by Chuck Hallett | Brewery Creek will get five, count ‘em, five new breweries this year. We’ve already given you the inside scoop on 33 Acres (opening July), but as cool as Josh Michnik’s art-house brewery will no doubt be, it’s not the brewery the beererati are a-buzz about. That brewery, my friends, is none other than Brassneck. Why does it get all the geek cred? Because it’s the love child of two of Vancouver’s premier craft beer legends, that’s why.
The first of those two is none other than Conrad Gmoser, the brewer behind Steamworks Brewing Company for the past 17 years. Also involved is the legendary Nigel Springthorpe who, in his capacity as co-owner of the equally legendary Alibi Room, has done more to promote craft beer in Vancouver since 2006 than almost anyone else.
That combination of talents – knowing the culture of craft beer in Vancouver, knowing what beers to make, and knowing how to make them – has pretty much every bearded face staring in the direction of Main & 6th Ave with lips parted slightly in slobbering anticipation of the brews that are about to spill forth.
Upon opening, Brassneck will sport the ability to brew up to ten different styles of beer at the same time in a variety of batch sizes. What does that mean? That means Conrad will be free from the traditional pub-beers of Steamworks to brew an ever-changing line-up of novel beers. Don’t like what’s on offer Tuesday? Come back Friday and things will have changed. That, combined with an attractive, large tasting room nestled between the brewhouse and cellar (and of course the prerequisite growler stations), will keep both the new initiates to craft beer as well as the old school coming back week after week after week.
Look for Brassneck to open at some point this August. In the meantime, read a full interview about the brewery with Nigel Springthorpe on my blog here and keep up to date on their progress via their Instagram.
Chuck Hallett lives and works in downtown Vancouver. His passionate obsession with craft beer borders on insanity. When not attempting to single-handedly financially support the local brewing industry through personal consumption, he spouts off on his award-winning beer-themed blog: BarleyMowat.com. If you’re in a good beer bar reading this, odds are he’s sitting next to you. Be polite and say hi.
The good people over at our favourite watering hole, Gastown’s Alibi Room, are now proud member supporters of Scout. We will be publishing their news and press releases on our front page and hosting a page for them in our list of recommended restaurants. Click ahead or jump to their Scout page here. Read more
Nigel Springthorpe is the co-owner and omnipresent life force behind the very kickass Alibi Room on Alexander.
The thing that you eat that is bad for you that you will never stop eating: Chunky Kitkats.
Default drink of choice: If there’s no quality beer available, I’ll take a scotch with a drop of water.
Drink you’ll never have again: Molson Canadian.
The one place you’d move to: Savary Island.
Beer of choice: Dead heat between North Coast Brewing – Old Rasputin Imperial Stout, and Central City Brewing – Empire IPA.
The best thing about your job: Converts. Some dude who comes to the bar asking for “a bud” or “just gimme any kind of lager” and ends up with one of BC’s biggest juiciest IPA’s and LOVES IT!!
Book you’re reading: Oz and James Drink to Britain – two dudes who take a Bentley with a caravan attached all over the British Isles visiting various wineries (yes, there are wineries in the North East of England), micro breweries and whiskey distilleries.
Last place traveled: The Algarve
Biggest fear: Losing everything.
Under what circumstances would you join the army: If I lost everything.
Best sneaker in the world: Every year me old mum sends me a pair of UK Adidas Sambas in the mail [ed. note: your mum is awesome].
Place in BC that you love escaping to: My father-in-law has a small organic blueberry farm in Powell River. It’s a perfect spot to escape the city for a couple of days.
Your paternal grandfather’s personal story: It’s heavy. I never met him. He stabbed my grandmother then committed suicide one afternoon. Whoa! Told you it was heavy.
What are you proud of: Of course, my daughter Frankie & my son Fynn. And lately I’ve been feeling quite proud of my wife, my sister and I for taking the Alibi Room from the brink of death three years ago and turning it into a place people really seem to enjoy coming once again. Yeah, I’m really proud of that.
The thing that makes you the angriest: Don’t want to be predicictable but the only time I really seem to lose my marbles is when confronted with rude drivers. I don’t mind fast, I don’t even mind crazy drivers. It’s the pushy fuckers usually driving one of those BMW SUV’s nudging their way in this, squeezing their way in that, not waiting their turn the other…actually I’ve noticed the newly crowned asshole king of the road is the Ford Edge driver. Motherfuckers.
Saddest thing about Vancouver: It’s been sad to watch Vancouver turn from a big city with a small town soul into just another big city. I think it started when the bus bumpers had the very friendly “thanks for the brake!” with a Thumbs Up sign, replaced with “YIELD! IT’S THE LAW”, that was the beginning of the end for me…Although, the Gastown Steam Clock is still a major tourist attraction.
Favourite restaurant in Vancouver: I’m a casual diner. Cascade is a personal favourite. I read a lot of mixed things out there on the web about their food, but I think they have it figured out perfectly. I’ve never been disappointed.
Talent you wish you possessed: Well, I do wish I was an ace ballet dancer…and boxer. But not one without the other.
The game you’re best at: Soccer
Three songs on your current playlist:
My Bloody Valentine – Come in Alone
Black Mountain – Angels
T.V. on the Radio – Wolf Like Me
Somewhere within an hour of Vancouver that few may have heard about but is worth checking out: About 10 years ago a friend of my wife bought a book of logging road maps of BC from the ‘70’s. There was a map to a lake called Starvation Lake. The lake doesn’t appear on any other maps. Its just before Squamish. You can only drive so far along a very bumpy old logging road then you have to hike in. You cross the rail tracks on the way. Leave a penny on the tracks. Spend the day basking in a very quiet lake. Then pick up the squashed little souvenir of your perfect day on the way back. Special.
The scariest situation you’ve ever been in: The moment the flood level of the water caused by the Monsoon I was in touched my testicles. I froze. I was scared.
Two things of no monetary value that you will keep until you die: the placenta in my freezer (it’s already been three and a half years, what’s another fifty?). I also have a lock of my son’s hair from his first cut.
BC chef that you admire most: Jeff van Geest
Best concert experience ever: Fugazi – Burnaby 2001
How you waste time at work: Dreaming up ways to get the dosh I need to own a brewery whilst intermittently picking on my business partner.
The thing you wished people cared more about: Giving the friendly wave when another driver does you a good turn.
The thing that makes you the most nervous: How uncertain the future is always being made out to be.
Town you were born in: Gateshead, UK
Old television shows you can tolerate re-runs of: Seinfeld
Album that first made you love music: Faith No More – From Out of Nowhere (I was 13)
The career path you considered but never followed: Motorcycle mechanic – I went to trade school. I had the opposite of Midas thing going. Everything mechanical I touched turned to shit right before my eyes.
Biggest hope: Don’t want to sound like a sap but… I feel that my generation has had a great deal of uncertainty thrown our way. There always seems to be a new crisis or disaster lurking around the corner each more heinous than the last. Whether it be war, a pandemic, a tsunami, financial melt down or terrorist attack. I just hope my children will have less fear to distract them from the simple joys of life.
This was the 45th interview of what will eventually amount to 500 profiles of people who have made life in BC that much more interesting. At the rate we’re going it’ll take three years, at which time we’ll probably just start shooting for 1,000.
Nigel Springthorpe | Owner & Chief Beer Selector
Raya Audet | Owner & Manager
Greg Armstrong | Chef
About Alibi Room
In the summer of 2006, after working under the previous ownership for over seven years, Nigel Springthorpe with his sister-in-law Raya Audet, decided to take the ridiculous risk of buying the Alibi Room.
They opted to keep the name, but try to re-invent the concept (Restaurant Hari Kari, many would have thought!). But after almost 4 years, the Alibi Room that used to be is a faded memory. Now, under the skilled and experienced hand of Chef Greg Armstrong, we know where we stand in the very exciting and competitive world of Vancouver restaurants. We have never tried to re-write culinary history. We just want to produce familiar, comforting dishes without cutting corners or compromising the quality of our ingredients. All of our food is prepared from scratch utilizing the local bounty of naturally raised, organic or wild proteins and produce.
And then of course there’s the beer thing. Over the past few years we have developed an excellent relationship with the BC Craft Brewing scene. We are in the very privileged position of getting some special treatment from the best of our local brewers and breweries. Most of our 25 taps and 3 beer engines pour beers available only at the Alibi Room (outside of the brewery or brew pub). We’ve put together a showcase of the best local beers from around the province.
We call ourselves a “Modern Tavern”. We feel this best sums up all the elements of the Alibi Room: a 100 year old heritage building (with trains trundling by so close to the windows you can almost reach out and touch them). Quality food. Many beers.
Awards & Press
Camra Vancouver - Best restaurant, café or pub – silver 2008, Gold 2009, Gold 2010
Northwest Brewing News – Best Restaurant/Pub, BC – 1st Place 2009/2010
Northwest Brewing News – Nigel Springthorpe | Best Bartender, BC – 1st Place (remember its beer specific!)
Vancouver Courier “Stars of Vancouver” – Best Pub – 1st Place 2010
NBC – Official Olympic Website – Top 5 places to go in Vancouver for a beer.
Lonely Planet “Vancouver Encounters” – Alibi Room & Nigel Springthorpe, Profile & photo feature.
Lonely Planet “Pacific Northwest Journey’s” – Alibi Room & Nigel Springthorpe, Feature.
Vancouver Magazine – http://www.vanmag.com/restaurant/Alibi_Room
Westender - http://www.westender.com/articles/entry/beer-lovers-need-an-alibi/