Catching up with Vancouver’s craft breweries

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Adam Chatburn of Real Cask Brewing at Callister Brewing Company.

It seems as though that, in the time it takes to blink, a new craft brewery is opening up somewhere in the Lower Mainland.

In East Vancouver, hub of Vancouver’s rapidly growing craft beer scene, two new breweries have opened their doors in the last three months: Doan’s Craft Brewing Company and Callister Brewing Company.

First up, Doan.

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Run by two brothers, Mike and Evan Doan, with partner Kevin Sharpe, Doan has been open since May 6. The Doans specialize in German beers, and these make up their three signature brews: a kolsch (fermented with German ale yeast and brewed with German malts), an altbier (German malts, Spalt hops and German ale yeast), and a rye IPA. They also feature a rotating seasonal, currently a German IPA.

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The tasting room is small, with a seating capacity of 25. Work by local artists (Julia Iredale at the moment) is on display. A splashy, fun wall mural by rising Vancouver art star Ola Volo dominates the room.

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Food-wise, Doan has beer nuts (including kaffir lime peanuts), pizza and pretzels. It’s located at 1830 Powell Street, the former location of Powell Street Craft Brewery. (The latter has moved on to bigger digs at 1357 Powell St.) Doan is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, and open 12-9 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, and 12-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

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Callister, located a stubby’s throw away from Powell Street Craft at 1338 Franklin Street, is one of the more interesting craft breweries to open up in Vancouver. Instead of just one brewer, Callister is a co-op that leases space to a number of different beer-makers.

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“When we were developing the idea for the brewery, we were introduced to Vanbrewers, a Vancouver based homebrew club,” Callister owner Chris Lay told us.

“We were just getting into homebrewing ourselves, and I was immediately impressed with the breadth and depth of knowledge these ‘hobbyists’ had. They were making some of the best beer I had ever tasted, and it was a part-time thing for them. The passion, science and artistry really shone through.

“We decided soon after that we needed to somehow harness this creative energy in our plans. I had read of a similar model out of Houston called The Extraordinary League of Brewers, but had heard of nothing similar up here. It took a lot of research and effort, but we created a plan that the government could support, and it has been working very well for us.”

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So you’ll find beer from two-people operations like Real Cask Brewing (specializing in traditional British cask ales, no C02 added) and Machine Brewing (a berliner weisse and a pale ale), as well as a saison from the folks at Brewery Creek and a few beers from Callister itself (a rye pale ale, a German altbier and their own Apricot Resurrection). “These will change roughly each month,” Lay told us. Callister makes small-batch sodas as well.

At the moment, Lay and the other three brewing teams are as much as the space can accommodate. “With the imminent addition of more tanks, we could theoretically add more brewers,” Lay said. “But this seems to be a good balance for us right now.

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