Brew Review

Beer Review – Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut-down Ale

Well, another Beer Friday has rolled around and I find myself at PJ Whelihan’s in Blue Bell. Always an enjoyable lunch, but this one was made even better by the table on the patio and the Lagunitas on tap. I have had a number of Lagunitas’ offerings in the past (the IPA, the Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale, the Hairy Eyeball and the Hop Stoopid). So, when I saw the Undercover Investigation Shut-down on the craft menu, I jumped at the chance to sample an American Strong Ale from a quality brewer.

Here is what Lagunitas has to say about their Undercover Investigation Shut-down:

We brewed this especially bitter ale in remembrance of the 2005 St Patrick’s Day Massacre and in commemoration of our 20-day suspension that followed. The ABC conducted an undercover investigation of our brewery, finding us guilty of operating a “Disorderly House.” We did the crime. We did the time. We got the bragging rights.

I found the Undercover Investigation Shut-down to be…

  • Appearance: Clear, copper color with a lots of long lasting foam and great lacing.
  • Aroma: Caramel, hops and sweet malt.
  • Taste: Medium mouthfeel with an incredible balance and a great blend of flavors that complemented rather built on one another.
  • ABV: 9.7%

I found this to be a great beer. Maybe as good as the Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’. For a warm day, out on the patio, this went down way too fast and could have quickly deteriorated into a session. Sadly, I had another 4 hours of work and at least an hour commute on the horizon, so I quit while I was ahead.

10 replies »

  1. So, I’ll get to the brew itself eventually but an important observation has to be made beforehand:

    1. The beer is not undercover – not by a long shot. In my white hat days as a prosecutor I ran the narcotics strike force and all we did was undercover investigations. None of the agents or investigators attached to any of our cases looked anything like that beer. None of them. Not the County or State guys and not the FBI, DEA, or Customs Agents either. In fact, even the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that assisted in a few of our operations looked absolutely nothing like Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale.

    All label trickery aside, it still looks like a beer and when you open it up and commence an inverted presentation, stuff pours out just like it does with real beer. At best, it’s an undercover beer in plain sight.

    Forgetting about that for a moment, it’s a very tasty brew. Lot’s of caramelly malt and a bracing hop profile that reminds you, once and for all, that you’re enjoying a legit West Coast craft beer. Just a little white peppery alcohol note in the finish also lets you know it’s not a Stewards root beer either. Most importantly, this year’s version offers more proof that they’ve gotten over the QA issues that occasionally popped up as a result of their expansion. Consistency seems to have returned across their entire lineup.

    But it still looks like a beer. They should have bottled it in Matteus Rose bottles if they really wanted to stay undercover.



    • Interesting comment. Enjoy the review provided here and by the blog owner.

      I also reviewed this beer on my site, but perhaps with less wit than applied here!

      My thoughts in summary: Lagunitas rarely disappoints and certainly has not with Undercover. Yet, while Undercover is certainly more complex than Sucks, both are balanced well and, on the whole, I slightly prefer Sucks. But love both 🙂

      Looking forward to following this blog and those provided by the commenter providers here.



    • I might have known you would sing the praises of a West Coast brewer. In this case, I cannot disagree. Lagunitas has been a great find and while I haven’t had all that many of their offerings, what I have had has been outstanding.


      • Just to show that I can acknowledge that not all brewers on the Best Coast turn out the best brews……

        Uncommon Brewers (Siamese Twin, et al) is awful, Lost Coast (Indica Gold, Tangerine Wheat) is mediocre at best and Bayhawk is spectacularly uninspiring. I could add more here but I don’t want to risk triggering another bout of HunTourettes. The combination of sweating, itching, and spontaneously yelling out the last names of lesser known Nobel Laureates in Mathematics followed by salty cuss words tends to be a bit off-putting to some of the people around the office. Not always but I’m just being safe.


  2. Agreed on Lagunitas! These guys are solid all around. And I just love their beer names and labels. Much respect! I wish we had Beer Friday at work.


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