Best of Chinatown: Try fun twists on old favourites with Spark Beer

John, co-owner of Spark Beer with his wife Andrea, loves to talk about beer. It’s this passion that led the two to launch Spark Beer, one of Ottawa’s newer craft breweries, in January 2020.

The dream behind Spark was a community spot for great, unique beer and good company and got off to a strong start before the pandemic began and restaurants closed in March, 2020.

Spark Beer is a brewery in the heart of Ottawa’s Chinatown at 702 Somerset. Only a little over a year old, Spark’s fun takes on classic beers stand out in the Ottawa brewery scene and make it an absolute must-visit for any beer-lover in Ottawa.

Though 2020 was a decidedly difficult year to start a small business, particularly one that gathers people like a brewery, Spark persevered. Part of this the staff members (five in all) attributed graciously to the burst of popularity the business got in response to their launch and being cool and new. Credit, however, must also be given to the incredible beer the team brews: it’s easily good enough to keep anyone coming back for more.

In regular times, Sparks carries a great variety of beers on tap, as well as their retail series in cans and bottles ready for delivery or curb-side pickup from their online store, or drop-in shopping. With such a variety, there is truly something for everyone—from hearty, hoppy, dank IPAs to fruity sours and everything in between.

I was treated, when I visited, to a tour of the brewery and a taste of a couple Spark favourites. The Ominous Wooshing IPA had a smooth, fruity, juicy flavour and was a personal favourite. It’s counterpart, the Double Activities DIPA (double IPA) was a herbier, extra-hoppy experience for lovers of bold, dark IPAs. The Even Downtown Apricot Sour was also great: though I’m rarely a lover of sours, the lemony tartness of the Even Downtown blends perfectly with the addition of apricot for a sparky, bright beer.

Spark also crafts beers for special occasions: one such beer is the Better Late than Never Blood Orange IPA. Brewed by the ladies of Spark for International Women’s Day 2021, Better Late than Never is a tangy, hoppy blood orange-flavoured beer with bright citrusy notes and a sweet aroma.

Then, to celebrate its first anniversary Spark Brough out bottles of Fête. Aging for ten months—almost since Spark launched—in an oak foeder that, if you should visit the brewery in-person, can be seen through the back window decked out in Christmas lights. The amber Belgian pale ale has a rich, deep caramel aroma that morphs into a complex, dark, fruity flavour perfect for cooler weather.

If you aren’t as much a beer person, Spark also offers a great variety of guest wine and ciders to go, as well as a couple snack options.

Once their patio is allowed to reopen, Spark encourages guests to order takeout from nearby restaurants like Chili Chili or Hey Kitchen. There are dozens of great spots for all kinds of incredible food within a couple blocks, and guests can take advantage of that. The community Spark arrived in a little over a year ago in Ottawa’s Chinatown welcomed them, and means a lot to the small business. Developing partnerships with restaurants and other businesses nearby, like opening their patio to takeout, is a way the brewery sees itself giving back to their new community.

With fun, flavourful, creative craft beers like theirs, Sparks is a fantastic new option to anyone pursuing a great beer (or a couple of them) this weekend. Try their delivery or pickup options through their online store or, once restrictions lift, visit in person and hang out on their extended patio.

See their website here for a full list of their beers and other offerings and prepare to explore the world of delicious craft beer with Spark.

Photos: Grace Geisbrecht