to work the next day as cheery and chipper as ever, and got the promotion a week later. Boom.
Ok, so, the beer name. Here’s the story. Lagunitas has a beer called Brown Shugga. Due to their capacity issues in 2010, that particular beer, a strong ale with tons and tons of, you guessed it, brown sugar, took a long time to make. They were trying to expand, but the giant lauter tun (the vessel used to separate the liquid wort from the grain) they were going to used got damaged, so they couldn’t brew Brown Shugga. They called the IPA they brewed instead Lagunitas Sucks, as a consolation to all the Brown Shugga fans, and a comical, self-deprecating nod to staying humble in the face of success, even when something goes wrong. It used to be brewed only around Christmastime, but it’s become a year round brew for them, and for good reason.
Every time I come back to this beer, I’m blown away. Periods of time will go by, and it will disappear from my grocery store, and will show up again months later, and remind me again why I love craft beer so much. It reminds me of Spitzy, and Holly Kay, and all the adventures we’ve been on since I started getting into craft beer over 5 years ago.
It’s all about love, friendship, and great beer. And this is a great beer.
Until next time!
P.S. Huge shout out to my dude Brandon (@itsb_ran on the Instagramz) for helping me come up with the second half of my title this week! Thanks, buddy!