Bissell Brothers Brewing Co. is a brewery made for the Instagram age.
Colorful cans and graphic B’s fill Bissell’s feed, popping off the screen as art pieces as much as advertisements. Good light (and tacos) always seem to fill the tap room in Portland, Maine. The hazy IPAs don’t need a filter.
A recent visit confirms the place is as stunning as the pictures, with polished concrete floors, high ceilings, and garage doors that open onto an airy patio. The current space, out by the airport and a music venue in a development called Thompson’s Point, opened in June 2016, and is Bissell’s second Portland location (the first was across the street from Allagash).
“The process was very nerve-wracking, but when the dust settled, I realized that everything had somehow gone almost exactly to plan,” cofounder Peter Bissell says of the move. “There’s not a day that goes by that I am not so thankful we took that chance.”
Peter and his brother Noah grew up in central Maine, and opened the brewery in 2013 to nearly immediate fanfare. Customers formed long lines for brews like The Substance Ale, their flagship. Made with five kinds of hops, Maine flaked wheat, and flaked oats, The Substance has the orange-y bite of an IPA with the heft of a down comforter. That beer formed the foundation for the kind of pillowy-soft brews Bissell still likes to make, and is still made weekly.
A visit to any tap room these days should result in two things: sampling something fresh on site, and buying a few cans to take away. You can do both at Bissell, and you really should sample, because beers like Sigil 3, a blend of oatmeal stout and barleywine aged for months in Kentucky bourbon and New England rye whiskey barrels, will be made only once. There are usually six to eight IPAs on tap, available in 5- and 10-ounce pours. On a recent Saturday the tasting experience is pleasant: Despite traffic from an afternoon music festival next door, there are plenty of tables. As we sip, two young kids dance to the house music pumping through the speakers.
We take home cans of Nothing Gold, a double IPA Bissell describes as carrying “the signature Bissell Brothers backbone taste and mouthfeel,” and which reminds him of Maine summers. It’s a juicy powerhouse (8.2 percent ABV) of a beer, and is available April through October.
Bissell Brothers Brewing Co. is at 4 Thompson’s Point #108, Portland. Bissell Brothers Three Rivers, a space focused on longer-term aging, mixed fermentation, and fruited beers, will open in the brothers’ hometown of Milo in July.Gary Dzen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.