Category Archives: Pilsner

Crowd Surfing at Brassneck Brewery

More beer

On my recent pilgrimage back to the city I stopped to try another new Vancouver beer hot spot Brassneck Brewery, which just happens to be the progeny of some serious local beer pedigree, Nigel Springthorpe (of The Alibi Room) and Conrad Gsomer (former brewer at Steamworks).

The Growler Wall

Brassneck Artwork

Brassneck is located on Main Street just north of many great food spots, quirky used book stores, trendy coffee shops and local clothing merchants, in other words in a pretty great neighbourhood.

The brewery, growler fill station and tasting room are housed in a rather nondescript building but it has a big glass front allowing people the chance to see the brewers in action and to see the depth of the line-up at the growler fill counter.

Barely open two weeks when I stopped by, the hubby and I just squeezed into the seating area under the max capacity allowance.

A View to the Room

Brassneck Entrance

Food Truck

Nice touch

The long narrow tasting room is, well, woody, which for some reason seems to be the decor choice of many a brewery. A giant communal table extends from the end of the bar and the other half of the room has equally cozy tables where drinking with your neighbour is somewhat unavoidable – the exception being one table tucked away at the back for secret meetings and brewery espionage (I presume). Little cutout windows afford patrons a view behind the scenes.

The aesthetic here seems to be studied quirkiness (very Main Street) with pen and ink sketches for the beer ‘labels’, underwear branded with the brewery name and, of course, a food truck parked in front – oh, and a grain sack for a garbage.

Behind the scenes it looks like most breweries lots of stainless steel, plastic bucks and an endless nest of hoses running here and there.

More behind the scenesBeer, Beer and more Beer

The Maze

Beer, beer, beer…

They have a lot on tap for a new brewery, ten beers in fact. Oddly though the taster flights come in fours so this begs the inevitable question what to leave out? I decided to let the guy pulling the taps make that decision for me so I would not discriminate uninformedly (not sure this is a real word).

One other thing that seemed like an ‘ironing out the kinks’ kind of issue is that there is no means to differentiate the beers in your flight other than the whirlwind recount from your server. So when you are forgetful like me (or you’ve had one too many beers) this lack of labelling makes it hard to remember what is what and I noticed more than one beer geek (myself included) with the beer order jotted down on a scrap of paper.

Flight of the Beer

Flight of the Beer part two

While we were at Brassneck we tried:

Small Wonder – A table saison meaning a light and accesible drink to be shared. Light pale gold gold in colour, just a little head and the tiniest bit of funkiness to remind you that this is indeed a saison style brew. A good starter beer.

Kingmaker – A clear golden coloured pils with a light skim of head. A slight yeasty nose and a bit of nutty flavour, which is pretty typical for the style. An okay beer but I wasn’t loving it.

Brassneck Ale – Moving along the colour chart we have a clear light amber ale. A little bit more flavour and depth that the first two beers. Some toasted elements, a hint of bitter and a bit of a coppery taste.

Blichmann’s Finger – We are now onto the golden ale, which in appearance is pretty close to the Brassneck, perhaps a bit darker in colour. Hoppy on the nose and in flavour with equal parts maltiness.

Old Bitch – Cloudy reddish-brown in appearance with very little head. A very tepid and thin beer lacking the malt flavour I expected. A bitter finish but overall really lacking in character.

Passive Aggressive – Bright cloudy orange pale ale with nice lacing. Big floral hop nose with some piney notes. Lots of sweet malt flavour and even more hoppiness as you drink -perhaps more IPA than pale ale. Dry bitter finish. This one is the best of the bunch so far.

Barn Burner – Dark black-brown with some mocha coloured head. This dark saison has a sweet and funky nose, nice roasted malt and leather flavours and a dry finish.

The Geezer – Last but not least the porter. A dark black-brown beer with mocha coloured head. Chocolate and roastiness on the nose, lots of roasted malt flavour. Chocolate is dominant, coffee notes very slight, making this porter not too bitter but it is quite thin. Dry finish.

What's on Tap


Cali or Bust Part 5

After our visit to Firestone Walker Brewing Company, I felt like my beer karma had taken a turn for the better though we had nothing else planned, in terms of beer-cationing, shy of our mandatory Portland stop-over on the way home fate was going to step in and throw us another proverbial bone.


California's North Coast


We drove west to the scenic coastal highway passing signs to Anderson Valley Road and a turn to Boonsville and to any true beer geek this would have immediately sunk in that  Anderson Valley Brewing Company was in the vicinity but alas my poor sunshine addled brain did not register this fact until we stopped into a market quite some time later and realized, ‘wow, they sure have a lot of Anderson Valley beer, glasses, t-shirts etc. here. I wonder if the brewery is close by?’.

Well, it was and we missed it and since we had a lot of coast to cover before our next stopover we had to make do with a sampler pack of some of the more unfamiliar beer offerings from Anderson Valley.

However, as I mentioned in my intro my beer karma was on the upswing and when we drove through Fort Bragg we found North Coast Brewing Company (no, it wasn’t lost) AND their tap room had just opened for the day!


North Coast Brewing Co.


North Coast Brewing Company is housed in three separate buildings  -brewery, gift shop and tap room- all located on the same block of Fort Bragg’s main street. We visited their gift store and their taproom. The taproom is fairly typical with a dining area, patio and bar area decorated with lots of wood and beer signs. There is a small gift section inside the taproom in case you are too tipsy to wander across the street. The majority of their line-up was available on tap and we decided to try anything in their line-up that was new to us. This included La Merle Belgian Farmhouse Ale, Scrimshaw Pilsner, Old No. 38 Stout, Old Stock Ale and Blue Star Wheat.


North Coast Beer Tasters


Old Stock Ale Vertical Set


Perhaps North Coast Brewing Co. is best known (and deservedly so) for it’s Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout but they have a lot else going on at this brewery. For instance, the Old Stock Ales come in vertical tasting box sets so you can sample and compare vintages, they have a great aesthetic when it comes to their labels and beer swag, North Coast has a great gift store full of glass ware and neat packaging ideas for gifting their beer, and most importantly we found out they brew a really clean drinkable pilsner, the Scrimshaw and an impressive Dublin Dry Stout, the Old No. 38 (both beers came home with us in a four pack). These beers are well-suited to the warm Cali climate both being easy-drinking, best served quite cold and fairly light-bodied.

So if you find yourself Northern California bound I highly recommend scheduling stops at Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Anderson Valley Brewing Co. (so you can tell me how it was) and North Coast Brewing Co.

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