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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Ratings: 107 |  Reviews: 29
Photo of Knapp85
3.37/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of biboergosum
3.87/5  rDev +7.2%
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 Phyl21ca
3/5  rDev -16.9%
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 XmnwildX12
2.5/5  rDev -30.7%

Photo of woodychandler
3.88/5  rDev +7.5%
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.

 1,500 characters

Photo of JAHMUR
2.25/5  rDev -37.7%

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.58/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

 564 characters

Photo of Derek
3.5/5  rDev -3%

Photo of biegaman
3.7/5  rDev +2.5%
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.

 1,668 characters

Photo of bigred89
3.75/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of spinrsx
3.45/5  rDev -4.4%
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.

 851 characters

Photo of Erik-P
4/5  rDev +10.8%

Photo of wordemupg
3.53/5  rDev -2.2%
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

 741 characters

Photo of DrJay
3.7/5  rDev +2.5%
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.

 559 characters

Photo of shigg85
3.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of andrenaline
3.53/5  rDev -2.2%
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.

 584 characters

Photo of Gatordaddy
3.39/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Photo of schopenhauerale
3.25/5  rDev -10%

Photo of Molson2000
3.75/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of Kmat10
3.75/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of patre_tim
3.5/5  rDev -3%
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 ZachT
3.81/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of thehyperduck
3.76/5  rDev +4.2%
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.

 2,176 characters

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

Photo of TerryW
3.19/5  rDev -11.6%
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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Spark House Red Ale from Lake of Bays Brewing Company
3.61 out of 5 based on 107 ratings.
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