Sponsored by Rally. Words and photos :: Kristin Schnelten.
“Electrolytic beer” reads the can of Rally beer in my hand. Electrolytes? In beer?
Interest piqued, I pop the top, take a first swig—and am transported to another time, another life. To the mid-90s. A hot, humid, nameless midwestern town. Before I discovered hops, before pale ales steamrolled the industry. I’m a college kid, holding a keg cup after a multi-hour slog on the rugby pitch. And this beer in my hand? Damn, is it ever refreshing.
The brainchild of Alan Wood, Michael Mavian and Spencer Sgro, Rally is in a class of its own in Canada, tagged as a “functional beer.”
Back in 2019, mid-way through the Butter Tart 700 (a 760-km Southern Ontario bikepacking route), Alan stopped in Thornbury to crash on his buddy Spencer’s couch. “It had been a long, hot day on the bike, and I just wanted to quench my thirst with a post-ride beer—but I didn’t want something heavy.” Why didn’t a post-adventure beer exist? One that restores electrolytes, replenishes sodium loss? Why hadn’t someone developed a beer for athletes? The two started brainstorming, and enthusiasm for their lightbulb idea quickly morphed into a plan.
Alan had experience in the brewing industry, and used those skills to formulate a recipe: a golden ale. Lower-alcohol (it clocks in at a sessionable 4.9% ABV). Artisanal salts. Blackcurrants.
The result of his experiments not only ticked all the boxes, but was easy on the taste buds, to boot. Light but flavourful, with slight fruity hints.
Working on the contract-brewing model, an established Ontario brewery produces their cans following Alan’s recipe, while he, Spencer and co-founder Michael Mavian concentrate on distribution, marketing and sales. But launching a new craft beer during a pandemic was a challenge: “All licensees were closed, and all events cancelled. No sampling and events is a killer, because that’s the best way to tell people about the product, our mission, and us!”
As much of a struggle as it’s been, word has been trickling out since they delivered their first cans last July. As they begin their second year in business, Alan says, “We’re absolutely swamped right now.”
With their company growing exponentially, Alan and Spencer are working around the clock. But, as athletes and adventurers, they’re still finding time to get out there: a few laps on the ski hill, a quick run, a kiteboarding session on the bay. Because that’s where it all started, with a love of beer and a love of the outdoors.
Before the snow completely melted, I took Rally out for a couple test runs. We tucked a few cans in our packs for an afternoon snowshoe; friends filled their six-pack carriers on an evening fat-bike ride; we distance-gathered around the campfire.
Simultaneously cracking cans, we toasted a fine day on the trail. A mixed bag of beer lovers, some of us gravitate to brews high on the IBU scale, while others hang out with the pilsners (and I even included a couple cider drinkers). What was the verdict on this new brew? I heard comments about fruitiness, appreciation of the concept, declarations of new-favourite-beer status—and multiple utterances of, “a perfect après beer.”
But the most common feedback? “This is just so refreshing!”
These guys seem to have hit the nail squarely on the head with this one.
You can find Rally at your local LCBO, Sobeys or Longo’s. Assuming they can keep it in stock during the long, hot summer ahead.