Sunday, December 8, 2013

2013 Advent Beer 8: Spark House Red Ale

This red ale from Baysville, Ontario, is a style popular in Ireland and known for for its malty characteristics than for hoppiness, so I was surprised at how citrusy and tart the aroma was after pouring it. It fills the glas with a deep, dark red, crowning it with a satisfying and effervescent head.


Taste-wise though it is a barley show all the way. Bready, roasty, with a mild bitterness and smooth finish; if I had to describe it in a single word, I would probably have to say 'crisp'. Lake of Bays Brewing Company prides themselves on not using any artificial colours or flavours in their beers, so the ingredient list is a succinct threesome: water, malted barley and hops. I would imagine this to be an ideal accompaniment to the kind of salty snacks one might associate with televised sporting events.


I also quite like the somewhat minimalist label design, with its fire watchtower heartening back to episodes of The Forest Rangers. I've never heard them called spark houses before, but it certainly makes sense in context, and seems a good fit for a beer brewed deep in the woods, east of Parry Sound.


The donkey arrived in the stable today; humble work beast of first century Palestine. I can't imagine there having been too many horses in this sort of stable; I always picture that being more of a Roman thing. Judeans seem more likely to have donkeys and oxen in a stable, with goats and cattle being somewhere in the vicinity. If you can afford them, the obedience and immediacy of horses are esteemed, the rest of us will take what we get, like the donkey, and simply learn to set our expectations appropriately.


Today we were reminded of how, as Christians at least, it is too early for proper celebration; this is still the season of waiting and hoping. I got asked to lead the youth in a discussion after the sermon, and we talked about what we hoped for over the next few weeks. I said I hoped for some peace, real peace, around my home. It isn't a fractious place, but it is very, very busy and overscheduled this time of year. I said I hoped that with all the preparation and visitation, at some point before the new year, I would have the opportunity to be bored. To be in between whatever had just happened and not preparing for the next one, in a state of grace. But I admitted I wasn't all that optimistic about this actually happening.


This afternoon, at Fenya's Cantilon Christmas Concert, I closed my eyes and let the voices of almost 200 choristers wash over me, and realized suddenly that it had happened; I'd stopped worrying about getting there on time or finding enough seats for the 13 of us, or whether the concert would finish in time for us to make our supper reservation, and I was simply being there at that moment, and the combination of grateful relief and beautiful sounds brought the moisture to my eyes before I even knew what was happening.


I wasn't expecting a lot of Zen moments over the holidays, but the walk from satori to epiphany feels like a short one. I will be paying more attention from here on out.


1 comment:

  1. Huge fan of Lake of Bays beers. Their Crosswind Pale Ale is my go-to, and their winter Mocha Porter is fabulous after a large seasonal turkey feast. Thanks for sharing the advent tastings this year again, Steve!