Brewery Name: Bissell Brothers Brewing
Type of Brewery: Retail Brewery
Location: 1 Industrial Way, Portland, ME. But not for long! The brewery is in the process of moving to a new, expanded location in Thompson’s Point, Portland. Since they won't be here for long, think of this post as my way of bidding a very fond farewell to Bissell's current space.
Growlers: Sadly, no. But in this case, that might be a good thing. Bissell mostly does can releases, but they have a small "tasting room" (really just a few tables as you pass through the entryway and approach the registers). The brewery can get a little clogged up if too many people are getting tasters, and it would create even more of a logjam if everyone was getting growlers, too.
The Beers: I can’t say enough good things about the beer that Bissell Brothers churns out. They make Swish, one of my all-time favorite beers, as well as a number of other favorites including The Substance, Lux, and Reciprocal, all of which are highly respected. Bissell rotates their taps, but you can usually count on The Substance being available, and even Swish when it’s in season. Bissell specializes in lighter beers (especially IPAs), though they occasionally have some heavier offerings. I haven’t had the opportunity to try any of their darker beers, but I am absolutely looking forward to it. Again, Bissell makes some of my favorite beers I’ve ever had.
Vibe: As this review posts, Bissell Brothers only has a couple of weeks left at this location, so more than anything this is a farewell tribute. The vibe is perfect for what Bissell is, although I’d be hard-pressed to say that the location is an ideal setup. There isn’t much in the way of indoor space, so for the most part you end up waiting in line outside until you are able to get in and buy your beer at the register. There is a small area set aside for people to sit and enjoy tasters, and when the weather is nice you can sit in a small, cordoned-off area outside. For the most part, though, you walk in one door, buy your beer, then shuffle out through the other door. It’s efficient, if nothing else, and Bissell has found ways to make the most of the space they have. For instance, having a “cash and cans only” line on Swish release days REALLY speeds up the process. The brewery itself is littered with stickers from other regional breweries, as well as the graffiti art that has become Bissell’s trademark. All in all, I wouldn’t say it’s a great space, but they do what they can and the quality of the beer MORE than makes up for it.
Dogs: Dogs are always welcome in line. Honestly, there really isn’t enough space for dogs inside the tasting area itself, so it’s almost a moot point.
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$$. They don’t do growlers, but cans can be pricey (usually in the realm of $13 for a four-pack, though Swish will run you a slightly heftier $17).
Food: Bissell doesn’t sell food, but you can almost always count on a local Portland food truck setting up shop just outside. This is a great arrangement for everyone, because standing in line for an hour can build up quite an appetite.
Final Thoughts: Bissell's beer is some of the best I've ever had, but it’s hard to ignore the shortcomings of the current location. Space and capacity are definitely an issue, but that’s why they’re moving to a new, larger space. And while the limited space, long lines, and small capacity can be a little frustrating...it kind of fits Bissell’s motif! Bissell Brothers clearly takes pride in being a local hotspot, their art style is very much graffiti/street art, and they’ve done what they can to maximize the space they have. So yeah, while the current space certainly leaves something to be desired, the guys here do what they can, and I can’t wait to see the new space.
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