Ever since Brassneck Brewery opened its doors a few weeks ago, the tiny tasting room has been crowded and bustling. Sometimes there’s even a line out the door to purchase a bottle, or fill up one of their reusable two-liter growlers.
However, considering the thought, craft, and artistry that goes into making Brassneck brew, the explosive success should come as no surprise. For one thing, its founders come from impressive backgrounds themselves – Nigel Springthorpe also runs the Alibi Room, a ‘modern tavern’ near the industrial end of Main Street. His partner, Conrad Gmoser, is a 15-year veteran of Steamworks Brewpub and an expert on the technical side of the process.
Springthorpe and Gmoser first became friends years ago when Springthorpe would stop in to pick up beer to serve at the Alibi room. As both were such lovers the brewing process and its creative possibilites, Springthorpe says that once he had come up with the idea, following through with it was a “thirty second decision”. Those thirty seconds were followed by a long, careful process of finding the perfect combination of equipment, location, and staff.
Brassneck’s Main Street location the very first place that Springthorpe viewed, three or four years before they finally signed the lease. “This is a very unusual block of Vancouver,” he told Beatroute. “Basically, it’s industrially zoned right in the middle of a residential neighbourhood.” This unique zoning situation has made Brassneck’s equally unusual existence possible – what Springthorpe describes as “a manufacturing facility right here on Main.”
The welcoming interior of the brewery is constructed from reclaimed wood, the bones of a 130 year old mill. A friend of Springthorpe’s is responsible for all the woodwork, and another friend of his – local artist and Alibi Room employee Maggie Boyd – produced the charming line drawings found all over the establishment, and also produced handmade ceramic dishes for new local sausage joint Bestie. It is clear that every aspect of Brassneck Brewery, from the initial planning and architectural stage to the finishing touches, is the product of real-life connections and a desire for creative experimentation.
It’s an attitude that is also shared by everyone who works there. “The way I see it, we have two things,” says Springthorpe. “We have beer, and we have service.” The co-owner, who describes the front of the house as where he’s most comfortable, says that he looks for staff that will show, above all else, “kindness”; an appreciation for their customers taking a little extra time to come in and try something different, instead of just “grabbing a six pack and having your credit card scanned by some grumpy guy.”
With the holiday season already pretty much upon us, Brassneck has some great gift ideas up their sleeve. Starting from now, they’ll be offering what is called Furushiki – the ancient Japanese art of folding bottles up in cloth. “It sounds over the top, but it’s really simple” says Springthorpe, and he’s right – rolled up in a thick white or black cloth, the two bottles are then tied together to make an easy-to-carry bundle that at once looks old-fashioned and simplistically modern. They’ll also be brewing up a special “guest beer” with the former owner of the now-defunct and much-loved Dix BBQ and Brewery that will be available around mid-December.
With Brassneck Brewery, Vancouverites have an opportunity to appreciate and sample some of the very best beer available in our province. Here’s to many more new favorites and experimental brews.
Come visit Brassneck Brewery at 2148 Main Street, Vancouver B.C.
By Genevieve Michaels
Photos: Sarah Whitlam