Clear days call for cloudy beers on Thompson’s Point.
In front of the brick façade of Bissell Brothers brand new brewery and tasting room at Thompson’s Point, bearded 20-somethings in neon sunglasses lean on stainless steel countertops and sip from 10-ounce glasses. Longhaired girls in Ray Bans laugh under the blue sky and look out at the Thompson’s Point concert pavilion. In the distance, cars thunder down I-295.
They all cradle glasses of cloudy Bissell beer the on this clear June day.
Like a secret club, no sign hangs above the cloister of millennials on the patio. The only indication of the tasting room inside is the color of graffiti art behind thick-paned glass windows.
But inside, the senses are awash. Indie hip-hop sounds through speakers and bounces off every industrial surface. The bright graffiti murals are flooded with natural light pouring in through expansive windows. Whitewashed wood beams stretch across the towering ceiling. Picnic tables line the concrete floor. Pallets of empty cans rise to dizzying heights next to the tasting room bar. The ubiquitous three-B logo hangs above steel tap handles, framed by textured dark-stained wood.
From a lofted drinking area up black iron stairs, head brewer Noah Bissell can be seen pouring hop pellets into the open mouth of a stainless steel brew tank. Bissell seals the mouth shut and approaches another tank of this new system, which is four times the size of the brewing system in their former brewery at One Industrial Way.
Noah and Peter Bissell founded Bissell Brothers Brewing in 2013. They quickly ascended to the top of Maine’s craft beer scene based on the success of The Substance. This American IPA garnered immediate local praise and eventually won them national press from Men’s Journal and Paste Magazine. Their lineup of hop-forward American ales frequently drew long lines during the two-and-a-half year tenure at their former brewery. All this success, and the need for greater brewing capacity, prompted the move to Thompson’s Point.
At the tasting room bar, a middle-aged man in pleated pants orders the maximum allowed, three four-packs per beer, of technicolored Lux Rye Ale cans and a 10-ounce Substance while a cell phone screen placates his 10-year-old son.
The line stretches five deep. A bearded tasting room attendant fills a glass with Reciprocal IPA. The hue is a hazy gold. The aroma and flavor are grapefruit, pineapple and mango with an underbelly of musty earth and scallions. A subsequent pour of The Substance brims with cannabis overtones behind layers and layers of tropical fruit aroma. This American IPA has had different faces over the past two years, but on this new system, in this newly minted brewhouse, it appears to be back to top form.
Outside, Fishin’ Ships food truck hugs the curb along the patio and deals paper containers of fried haddock draped with shaved ginger and a drizzle of Thai mayonnaise.
Under the warm spring sun patrons swig dank beer, nosh breaded fish and upload filtered photos to Instagram, signaling that the long-awaited move of Bissell Brothers Brewing from One Industrial Way to Thompson’s Point has been actualized.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Bissell Brothers Brewing
WHERE: 4 Thompsons Point #108, Portland
HOURS: noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday–Thursday; noon to 8 p.m. Friday–Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday
ON TAP: A rotating tapline of highly lauded hop-forward American ales, including The Substance IPA, Reciprocal IPA, Baby Genius Session IPA and Nothing Gold Double IPA
MORE INFO: bissellbrothers.com
OTHER BEER HAPPENINGS
Purchase your tickets to Summer Session: The Maine Brewers’ Guild Summer Beer Festival
1 to 5 p.m., Saturday, July 23, Thompson’s Point, Portland. $50 general admission
This beer festival may be a few weeks away, but it is, in my opinion, the best beer festival of the summer in Maine. Tickets sold out last year, so don’t get left out of this celebration. The Maine Brewers’ Guild is a nonprofit that helps promote beer in Maine, and all your favorite Maine brewers are members of this organization. The Thompson’s Point brewfest will include Maine’s best breweries and some great brew houses from out of state. This event also helps to raise money for the guild, so it’s a win-win. Get your tickets now, before they’re all gone.
Winthrop High School graduate wins award at World Beer Cup
After completing a geology and geochemistry degree from Harvard, 2008 Winthrop High School graduate Tor O’Brien ditched his grad school plans and decided to become a brewer. He’s been brewing at 12 Degree Brewing in Colorado for the past year and a half. This spring, the brewery was awarded a World Beer Cup Award in Philadelphia for the category of Small Brewpub. O’Brien is one of two brewers at 12 Degree Brewing. If we’re lucky, some day the Maine native may bring his Harvard-educated, award-winning brewing chops back home to the Pine Tree State.