Sleeman Breweries

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Sleeman Breweries Ltd.
Industry Alcoholic beverage
Founded 1834
Founder John H. Sleeman
Headquarters Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Products Beer
Production output
1,200,000 hl
Owner Sapporo Brewery
Subsidiaries The Beer Store (2%)

John H. Sleeman originally began brewing beer in 1834.[1] By 1933 the Sleeman brewery had ceased operations when their liquor licence was revoked for bootlegging, specifically, smuggling beer into Detroit, Michigan.[citation needed] The brewery was restarted in 1988 by John W. Sleeman, the great great grandson of John H. Sleeman. The company's current products are based on the family's original recipes.

John H. Sleeman[edit]

John H. Sleeman was born in Cornwall, England in 1805 and came to Ontario in 1834. He died in St. David's, Ontario in 1893. His family continued to operate the brewery he founded in 1851 until 1933.


Between the reestablishment of the brand in 1988 and the sale to Sapporo in 2006, Sleeman acquired several other Canadian microbreweries, and became the third largest Canadian brewing company after Molson Coors and Labatt's. The acquisitions included Okanagan Spring Brewery in 1996, Upper Canada Brewing in 1998, Shaftebury Brewing Company in 1999 (sold to Fireweed Brewing in 2014), Maritime Brewing in 2000, and Unibroue in 2004.


Sleeman's dates back to 1834 when John H. Sleeman begins his career as a malter and brewer. A timeline of Sleeman family owned breweries:

  • 1800's – The Slyman family, unlicensed English brewers, change their name to Sleeman.[2]
  • 1805 – John Sleeman is born in Cornwall, England.
  • 1834 – John H. Sleeman leaves Cornwall and arrives in Ontario and settles in St. Davids (Niagara-on-the-Lake), Ontario in 1836.
  • 1836 – Sleeman establishes the Stamford Springs Brewery in St. Catharines, Ontario.
  • 1845 – Sleeman sells his brewery to Holliday Brewery and opens a new company called Hodgerts Brewery in Guelph.
  • 1847 – John H. moves to Guelph from Lockport, New York
  • 1850 – Hodgerts Brewery is renamed Holiday Brewery and later sold.
  • 1851 – Sleeman establishes his third brewery, Silver Springs Brewery, in Guelph and later relinquishes control to his son George Sleeman (1841-1923) in 1867
  • 1891 – Brewmaster George Sleeman completes his custom made, elaborate 50-room home "Sleeman House" on his sprawling estate on the outskirts of then new City of Guelph.[3]
  • 1900 – John's grandson George Sleeman establishes the Sleeman Brewing and Malting Company
  • 1921 – Silver Springs Brewery Beverage Company is renamed Canada Malt Products
  • 1926 – Holliday Brewery obtains the original Sleeman Brewery and later acquired by Canada Cream of Malt in 1930
  • 1929 – George Sleeman dies and brew control is handed to George A. Sleeman (1867-1960)
  • 1927 – Spring Bank Brewery is created by Henry Oscar Sleeman, son of George A Sleeman.
  • 1933 – Sleeman ceased operations after license revoked for bootlegging.
  • 1938 – Jockey Club Brewery Limited bought out by Ace High Brewery Limited
  • 1939 – Ace High Brewery Limited ceases operations
  • 1955 – Sleeman Brewing and Malting Company name becomes inactive
  • 1957 – Sleeman House, or The Manor as it is now known, sold by the Sleeman family.
  • 1988 – Sleeman Brewing and Malting Company re-established by John Warren Sleeman, great great grandson of John H. Sleeman
  • 1999 - Sleeman Brewing purchases Shaftebury Brewing Company
  • 2004 – Sleeman Breweries Ltd. buys Quebec based Unibroue brewery for $36.5 million.
  • 2006 – Sapporo Breweries reached a deal to purchase Sleeman for approximately $400 million.[4]
  • 2014 – Shaftebury Brewing is sold to Fireweed Brewing


A bottle of John Sleeman Presents India Pale Ale

The brewery currently produces the following beers under the Sleeman name:

  • Cream Ale
  • Original Draught
  • Honey Brown Lager
  • Silver Creek Lager
  • Rousse - Dark
  • Light
  • Clear 2.0 (a low carbohydrate beer)
  • John Sleeman presents Fine Porter
  • John Sleeman presents India Pale Ale
  • John Sleeman presents Beechwood Smoked Lager
  • Lift

Aside from its own brands, the company brews Pabst products for the Canadian market, including Old Milwaukee, Stroh's, Schlitz and Pabst Blue Ribbon. Other brands brewed under licence include Maclays Pale Ale for Maclays Brewery, Red Bull Beer and Sapporo Premium for Sapporo Brewery, their parent company.

Sleeman also continues to brew Upper Canada Lager and Upper Canada Dark Ale, two beers that were formerly produced by the Upper Canada Brewing Company before Sleeman acquired the company. Additional beers under the Upper Canada brand including Rebellion Lager, Wheat and Maple Brown Ale have since been discontinued.

Sleeman owns a 2% stake in Brewers Retail Inc., the operator of The Beer Store retail chain. The takeover by Sapporo means that no portion of Brewers Retail is held by any majority Canadian-owned entity.

Many Sleeman brands are distributed in clear bottles, which are less expensive and give them a distinctive look, but can result in the liquids becoming more susceptible to light damage. Concerned this would affect the beer's taste, Sleeman compensates for this in a majority of their brews by using hops that are processed to be less light sensitive.


The brewery entered into a $1.2 million sponsorship deal with the City of Guelph in 2007 that gives Sleeman exclusive naming rights to the Guelph Sports and Entertainment Centre until 2020.[5]

In 2010, the company began an advertising campaign drawing attention to their bootlegging past.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sleeman Brewing History". Retrieved 2010-04-04. 
  2. ^ "John Sleeman – Successful Canadian Entrepreneur". The Canadian Business Journal. January 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "CBC News - Money - Sapporo acquisition of Sleeman on tap". 2006-08-11. Archived from the original on December 2, 2008. Retrieved 2010-04-04. 
  5. ^ "City of Guelph approves Sleeman sponsorship deal". Toronto: 2007-06-18. Retrieved 2010-04-04. 
  6. ^ Paul, Jonathan (2010-05-07). "Sleeman brews infamy". strategy. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 

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