Brewery Visit: Bissell Brothers
There is absolutely no question that NE-style IPAs are here to stay! Some staunch beer-style gurus still scoff at and bash the idea of juicy India Pale Ales with its hazy body, creamy mouthfeel and extremely low bitterness (IBUs). I mean, American IPAs that gained popularity back in the 1990s have been all about that bitter beer face. Intense, palette-wrecking bitterness. And, us hop heads loved it that way!
The IPA scene was flipped on it’s head with version 1.0 of NE-style (New England Style) by innovative breweries in Vermont like The Alchemist, Lawson’s, Hill Farmstead, just to name a few. The first iteration of this new style wasn’t really that hazy at all – only slightly – partially caused by lack of filtering the beer before kegging. It was also way more dank and resiny than the current 2.0 version of NE-style (Northeast Style).
NE-style 2.0 is completely opaque with it’s generally high oat grain bill – just one technique used in the brewing process. Breweries who pushed the boundaries to evolve and refine this IPA style back some 4, 5 and even 6 years ago came from Tired Hands (PA), Trillium (MA), Tree House (MA) and the good folks at Bissell Brothers in Portland, Maine. Long lines form every time there’s a can release at these breweries for those NE-style juice bombs we all can’t get enough of. And, breweries all across the country are getting on the NE-style IPA train to give us thirsty hop heads what we’re craving. NE-style 2.0, baby!
Bissell Brothers Is Killing It
Maine is the ONLY place you can purchase Bissell Brothers beer. And, it has taken us a while to schedule our visit to Bissell Brothers brewery and taproom. You see, we’re located all the way down in southern Pennsylvania. Traveling to Portland, Maine takes a good 9-10 hours if we’re lucky and don’t hit crazy traffic in the Hartford, Connecticut or Boston, Massachusetts areas. But it was time! Well past time to make the trek.
“We are cultivating what we believe to be a return to the pre-prohibition beer culture in America – local breweries serving a local market. We are invested in Maine and in Portland, and see no reason to look beyond that for the time being. Please do come visit – you’ll be met with open arms.” – Bissell Brothers
Everyone we knew who had visited Bissell Brothers or tried their beers, gave this place stellar reviews. So it was no surprise that we enjoyed everything we sipped.
Quite a nice little list of beers to enjoy but this list does change from time to time. And, from what they show on their website, there’s even more to experience than what was available during our trip.TAP LIST
Flights are NOT an option. I repeat. There are no flights available. BUT, the good news is half-pours are a thing and it’s a very good thing if you have a long day of beer exploring while in Maine. Moderation is the key. You can order either 10 oz pours or 5 oz pours.
Here’s What We Ordered:
Reciprocal (DIPA) – Coming in at 7.3% ABV, this brew is double dry hopped with Australian hops varieties: Ella, Summer and Vic Secret. Just a hint of saltiness underneath layers of hop notes that started citrusy then moved to dank and finished with a mild pine bite. Super creamy (Thank you, flaked oats and malted wheat!). Derek and I both rated it 4.5 in Untappd.
Swish (DIPA) – Our hands down favorite. Eyes beaming, silly grin, good. Derek and I both rated it 5.0. The highest rating in Untappd. This 8% ABV, double IPA was deliciously sneaky. So easy to drink and great balance of hops (Mosaic, Citra, Simcoe and Apollo). Beautifully creamy and hazy as was Reciprocal. But all the way to the top of the juicy flavor spectrum. A tropical fruit flavor explosion in your mouth. Low bitterness from start to finish. Damn. We want more.
LUX (Rye Beer) – Not at all what you expect in a rye beer. It skews more tropical fruit than pungent, in-your-face rye but is definitely more malt forward. While I rated this beer a 3.75, Derek felt a little more love for this 5.1% ABV brew hopped with Centennial and Mosaic. He gave it a 4.0 in Untappd.
The Substance Ale (IPA) – Bissell Brothers tried and true (aka Flagship) beer with a hop lineup includes: Falconers Flight, Centennial, Apollo, Summit and Chinook. Whoa! That’s quite a mixture of hops. Creamy and hazy like Swish and Reciprocal (I think you see a theme here. Ha!). More juicy than piney but their is a respectable hop bite at the finish. I rated it 4.0 out of 5.0 in Untappd.
Can Release Tips
Know the Schedule:
Cans are generally available every Wednesday – Saturday but NOT on Sunday. Be sure to check out their website for can release dates/times.
Prioritize Your Day:
Make Bissell Brothers the FIRST brewery stop of the day if you’re trying to score some cans to take home.
Give Yourself Enough Time:
Right now, lines do form prior to the noon release. The supply goes quick as the quantity of cans available are limited but Bissell Brothers is working to ramp up production so this might be a thing of the past in the very near future. Quantity Updates Available on their Facebook page.
Note, there are no growler fills in the taproom. Cans are the only way to take home Bissell Brothers beer.
Get Those Cans on Ice:
Don’t be a rookie. Put those cans in a cooler of ice to keep that precious beer cold during summer months.
The decor? Wonderfully industrial with a splash of old-school punk attitude but balanced with rustic charm. The concrete floors are chic yet practical. Two-story ceilings with lots of big windows letting the sun stream in. Brightly painted accent walls on both the first floor and upper loft area.
Although there is not an inhouse kitchen on premise, Big J’s Chicken Shack is right next door and food trucks roll in on Saturdays to provide eats to purchase. You can follow Bissell Brothers on Facebook for food truck announcements.
Beer For Good
We’re encouraged by the many breweries that take their role in the community seriously and do what they can to pay it forward and give back. Bissell Brothers in no exception. High-5s to the founders, brewers and staff for giving a collective $30,000+ since their taproom opened in 2016.COMMUNITY & CHARITABLE INITIATIVES
More Maine Beercation Info:
- Maine Beercation Suggestions (Breweries to Visit, Restaurants to Check Out & More)