Undeniably, we are in the midst of a craft beer renaissance in Alberta. The number of truly worthy microbreweries that have come online in the last few years, frankly, boggles the mind. But the brewpub—a place that makes the beer it serves—is still a rare quantity, with a certain middling chain almost single-handedly filling that niche.
That is until Situation Brewing came along. I’ve been telling myself I really needed to check it out since it opened in Old Strathcona sometime last year. Even when I heard people singing the praises of Situation’s Afternooner Tea Saison and IPA variants, I couldn’t get my shit together to drop in.
It took a beautiful Saturday afternoon to motivate my first trip to Situation’s glassed-corner spot just off Whyte Avenue. Co-diner and I were lucky enough to secure a patio picnic table, the better to enjoy the glorious weather, which is itself conducive to drinking beer. In a way, Situation’s patio might be preferable to outdoor seating right on Whyte, with more pedestrians and bikes and less exhaust on 81 Avenue.
A snafu with the house IT infrastructure and a reasonable-sized mid-afternoon crowd meant that getting sorted with food and drink took a few minutes, or maybe it was my impatience to be fed and watered. I ordered the nicely balanced Extrovert Red Ale, with just the right interplay of hops and toasted malt that I liked so much I ended up leaving with a growler of it. Co-diner saw the Earl Grey-imbued Saison as the answer to the afternoon heat, which proved sensible.
The food menu echoed some common tendencies in craft beer bar food—sandwiches and burgers, pizzas, pretzels—but it also struck some novel notes with seafood, smoked chicken, duck and even a Scotch egg.
We split the ceviche ($15) made with the house kettle sour beer for starters, which might have been our favourite of the day. The Latin American dish comprises chopped raw fish—in this case red snapper—marinated in citrus juice, which gives it a slightly cooked texture. Situation’s version came in a long, shallow plate with a dose of chili oil and the house Blood Orange Gose Ale, offsetting the buttery texture of the fish with a sour, salty smack. Sweet pickled onions and whole baby potatoes added to the savour.
Co-diner chased our seafood appy with a seafood main, the beer mussels ($17). The mussels themselves were not outstandingly plump, but she didn’t complain about the quantity, nor the garlicky ale-based sauce, nor the thick, but crispy fries that came on the side.
The sandwich Cubano ($16) appealed to me because, pickles. The slices of roast pork, ham, fragrant gruyere cheese, sweet mustard and, yes, dill pickles came on a pressed baguette that was not so crusty it left my mouth contused, but was otherwise crunchy. It was nothing fancy, but hit the exact spot when washed down with beer. The sole misstep, however, embodied my wariness of a pub-style repast. The side house salad was an afterthought—carrot, cherry tomato and grape halves on brown-edged greens and an anonymous vinaigrette. But, probably most people don’t go to brewpubs for the salad.
While the beer is certainly a draw, Situation showed promise as a place to have food with your beer. Sufficient pints might even make me want to eat a Scotch egg. For those who take daydrinking seriously, Situation also does brunch until 2 pm on weekends.
10308 81 Ave., 780.705.1377