As an English native living in Vancouver there are a few tastes that I occasionally miss from the old country – pickled onions, pork pies, piccalilli, Branston, Marmite, bangers, pasties, black pudding, etc. Though some are hard to find, I have found sources where I can get at least a very close approximation of all of these when I feel the craving but, until yesterday, had never found a decent English beer. Yesterday I discovered Callister Brewing, a small cooperative brewery in Vancouver that opens for business a few afternoons and early evenings a week and, at last, my search is over. The Burnley Bastard Mild is brilliant. It’s a perfect English pint, served as it should be, pulled from real taps, not squirted under pressure from buttons, slightly cool but not cold, frothy but not fizzy. And, at a pleasant 3% alcohol, sacrificing no flavour or body, you can drink it with pleasure without being drunk after the first couple of pints. I’ve tried a lot of Vancouver beers, including some decent enough cask ales, and have found a few good beers of this nature in other parts of the country (Toronto and Victoria are well served) but all till now have been just a little too cold, a little too strong and/or a little too fizzy. I can safely say this is by far the best beer I have ever tasted in this country. The bitter is not bad either – hoppy and full of flavour, stronger, fizzier, catering more to Canadian tastes, but at least as good as the best I have found elsewhere. The ambiance of the brewery is pure Vancouver and not remotely like an English pub (nothing really is), but it’s a darn good ambiance.
I’m still looking for a proper ploughman’s lunch though.