The Story of Polar Park Brewery
One of Edmonton’s newest breweries is getting ready to hit the ground running and it has a backstory that will have you getting comfortable and sitting down for a beer. If you are familiar with the private animal park once also known as the Alberta Game Farm, then you’ll know why they kept the name Polar Park for their brewery. It’s a legacy.
Now hold my beer while I tell you a little bit about Al Oeming. That man was a legend. His boyhood neighbour, the one and only Stu Hart was a big part of his life. Growing up the two served in the Royal Canadian Navy During the Second World War. The two would feed off of each other’s love for strength training and wrestling. After the war was over, they moved to Harlem, New York. Stu was like a big brother to Al, and their move to New York was to enable them to fight in the National Wrestling Alliance. They fought under “Toots” Mondt who would later become the co-promoter for the W.W.F. (now W.W.E.).
After some time, Al and Stu were able to buy the Alberta rights for the wrestling organization. This was known as Stampede Wrestling promotion. When Al was a boy, his father had instilled a love of animals and wildlife, but it was when he met his proffessor, that his passion really took off. As Al and Stu promoted wrestling events, Al majored in ornithology at the U of A and obtained his masters in Zoology. Al’s professor, Dr. William Rowan, one of Canada’s top world renowned zoologists was who really sparked his interested in zoology. Al went on to become the Edmonton Zoological society’s inaugural president while selling his share of the wrestling venture to Stu, and using his investment to create the Alberta Game Farm which was later known as Polar Park.
Al Oeming is known for his love for animals, and for presenting to kids and large audiences and sharing his love for animals all over the country. Polar Park, while distant to someone my age, was a well known destination for those older than me. It’s amazing for me to think that I missed out on this Park because the passion for the animals is evident. The vast space and freedom that the animals had was unique to Polar Park.
If there is one thing I can tell you about the Oeming family, it is that they are extremely ambitious. When I went to the brewery for my tour, I got to meet Al Oeming’s son, Todd Oeming. Al Oeming passed away in 2014 but in the years where he needed the help and support, Todd brought his busy life in the commercial real estate industry back home to be around and to support his father. In the years since Al’s passing, Todd has been battling against cancer. His son, Robert has returned home to support him, just as Todd did for Al. The legacy of Polar Park lives on. There will always be a love for Wildlife in the Oeming family. It is just a piece of their legacy which will become the Polar Park Brewery.
What sets Polar Park Brewery apart from any other in Edmonton is their ability to create a broad selection of beer. They are well equipped with a great deal of custom fabrication and attention to detail. If you like nitro brews, they will have you covered. Their space at the top floor of the building has been reinforced to allow a weight capacity to accomodate events such as wedding receptions, networking events, parties, etc. Their bar is meticulously planned with the little details in mind, the atmosphere will be unique. Their brewmaster has a vast experience in the industry and they’ve got shareholders such as the likes of former Oiler, Andrew Ference. It’s a very exciting time to drink beer in Edmonton. Stay tuned to their social media, as their opening day is projected to be only a matter of a few months away.