Sleeman Original Dark (50*) | Sleeman Breweries Ltd.

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Sleeman Original Dark (50*)Sleeman Original Dark (50*)

Brewed by:
Sleeman Breweries Ltd.
Ontario, Canada

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
An all malt ale, Sleeman Original Dark is brewed from a combination of roasted barley malts, English Aroma hops, and deep well water. Its unique flavour has become a trademark in the Sleeman lineup.

Added by John on 10-26-2001

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Reviews: 76 | Ratings: 102
Photo of Sammy
2.71/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A head that lasts is its feature, and there is a light amber colour. Smell is cheesy though a hint of malt there. rather very dry and on thin side, average for Sleeman. I taste some hop, but not too tasty. Yes this is an example of the style, but a mediocre one.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Maybe the best of the Seeman offerings. The others had not panned out well with me, but this one shows more character, despite it's flaws. Typical of effortless Ambers, this one tastes moderately sweet, though the sweetness doesn't really take on and descernable character. Amber in color with a fizzy carbonation. Head does not last long. Smells sweet (powdered sugar) and a light toasty aroma. Tastes also lightly toasty with a sweet taste that takes on little character. Quite Amber Bock-ish. A sweet tacky feel on the toung with a long, sweet finish despite it's lack of real character. It's worth drinking if a friend offers one, but don't go out of your way.

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Photo of brentk56
2.84/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy dark amber color with a decent head - good retention and some splashy lace

Smell: Caramel and hop aromatics with undertones of roasted meat

Taste: Opens with a malty caramel flavor, plenty of residual sugar in this one; after the swallow, the leafy hop elements emerge but the finish waffles and has a rather rough edge to it

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Just like the other Sleeman's I have tasted, this one disappoints on the finish

Purchased from

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Photo of Phyl21ca
1.5/5  rDev -49%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Bottle: Poured a clear light dark beer with no head and minimal carbonation. Aroma is quite weak with some roasted malt being noticeable. Taste is also sub par with a watery feeling ruining the whole thing. Another bad lager from this Canadian macro is the only thing I can say about this one.

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Photo of zeff80
3.3/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours out a dark amber color with a foamy, tan, one-finger head.

S - Smelled of malt and grasses.

T - It was very malty and had a hoppy spice. It also had a bitter bite.

M - It was crisp and smooth. A light to medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a pretty good amber ale. A nice mixture of hops and malt.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.8/5  rDev +29.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The Sleeman Original Dark 50 pours a slightly hazy deep-amber color that borders on becoming chestnut brown. Amber-orange and golden highlights peek out at you from the base of the glass. The creamy off-white head holds fairly well and leaves some nice lacing about the glass. The nose is gently fruity and mildly caramelish; and in the mouth it's smooth with a medium body and moderate carbonation. Yeasty fruit and caramelish malts return in the flavor, and it's pleasant, smooth, and well-rounded, presenting a smear of leafy and grassy hops at the swallow. A low-key but very-firm bitterness keeps it in check, and it finishes quite dry despite a swirl of delicate fruitiness and a touch of lingering caramelized maltiness. More interesting than your average macro-lager, but not quite as full in flavor as say a Killian's or Newcastle Brown.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.16/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

So Sleeman Clear comes in clear glass bottles and Sleeman Dark comes in dark glass bottles. Man, these guys are some kind of marketing geniuses. Dark orange with a generous infusion of coral red. It's a lovely color for an amber ale, even if it looks more red than amber, and the head ain't too shabby either. Could I actually be in the presence of a good Sleeman beer? Time and drinking will tell.

The nose can't maintain that same degree of quality. It's mildly toasted malty with a fallen apple fruitiness and a modicum of earthy, herbal, (possibly English) hoppiness. Something other than the style basics would be nice.

The flavor profile is a dead ringer for the aroma and would get the same description except that I don't feel like repeating myself. A moderate sweetness is favored early and is just barely overtaken by a moderate bitterness on the finish. At least the brewery didn't skimp on ingredients. Original Dark is a capable enough ale that strikes me a 'jack of all trades, master of none' sort of beer.

I'm not a bit surprised that the body/mouthfeel is middle of the road as well. It's much closer to medium than to light and doesn't make an impression either positively or a negatively. I guess that's a pretty accurate definition of the word 'average'.

Original Dark 50 is the best Sleeman Brewing & Malting beer that I've had yet. I'm pleased that it isn't a drain pour (like Sleeman Clear), but I have no desire to drink another bottle ever again. My impression was that these guys are the A-B of Canada. This beer tells me that they're a cut above 'B', 'M' and 'C'.

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Photo of Jason
1.59/5  rDev -45.9%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

12 oz. clear glass bottle with no freshness date, noticed some particles in the bottle.

Appearance: Hazed sunset amber with a solid froth, there is some clinging action as the lace drops a ring here and there.

Smell: Ghastly skunked cabbage and some toasted husk make me cringe at the first sniff.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Smooth and crisp with a slick medium body. Cooked veggies and astringent metallic notes amongst the malt and hops. The malt flavour seems flat with a monotone toasted character. Hops are processed to the point of only leaving a bitterness. More astringent flavours hit the palate when the drying finish rounds the corner.

Notes: A problematic dark lager, off flavours and aromas as well as the haze appearance made me toss the rest being that I did not want to torture myself any longer.

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Photo of WesWes
3.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The beer pours an amber color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is decent. It has a dry aroma with a slightly sweet crystal malt scent. It has a bit of a toasted aroma. The taste is average. It has an extremely dry flavor that boasts of crystal and roasted malts. It's light with some malt sweetness, but it finishes with a coarse dryness. The mouthfeel is decent. It is a medium bodied beer with good carbonation. This is an average American amber. It's too damn dry for me. It's plain and devoid of any real character. It's one and done for me.

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Photo of plaid75
3.38/5  rDev +15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a rich ruby/amber hue with a one finger creamy head. There was decent retention and lacing.

The smell was very subtle. There was a definite malty sweetness.

The taste was very well balanced. A nice upfront malt sweetness capped off by a good hop bite. A bit of green apple tartness is detected.

The mouthfeel was full, with a relatively dry finish.

Overall an average amber. Hits the spot.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.06/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a three finger, cream head that fades to a shallow layer leaving some lace. Almost clear amber color. Medium carbonation and medium bodied. Slight malty nose. Starts balanced, hints of caramel around edges, slight dry finish. $1.29 for a 330ml bottle from John's Grocery Iowa City, IA.

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Photo of spinrsx
2.79/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

341ml Bottle from Marche Omni QC for $2

Appearance - Clear brownish red colour with an average size beige coloured head. There is an average amount of carbonation showing and there is some fairly decent lacing. The head lasted for around 2-3 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, caramel, grains

Taste & Mouth - There is an above average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, caramel, and grass. There is some very light chocolate and some metallic notes.

Overall - One of the better sleeman beers, but unfortunately that isn't saying much. Not something I'd suggest buying.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.17/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a clear dark cranberry color with a small off white head.

S: Big sweet caramel nose and palate.

T: An okay amber but a tad sweet malt wise and seems a tad unbalanced as the hops were difficult to detect. Theres a slight spicy nuttiness and lemony hints in the end. Overall I would say this is moderate flavor.

M: Theres some fizziness from the carbonation present in the mouthful, which is very sweet from caramel.

D: ave. drinkability at best and fails to get noticed.

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Photo of scruffwhor
2.73/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a straght up amber, actually it looked a lot like my moms iced tea. Especially when the head and film went away two minutes after pouring. Smell is a bland cyrstal malt and wilting floral hops. tase starts with a run o' the mill crystal malt flavor with some very mediocre hop bitterness. The finish is a bit of a scowl inducing taint flavor. You guys know what the "taint" is right.

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Photo of Gusler
3/5  rDev +2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer after its dispatch from the 330ml clear bottle set in the class a clear deep copper color with a modest size frothy light tan head after its decomposition the lace forms a thin seal upon the glass. Nose is the prototypical crisp and fresh lager that is sweet as is the start; the top is light to moderate in its feel. Finish is middling in acidity and the hops standard for this style, a typical lager, drinkable and refreshing.

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Photo of andrenaline
3.13/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - pours a ruby red with a finger of head with solid retention and sporadic lacing.

S - musty cardboard, spicy notes with pepper notes, and hints of buttered bread

T - the musty toasted bread dominates, hints of caramel, peppery spice, some bitter leafy notes linger

M - medium bodied, smooth and a tad dry on the finish

O - a tasty lighter flavored dark ale. An easy introduction to the style though the musty flavours are a bit of a turnoff. Worth a try, but nothing special.

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Photo of Dogbrick
2.68/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer is a clear brown color with a thin light beige head. Very thin lacing also. Light malt and nuts in the nose. Light-bodied and a little sweet, with some malt flavor along with a touch of hops. What little flavor that is present gives up the ghose pretty quickly though. The finish is clean and lightly hoppy but that falls off just as fast. Decent for very brief periods.

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Photo of tavernjef
3.5/5  rDev +19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This surprised me, after having the Cream and Honey Brown, I thought it would be much better. This dark wasn't very dark at all. Color is solid brown like that of varnished wood with deep yellow tones. Solid, frothy head that settled down well. Smell was a musty grain, kind of light, with a caramel tone. Taste was slightly watery for a dark, some caramel and a bit of oat bread and grassy notes. Felt to light to be a dark, could've had more body. Not bad, but definately had better darks. I was disappointed to say the least after liking the Cream Ale so much.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.7/5  rDev +25.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine June 2007.

Old-school Amber Ale here. In Canada, it's just labeled "Original Dark"; but us Yanks get the long, fancy name with the number in it. Go figure.

The carbonation isn't shy here, giving four fingers of off-white head that leaves a soap-like sticky lace down the glass. It's amber, and it's dark, so the name doesn't lie; clarity is perfect as well. Clean aroma of sweet malt and subtle leafy hops. It's as smooth as it is crisp, with a nice moderate body. Dry malt flavor starts things off, bready with a hint of toasted husk and sweet caramel in the back. Woody and leafy hops grace the beer with a mild bitterness and a long-lingering flavor. Kiss of fruitiness in the middle, with a quick showing of alcohol in the semi-dry finish.

Beer geeks may deem this beer as pedestrian, but regardless of what they think, this is a simple yet very drinkable ale with no evident flaws. A meat pie with a flaky, buttery crust will do just fine with this.

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Photo of Brent
2.48/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

This is a difficult beer to describe, because it really didn't make much of an impression on me. Whether you want to call it a dunkel or a brownish sort of amber ale, it was pretty meek. Some vague caramel malt flavor and nondescript hops. About the only noteworthy characteristic was a consistent harshness that started up front and ran through the finish. Just not a good beer.

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Photo of UncleJimbo
2.53/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12 oz clear glass bottle with label only on neck.

This lager poured a clear, light copper color with creamy, off-white foam that settled but clung to the glass a bit. The smell was woody with light malt and a slight sour twang. The taste was malty with a light touch of caramel. There was a somewhat sour flavor that I can only describe as "cheap lager taste". There was a touch of a woody flavor with a hint of alcohol and an almost whisky-like flavor, and finally a touch of bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel was crisp and lightly tangy with medium-light body and modest carbonation. Overall the feel was thin, and the aftertaste was bitter. This was not a lager that I would like to drink more of.

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Photo of tgbljb
3.48/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a clear deep copper color with very nice tannish head. Great retention and perfect sticky lacing.

Smell slows some light caramel notes, but otherwise very light.

Taste demonstrates a firm caramle maltiness combined with a bit too dry hop character.

Finishes a bit too dry for the style. I would like to see a bit more malt.

Not a bad beer, but not a great beer.

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Photo of thehyperduck
3.04/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.25

341 mL bottle from a six-pack picked up at TBS; bottled Nov. 28 2013 and now labelled 'Sleeman Dark/Rousse', still at 5.5%. I believe this is the last major Sleeman brand for me to review - other than the Light, mostly because I don't want to pay for six servings of light beer. Served well-chilled.

Pours a clear, ruby-bronze colour, generating about one finger's worth of dense, creamy, off-white head. It recedes steadily over the next minute or three, soon settling into a thin film and narrow collar; not much in the way of lace. The aroma is really reminding me of their honey brown lager, albeit without that brew's cloying sweetness - bready malts, toasted grains, light caramel sweetness and a faint whiff of grassy earth combine to form an agreeable, if unimaginative amber ale bouquet.

The same theme carries over into the flavour profile. Toasted bread and grainy malts provide much of the flavour, with a light caramel sweetness and raisin fruitiness underpinning this. It finishes on the dry side, with a touch of leafy English-style hops, but the aftertaste does not linger long. Light-bodied and watery, with relatively strong carbonation for the style (though it's about what I'd expect from a crafty macro). An easy-drinking, non-challenging, shrug-worthy amber.

Final Grade: 3.06, a C+. I've had a few bottles of Sleeman Original Dark over the past weekend and I have become increasingly less impressed with each serving. Honey Brown fans will probably find this to be an acceptable offering, as it is considerably more balanced with a dryer finish thanks to the hop bill. While this is a passable amber that I could see myself selecting again, I'd probably stick with their Fine Porter over this one - neither one is a masterpiece, but the porter still comes together more completely than this middling offering, IMO.

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Photo of philbe311
2.56/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A bottle of the Canadian version smuggled over the border past the Mounties from by a co-worker...

A - Slightly more than a fingers worth of slightly rocky fairly standard off-white colored head... Minimal retention gives way to a full veil of lace and thin collar... The color is a warm medium brown... Fully translucent... A good bit of moderate to quick paced carbonation throughout...

S - Loaded with pale malts and caramel... Some cereal and grain notes... Slightly nutty... Pleasant, but quite subdued...

T - Pale malts out the wazoo... Toffee... Caramel... Nutty... An odd slightly off putting medicinal finish...

M - On the lighter side of medium bodied... Light carbonation... Slightly sleek... A slightly chalky burnt finish...

D - A bit underwhelming... No terrible, but not something I would recommend nor seek out for myself in the future...

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Photo of IronDjinn
1.99/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Sleemans should put out a brown ale, and it should look just like this dark lager, although would taste nothing like it. Only in a perfect world....

So it's a decent looking beer (listed as a lager, although it's referred to as an ale in the small print along the blue label around the neck), a deep rich amber with a thickish head. The head doesn't last long, but leaves a foamy ring and a bit of lacing as well.

A very tinny, metallic scent on the nose with some mysterious funky presence behind it. Wait....okay, I went and washed my hands. Nope, it's still there, so I know it's not me, it's definitely in the beer.

Flavour has a sourness to it, the malts and hops are very unbalanced, there is an astringency to the toasted malt and hops leave a medicinal impression.

Mouthfeel is full at the very start, but thins out and becomes very oily quite fast, leaving more of a watery impression in the end.

To review and sum up, if Sleemans made a brown ale that looked like this, but tasted nothing like it, then I think they'd have an okay beer on their hands. But this....this... I'm not sure what this is, but it's not very good at all. No more for me though, I'll tell you that much.

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Sleeman Original Dark (50*) from Sleeman Breweries Ltd.
2.94 out of 5 based on 102 ratings.
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