Drink Bissell Brothers The Substance (Now!)

Tim told me it was happening.  I was hesitant to believe him.  How could it be possible?  How could another 18 beer companies be opening up in Maine in 2014?  You all know I’m a believer in these lush times of beer opulence, but 18?  18!

Tim said, “I had one.  It’s great.”

“Great?  Like great great?” I asked.

“Yes.  Great great.  Bissell Brother’s American Ale.  Great.  If this is what their first few batches taste like, the future looks good.”

PeterBissellPhotoBissell Brothers Brewing Company was one of the first new breweries on my radar.  Partly because they were opening up in the Industrial Way area of Portland where so much great beer is already being brewed, but also, because I’ve had some contact with Peter Bissell through the music community.  Here’s a photo Peter took of my wife and me at the launch of Dispatch Magazine a couple of years ago.  Peter does great work.  My Facebook page is oft filled with photos he’s taken of the local music scene or around town.  When I heard he was opening a brewing company with his brother, I was voraciously intrigued.

BissellBrothersGlassLet’s get down to the beer.  I had my first Bissell Brothers’ American Ale at LFK in Longfellow Square.  (BeerAdvocate has the ale named as The Substance though the BBB co’s ‘About The Beer’ page is currently empty.)  First, I’m going to note the glass it came in.  Yeah, give me a second to ruminate on the glass.  The shape is unique to all the other pint glasses in the bar.  It’s fat at the bottom.  Their logo is clean and symmetrical, like the simplified shape of a bee.  Some beer aficionados might poo-poo my nod to the glassware this company’s picked out, but it adds to the entire experience of their beer.

I lift the fat-bottomed glass to my face, and before the brew hits my lips, my nose is already awash in the citrusy floral notes of this ale.  Not one to linger too long on the nose of a beer, I take a gulp.  This beer is a great American Ale.  The first taste notes are the pineapple and orange flavors.  But this isn’t an IPA, so the tropical fruit taste wave is nuanced and refreshing.  Think Maine Beer Company’s Peeper, but a little dryer.  I mean that as a compliment.  Since it’s an American Ale, the hoppy bitter finish is present, but not overwhelming.  I imagine they brew this with hops high in alpha acids, but they don’t use a lot of them.  This is the kind of beer you can have two or three of and not feel like you were chewing on hop pellets.  The best way I can describe this beer is that all the flavors come through clear and clean, and the overall taste is refreshing.

Tim was right about this one.  I implore you all to go out in Portland and find this American Ale on tap, which is the only way it can currently be consumed.  What you’re going to taste is the future of Maine beer.


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