Location: East Vancouver
Year Opened: 2015
Flights of Four: $8
BC Beer Award Wins: NA
Canadian Beer Awards Wins: NA
On wings affixed by wax, Icarus lit out from his tower prison, flying ever higher, closer and closer to the sun, ambitious to the point of hubris. And lo, the sun shone bright and hot, the wax melted, and this ambition-blinded aeronaut crashed into the sea. No more apt metaphor exists to describe both the impressive aspirations of the Callister brewery, and the tragic results. The only thing that may separate them is that Icarus’ final, briny drink of seawater was probably tastier than some of the beers choked down in a tasting flight at Callister.
Okay, we exaggerate. Somewhat. But that’s the frustrating thing about Callister: it’s such a cool concept, in such a cool space, that you’re angry when the beers don’t hit the mark – which is often – because everything else is so appealing.
The facts: Callister is a tasting room that plays host to multiple brewing outfits (four at the moment), with several beers from each available for your drinking pleasure, all rotating over fairly quickly.
It’s where local beer nerds can test their ability to brew, and hence when we went some beers were panned, and some wowed, and others got little more than an unimpressed lip-curl. Superflux Brewing (formerly Machine) started here, and now Boombox Brewing occupies the title of best beer at Callister, but others have come and gone and already been forgotten. Callister is the closest thing to the Fringe Festival, where you go in not knowing whether you’ll leave happy, content, or shaking your head.
An adventurous mood is advised for anyone wanting to sample the wares. Receiving high marks for innovation, Callister and the associated breweries serve up ‘lotsa weird shit’. Some of it might even be drinkable – their English Strong was passable, some really liked their Watermelon, the Chocolate Ale was light and delicious – but for each of these diamonds in the rough, be ready to sample a lot of rough.
This is not to say that all things are bad. The tasting room, located in the hip and hipper area off Hastings (just off Clark), is stunning. The art is funky and modern, the stools are fire engine red, and the ambience impresses. I can think of no better place to have a spirited conversation about which of the 4-ounce abominations is the least unpalatable.
If you want a palate-breaking adventure, and a great change of pace from the more traditional breweries in the area, Callister is your place. For a dependable growler on your way home from work, best look elsewhere.
Quality: 10/20 (36th)
Standout: 2.9/5 (29th)
Diversity: 7.4/10 (6th)
Innovation: 4.5/5 (1st)
Experience: 7.4/10 (13th)
TOTAL: 32.3 (19th)