The Underground Tap and Grill (10004 Jasper Ave.) is a new downtown destination that features a unique concept for enjoying a huge selection of craft beer in a relaxing, unpretentious environment. What makes this destination unique is that all of its 72 offerings of beers are on tap, instead of bottles, with additions and changes to be made to the draft menu continuously – including 12 taps that are constantly on rotation. Craft beer lovers definitely want to head here to find some unique and hard-to-find brews from favourite microbreweries, including many local breweries like Alley Kat, Ribstone Creek, and Yellowhead.
The Underground successfully fills a void in Edmonton’s nightlife scene – where familiar options like clubs and pubs emphasize distracting features like loud music, sports, and entertainment – as a space that allows guests to spend a night out while enjoying alcohol but still able to socialize and share a conversation. The Underground is the place in the city to go to enjoy quality craft beer and quality conversation. So, if you don’t really like your date, head somewhere else where you can pretend not to hear them over the blaring music or sports game – it’s likely you’ll end up talking awhile here.
The Underground is also a great place to stop by for a lunch time pint or after-work indulgence, as guests can focus on enjoying one really good pint of beer rather than being inundated with specials for multiple drinks made with weak, low-quality alcohol. The focus here is definitely on the beer, though a well-rounded menu of delicious appetizers and full-meal options is available, too, making it a favourable dining destination as well.
General Manager David Helm* says his vision for The Underground is for it to be a place where people can become enlightened rather than intimated by craft beer and learn that, unlike with wine or scotch, one’s tastes in beer can evolve without needing to increase spending on different/better varieties. The draft menu categorizes the selections of beer by “level” of intensity and the friendly, knowledgeable staff can make recommendations based on your preferences or familiarity with the different types of beer (even if that familiarity is “none”). Guests can ask for samplers of any of the beers and try selections before committing to a full pint, which is great for those unfamiliar with the many varieties but willing to try something new. I asked the staff to recommend an IPA beer for me, and was brought a fantastic pint of Rogue Ales Yellow Snow IPA – one of the exclusive options that is unavailable few other places on tap elsewhere in Edmonton.
Some macro-owned brews currently adorn the draft menu, which may be of concern to discerning craft beer enthusiasts. This, however, is temporary as The Underground tries to establish itself among familiar haunts in Edmonton’s bar scene. This way, both the discriminating beer snob and those that are leery to stray from the familiar taste of Stella Artois will find a satisfying option among the options here. The staff are keen to provide samplers of a craft brew for guests, based on their familiar preferences, to get them to try something try something different and, arguably, better. So, if the 72 options at The Underground appear daunting and you are inclined to order the most recognizable name that you see: don’t. Try a selection from the 100-level list and you won’t be surprised with a strong, bitter beer, or tell the staff what you’re used to drinking and let them recommend a comparable ale. I observed a businessman drinking a pint of Stella – “the only beer he likes,” he remarked to my companion – who was then recommended the Yukon Gold English Pale Ale from Yukon Brewing. He proceeded to drink three pints of it.
Craft beer is slowly starting to become a trend in select dining establishments, and Helm hopes that The Underground can serve as a pioneer in making craft beer available and plentiful in the Edmonton bar scene. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at The Underground and highly recommend making a stop at this destination a part of your weekend.
The Underground is easily accessible by public transit, and is adjacent to the Central LRT station. Located through the same doorway as The Treasury nightclub, the name of The Underground is reflected in its basement location.
The Underground is open Mon – Wed 11 am – 12 am ; Thu – Sat 11 am – 2:30/3 am; Closed Sun. Visit www.undergroundtapandgrill.com for more information.
*Update: As of 12/01/12 Helm no longer manages The Underground.