Friday, January 25, 2013

Sucks from Lagunitas

The thing about anticipation is that it often provides expectations that the desired item cannot match.
However, in the case of Sucks by Lagunitas, such fear may be eliminated.  While this was a beer that I waited anxiously to enjoy, it’s also certainly one that achieved the greatness I had hoped it would.

Total Wine, Fredericksburg, VA
Unfortunately, the elusive five-star beer persists in its evasion of this blog.   Because Sucks is not it.  

As great as it was and, trust me, Sucks was spectacular, this beer was not without fault.  Namely, that it tasted a little too familiar. 

7.85% ABV
63 IBUs

But anyway...
...Speaking of anticipation, what I had in that regard of this beer’s appearance was mistaken.
I had expected Sucks to pour with the hue of Brown Shugga.  Instead, Sucks offered much lighter color; I’d say something like wheat, only a bit darker.  Although, nearly totally transparent.  

See?  That’s my computer screen through the lens of beer. Sorta me looking at you looking at me.
Sucks produced a measurably tall head that was more thick than fluffy.  Lacing was most consistent at the top of the glass, although remained fairly stubbornly throughout the remainder of the glass.

Initially, I observed no rising bubbles, but as the beer settled, more were produced. Really, this beer looked like a slightly prettier Coors, but it more than slightly tasted better.
And, oh that aroma.  Suck’s scent was heaven-sent (alliteration!).  A powerful “dankness.”  While piney, the smell was mostly of delightful earthly grasses.
Taste, in a nutshell, was reminiscent of Brown Shugga (for which Sucks is described as a "substitute"), only with tremendously increased pine influences in place of much decreased sugar sweetness.
In  fact, Sucks delivered very little to no syrup stickiness in the mouthfeel.  
While not sugary, there was a hint of subtle honey up front.   Difficult to detect, but there, and it added to Sucks’ complexity.  Throughout, but most noticeably on the backend, were tingling spices.  And the middle delivered a bite of tarty grapefruit.  
Sucks was distinctly Lagunitas.  Which, given my admiration for the brewery was mostly a good thing.  Mostly.
But what’s it mean to be distinctly Lagunitas?  Well, foremost, it’s in that overwhelmingly, yet fascinatingly enjoyable pine cone profile.  Lagunitas has a handle on this specific trait in ways other west coast brewers do not.  
Done wrong, this aspect could be cloying.  Done well, as it was with Sucks, this pine cone smash can be thoroughly appealing. 
But, unfortunately, this very quality, while delectable on its own, may be Sucks’ single fault.  It simply shares too much in common with other Lagunitas beers, most specifically, their base IPA.
I almost feel like I can’t dampen my opinion of Sucks for a characteristic that I enjoy.  But, alas, I must.  Duty calls. 
So… rating this beer requires balancing.  Sucks was no doubt excellent.  Probably four stars.  Maybe edging a bit above that, even.  I truly loved its taste.  
However, while unique relative to the greater craft beer universe, Sucks may not have been distinct enough from its Lagunitas’ brethren, which, with disappointment, knocks off a half star.
Fuzzy math: 3.75 (of 5 stars), but also with a recommendation bordering on being a violent demand that you try this.  From your friend,


  1. As great as it was and, trust me, Sucks was spectacular, this beer was not without fault. Namely, that it tasted a little too familiar. neon beer signs

  2. In fact, Sucks delivered very little to no syrup stickiness in the mouthfeel. beer tap handles