In the two and a half years I’ve covered beer in Maine, no brewery has elicited as much buzz and die-hard excitement as Bissell Brothers Brewing Co. Before it sold its first beer, a hip media blitz put the brewery on the forefront of the beer world’s radar. Its flagship beer, The Substance, earned immediate praise when it hit Portland draft lines. From the first can releases at the brewery, four-packs sold out within hours. And Bissell enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top of craft beer “best of” lists across the country.
Two years into brewing commercially, the brothers Noah and Peter Bissell find themselves atop a wildly successful brewery and brand.
If you want a firsthand account of the delirium hovering around the edges of Bissell Brothers, show up on a Saturday when they’re releasing four-packs of Swish, a double IPA. Before the brewery doors open, you’ll be greeted by a line of ardent fans patiently waiting, sometimes 200 deep, to have their hop appetites assuaged. (If you go, bring cash; the cash-only line moves faster.)
If you haven’t been swept into the Bissell vortex, you either have an aversion to hop bliss or you live under a rock where the bars don’t serve great beer.
But all this success isn’t without a few bumps in the road.
This summer, the brewery changed its yeast. Since it’s a hop-forward brewery, a yeast change might seem trivial. However, the effect was that the beer took on an opaque, orange juice hue. Since we drink first with our eyes, a drastic change in a beer’s appearance can cause a stir.
Hazy hue aside, Swish remains heavenly, and the arguments on whether the appearance affects the flavor of the beer will continue in the beer world beyond the inches of this column.
This Saturday, Bissell Brothers celebrates its second anniversary at the Portland House of Music on Temple Street.
For the event, Peter Bissell promised in an email that the “tap list will include lots of surprises, including remixes of our current lineup. We likely won’t release it till the day of.”
“We certainly have a very special night in the works,” he said.
What I can ensure you is that if you go, you will be satiated with hop-forward ales and some special beers on draft that will likely only be available the night of this party. It also seems safe to assume that now that winter has finally arrived, Bissell will be pouring drafts of their darkest offering, Angels With Filthy Souls.
This year, Angels tastes more like a traditional porter with a fainter hop profile than last year’s release. The use of maple syrup gives Angels big malt body and flavor.
In addition to the beer surprises that await, Bissell’s second-year party will be the debut performance of the band OHX with performances by Armies and Weakend Friends.
This beer party/concert will certainly be a great night, and an opportunity to celebrate the success of one of Portland’s best breweries.
with OHX, Armies, and Weakened Friends
WHO: Bissell Brothers Brewing
WHERE: Portland House of Music, 25 Temple St., Portland
ON DRAFT: The Brewery Promises Many Beer Surprises
COST: $8 adv, $12 day of
Templeton Rye Bootleggers Event at Bramhall
7 to 9 p.m., Sunday, Bramhall, 769 Congress St., Portland.
When I’m not drinking beer, I like to relax with a nice glass of whiskey. This event features a tasting of Templeton Rye Whiskey out of Templeton, Iowa. This rye whiskey boasts a flavor that is described as smooth and spicy with a clean finish. This is also a great chance to bask in the ambiance of Bramhall, formerly known as the Bramhall Pub, which was one of my favorite Portland dives. This dive has been given a facelift, and Bramhall is a hip basement bar to sip whiskey or enjoy one of the fine Maine craft beers they have on draft.