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Archive for June, 2013

Brassneck Preview

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As I did previously with 33 Acres, I’m running a dual preview of Brassneck Brewing. Over on Scout (link) there’s a short summary and an awesome picture gallery, while below is Nigel’s unabridged response to my standard list o’ New Brewery Questions. That I have a need for a standard list o’ New Brewery Questions itself makes me giddy with glee. Yes, like a schoolgirl. Deal with that image.


Likely the last view many of us will have of daylight

Questions

1. Why did you decide to start a brewery?
Seems like so long ago now, we’ve almost forgotten why. Certainly in the past few months, through all the heartache and the escalating price tag, we’ve been asking ourselves this question, except with a couple of choice expletives thrown into the sentence with some emphasis on certain words: “Why the fuck DID we decide to start a fuckin’ brewery???”

However, as construction draws to a close we are reminded of the reasons we started down the path in the first place. For Conrad, after 17 years with the same brew pub, he decided he was ready to go it alone and turn the page on a new chapter in his brewing career. Brassneck represents a chance to combine his tried and true brewing skills with some pent up brewing angst and a healthy desire to try out some really interesting new styles.

For myself (Nigel), it’s kind of a similar story. I’ve been involved with the Alibi in one capacity or another for many years now (and still will be once Brassneck opens!). A small brewery is the next evolutionary step for the existing business that I and my family have been building for the past seven years.

Both of us are thoroughly immersed in the BC brewing scene. It has become a huge part of our lives, not just professionally, but socially too. Owning a brewery (once its open for Christ’s sake!!) is the realization of a dream for both of us.

2. How big is your brewkit?
You may want to re-phrase that question to “Just how small is your brew kit”? We have a two tiered system:

A true nano system with:

  • 4 x 350 litre conical fermenters
  • 2 x 350 litre specially designed open fermenters
  • 8 x Stackable 350 litre conditioning tanks

Then our “big” system:

  • 1 x 20 hec fermenter
  • 2 x 10 hec fermenter (conical)
  • 1 x 10 hec specially designed open fermenter
  • 13 x 10 hec cellar tanks

Chuck: It’s also shiny. So… very… shiny… must… drink… Brassneck beer…

3. How many/what types of beers will you launch with?
While not giving too much away, we are hoping to have at least 6 beers when we open, building to 12+ once things get rolling (barrel programs take a while, certain beers take lots of ageing/conditioning). It’s going to be tough to have any lager beers when we open just because of the extra time required in the fermenter.

Conrad has been working on some great test batches, but we hope people understand that things will take a while to dial in. It’s a new system for Conrad to work on, so we’ll be chasing our tails just to get the doors open in the beginning. We think the first few beers will be nothing too risky, but they will certainly be without flaws and well thought out.

4. What sets you apart from the flotilla of other breweries opening this year?
Well, I guess you could say experience. As one of Vancouver’s brewing veterans, Conrad has a very strong repertoire of beers under his belt. You could also say we have an understanding of the product and the market on a very intimate level. Although I’m sure we all think we’ve got it all figured out!

We are in the unique position, via the Alibi Room, of having a very close relationship with the constantly evolving and complicated beer drinker. As such, we’ve gone for a “brewkit” that allows us product “breadth” rather than “depth”. What do we mean by that? Well, most breweries brew a few products in relatively large batches. This allows them to put out 2-3, maybe 4, beers and have a good supply of these products.

At Brassneck we’re looking forward to doing things the hard way, by trying to brew lots of different beers in very small batches. This, in theory, will keep our line up constantly rotating. This may be as simple as brewing a base beer, splitting it in two, and changing the dry hopping, to more complex ways of keeping things interesting.

We are right on Main Street, a highly visible artery into the city. We’ve put a great deal of thought into the physical layout of the brewery and how it relates to the public areas such as our retail store and tasting room. In the beginning, we will be focused entirely on our 3 different sizes of growlers. This will be our only packaged product.

This is an experiment! We understand it may not work out. It is, after all, asking a great deal of people but we love the idea of creating some culture around the beer. Asking people to slow down a little, take some time for themselves, have some tasters, relax. Then get some beer to go!

We’ll be one of the first breweries to open with a functioning “brewery lounge”. A huge part of our plan was to have visiting customers feel like they are part of the whole process. To have customers feel as though they are deep within the heart of our brewery when they are sitting enjoying some tasters was very important to us.

5. Where do you foresee yourself taking the brewery once you’re established? eg: barrel-ageing, sours, or just sticking to table beers, or flowing with the current?
We may end up doing some bottling, especially for beers we see as seriously benefiting from being bottle conditioned, of which there are many! A barrel program is an absolute must for us.

As far as flowing with the current, I think we’ll mostly be brewing beers we see a need for and not worrying too much about what anybody else is doing.

6. When can we expect to see your beers in public?
We would like to have a few draft accounts, but at this stage we are just not sure of our production capabilities vs. onsite demand, so we are not entirely sure how that side of things will go.

When the beer will be available is still a moving target, but we anticipate being READY to brew in the next three-four weeks (early to mid July). Whether or not a whole parade of form filler-outer-ers think we are ready is a whole other story.

7. What BC brewery do you admire the most, and why?
This is hard. We can’t name just one. We respect all of our peers for different reasons. To be honest, we are just going to be absolutely overjoyed to finally be part of a local scene FULL of excellent breweries.

We cant wait to get those doors open.


Seeing as how these awesome growlers are still empty, neither can I.

Written by chuck

June 12th, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Posted in Breweries

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June Beer of the Month

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Another month, another beer to feature. This month’s beer is special for a few reasons, but perhaps most of all because it was brewed by my friend Dave Shea. Yup, I have no qualms promoting my cronies via this here blog. That Nautical Disaster is worthy of consideration for at least five other reasons doesn’t matter. I’d still be singing its praise if it was complete and utter dreck. So what else is interesting? Well, it’s:

  • A Barley Wine released in June, instead of December
  • Brewed at Russell Brewing as a prize for winning a homebrew competition
  • Has an awesome label created by Dave Shea himself
  • Is named after a Tragically Hip song
  • By having a name, avoids the name confusion of the last homebrew winning beer

In addition to all those great reasons, Russell has gone to the effort of putting together a big ‘ole list of places where you can find this beer should you want some. I mean, in addition to Dave’s closet. What more could I ask for in a beer?


Okay fine, flavour and alcohol would be nice, too.

Overall, this is a nice hybrid Barley Wine–somewhere between the sweet English style and its hoppier American cousin. I suspect the bitter finish will mellow out with some time in the cellar, but right now it’s drinking very similar to Central City Thor’s Hammer, and damn if that isn’t a compliment. With a bit of time, though, it should start moving towards Howe Sound Woolly Bugger: a big, complex, malty bastard of a beer. I’m not guessing on this one, Dave has been kind enough to periodically update ND’s Uptappd page with tasting notes tracking the declining hops.

Tasting notes:

APPEARANCE Murky dark caramel brown
NOSE Sweet, malty caramel with hints of more complex sugars. Did I get some light red fruit/cotton candy?
TASTE Young barley wine; lots of subtle red fruit esters and earthy yeast sub-tones; needs a few more months to mellow and blend. A bit bitter on the finish.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Do you like Dave? Then buy one to drink and more to age. If you don’t like Dave, then I don’t like you.

Coles notes:

Brewery Russell x Dave Shea
From Surrey
Name Nautical Disaster
Style Barley Wine
SOA Now Bronze
SOA Potential Silver
Drink Late 2013 to mid 2014
Should Dave keep brewing commercially? Yes. How about a run of your double IPA please?
Availability Widely available at LRS (list)
Cost $7-10 per 650ml bottle.
Similar BC Beers Central City Thor’s Hammer, Howe Sound Woolly Bugger


It’ll get there.

Written by chuck

June 4th, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Posted in Beers

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