Spark House Red Ale: Pieces of Flare

Spark House Red Ale from Lake of Bays Brewing in Baysville, Ontario pours a rusty amber colour with a large and creamy off-white head that leaves sparse spots of lace as it settles into a rocky film. This American amber ale carries thick aromas of roasted chocolate malts, raisin, black cherry and mineral water.

Spark House Red Ale
Roasted Chocolate Malts and American Hops Strike an Appetizing Balance

The taste of Spark House Red Ale shares many of the same qualities. Its roasted character is joined by dark fruit and chocolate flavours that transitions to a light and lemony tone in the finish. This medium-bodied, mildly carbonated ale has a bready, slightly syrupy mouthfeel and moderate bitterness. A pronounced mineral tone is found in the aftertaste.

PC Down Under Amber: Under Performs

This American amber ale from Whitewater Brewing in Kitchener, Ontario is a golden amber colour and yields a large and loose white head that burns off quickly, leaving a thin collar and spotty film behind, but no lacing to speak of. There is a strong mineral presence in the smell of PC Down Under Amber, with notes of light caramel malt, corn syrup, citrus, pepper and ethanol.

PC Down Under Amber
The Body of this Ale is a Big Letdown

PC Down Under Amber has a fairly balanced taste built on flavours of milk chocolate and fresh grains and accented by lemon peel. The body is quite thin and watery, with just enough grainy feeling and carbonation to remind you that you’re drinking beer. The finish is tart and dry, with a hint of lemon oil in the aftertaste, which is relatively clean but tarnished by a diacetyl note that becomes apparent as the ale warms up.

Waterloo Traditional IPA: Throwing Up a Brick

This English IPA from Waterloo Brewing Company in Kitchener, Ontario is a golden tinged light amber colour and pours with a large and frothy white head that burns off quickly, leaving a scant film behind. Waterloo Traditional IPA smells mainly like honey and light caramel malts, with notes of red berry, earth, rocky minerals and a faint hint of citrus rind.

Waterloo Traditional IPA
I Had a Hard Time Getting Through This Ale

The taste of Waterloo Traditional IPA is rather imbalanced towards the sweet side of things and has a distinct syrupy flavour that comes through after an extremely sharp astringency bites the front of one’s tongue. Subtle notes of chocolate, strawberry jam, bread and chokecherry are all but lost amidst the battle between sweet and sharp. The finish and aftertaste are both very dry and leave my mouth craving moisture. Frankly, I find this ale hard to drink without puckering and smacking my tongue. It has a medium body, very little carbonation and an unpleasant metallic feeling throughout.

Channel Ocho: ¡Ay, Ay, Ay, Eso es Caliente!

A spiced imperial stout from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario, Channel Ocho is opaque black and pours with a large, creamy, tan-coloured head that leaves swathes of lace and hangs around as a tight collar and film. There is a lot going on in the smell of Channel Ocho. Smoke is front and centre, with notes of clove, red pepper, plum, cinnamon and banana all coming through behind it. The ale also has a sort of chemical edge to it (likely from chipotle peppers) that softens as it warms.

Channel Ocho
Try Cooking with This Strong Spiced Ale

The taste of Channel Ocho is quite spicy, particularly in the warming finish. Along the way, flavours of dark chocolate, black and white pepper, wet mushroom, and dark fruit like fig or raisin can be found in the full-bodied, mildly carbonated and very earthy feeling ale. The burn of white pepper lingers in the aftertaste along with a note of fresh grass.

The Witty Traveller: Packing Light

This hefeweizen from Railway City Brewing Company in St. Thomas, Ontario has a very cloudy, saffron-toned appearance and yields a relatively small, frothy head that is retained as a thin film and stringy collar without really leaving any lace behind. The Witty Traveller has soft wheat and honey aromas that bring a warm muffin to mind, along with notes of banana, cloves and black peppercorn.

The Witty Traveller
Kick Back and Enjoy the Ride

Sharp grape, apple and citrus esters punctuate the taste of The Witty Traveller’s mild wheat base. This ale is light-bodied with a moderate carbonation that creates a smooth and creamy texture that glosses over and earthy, grainy texture. There’s a slight sourness to be found in the finish before a rather dry and surprisingly peppery aftertaste takes over.