Take a walk around any city in Canada, from Halifax to Victoria, and you’ll see co-working spaces and business incubators. These are the new big thing in business, with both private investors and governments hailing them as places that exemplify our new economy. And maybe they do. But why do they seem to always focus on technology; an app, a newly invented product, or a social media consultancy? Where’s the incubator space for brewers!?
Well, we found it at Callister Brewing Company in East Vancouver!
Callister Brewing, in addition to actually brewing their own beer, is home to three co-brewers. Four separate breweries in name, all sharing a brewing space and taproom. It’s a very cool concept and is being pulled off really well. During our visit, the breweries were Callister Brewing, Real Cask Brewing, Machine Ales, and Brewery Creek.
We were lucky to grab seats at the bar when we arrived. Soon after, there was a line out the door. Even after we left, it was standing room only and the line kept growing.
Within walking or biking distance of Callister are at least eight other breweries. And that is just one corner of the city. The surroundings have a distinct industrial feel, but with a lot of buildings seemingly being re-purposed for other types of businesses. Callister is hard to miss. Painted red and with their great logo in white, the brewery really stands out. There was even free parking right in front of the brewery!
Inside is a great space. Smaller, but with a few tables, some standing bars along the wall, and several old barrels being used as standing tables. You can also sit at the bar while you enjoy a pint. One of the coolest features is essentially walking through the brewery while trying to find the washroom. You can essentially stop and chat with the brewers, which I’d imagine isn’t heavily encouraged. You know, the whole needing to brew beer thing.
Samples: You can try a small taste for free, but 5 oz. samplers come at a cost. Pints are also available to buy.
Brewery tours: Seriously, just take a walk to the washroom and you honestly see the entire operation.
Service: Top notch! Very friendly and knowledgeable. Also, despite being inundated with customers, the two staff were total professionals. Quick and friendly, showing no signs of stress, and kept up a great level of customer service.
With four breweries on site, you get a great selection! Everything from a traditional west coast IPA through to cask beers. They even have craft sodas! We got a flight of samplers and both sodas available. This beer is super fresh, so growlers are the way to go here! We tried a beer from each of the co-brewers, and the wide variety of styles makes this a really fun brewery for tasting! With the trip being so short and needing to fly back to Hamilton, we didn’t buy anything other than the samples, but there was definitely a stand out beer for me:
Real Cask Brewing – India Porter
Some might think by the name that this is some sort of porter-IPA Frankenstein beer, but it isn’t! This is a very traditional style porter, going back to some of the earliest days of brewing in Europe. The absence of added carbonation makes this a really rich and smooth beer. Every flavour note is deep and dark without being overpowering. This is somehow intensely light and complex all at the same time. It’s the definition of easy drinking and is an absolutely wonderful beer!
Aside from it being a brewery incubator?
If there is one thing we learned about Vancouver it is that you should let yourself just explore. Don’t plan too much. The city is full of surprises, so jump on a bike or public transit and just start exploring!