Muskoka Dark Ale | Muskoka Brewery

54 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
firstprev| 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 54 | Ratings: 100
Photo of Stocean1
3.5/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - poured a half finger head - big bubbles - impenetrable black coffee colour

S - chocolatey, malt, hint of vanilla

T - some light chocolate and molasses notes - a little biscuity, coffee in the end, wisp of vanilla

M - light body with high carbonation - a little creamy and slightly bitter on the middle of the tongue

O - very drinkable - not the head of the class but not half bad either - it has the makings of a top notch beer with some tweaking (i.e. bolder smell and taste - it is a little subdued)

 509 characters

Photo of spinrsx
3.35/5  rDev -3.2%
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 KingHefey
4/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a can at a local restaurant. A pleasant surprise opposed to the usual in house beers.

A: dark walnut appearance with one finger of head from the can. Great lace on the Muskoka pint glass as it went down the hatch.

S: chocolate and hazelnut with hint of vanilla at first and then the coffee fills your nose.

T: Malty dark chocolate with a nice hazelnut presence. Very biscuity. Then the subtle fruitiness kicked in with mostly raisins. Meanwhile, the coffee has never subdued.

M: Creamy mouthfeel with the slight carbonation and presence of hops that can be felt on the back of your tongue.

D: Bring it on! A very satisfying glass of beer. I always seem to walk right by the Muskoka line of beers, but not any more.

 732 characters

Photo of TheHammer
4/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark is right, I've seen stouts that aren't this dark as I can't see signs of carbonation in the body. Slight notes of ruby brown can be seen when the beer is held up against the light. Poured with a solid two fingers of head that produces decent lacing although seems to have a some slight issues with retention.

Smell: It has a bit of a woodsy smell in the background, which I can't say I mind. Roasted coffee dominates the nose with nice nuances of Hazelnuts and smoky malt. It does need a bit of warming to come out, but it's very nice regardless.

Taste: Ample smoky malt begins our journey through the woods as we find robust hazel and walnuts upon the path. As we continue towards the heart of the forest we strangely find coffee bushes which lead into a slightly peaty hop vines the bid us adieu.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth transitioning on this one a well served by the carbonation which sadly goes a bit flat around the 2/3 complete mark. The aftertaste is a pleasant and nicely muted nutty malt.

Drinkability: All in all pretty good. Being so dark you'd think it would be a bit heavier but it's a nice medium body. It's decently refreshing although I wouldn't have it for summer guzzling. Certainly a great early spring or late fall beer.

Final Thoughts: I found this offering to be quite good and nice all around. I don't normally find nutty beers as appealing as sweeter malt options in this style but this one pulled it off quite well. If you get stuck up in cottage country on a cold May 24, this will certainly warm you up.

 1,553 characters

Photo of kwjd
3.3/5  rDev -4.6%
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.

 323 characters

Photo of Viggo
2.95/5  rDev -14.7%
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.

 661 characters

Photo of andrenaline
3.84/5  rDev +11%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

More BlackBerry tasting notes...

A - Pours a nice dark ruby red conlour, finger of off-white head, some retention and some slight lacing.

S - Scent is dominated by chocolate and espresso. Quite nice.

T - Much like the scent with chocolate and espresso with a bit of a black licorice finish. Rather unique and a pleasant surprise.

M - A little on the dry side but still pretty appetizing. Could drink this regulary, no problem.

D - I really enjoyed this offering. Had some tasty and unique flavours. The dryness was a bit of a turn-off, but the other aspects of it helped to enhance the experience.

 602 characters

Photo of biegaman
3.3/5  rDev -4.6%
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 cratez
3.45/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

473ml can from the LCBO. Never seen this available before so I decided to grab it.

Pours dark amber brown with one finger of tan head that subsides to a thick cap. Smell is bread dough, roasted malt, brown sugar, and lightly floral hops. Taste is mild chocolate malt, some maple sweetness, caramel, hazelnuts, and a soapy hop bitterness. Kind of watery. Contrary to what the label says, I'm not detecting any coffee. Straightforward mouthfeel, carbonation is fairly high, almost sharp, detracts from the beer IMO. Good bite from the hops, subtle dryness to finish.

Muskoka makes a killer hefeweizen, but this is a run-of-the-mill beer. A mid-range brown in the Ontario market, not as lifeless as Amsterdam NB, not as good as Wellington County or Black Oak NB. Worth a try if you like the style.

 797 characters

Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.56/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got a few cans of this at a brewery tasting. Pours a dark, porter-like hue, tan head, lots of lacing and the head maintains its integrity throughout.

The smell isn't bad, coffee (almost like a latte), a bit of chocolate, but not much else. Not unpleasant, just a bit weak.

The beer is quite drinkable, with all the usual brown ale suspects involved, but is a bit weak. Still, very tasty, and certainly preferable to other dark ales out there.

Mouthfeel is creamy, but watery near the finish.

All in all a solid brown, but there are better local darks out there (Hockley, F&M, etc.). Not bad though, and certainly drinkable.

 628 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
3/5  rDev -13.3%
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.

 355 characters

Photo of ludachris
3.55/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a very deep honey brown with ruby red highlights. Two fingers of slightly off white head emerge after an aggressive pour. Good retention and decent lacing.

Dark fruits, roasted malts, cocoa and toffee dominate the nose.

Fruity esters/dark fruits, clean roasted malt, and cocoa up front with a wet, metallic like finish. If they got rid of the metallic aspect of this beer, it would have been much tastier.

Smooth, but thin and watery with a wet finish. Nothing special.

Overall, a decent English Brown Ale. The dark fruits and roasted malts were delicious but the metallic aftertaste really didn't balance out well. Don't think I'd buy another one of these, although it does sit on the better side of English Brown Ales I've had.

 739 characters

Photo of MeisterBurger
3.02/5  rDev -12.7%
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.

 788 characters

Photo of nokes
3.28/5  rDev -5.2%
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... 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.

 1,504 characters

Photo of biboergosum
3.53/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Time to round out the last of the taps at my hotel for the end of my fortnight stay in T.O.

This beer pours a very, very dark reddish brown colour, with slight mahogany edges, and two fingers of foamy, soapy beige head, which leaves a small drooping ring of lace as it genially recedes.

It smells of lightly roasted caramel malt, some bittersweet chocolate, a soft indistinct nuttiness, and leafy, earthy hops. The taste is sweet roasted malt, a touch of rye breadiness, some restrained sour lactic notes, ethereal milk chocolate, and faint earthy hops.

The carbonation is moderate, and unobtrusive, the body on the lee side of medium weight, and adequately smooth. It finishes mostly dry, the roasted character taking charge.

Not a bad dark Canuck ale, but still fairly plain and unassuming, after the promising initial outlook. Something to mindlessly sip away on while otherwise occupied.

 897 characters

Photo of ecoastman
3.21/5  rDev -7.2%
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 -6.6%
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.

 636 characters

Photo of allergictomacros
3.5/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark, dark red with barely some hints of light showing through. Head is a coarse tan.

S - Caramel nose, coffee, and hints of cocoa.

T/M - A bit of sweetness, lots of toasty, roasty flavours. Moderate acidity up front. Caramel, coffee and some dark fruit, light bitter finish with nondescript hopping.

D - Not bad, fairly light dark ale that doesn't feel too heavy. Some decent flavours.

 393 characters

Photo of RunDWP
3.55/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up at a Beer Store in Kanata, Ontario, and brought it back to San Jose, CA.

It's a good ale, nothing more, nothing less. Poured a dark brown with a frothy white foam in my shaker glass, with some decent lacing on the glass. Slight aroma of bitter chocolate. Flavor is a rich, bitter chocolate with a slight sour note underneath and little hops to speak of. Slightly tingly, yey creamy in the mouthfeel department. The slightly sour note, that seems a bit off doesn't help in the drinkability, but was nice to quench my thirst on a warm afternoon.

 559 characters

Photo of bobsy
3.7/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I liked this one. Very dark mahogany liquid and a bubbly tan head. I would have guessed it was a porter if I hadn't have know better, especially because it had a classic porter smell and the initial light fruity sharpness that I've come across in some porters. Full roasty flavours, with coffee and bitter cocoa. Fairly light bodied, and it could have done with a bit more of a heavier feel, but overall a winner. I definitely preferred this warm just below room temperature, as it coaxed out more of the roastiness.

 516 characters

Photo of TerryW
3.03/5  rDev -12.4%
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.

 386 characters

Photo of pootz
3.62/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


Deep Chestnut brown with read highlights...ample frothy mocha cap.

Very pungent aromas of malt cocoa and grassy hops.

Malty up front, good balance in the middle with some Golding "bite" some complexity with a deep cocoa tone to it.

A very decent dark ale. Mellow tastey and drinkable

 296 characters

Photo of DrJay
2.76/5  rDev -20.2%
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!

 405 characters

Photo of headlessparrot
3.05/5  rDev -11.8%
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.

 2,771 characters

Photo of CAMRAhardliner
3.92/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark copper with a thin creamy head. Lacing is pretty good, if a little sparse. The aroma is of chocolate malts, grains, and a moderate amount of spicey hops. The taste is equal parts barley husk, roasted coffee and dark chocolate. Theres a little astringency that competes with the modest hopping. The finish is nutty and slightly bitter. The mouthfeel is light with smooth carbonation, maybe a little watery.

This is a good brown ale. Complex and very sessionable. Its worth a try.

 495 characters

firstprev| 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Muskoka Dark Ale from Muskoka Brewery
3.46 out of 5 based on 100 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.