I have an IPA fetish, methinks. I just looked up “fetish” on the online Merriam-Webster dictionary. It defines “fetish” per the following: “a need or desire for an object, body part, or activity for sexual excitement”. I just looked down at my Italian salami rod and took another sip of Lagunitas “Sucks”. The girth and hardness of said salami rod has increased exponentially in conjunction with my consumption of this IPA. The math is there. It’s time for me to come clean (no pun intended, ladies). IPA’s really do it for me. From the sweet and tangy hoppy aroma to the silky smooth texture and refreshingly cool bitter flavor, these brews are as arousing to me as Uma Thurman’s feet are to Quentin Tarantino. And Lagunitas “Sucks” is a hot one.
Why is it called “Sucks”? How is it a “substitute ale” and what does that mean? There is an interesting story behind the production and the name of this beer, and I will get to that at the conclusion of this review. But for now, you must understand that Lagunitas “Sucks” does not “suck” at all. It is fantastic.
Golden orange with a noticeable haze is the color of the liquid, which is pretty standard for an imperial IPA. The head is thick, off-white, and fluffy (again, standard for the style). Sucks has an aroma of passion fruit, fresh pine needles, wheat, and lemon candy. I would gleefully perform cunnilingus on Carrie Fisher (I’m talking about the Carrie Fisher of today, not when she was in her early 20s) if her vertical bacon sandwich smelled like this. Who am I kidding? She’s Princess Leia. I’d do it anyway. But I digress. Because of the aroma, the presentation of Sucks is above average for an IPA, which makes it wonderful for beer in general.
There is a lot of complexity to the flavor of Sucks. Here we go: sweet melons, malt, toffee, lemon lime hops, oats, wheat, and a sweet sugary finish with a trace of mint and an appreciable hoppy bitterness. The bitterness is surprisingly tame initially, but it slowly creeps in and takes over with the finish and the aftertaste. The aftertaste by the way is an adventure in itself: grapefruit, grass, a dab of sugar, sweet bread, and of course the bitterness from the hops.
The alcohol content is completely hidden, but it isn’t extremely high to begin with for a DIPA. Its texture and CO2 level is a tad weaker than what I prefer in an imperial IPA; it is a teeny tiny bit on the watery and flat side. But it is still immensely satisfying. The Lacing is strong here, and it is as robust and as impressive as the Brooklyn Blast I reviewed previously.
I know, I know. It sounds chaotic, but believe you me: it is a superbly-orchestrated coordination of profiles, like a drunken orgy with the entire Hawaiian Tropic modeling team (sans photographers) on a Tempurpedic mattress on the balcony of a Miami penthouse condo while listening to “Planet Caravan” by Black Sabbath.
This is the fifth IPA by Lagunitas that I have had. The others are their standard IPA, Maximus IPA, Day Time Ale and Hop Stoopid. “Sucks” is by far the best of the 5, and that says a lot considering all of them are worthy of my regard.
And finally, this is this why it is called “Sucks – Brown Shugga’ Substitute Ale”. Brown Shugga’ is an acclaimed seasonal American Strong Ale. In 2011, a production conflict prevented the staff from having the capacity to brew Brown Shugga’, and as a substitute, an apology, and an act of self-flagellation the team over at Lagunitas brewed this beer and named it to say, “We suck. Sorry.” I forgive you, Lagunitas. And this is the most relieving case of false advertising I have ever seen.