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Mount Pleasant’s Craft Beer Revival Continues: Brassneck Has Finally Arrived

Carlos Mendes

(Originally Published October 22, 2013 on my BC Beer Law 1.0 blog)

For those of you out there who haven’t already heard, Brassneck Brewery recently opened its doors at Main and 6th here in Vancouver. Probably the most eagerly anticipated opening amongst the city’s craft beer community, Brassneck is the brainchild of two of the local scene’s heavyweights, Nigel Springthorpe, the part owner of the Alibi Room, and Conrad Gmoser, the award-winning brew master who spent the last 17 years brewing for Streamworks. Considering their well-deserved stature, it’s not surprising that a massive groundswell of local support has quickly turned their tasting room into a bustling community fixture and forced Conrad and his team to put in some long hours to keep up with the huge demand. Having toured the space during the construction phase and talked with Nigel and Conrad about the numerous challenges they’ve had to overcome to realize their shared dream, it’s really nice to see the success they’ve enjoyed since opening their doors earlier this month.

The room itself has a warm, welcoming atmosphere and looks brilliant, with a reclaimed wood motif and long communal tables. When I dropped in late one afternoon it was already bustling, and it was nice to see Conrad and Nigel circulating about the room and talking to their customers. The brewery setup itself is open for all to see from Main Street, and is a micro/nano hybrid, with a few 20 and 10 hectolitre fermenters and cellar tanks, along with some 350 litre fermenters and conditioning tanks. This setup gives Conrad free reign to experiment with smaller batches (which have clearly been a hit with local consumers), and when I caught up with Conrad at the BC Beer Awards on Saturday it was great to hear how excited he is about the possibilities available to him at Brassneck. Nigel and Conrad plan to offer a revolving slate of about eight beers, ranging from a corn lager and single hopped pale ale, to an English Porter and a Russian imperial stout. One custom element of the brewery design that I found pretty interesting is the system of lines that run from the tank storage room to the 8 growler filling stations and the taps in the tasting room. Designed by none other than Conrad himself, the system transfers beer directly from the tanks to your growler or glass. Now, that’s about as fresh as you can get.

I had the pleasure of trying four of their offerings when I stopped in, and my favourite was the Old Geezer English Porter. Now, I’m a big fan of porters, and like my two local favourites, Dive Bomb and Lost Souls, Old Geezer is pretty exceptional. The first impression is made by the roasted malts, which give the beer a pronounced smoky character. Being a big fan of peaty single malts, I tend to have a pretty big appetite for smoky flavours, and Old Geezer doesn’t disappoint. Subtle espresso and burnt toffee notes are also present, adding a slight bitterness. However, despite its strong character, Old Geezer remains smooth and well-balanced. It pours a rich, dark mahogany colour with a golden-beige head, and for a porter the body is not too heavy. All in all, Old Geezer is a pretty excellent beer, especially for those crisp autumn nights that have crept up on us so quickly as of late. Having a pint at home the other night reminded me that it’s just about time to break out my trusted English meat pie recipe again, and this winter I'll know exactly what to pair with my favourite cold weather meal.

Unfortunately, the two beers that I’ve heard the most about and was most excited to try, the Passive Aggressive Extra Pale Ale and the Inertia Imperial Stout, were sold out when I dropped in, so I’ll be following their twitter feed closely and counting on my friends in Mount Pleasant to let me know as soon as they’re back.

Next up for Brewery Creek is Main Street Brewing Co., which is currently slated to come on line this winter.

Being spoiled for choice is pretty great, isn’t it?