Eating & Drinking

Spark brings craft beer to Chinatown

The morphing of Chinatown continues apace with the arrival of Spark Beer, which has taken up residence in that iconic red-tiled building beside Yangtze.

A passion project of husband-and-wife team John Sproull and Andrea Gormley, the brewery is being conceived as a neighbourhood hangout with great beers and a snack menu.

Sproull, who has been a dedicated home brewer for a decade, is a fan of sour beer, so will be highlighting the art of the tart while also brewing up the more accessible hoppy American styles.

“I love experimenting with mixed-fermentation beers, but won’t be brewing far-out beers just for the sake of it,” he laughs. They’ve also got an oak tank, so will soon be playing around with barrel aging.

City Bites Insider caught up with Gormley a day after Spark’s opening to find out more about what sour beer fans can look forward to.

The Space
The 40-50 seat space has a modern-meets-inviting vibe. A combination of booths, tables for two, and a long bar meet the simple of goal of serving up Spark’s line-up of craft beers (as well, as a few wines and cocktails) in a welcoming space. It’s a gathering spot for beer fans, with lots of standing-room-only space for busy evenings. A chalkboard menu and notes on the taps tell visitors all they need to know (though a printed beer menu goes into even more detail for those who like to geek out on craft beer flavour profiles).

The Brews
Though Sproull loves sour beers, he’s made sure to brew up a range of popular styles, from a stout to an American pale ale to an IPA. What’s on tap will rotate with the seasons.

What’s On Tap
Spark has a total of 12 available taps, though they’re starting with a manageable four Spark-designed beers and two from fellow brewers (Whoop Ass IPA from Stray Dog out of Orleans and Vim and Vigor, a pilsner from Tooth and Nail). The first round of Spark beers on tap is:

Manhire Berliner
A Berliner Weiss-style sour wheat ale, with notes of lemon and biscuit and a slight funky from mixed fermentation.
Add fruitiness with a touch of raspberry syrup.

Black as Midnight on a Moonless Night
A session stout with notes of coffee and caramel.

Activities!
An IPA that mixes the west coast and east coast versions. Dark orange in colour, it has citrus and melon aromas.

Ovington Electric
Named after Spark’s electrician — he went “above and beyond” in helping them get Spark ready to go, says Gormley —
this American style pale ale has a floral and citrus hoppiness and a malt backbone.

The Snacks
The prep kitchen is a work in progress, so snacks are a few weeks away. When all the paperwork comes through, there will be beer-worthy hotdogs with all the fixings. A pizza oven has been delivered but will take a while to get up and running. 

Find It: 702 Somerset St. W.

Hours: Daily, 4 p.m. til close.

Hot Tip: Spark has merch! Be the first kid on the block to have the t-shirt (the super-soft cotton T’s come in men’s and women’s versions).

Hot Tip #2: Tempt your friends. A beer fridge in the corner sells 500mL bottles to go so you can grab a couple for buddies who will then accompany you on your next Spark night.