Entrepreneurial Edmonton: Kale Edwards of Situation Brewing

For professional chemist and entrepreneur Kale Edwards ('10 BSc), the spark of curiosity has always been a driving force.

Katie Willis - 25 May 2017

"Science has always intrigued me," Edwards smiles. "There are an infinite number of questions. One of the earliest memories I have of science is from junior high. Learning the rudimentary concepts, someone would often ask, 'Why does that happen?' Each year we'd have some questions answered, but we would always wind up with more. It doesn't matter how much you learn about science, there are always more questions. It just continues to cascade. I love that."

Studying science at the University of Alberta continued to foster his penchant for asking questions. Under the supervision of Jon Veinot, professor in the Department of Chemistry, Edwards was exposed to the world of research as an undergraduate student. The experience helped confirm that science and chemistry were the place he was meant to be. Upon graduation, Edwards entered the workforce as an industrial chemist. Employed at Gilead Sciences, Edwards develops analytical testing methods for active pharmaceutical ingredients that will be used in clinical trials. Ever inquisitive, Edwards' curiosity and desire for growth remained strong.

"The curiosity that brought me into the world of science is also what drives me at Situation Brewing." -Kale Edwards

In 2013, Edwards and his now-business partner went on a trip to Portland, Oregon. The mecca for beer lovers, Portland is home to more than 70 microbreweries, each producing locally-made craft beer in their own unique style. After visiting a number of brewpubs, the pair asked themselves, "Why not in Edmonton?"

"It was fantastic, and we wanted to recreate the positive experience we had: exposure to the brewing process, the community feel, a place for people to come to drink great beer, and eat great food." And so the idea for Situation Brewing was born.

After opening its doors in May 2016, Situation is the first brewery and brewpub in Old Strathcona and the first in the city since 1995.

Now a professional chemist by day, co-founder of Edmonton's newest brewpub by night, Edwards has struck the perfect balance between work and play. The two, he explains, go hand in hand.

"The curiosity that brought me into the world of science is also what drives me at Situation Brewing," says Edwards. "The challenges, as they arise and shift, and the ever-evolving world of brewing beer is what keeps it interesting."

A critical component of the ethos behind Situation Brewing is creating a space that sparks same curiosity and inspires customers to engage with the entire process of local craft beer production.

"Much like science, I think that brewing beer can get the reputation of not being a creative process but, in fact, it is one of the most creative processes I know."

"We want people to see how brewing craft beer works--from grains to glass," explains Edwards. "That's why our space is surrounded by glass walls from the pub into the brewery. We want our clientele to engaged, to ask questions, to go on tours, and, when they're done, to come into a comfortable space and drink local, fresh beer."

It seems that Edwards' passion and curiosity are infectious. The buzz is palpable in Situation. And located just south of Whyte Avenue on Gateway Boulevard, it is in the perfect location to attract and educate a diverse customer base.

"Much like science, I think that brewing beer can get the reputation of not being a creative process," says Edwards. "But in fact, it is one of the most creative processes I know. You're only limited by your imagination. We aim to have a balanced portfolio of products."

For Edwards, having the opportunity to pursue both of his passions--science and craft beer--is the ideal combination. Both allow him to indulge his creativity and curiosity, while meeting and tackling new challenges, Edwards explains. "For me, both science and entrepreneurship are about curiosity and venturing into things that are new and different."

"Be undeniably good. No marketing effort or...buzzword can be a substitute for that." -Anthony Volodkin

Innovative roots and entrepreneurial spirit make Edmonton undeniably great--and graduates from the Faculty of Science have been a part of this greatness since the beginning.

Three such alumni are Nate Box of the Elm Café, Kale Edwards, co-founder of Situation Brewing, and Bob Schilf, owner and operator of Track 'N Trail in Edmonton. We will be sharing their stories as a three-part series online, but you can read them all at once in the Spring 2017 issue of Science Contours.