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Muskoka Dark Ale | Muskoka Brewery

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Muskoka Dark AleMuskoka Dark Ale

Brewed by:
Muskoka Brewery
Ontario, Canada

Style: English Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
You won't find an English-style brown ale quite like Muskoka Dark. Its bold colour, yet remarkably easy-going taste gives it a personality as unique as the region it's from. Subtle undertones characteristic of its Dark Munich malt ease into hints of chocolate and caramel, making this gold-medal winning ale as inviting as it is distinct. Thirsty yet?

15 IBU

Added by brewdlyhooked13 on 10-22-2001

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Reviews: 54 | Ratings: 100
Photo of BGDrock
2.6/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Cracked this one open on a Friday night, finally relaxing...

Appearance: dark brown with a mocha head which fades very fast (poof!)

Aroma: big chocolate, light caramel, some cherries

Taste & Mouthfeel: sweet, lacking body (feels thin) with minimal carbonation; getting more of a fruity malt character than chocolate indicated by scent; there is a bit of chocolate, but it turns bitter and somewhat tart

Overall: expected much better; doesn't really fit the dictated style , and the flavour get tired pretty fast

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Photo of decimator
2.75/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

473ml can poured into a pint glass. ABV 5%.

A - Poured a dark brown with a 1 cm light beige head. Head quickly vanished. No lacing.

S - Coffee, toasted bread. Light aroma overall.

T - Light toasted bread, some coffee, burnt notes in the aftertaste. As it warms there's some tartness in the finish.

M - Low carbonation, medium-light body, thin, dry finish.

O - Pretty plain for the style.

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Photo of DrJay
2.76/5  rDev -20%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Great looking light brown beer, clear, with a light brown head. Minimal lacing, but great retention. Mild malt and dark grain aromas with a sharp corn component. Low bitterness with a thin malt flavour, though a bit of caramel and chocolate are present. Creamy texture to start, but this becomes watery fast. Carbonation was on the low side and it had a grainy astringency. Not impressed. Thanks biegaman!

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Photo of slitherySOB
2.8/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

One thing I gotta mention about Muskoka brewery. They don't put their abv on the can. This beer pours a dark brown colour with a thick, two finger head. Smells of coffee, cherry, cocoa and brown toast. Tastes very malty, with a burnt coffee aftertaste. Mouthfeel is light, smooth and creamy. Overall, their are better beers for your money, but it's a decent session ale.

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Photo of rarbring
2.88/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

The brew is dark brown, very dark, a quickly settling light tan head, leaving good lacing, some curtains.

The taste is ashes, burnt bread, coffee and soy sauce. A bit thin.

Starting with sweet brown bread crust, some soy sauce, a small coffee hint, some dark fruits.

Little carbonation, soft but watery, a small body, a dry finish.

This did not turn me on, a bit too simplistic.

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Photo of Viggo
2.95/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

473 ml can.

Pours a clear dark reddish orange, a bit of brown away from the light, darker than I expected, thin fizzy tan head forms and quickly fizzes down to a very thin ring, no lacing.

Smell is interesting, a bit of grainy malts, some biscuit, caramel, a touch of nuttiness, lightly roasty with a bit of chocolate, almost a woody/citrusy thing going on that feels a bit out of place.

Taste is a letdown, lightly malty, some sweetness, a bit of caramel, nutty, some biscuit, raisin, a touch of dark fruit, almost a lemony/orange kind of acidity, bland.

Mouthfeel is light bodied with low carbonation, a bit flat and thin. Watery and bland, not very good.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3/5  rDev -13%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Can: Poured a clear deep brown color ale with a medium size foamy head with average retention and not lacing. Aroma of caramel malt with notes of maple syrup. Taste is dryer then expected with clear notes of caramel malt and a maple finish. Body is a bit thin with good carbonation. Maple notes were surprising but overall a bit of a run of the mill beer.

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Photo of Yeoman9459
3/5  rDev -13%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance - dark brown, tan bubbly head that went away very quickly.

Smell - bit of coffee, bit of cherry, not too much going on.

Taste - isn't very much to speak of, tastes kind of ashy. Bit of coffee. Leaves a little coffee bitterness.

Mouthfeel - light bodied, fairly carbonated.

Overall - not my favorite from the brewery, but not a terrible beer.

 357 characters

Photo of MeisterBurger
3.02/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

It looks very much like a glass of Coke, if the Coke in question had a moderately creamy head and decent lacing.

It smells like the ambient air in the room I am in--traces of my cat mixed with cooked onion wafting in from the kitchen to remind me I need to clean up after the chili I made earlier. If I sniff really hard I get laundry detergent from the shirt I am wearing (it's not even clean). Really, I get a bit of roasted malt and milk chocolate, but that could just be wishful thinking.

And it tastes okay. Mild. Some light roast. Nuttiness. Malt sweetness. Cold coffee. A bit of dark chocolate. Kind of a thin and watery mouthfeel.

It's a good if not great ale, and just really lacking in oomph. The flavors of a really good beer are there, they just seem really watered down.

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Photo of TerryW
3.03/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours up dark brown with a moderate head. An average looking brew. Long lived head, some lace.

Moderate aroma balances out malts and hops. Hint of chocolate. Same evenhandedness in its taste. Competently made, but not blow you away good. A touch of caramel, hint of cocoa. An understated approach.

Drinkable a couple at a time, preferrable to a macro, but overall a very average beer.

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Photo of headlessparrot
3.05/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I took an interest in this brew as a possible alternative to Newcastle - something cheaper, better, and more 'craft.' I'd already tried Amsterdam's Nut Brown Ale and was not at all pleased with it, so I went into this one a little hesitantly. Muskoka is cottage country, a getaway from Toronto - let's see if the beer is a good choice for those trips.

My sample exploded out of the bottle. I turned the cap, and this guy started foaming like crazy - it overflowed a bit, so I poured carefully (note that this is the only one of six bottles to behave this way upon being opened, though I'm positive I didn't shake it or move it in any way). It pours a deep brown with some reddish-brown highlights throughout. An average creamy one finger head quickly dissapates, leaving a few rings but only a teensy bit of lacing. Nothing special, but certainly not bad.

Smell is pretty simple. This one's full of malt - that's all that comes through at first, roasted malts presenting hints of chocolate (though you have to strain to get any notes beyond just 'malt'). Beyond that there's some hoppiness - faintly grassy and spicy, though this odour fails to assert itself - and a dominant nuttiness (cashews?) that really overpowers the rest of the flavour notes. Certainly not bad, but I'd take a Newcastle over this entry, I think.

Taste is somewhat pleasant, but with some offputting notes. The first thing I noticed was the metallic taste of the brew, complimented by a very unpleasant astringency to the brew. If you can get past these, though, there's some good to be had. Very nutty throughout, malty (caramel?), with hints of chocolate and coffee (though quite subdued and difficult to detect). But mostly nutty, again of cashews. Finishes bitter and dry, and leaves that cashew taste in your mouth for quite awhile. Occassionally, a sourness hits you after a swallow of the beer. Remove that unusual metallic taste and I might be sold on this brew, but as is, taste is average.

Mouthfeel - and I feel like a broken record - is also rather average. Body is reasonably substantial - faintly oily, but generally a well-bodied brew, though the carbonation is a tad excessive. And drinkability, likewise, is rather average. If I had to, I'm sure I could pound a few of these. But after dealing with those metallic, astringent notes for two beers, I'd be hesitant to continue. They're just not so pleasant, and they ruin what is otherwise a decent brew. Muskoka Dark Ale is worth a try if you've got the chance - other reviews seem to like it better than I do - but I'm not sure it's worth too much of your time. Macro or not, I'll stick with Newcastle, or Upper Canada's Maple Brown Ale if I'm after an English Brown Ale - or, better yet, Wellington's superb Dark Ale.

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Photo of thehyperduck
3.08/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Regular-sized bottle from the LCBO; no production code given. Last reviewed December 2009 from a can - I have decided to go back and re-review a number of my very early submissions to this site, mostly to see if my original assessments are still relevant.

Pours an opaque, deep brown colour with copper highlights, topped with a little less than two fingers of puffy tan head. Decent retention, with a few rings of lacing around the edge of the glass as the volume drops with each sip. The aroma is enticing enough I guess but not particularly imaginative for the style - roasted malt sweetness, caramel with hints of baker's chocolate.

Approachable taste, but once again there is little nuance and nothing particularly creative about this brew's flavour. It is, however, nicely balanced between sweet and dry. Roasted malts and caramel/toffee sweetness are dominant early on in the sip, with a hint of dark chocolate and bitter coffee grounds toward the finish. Dryness and malty cocoa notes linger in the aftertaste. Light-bodied and rather watery for the style, but it is quite smooth and drinkable. Soft carbonation provides some slight prickliness on the tongue.

Final (adjusted) Grade: 3.08, a C+. This didn't blow me away when I was new to craft beer, so I'm not exactly surprised that I'm even less impressed with it now. Not a bad brew by any means, but a polite, underwhelming one that possesses no superlative traits with which to impress the average BA.

I sincerely doubt I'll get this again; twice is enough for me. There are many Ontario-made brown ales and dark beers I would recommend long before this one. Muskoka can (and has) done much better than this.

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Photo of karait95
3.11/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: the best characteristic of this beer, it is a dark brown beer with reddish hues, almost not translucent and with medium carbonation, head is big and dissipates not fast leaving some traces behind on the glass.

S: very faint toasted malts aroma nothing to remember .

T: almost the same as the smell, faint toasted malts flavor not much else.

M: sensations are little more intense, last ending with some bitterness.

 422 characters

Photo of heebes
3.12/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

473 ml can.

Pours dark brown almost black with large frothy tan head. Nose is brown roasted malts, brown sugar, yeast. Taste is dark roasted malt bill, mild English style brown ale, light roast coffee. Drying mouthfeel, some bitterness medium bodied.
Overall a mild easy drinking brown that doesn't push boundaries. Decent try.

 330 characters

Photo of canoehornpoint
3.19/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Highly carbonated and pours a light brown. Has a malty, slightly over-roasted nose with faint flowery hop aroma. Starts sort of bland burnt malt taste, with some flowery hop taste through the middle and finishes with an even union of maltiness evened out with bittering hops.

This was an OK beer to even out a lunch of cheese and crackers.

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Photo of ecoastman
3.21/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance - A good looking dark beer with a ruby red tone against the light. The head has very good retention throught the drink. Just a little lacing.

Smell - sweet molasses malt, cocoa, roasted nut and very mild smoke. There's also an underlying metallic note.

Taste - The cocoa flavour pulls through well but the finish has a lingering grapefruit-like bitterness that lingers with some metallic notes. I'm starting to wonder if it's me...this is the second Ontario brown ale I've tried tonight with the same result (10W30 had the same finish). I may need to re-review these beers another night. Overall, the flavour is a bit thin but could be refreshing for a summertime dark ale - at the cottage as the can suggests.

Mouthfeel - thin and watery but smooth with a dry finish. The beer's carbonation is a little too low at the halfway point.

Drinkability - Fairly easy to drink but the lingering bitterness needs to be reassessed. I'm beginning to think it's me... I'll need to check the other reviews.

After checking the top reviewers it seems like the acidic bitter finish has been noted a few times. Maybe I'm just a little too sensitive to those flavours tonight because I can taste them for a long time after each mouthful.

 1,237 characters

Photo of mintjellie
3.23/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The body is deep, dark brown and shows ruby highlights when held to the light. A two finger tan head floats atop it. Head fades to a ring around the edge and spot in the centre leaving no lace behind.

Mild roasted malt aroma. Coffee. Faint nut aroma.

Coffee tastes stronger than it smells, but still pretty tame. Chocolate comes through faintly. Coffee character becomes stronger as it warms.

Somewhat light in body with low carbonation. Feels a little thin. Somewhat drinkable, but I don't know if I want to buy this again with better brown ale brewed in Ontario.

This was a disappointment after trying their hefe the night before.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.23/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Can to pint glass.

A - Dark brown, almost black with 3 fingers of bubbly, light brown head.

S - Dark roasted malts, a touch of cocoa and a slight bitterness.

T - Light roasted malt flavours, some dark caramel and a touch of coffee. Slight bitterness present throughout that is more present than the sweetness. The aftertaste is somewhat off-putting.

M - Light body, slightly creamy. Moderate carbonation.

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Photo of nokes
3.28/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured this one into a large weizen glass...oh well. It certainly looked good, though...deep mahogany, even garnet when held to the sunlight near dusk. 2-finger soapy head with reasonable retention. Mostly gone after 5 minutes, but kept the millimeter-thick film right to the end, with some lacing on the glass. Not bad at all.

Smells pretty good, if less pungent than expected from looking at it. Earthy chocolate, roasted grains...

Taste...do I have this beer too cold? Where's all that flavour I was expecting? Swirl, swirl, sniff, glug, swish swish swish. Hmm...well, there's more now, but still. Bittersweet chocolate and roasted grains, some nuttiness, balanced well, but muted. I'll come back to the taste once it's warmed up a bit.

Mouthfeel is decent. Nothing pokes out, and the carbonation is nice. It's maybe a bit watery, but not overly so. It's pretty good. Better than average, but not tonnes.

I could see myself drinking several in succession. Summer evening like this, friends on a patio, etc. It would work fine.

This is not a bold beer. It's a polite beer. I think I prefer Big Rock's Traditional Ale to this, but they're in the same league. I'll have to do a head-to-head some day.

Ok...editing my review now that I just finished the beer. When it warmed, it became clear that the carbonation really helped the mouthfeel at the beginning, but when it died, the wateriness just took over. The taste didn't improve enough to counteract this, either. Cold, I like it. Warm, meh.

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Photo of kwjd
3.3/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a ruby-brown colour with white head that dissipates fairly quickly. Only hints of lacing on the glass. Smells nutty, some mild chocolate and hops with some toasted malt. Flavour is fairly sweet, though subtle. Smooth mouthfeel. Overall just an average brown ale, but nice enough that I'll have this from time to time.

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Photo of biegaman
3.3/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The ale first appears dark and turbid but turns out to have piercing flashes of ruby and russet and its complexion is, in reality, perfectly clear (albeit not exactly transparent given the depth of its colour). Its head leaves whole parts of the surface exposed but those areas that are sheltered are safely concealed under a secure, thick-curtained foam.

If pale beers had aromas like this they'd be more highly regarded; astoundingly vivid notes of hazelnuts and pecans as well as smoky, singed malts and a powdering of dark cocoa make for a bouquet that turns one's mind, regardless of appetite, immediately to dessert. It's nutty, sweet, malty presence is hopefully just the trailer for things to come...

Yes and no - the beer's taste doesn't engage me so much as its bouquet although it, too, is respectably flavourful and appealing. The sweetness, toastiness and nuttiness are all played down as a lumbering bitterness rolls in and washes most of the toffee, coffee and pecan-pie flavours away. I would have preferred those flavours stick around longer.

For a brown ale fashioned in the English style, this has an awful lot of body relative to flavour. I'm not sure that it should have any less body, but rather maybe a more diverse malt profile? It is fairly tasteless considering how heavy-set the maltiness is. Some more nutty toffee might work; the sooty, coffee/cocoa-like dryness is a little short lived.

Muskoka Dark is way more appealing now than I remember it being years ago. The brewery has certainly improved on its core brands and even surprised us with a few worthwhile seasonals. While they've made respectable strides, there's still a ways to go before Muskoka becomes known for its beer rather than its vast wilderness and sparkling lakes.

 1,769 characters

Photo of DenisKolkin
3.33/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

473 ml can from LCBO poured into a pint glass

Appearance - Dark nearly black beer pours out into pint glass. Some garnet hues in direct light other no light escapes. 1 finger creamy tan head is poured but dissipates quickly. Small soapy collar left over and stays a while.

Smell - Rich molasses, toffee and caramel jumbled up. Faints hints of smoke, which are more apparent from the can than the glass. Nice scents however a bit subdues (in the glass that is).

Taste- Quite a bold smokey flavor, the caramel and molasses sit way back on the taste buds whereas the smoke dominates here. Not a whole lot else here. Pleasant smoke flavor that is not overwhelming, but to be honest reminds me more of a really toned down rauchbier than anything else. Seeing as I wasn't a huge fan of rauchbiers means that this has only some appeal. As it warms though I get some more earthy notes coming through in the flavor.

Mouthfeel - Fairly rich and creamy with a nondescript lingering sensation in the mouth means that I can neither rate this terribly high or low. Medium carbonation.

Overall - A good beer with a lot more smoke than I was expecting, but was not unpleasant, just a bit surprising. More than anything out of this exercise, I realize that I may need to revisit rauchbiers to redetermine if I am not a fan of them based on prior experience.

 1,345 characters

Photo of spinrsx
3.35/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

473ml Can

Appearance - Dark brown colour with an average size fizzy beige coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation showing and there is some fair lacing. The head lasted for around 3 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, breads/grains, chocolate, coffee

Taste & Mouth - There is an above average amount of carbonation and the most noticeable flavours are malts, chocolate, and coffee. There is also a fair amount of grain taste mixed with a bit of a smokiness. The beer finishes with a roasted malt and chocolate aftertaste.

Overall – Not sure I’d buy it again but it was pretty drinkable. With a little work this could be a really good beer. It’s a decent effort.

 690 characters

Photo of MattyV
3.39/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pour a cola colour with ruby highlights, small light khaki head recedes to a thin cap.
Aroma's dominated by dark caramel malt producing aromas of toffee, nuts and coffee. Not overly complex but enjoyable.
Chocolate comes through in the taste, pairing with lightly roasted malt and coffee, leading to a lightly bitter finish.
Moderate body, feels slightly over-carbonated.
Decent English brown, not bad but will probably not revisit.

 432 characters

Photo of Sammy
3.41/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A decent brew but only a passable dark. Carbonated on-tap but I wouldn't want to buy a six-pack. Bit of head. Carmel malty to make it popular in Canada. Mid-sip hint of roast malt cream chocolate, but we are not talking about a stout or porter here, more medium mouthfeel.
Had again at The Twisted Kilt 7 years later and this was a very decent dark ale, with chocolate and some nice Kent Golding Hops.

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Muskoka Dark Ale from Muskoka Brewery
3.45 out of 5 based on 100 ratings.
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