It has been a long time since Edmonton has seen a new brewpub—a really long time. Brewsters opened its first Edmonton location (Oliver Square) in 1995. A couple of years after that, there was a short-lived attempt on Calgary Trail (called Taps, for those who care). But since then? Nothing.
Sure, we have Alley Kat (opened 1996), Yellowhead (opened 2010) and the nearby Two Sergeants in Fort Saskatchewan (opened 2015), but they are all production breweries that mainly sell beer to other places for distribution. It has been ages since Edmontonians have been able to go to a new pub and drink beer made on site—until a couple weeks ago, with the soft launch of Situation Brewing just south of Whyte Avenue on Gateway Boulevard.
OK, it is not officially a brewpub—Alberta’s rules blur the distinction between brewpub and brewery, anyway—but the beer really is brewed on site, and it’s an exciting new entrant to the Edmonton beer scene. (It’s not officially a brewpub because Situation’s licence allows it to sell its beer at other locations as well, which is a part of its overall business plan. You will see Situation’s beer at other pubs and restaurants around town, as well as at its home pub.)
But let’s stay focused on what Situation is giving us: a new spot—and in a great location, to boot—for beer lovers to go when looking for something original and local.
Situation is the brainchild of Wayne Sheridan and Kale Edwards, with brewer Matt Cockle riding shotgun. A trip to Portland for a stag party opened their eyes to what a beer culture can be. Ever since, they have been mapping out a plan to create a local beer destination for Edmonton.
That is why they call themselves Situation Brewing.
“Location is mission critical for us,” Sheridan says, over a beer just prior to the opening. “We want to highlight where the beer is situated. Edmonton has good breweries, but people don’t see the process behind the product.”
He notes that it would have been an easier path to opening in a light industrial park where rents are lower, but the team wants to show people how Situation’s beer is made.
Situation is located in a former second-hand bookstore that has been transformed into a bright, urban space with clean grey metals and wood. The decor is understated but inviting. While sitting at the bar, you can look down a row of fermenters and conditioning tanks on the brewery side.
The food menu features accessible pub food—pizza, burgers, sandwiches—with a cosmopolitan twist.
But I come for the beer. Situation is currently offering seven house beers with three to five guest taps (all Edmonton breweries), with plans to expand its house offerings over time. As expected, there is a breadth of styles to suit all palates, ranging from a straightforward wheat ale to a red ale, a stout and an IPA. It is early, but some initial highlights include the quirky Afternooner Tea Saison, made with mango oolong tea, as well as a balanced, piney IPA called Page Turner.
Better yet, Situation soon plans to start up a daily cask ale offering. Cask ale is fresh, short-lived beer conditioned in casks, usually with some form of special addition. Situation will be the first pub in Edmonton to offer a new cask every single day. That has me quite excited.
The place have a great location, a viable concept and the beer has potential—makes me think we have a pretty good Situation on our hands.
Jason Foster is the creator of onbeer.org, a website devoted to news and views on beer from the prairies and beyond.
Situation Brewing Company
10308 – 81 Ave