Brassneck Brewery
By YP Contributor

Bearded Beer Pioneers

The owners of Brassneck Brewery are basically Vancouver craft beer royalty. Nigel Springthorpe is responsible for the city’s premiere beer-focussed restaurant, the much-beloved Alibi Room. Conrad Gmoser cut his teeth as the long-time brewmaster at Vancouver craft beer pioneer Steamworks brewpub.

Together, the two have combined to establish one of Vancouver’s most popular places to drink ales and lagers. Located right on Main Street — fittingly in an area originally known as Brewery Creek — Brassneck only sells its beer on site. That’s right. It can’t be found in liquor stores or restaurants, and you can’t even purchase a keg. It can only be enjoyed in glasses in the tasting room, or in take away resealable jugs called growlers.

The name Brassneck references an English idiom to describe the behaviour of someone with gall and brashness. “And a bit of foolishness, too,” adds Conrad, “which certainly describes us, and our decision to open a brewery.” Because while they were always confident in their plan, they never imagined how long it would take. Setbacks and impossible-to-pin-down timelines left the two sporting chest-length beards — “Our version of a playoff beard,” laughs Conrad— out of a commitment to not shave until opening day.

We love the neighbourhood. There are breweries all around us and there’ll only be more given how the area is zoned. - Conrad Gmoser, owner

Where Ordering Is Almost as Much Fun as Drinking. Almost.

But shave they did, and today the constant flow of happy, beer-quaffing clientele shows it was well worth the wait. Patrons in the tasting room can stay for a while and sip on 12-oz glasses or a “flight” of four 6-oz tasters. Or they can swing by the growler station to fill 1.9 L, 1 L or even 473 mL size growlers to go. Those feeling peckish will find pepperoni and jerky at the bar, and a roster of food trucks that usually set up out front.

Variation is Brassneck’s hallmark. “We aim for six to ten different taps on any given day,” explains Conrad. “Our only constant is the Passive Aggressive Pale Ale. And it’s our most popular.” Other brews include Free Radical White IPA, Ambiguation Belgian Wheat Ale, Klutz! Kolsch, and The Geezer English Porter. Yes, naming them is half the fun.

When asked to quantify the number of different styles they’ve served, Conrad can’t do it: “Definitely more than 50, but to be exact, I’d have to do some research.” Experimentation and recipe tweaking is constant, “but never the Passive Aggressive, that’s sacred!”

Business is Flowing in Brewery Creek

Presumably a business this popular would have plans to expand, but that’s not in the cards. Brassneck is already pushing the physical limits of its space, and there are two additional tanks on order. But they’re attached to the building — a rustic 1940s beam and concrete structure that was originally a furrier’s warehouse — and have no desire to move.

“We love the neighbourhood,” Conrad raves. "There are breweries all around us and there’ll only be more given how the area is zoned.” A less assured brewer would agonize over more competitors in his vicinity, but craft brewers are famously collaborative and positive about each other. Besides, Conrad has a distinct advantage. He knows that Vancouverites can’t get enough of his beer.

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