1601 Main Street, Vancouver


Last week, I crawled in and out of Steel Toad Brewpub & Dining Hall. This week: Brassneck Brewery. Although ‘brass neck’ is British slang for cocky/impudent/shameless, Brassneck Brewery likes to play it coy.

You can’t buy their bottles in liquor stores, they don’t distribute kegs to restaurants or bars, and they don’t book private events or reservations.

Sure, you can try to call ahead but they don’t have a phone number. Instead, they have an ‘Answering Service’ which is just a phone number they never answer (604.259.7686). That’s easily the most hipster thing I’ve ever heard of.

If you want their beer in your throat, you must visit them at 2148 Main at 6th. But is it worth it? Just ask their FAQ, which ends with my favourite Q&A of all time:

A) Yes.

Established in October 2013, Brassneck is the much-adored lovechild of two local beer champs, Nigel Springthorpe of The Alibi Room and Conrad Gmoser, former brewmaster at Steamworks.

A friendly neighbourhood craft brewery, Brassneck has a growler shop and a tasting room packed with more beards than a Santa Claus convention. No doubt inspired by its founders—for 16 months before they opened, Nigel and Conrad made a pact to grow their sweaty, dusty beards.

No kitchen, alas, and no homeless guys selling stolen cheese, like I can get in Hastings Street skid bars. But you can bring in a hot meal from the rotating food trucks outside (5:30 – 8:30 p.m.). And if the truck’s not there (like, if the brakes fail and the truck rolls downhill into the Pacific), Brassneck invites you to bring your own food. Sweet. So no need to sneak in Pizza Pockets under your shirt, like I do.

My buddy Peter New and I stumbled in here one scorching summer night. Brassneck’s become a Mount Pleasant institution, so we were eager to get our drink on. I’m half-Scottish and Peter’s distant Irish(ish), so we were tickled that somebody else was paying for it (thanks Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub!).

I’m on crutches and Peter’s a world famous actor (he’s the voice of Big Mac on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic). So naturally he made a big show of finding me a cripple-friendly seat at the head of the shared table so everyone had to look at us.

The room’s narrow and serves 50 people max. Low ceiling and you’re surrounded by beer vats peeking over cool, jagged walls made from mismatched slats of wood. Gives it an olde-timey sailing feeling, like we’re seamen in the belly of a ship crossing the Atlantic in the 1700s.

Peter snagged us flights paired with pepperoni sticks from Oyama Sausage, jerky from The Jerky Baron, and bacon strips baked in cheese (genius).

Their beers are good and sessionable (lookit me, using fancy talk): 6-oz glasses are $2.50, 12-oz glasses are $5, and flights of 4 X 6-oz beers are $8. Brassneck has 10 fermenters, which produce 1,000-litre full batches and 400-litre nano-batches. At any time, they’ve got 8+ beers rotating through their taps and your stomach.

Peter loves pounding hops, so his flight started with a gentle Hibiscus wheat (5%, sometimes contains camomile flower), then dive-bombed into the ballsy Wingman pale ale (flavoured with Amarillo and Citra, 5.8%), a white IPA for hopheads called Free Radical (6.5%), and finished with Passive Aggressive (Brassneck’s popular monster of a dry hopped pale ale, 7%).

I’m more of a refined tippler of lighter lagers and gentle amber ales, so I started with Blichmann’s Finger golden ale (5.5%), a delicious Mr. Personality amber ale (5%, their website describes it as “Meant to be Poundable so Shuddup And Drink”) a tasty 5% English porter called Geezer, and a tart, fermented (I’d say ‘demented’) fruit beer called Changeling (6% alcohol, 100% judo chop to the neck). It’s like biting a peach and hearing it scream. Peter loved it; I nearly fell off my stool.

I would’ve stayed to drink their amber ale tank dry, but my ankle was throbbing like a bastard. So I bought my first ever growler (on that day, I became a man!) and filled it with Mr. Personality, the tastiest beer on my tour so far.

Brassneck’s a great local, offering bright, bold beers made with love, flowers, and man whiskers. If you can find a seat, it’s a great date spot and a fine way to drain your paycheque.

As Peter carried me to the taxi, something else dawned on me.

“Only way Brassneck could get any better,” I said, “is if they hired a Piggyback Butler.”

Brassneck Brewery
2148 Main Street, Vancouver, BC
Answering service (no phone): 604.259.7686


Ken Hegan
Ace Writer / Billionaire Playboy