Spark House Red Ale | Lake of Bays Brewing Company

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Spark House Red AleSpark House Red Ale

Brewed by:
Lake of Bays Brewing Company
Ontario, Canada

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Crafted without artificial flavouring or colouring agents, Spark House gets its deep mahogany hue and distinctive taste from a unique blend of domestic and European hops and dark-roasted specialty malts.

Added by hopsolutely on 06-09-2011

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Reviews: 28 | Ratings: 104
Photo of Phyl21ca
3/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle: Poured a medium brown color ale with a large foamy head with good retention and some light lacing. Aroma consists of light dry caramel malt with some light cereal notes. Taste is also a mix between some non-descript cereal notes with some dry caramel malt. Body is average with good carbonation. Middle of the road amber ale.

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Photo of atr2605
3/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A-pours a deep red amber with an off white head with decent retention
S-roasted malt and a bit of sweetness
T-toasted malt with a dry biscuit malt flavor in the finish with nice hop bitterness supporting the malt
M-medium bodied
O-a well balanced beer that is very drinkable but not the best red ale I have had

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Photo of TerryW
3.19/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear chestnut red under a moderate head. Some lace. Looks better than your average brew.

Nose is malty and a little sweet. Noticeable graininess. Similar to taste, sweet up front, but gently bitter and slightly metallic to finish. Grassy to taste. Moderate body. Better than a macro, but nothing special.

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Photo of decimator
3.22/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

341ml bottle poured into a pint glass. ABV 5%.

A - Pours a clear reddish brown with a thin off white head. Some lacing.

S - Caramel, bread, some nuttiness, earthy.

T - Malts upfront with caramel, bread, & hint of toast. The finish has a a mild earthy & grassy bitterness.

M - Average carbonation, medium body, dry finish.

O - Decent tasting beer that's certainly drinkable. Above average.

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Photo of hopsolutely
3.38/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Certainly more flavour than the Rickard's Red against which I assume it is competing!

Colour is a dark amber with very red tones. Aroma is heavily malted, with a slight yeasty background. The taste is also very malt focused; with caramelized, roasted & toasted notes highlighted. There is a surprisingly smoky finish with the hint of a bittering hop.

I give Lake of Bays full credit, being a new microbrewery trying a completely new flavour profile - good for them. Personally, this isn't an ale of which I would enjoy more than one or two in a sitting, but would recommend everyone try it and I will certainly try anything else this brewery puts out!

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Photo of spinrsx
3.45/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

341ml Bottle from the Ottawa LCBO - part of the winter OCB 6 pack for 13$

Appearance - Dark reddish-brown colour with an average size fizzy beige coloured head. There's an average amount of carbonation and there isn't much lacing. The head lasted for around 3-4 minutes.

Smell - Malts, grassy notes, caramel, light hops

Taste & Mouth - There is a below average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts and a hint of chocolate. There is also a touch of dark fruit flavour, some grassy notes, and some caramel. It ends with a malty aftertaste with a bit of a herbal/hoppy lingering spiciness.

Overall - Not really what I was expecting given it's listed on this site as an american amber. It's kind of like a ESB or a nut brown if anything. It's okay to drink but not something I'd buy again.. there are too many other better beers to choose from.

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Photo of patre_tim
3.5/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark brown with a red tinge when held to the light, little carbonation, no head but a little off-white foam only on edge of the glass.

S: Smells off dark malts like some munich dunkels, fresh malt bread, pumpernickel, some caramel, very bready.

T: Somewhat dark and toasty, munich dunkel type malt, some pumpernickel, toast. Not overly sweet, bitterness seems to be coming from the toasted malts but surely there is some hop bitter aftertaste as well. There is sort of a glassy taste on the front. A bit nutty like brazil nuts.

M: Light body, low carbonation.

O: Good, nice to try, not loving it but a fine tasteful beer that would go well with bbq, breads and sandwiches, cheeses etc. Not up my alley, but if you like dunkels, you might like this beer.

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Photo of DenisKolkin
3.51/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

473 ml can purchased from LCBO for $2.75 CDN. Served cold into a non- descript pint glass.

Appearance - reddish brown beer that is clear and has crazy looking carbonation rising to the top. A half finger of foam quickly dissipates leaving a small soapy centre on top.

Smell- malt grain all the way with a faint black cherry aspect that is quickly smothered again by the biscuity aroma.

Taste- very similar to the nose in that it is all biscuity malt flavour with some sweetness from perhaps molasses. Very little bitterness overall.

Mouthfeel- not quite enough carbonation for my liking of a beer in this style and the beer leaves a syrupy feel in the mouth. Not bad but probably the weakest point of the beer.

Overall - a pretty tasty red ale, something I could see picking up again and for those who like a malt dominated sessionable beer this is right up your alley. However, it remains on the simpler side in that there is the biscuity and molasses malt side of this beer and that is it. I think counteracting this with some additional hop bitterness could have elevated this tremendously. Still worth a try.

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Photo of andrenaline
3.53/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A recent addition to the local LCBO selection...

A - Pours a nice ruby red colour, finger of head with some retention and some sporadic lacing.

S - Quite mild on the nose, hints of metallic notes, touch of honey and hint of bready malts.

T - Again the taste is mild, but a nice caramel malt intermingled with hints of espresso. Buttered bread and grassy hops come through on the finish.

M - Medium bodied, smooth and a touch of dryness.

O - A tasty amber that has a decent flavour profile and is easily seasonable. Well worth a try and glad we have solid amber available locally.

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Photo of wordemupg
3.53/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

473ml can poured into tulip 26/9/15

A clear dark amber liquid looks a little still, a thin film manages to leave a partial ring

S a handful of pennies, corn flakes, dark hard toffee, caramel apple, and a little wet leaves

T nutty dry cereal, leafy, herbal hops, some overripe fruit I can't place, decent red ale but missing something

M has some weight for the color, more bubbles then visible, slippery all over the mouth, finishes fairly clean with a little herbal nuttiness

O one of those beers where there's nothing wrong with it but nothing to set it apart either but I suppose that could be said for many Reds

Its a respectable beer but leaves something to be desired, decent but boring, you can see where I'm going here

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Photo of JeanDuteau
3.54/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A browner beer than I expected, given that it is named House Red and is an Amber Ale. Poured with a decent head that thinned quickly. It had a very sweet smell that was intriguing. The taste was darker than I expected with chocolate overtones and a slight bitterness. It had a slightly unpleasant aftertaste but overall was an enjoyable ale.

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.58/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Single bottle from a 6 pack.

Poured into a nonic glass. Brilliant red-ruby colour on this; the name "rousse" is certainly appropriate here. The pour generates about an inch of frothy head, which survives very well as a thick ring with some webbed lacing. A very nice looking brew.

The nose is a malty affair, with strong notes of caramel, a bit of earth, baked bread. Also quite pleasant.

A vast improvement over their pale ale, the Rousse has a nice malty profile that is quite bready and sweet. Caramel is quite prominent, but there is a slightly acidic bitterness to the finish. Quite pleasant to drink, has enough depth to make this an enjoyable sipper. Might be a bit sweet for some palates, but for me it's doing the job admirably. Creamy, medium bodied (!), nice mild carbonation.

An enjoyable brew, and certainly reminds me of some fine red ales I encountered from Quebec breweries. A great little Ontario red that is well-worth picking up.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.58/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured in to Founders Tulip Glass.

A - Poured a very dark amber/ruby colour, almost opaque, with a slight amber glow around some of the edges and two fingers of tan coloured head that receded to one finger with good retention.

S - Very sweet up front with dark caramel, toffee and toasted malt aromas. A slight bitterness is also evident with some floral notes.

T - Sweet caramel and toffee flavours complimented by a good bitter hop bite with floral notes. The finish is dry and bitter.

M - Light to medium body. Slightly creamy with moderate carbonation.

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Photo of cratez
3.58/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

355ml bottle purchased fresh from the brewery by my girlfriend's dad. Thanks for sharing, Kurt!

Pours a dark ruby hue with one finger of frothy beige head and a few strands of lacing on the tumbler. Good-looking brew.

Smell is deep bready and nutty malts, caramel, earthy English hops, faint cocoa powder, toasted pumpernickel, orange marmalade, and barley. Spot on for a malt-forward Canadian amber.

Taste follows the nose with brown bread crust, hints of caramel and roast, earthy-fruity hop tang precedes a slightly astringent and grassy bitterness with some nuttiness on the cough. Above average flavour.

Mouthfeel is silky, medium-bodied, a little juicy through the middle, modest bitterness transitions to a long, off-dry finish.

Overall, while I prefer the hoppier US-style red ales, this is a respectable malty Canuck amber brewed in the Griffon Rousse vein. A decent quaff for the fall months; however, I'd like to see this brewer "branch out" with future releases.

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Photo of DaveBar
3.59/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Purchased at the LCBO for just under $3.00 for a 473ml can. Served at 4deg C in a draught glass

A- Opens well. Pours not much head that is gone in no time. Dark brown but clear

S- Pretty good. Malty!

T- Malty! LOL very malty. Bit of hops.

M- Ok but nothing special

O- Pretty good. Won't buy again but good

Food Pairing

This ok beer went well with... BBQ hamburgers


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Photo of Bunman3
3.6/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I really enjoyed this beer. It pours nicely and smells good even though it came to my house in a 473 mL can. The overall package is quite pleasing. It is heavy on malt and caramel, which is not a terrible thing in my books. The price was right and I would be perfectly content to sip 2 or 3 of these in a sitting.

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Photo of SebD
3.7/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: It has a nice deep amber color to it with some ruby. It has a nice light beige head that dies down moderately fast and leaves some lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of roasted malts, caramel, some breadiness, nuts and some earthy hops.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has some caramel with some light coffee notes, roasty malts, some breadiness, light nuts and earthy/grassy hops.

Mouthfeel: It has a medium carbonation with a decent overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with good flavors and aromas.

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Photo of DrJay
3.7/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Back home in Canada for the 4th of July. I'm enjoying the canned offerings here in Ontario.

Clear coppery red with a short beige cap of fine bubbles. Decent head retention with a little stickage on the glass. Malty, nutty nose, mild citrus/pine nose, perhaps some faint smokiness. Balanced flavour, bittersweet overall with nutty, caramel sweetness up front and a slightly more citrusy back end. Lingering malt and smoke notes with a hint of cocoa. Medium bodied with average carbonation, decent texture. Quite nice overall. Nicely balanced and well crafted.

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Photo of biegaman
3.7/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A bright, clear, beautiful ruby-brown colour, this glass resembles a Christmas tree ornament when held into the light. The tone is dark but, as stated, is flawlessly transparent. Seemingly light carbonation produced little foam atop but thick lacing coats the glass regardless. It looks like a muddy bank right after the tide rolls out.

Lots of nutty crystal malt wafts from this sticky, bittersweet smelling red ale. While it doesn't have the budding hoppiness that American renditions showcase, it is nonetheless equipped with enough sappy, resinous notes to conjure pine. The lightly smoky backdrop is a perfect counterpart to the stinky, ganja-like hops.

Simmered caramel and pine serum pervade from nose to palate, start to finish. The flavour of nutty, toasted grains and a healthy dosage of gritty, herbal hops pretty much sum the beer up. Although delicate floral notes do also arise on certain sips and an almost cedar-like spice can sometimes briefly be experienced on the finish.

That very satisfying flavour, however, leads to a somewhat lackluster aftertaste. Usually a beer with this kind of heavy, toasty malt leaves a long, smooth, sweet finish full of roasted nuts and gooey caramel. But the bottom just completely falls out of this one. Mind you, it's not a problem so long as you keep taking sips!

Lake of Bays Rousse is simple without being basic. It is an uncompromising ale that has enough crystal malt and earthy hops to turn the heads of an unsuspecting public. The big breweries would be crazy to put out a red ale with this much character. Unless you're absolutely used to bold American ambers, this one is definitely worth a pick-up.

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Photo of droogy
3.76/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wasn't expecting much of this one but after finishing was very impressed. Obviously going after the Rickards Red market and does a MUCH better job of it.

A - two fingers of head. very dark / amber colouring
S - Malty
T - Caramel, Malts, Not as watery as Richards; likely what that beer SHOULD taste like :)
M - creamy

head retention was awesome; tasted great throughout. a big recommendation for fans of Richards.

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Photo of thehyperduck
3.76/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

341 mL bottle; no best before date. Courtesy of this year's OCB Holiday Sampler.

Pours a reddish-brown colour; deep in hue, but still translucent. At the surface is seated one finger of frothy, soapy, off white-coloured head that recedes over the next few minutes, leaving behind a coat of lace and thin, filmy cap at the surface. Pleasant aroma that definitely leans toward the sweet side, with plenty of caramel and bready malts, alongside notes of milk chocolate, toasted nuts, and a bit of earthiness.

This is a pretty tasty amber. Not exactly intense, but there's certainly a sizable blast of big malty flavour. Caramel and bready malts remain very prominent, some light toastiness, with nutty undertones. Finishes earthy and a little grassy, with everything except the slight earthiness failing to linger into the aftertaste. Normally a clean finish is fine with me, but for something that actually does taste reasonably strong for its alcohol content, it just gives off a watery vibe. On the thin side of medium-bodied, with mild carbonation for an otherwise smooth, enjoyable feel on the palate. Very easy to drink, as an amber should be.

Final Grade: 3.76, a B+. I can honestly say that Spark House Red Ale is indeed a respectable amber, nailing most of what I like about the style - and even if it's probably not the best amber Ontario has to offer, it's still up there on the list somewhere. Something that fans of the Rickard's Reds and Keith's Ambers of the world can use to jump into the shallow end of the Olympic-sized swimming pool that is craft beer. I won't be scrambling out for more of this anytime soon, but I'd certainly consider a repurchase if I were in the mood for a solid, highly drinkable amber ale.

[Updated April 19 2014]

Now available in tallboy cans, so I picked one up. I would consider this amongst the best malt-forward ambers in the province, and probably the highest-quality of all LoB's year-round offerings. Now that it's available in a convenient format, I will probably be grabbing a can or two of this on the regular. Malt fans should consider this one a no-brainer - it's simple, tasty and quaffable; an ideal session option.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.87/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Day 8 of the 2013 Craft Beer Advent Calendar. More brewing from up there in cottage country, eh? Critical mass can't be all that far off, then.

This beer pours a clear, dark red-brick amber colour, with three fingers of puffy, loosely foamy, and broadly bubbly off-white head, which leaves some decent melting iceberg lace around the glass as it duly recedes.

It smells of gritty, biscuity, and lightly toasted caramel malt, an oily dry nuttiness, a sweet, almost red berry-like fruitiness, a touch of hard water flintiness, and very subtle earthy, weedy hops. The taste is more of the same, but tighter and more focused - biscuity, bready caramel malt, almost salty bar-top nuts, dry, faintly buttered toast, a hint of bittersweet cocoa, and earthy, moderately bitter leafy hops.

The carbonation is a tad tight, but generally agreeable in its basic support duties, the body just on the lee side of medium weight, and adequately smooth for the style (just a wee twinge of hop play here). It finishes on the sweet side, the caramel malt, nutty breadiness, and lingering understated dark fruitiness calling the shots.

As far as Canuck amber ales go, this is all right - relatively robust in its tastiness, and no off-flavours. Worthy of a try, especially if you're the poor sap sitting in that lookout tower, searching for telltale sparks in the surrounding forest.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.88/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Another of local, in-person trader tone77's many bottles. I marvel each and every time he comes by to drop off beer.

From the bottle: "In the heart of the forest, the spark house stands alone. Drawing its deep, smooth character from ... and roasted malts, this full-bodied red ale finishes dry and stands high above the rest."; "Brewed & Bottled in Baysville, Ontario Handcrafted in Small Batches".

A toast to the late Sparky Anderson! Spark up, lads! I'll be arcing and Sparking here shortly.

I got just over a finger of dense, mocha-tan head with reasonable retention from my pour. Color was a deep, coppery-red with NE-plus quality clarity and it reminded me of a former girlfriend's hair. Hers had a really coarse feel to it and it was like running my fingers through rusty wire. It even got her the nickname, "Rusty", which may have been why we drifted apart. What a beauty! The woman or the beer? Let's go with both. The nose was prevalently malt with a nutty quality to go with its inherent breadiness. Lots of sticky lacing appeared in the wake of the falling head. Mouthfeel was medium and the taste was almonds or pecans and freshly-baked bread. I remember a time when I used to eschew these types of beers in favor of heavily hopped IPAs but I feel like I now have a greater appreciation for this sort of thing. Finish was semi-dry with the yeast having done its job. I saw where they have begun CANning their lager, so if they expand and CAN this one, I would definitely recommend it.

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Photo of The-Jolly-Imbiber
3.9/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Less than one finger of head which disappeared in under a minute. Appearancewise, a dark brown, or a very deep amber.

Fruity, raspberry aromas. Hints of caramel. I love the smell. It keeps inviting me to continue enjoying this beer to the bottom of the glass.

Nice taste. Mild sweetness which tails off into a moderate bitterness.

Little carbonation. Smooth and thin mouthfeel.

This is the best amber that I have tried so far (out of 4).

Update: Upped my rating of Taste a notch. Over the past few months, this has become one of my favourite beers.

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Photo of bryehn
3.97/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very nice deep amber colour with ruby wisps. Moderate frothy white head that leaves spotty lace and settles as a big-bubbled collar.

Very deep, sturdy aroma. Dark malts, chocolate, coffee, black cherry, grains and earth.

Has a bready and chocolatey taste with a fruity accent that brings cherries and dates to mind. A solid bitterness arises in the finish, as well as a mineral water flavour.

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Very heavy, grainy and earthy on the tongue. Notes of chocolate and coffee again in the aftertaste, along with a hint of burnt grain.

Quite hearty take on the style, would go best with roasted meats, potatoes and vegetables. Will definitely buy again.

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Spark House Red Ale from Lake of Bays Brewing Company
3.6 out of 5 based on 104 ratings.
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