The city’s diverse breweries are almost as varied in their execution as they are in the beer they’re brewing! Beer connoisseurs can order a pint in a brewpub, stop by a local liquor store for a six pack, pick up a keg for an event, or fill a growler at various craft breweries around the city.
Diversity aside, there are two things these local establishments have in common: a passion for brewing quality beer and involvement in the community. Found together, these two elements signal a strong growth in local beer culture. According to craft beer lovers, this kind of growth is long overdue in Edmonton.
These breweries promise a season packed with great new flavours, as well as some old favourites. With Oktoberfest around the corner, local beer drinkers should keep an eye out for darker and stronger notes, fun fall-themed flavours, and intriguing sours from these four breweries.
Situation Brewing | 10308-81 Ave. | 587-597-2739
“Situated” just off Whyte Avenue, this casual brewpub connects process with product. Patrons have the opportunity to sit back and enjoy a beer that has been brewed right next door in the attached brewery. Delicious pub fare is also available to pair with any pint, or with a flight.
Owner Wayne Sheridan says that Edmontonians have shown Situation a lot of love since its early summer opening. The brewery is prepared for the fall season with some dark and strong flavours in the works for their rotational taps. A German-themed beer, set to release at the end of September, will pair well with Oktoberfest.
In addition to their own taps, Situation offers several rotating guest taps featuring beers from other local breweries. Sheridan says these taps call attention to the entire craft brewing community in Edmonton, which benefits everyone in the long run. Offering guest beers also pushes Situation to excellence, as it means they have to ensure their beers are up for the comparison. Head in to sample the latest brews yourself, and you’ll find that they certainly are.
Yellowhead Brewery | 10229-105 St. | 780-423-3333
Local beer drinkers have been rejoicing over Yellowhead Brewery’s recent expansion. Three new tanks installed late last year mean that Yellowhead has been brewing up some unique recipes to serve alongside their wellknown Yellowhead Lager. Some of the newest members of the Yellowhead family include the Honey Porter Oatmeal IPA, Mango Tango Lager, and “8 Days a Wheat” Hefeweizen-style beer. Craft beer enthusiasts can look forward to a fall-themed brew drawing on pumpkin flavours in the coming months, as well as a possible return of the much-loved Russian Imperial Stout.
Brewmaster Bruce Sample is nearly as passionate about participation in community events as he is about brewing, which is saying a lot. He views brewing beer in Edmonton as a collaborative effort, and his team is certainly not afraid to share ideas or space with fellow “brew brothers and sisters”. The Yellowhead event venue (located above the brewery) recently played host to 12 Alberta breweries for the Cask Aid Fort McMurray Fundraiser following the devastating fires in Fort McMurray this spring. Keep an eye out for future events; Sample says he would like to put collaborative charity events on a regular rotation in Edmonton.
Alley Kat Brewing | 9929-60 Ave. | 780-436-8922
With over 21 years in Edmonton, Alley Kat is well versed in bringing people together through the art of craft beer. Using locally sourced ingredients and donating spent grain to a local farmer is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to giving back to the community. In support of Edmonton Pride Week 2016, Alley Kat released a limited-edition run of their Full Squeeze blend, with all proceeds going directly to the Edmonton Pride Festival. They’ve also set the bar high for “green” operations. They have switched to “Bullfrog Power”, use recycled glass bottles, and reuse as much water as possible in an effort to reduce their environmental footprint.
The fall season at Alley Kat is likely to see a return of the immensely popular Pumpkin Pie Spiced Ale. There may be some other interesting limited-run recipes in store for the season as they introduce their small-batch “Back Alley Brews”. Keep an eye out for a tasting booth at Oktoberfest, or make a trip to the brewery to find out what goes into each recipe. The staff is welcoming, and a strong passion for creating excellent beer is evident in their product and industry knowledge.
Bent Stick Brewing Co.
The newest microbrewery on the block in Edmonton has been hard at work following their summer launch. With four experienced brewers at the helm of this bottle-only operation — Scott Kendall, Kurtis Jensen, Patrick Gaudet, and Ben Rix, all formerly of Alley Kat — there’s no shortage of ideas for new brews at Bent Stick.
Keeping things fresh and original means nixing the mainstays in favour of constantly evolving recipes. Edmonton beer is trending toward the adventurous, they say, and that suits their own tastes well. An initial brew dubbed Swap the Hops is a pale ale that will feature unique hops in every batch. This is where Bent Stick hopes to shine. Their small scale gives them “room to experiment and the ability to get ahold of hop varieties that are tough to obtain in large quantities.”
Staying true to their local roots is not a challenge for Bent Stick, but a promise. With no location for visitors at the moment, they plan to sell to stores and restaurants that offer a local touch, and to incorporate their beer into some of the arts and music events they already enjoy in Edmonton. Give their cask a try at the Edmonton Beer Geeks Anonymous Real Ale Festival on September 10, and watch for their brand new line-up of fall beers at the Keg n’ Cork and Sherbrooke liquor stores. —Danielle Mohr