With a homemade pizza in the oven and a half hour to kill until dinner, I went hunting for treasure in our beer fridge (yes, we have a beer fridge in the living room). I found a tall can of Spark House Red Ale by Lake of Bays Brewing Company and split that between two balloon glasses for optimal tasting. Available from the LCBO at $13.25 for a 6 pack, or $2.75 for a tall can, this is a rare Ontario red ale. This particular bad boy is an Irish style red ale that Quebec craft brewers have been widely offering for years, but it’s a style that has not quite picked up speed in hop-heavy Ontario. We split a tall boy at home between two balloon glasses to optimize the aromas.


Appearance: Rich ruby colour throughout. A deep amber offering, a good representation of the red ale genre while pouring. Thin head. Opaque in a glass.

Aroma: A nutty aroma with hints of honey. Hints of floral hops.

Taste: This one had a dry mouth feel with hops at the back of the mouth. Evenly carbonated throughout. Refreshing and cold. It would pair nicely with red meats, hanging out in front of the campfire, or pizza. Is that pizza ready yet? Nice hint of sweetness from the malt.

Aftertaste: Surprisingly hoppy aftertaste.

Overall: I’m a huge fan of red ales, and they are not as common in Ontario as I would like. It’s a solid red option and a great alternative to the mass produced Rickard’s Red, but there aren’t a lot of local options (yet) to compare it with. I’ve bought it before, and I’m sure I’ll buy it again when I need a break from hoppier beers. Definitely not for the mild pilsner drinkers out there.

Shawna O'Flaherty

Shawna is a 30-something Montreal native transplanted to Toronto in 2010. Wine loving, beer sniffing and rum swilling come naturally to her, and she is also a certified Irish whiskey taster. She has hosted beer and cheese pairing events in the past.

Shawna has visited vineyards in 6 countries on 3 continents, and has a knack for finding the hoppiest beers around. A dedicated Booze Hound, Shawna completed the Wine Specialist Certificate at George Brown College in 2018.

She can be found drinking alka-seltzer and coconut water in the morning.

Email: shawna@torontoboozehound.com