Callister Brewing Co.

The Spotlight is a series of interviews with the craft beer heroes behind local organizations who are helping grow the beer scene in our fine city. In this issue, we look at Callister Brewing Co.

Much discussed, anticipated by many, and now with its’ doors finally open to the public comes Callister Brewing, and with them: Machine Ales, Real Cask, and Brewery Creek Brewing. For myriad reasons that we’ll get into below, the arrival of these operations mark an important time for Vancouver’s – and Canada’s, for that matter – brewing scenes.


The concept of a collaborative brewing model is new to Canada, and in this spirit has laid the groundwork for the type of brewing operations that can be executed in our city. Because it stands out as a unique platform among dozens of single-brewer operations, there were some unique obstacles and details that needed to be navigated to realize their objective.


callister pilotHaving multiple brewers – each with their own styles, workflows and personalities – lends well to a broad spectrum of offerings all found under one roof. And because all four entities are working side by side on a daily basis, it stands to reason that the potential to have all of the best qualities of each brewer serve as inspiration and support for one another could certainly be nothing short of a great thing.


Callister founders Diana McKenzie and Chris Lay are the de facto progenitors of this progress; a milestone for traversing the process of how a collaborative brewing space can be made to work with the permits and bylaws that control (and all too often, restrict) brewing in the Lower Mainland. In that same sense, the brewers who have now bought in and lease their portion of the brewing area in the building have joined Chris and Diana in jumping in headfirst into something new.


I was fortunate enough to be invited into the space some number of weeks ago to have a look, and speak to Chris and Diana. Things were just getting set up at the time; the tasting room was still being put together, and a number of the other brewers were busy in the brewing area in the back; it is a fascinating thing, watching this happen. Like many of us, I’d been in a hundred breweries and watched people plying their trade with both skill and love – but never have I seen it being executed by multiple breweries with their own products at the same time, all in one place.

The end result is a wide array of styles that come together nicely under one roof while standing out on their own merits. Machine Ales’ IPAs showcase the iconic West Coast take on the style in fine form. Callister’s apricot ale and rye pale are both beautiful; delicate and a joy for your palate. Chester Carey’s Brewery Creek branded offering features a table saison that satisfies everything I personally look for in the style. Adam Chatburn’s Real Cask launch: a mild and a bitter, are both delicious and a much needed representation of legitimate, traditional cask ales (both of which are already award-winning creations).

Another fantastic offering found in-house are Callister’s handmade sodas. Ginger mint, and lemongrass lemonade with kaffir: two of the most refreshing, quaffable, quality sodas available anywhere.

While these are launch offerings, expect these to be rotating out in favour of whatever’s next for each group. For instance, Machine has a Berliner Weisse in the works, Callister has a wheat ale and an altbier coming up, and Diana hints at possible raspberry and/or Earl Grey sodas in the near future. This is part of what makes craft beer so interesting, and that sentiment isn’t lost at all within the walls at 1338 Franklin.

Seven unique and diverse beers, two sodas, familiar, trusty snacks from East Side Beer Food; this collective of talent and experience have not only hit the ground running, but in fact hit it at such tremendous speed as to make Usain Bolt look slow by comparison.

Something else that is definitely worth mentioning is the availability of 20oz pours. Real pints available at launch (or at all) are something that you don’t see often, and it is a delight to walk in anywhere and see the size represented honestly and accurately. I credit this to the careful planning that has gone into Callister’s launch; having the permits and licensing in place right out the gate, as opposed to working under the restrictions with plans to obtain their licensing later on.

callisterxteriorThe location itself – 1338 Franklin Street in East Vancouver – is especially appealing; it sits conveniently between a handful of nearby breweries on both sides of Hastings , making it an ideal central stop for brewery crawls, tours, and the like. Admittedly, that it is directly on my running route further complicates the efficiency and speed in which I do my “beer-running” circuit in a way that I am quite alright with. The tasting room itself is gorgeous; comfortable without feeling cramped. Bright and accented with a beautiful bar. Unique, hand-painted growlers adorn a shelf underneath the tap list alongside branded growlers from each of the breweries involved. For an establishment only very recently opened, it already has the feeling of somewhere that has put down its’ roots, stood tall and flourished well-beyond its’ tenure.

These are true-blue pioneers of our craft ecosystem, and it is this kind of forward-thinking and progress that enriches our experience as consumers here in Vancouver. It also sets the framework for potential similar platforms that, for other aspiring professional brewers, might mean the difference of ever being able to launch at all. There are many brewers in our community for who the only reason they do not have a brewery of their own, is due to logistics and cost. It is exciting to see that a platform such as Callister’s is a viable, honest-to-goodness possibility; one less barrier slowing the growth of the craft beer scene.
Dear Machine, Brewery Creek, Real Cask and Callister: really and truly, you have created something special here, and we are all so very grateful to have you. Well done.


You can keep up to date with what’s on tap by checking in with Callister Brewing Co on Facebook, as well as Twitter. Expect the unexpected, revel in surprise at what’s pouring, and stop in to fall in love with something fresh.


Jeremy Noonan, CAMRA Vancouver Community Liaison





One response to “Callister Brewing Co.”

  1. Terry (aka West Coast Beer Geek) Avatar

    Digging the variety we’ll see in this place, the small batch focus pretty much guarantees that we’ll see lots of different beers there all the time.

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