Friday, March 7, 2014
By TOM ATWELL
Southern Maine is about to get five new breweries. Three of them are expected to begin selling beer in the next few weeks, while the other two will be starting in months rather than weeks.
Noah, left, and Peter Bissell are launching Bissell Brothers Brewing Co. in Portland.
Three of the new breweries are located in the same 1 Industrial Way complex in Portland where Rising Tide, Maine Beer Company and the loved but short-lived Bull Jagger started out, while a fourth is setting up in the historic Pepperell Mill in Biddeford, and another is planned for York.
Bissell Brothers, run by Peter and Noah Bissell, has been in the works for a couple of years. Noah, who is six years younger than Peter, developed an interest in brewing when he was 18-year-old while studying at the University of Maine at Farmington.
“I had settled into my adult life, moving to Portland and working as a photographer,” Peter Bissell told me in a telephone interview, when Noah graduated from UMF, moved to Portland in 2011 and started talking about opening a brewery.
Among Peter’s jobs was doing photographs and design for The Thirsty Pig, a bar and restaurant on Exchange Street in Portland, so Noah got a job as a bartender at the restaurant while the brothers, who are originally from Milo, worked on the brewery. Since then Peter has also done some work as a bartender at The Thirsty Pig.
Peter said that Noah was scheduled to begin the first batch of beer the week of Nov. 11, and it should be available for sale a few weeks after that.
“It has taken us a couple of years to get to this point,” Peter said. “Noah is more into the beer world and the science of beer, while my natural inclination goes toward building the company, as well as doing the design and photography.”
He said the company plans to do its own distribution, with the two brothers and one other employing doing everything.
The company’s flagship will be Substance Ale, a hop-forward American ale, which will be available in four-packs of 16-ounce cans.
“I hesitate to use term IPA,” Peter said, “but if you examine it by the book it won’t fall too far from that. But for us it’s not about the labels but about the flavors, and this has a distinct flavor with a hops bill that just rolls through your mouth.”
The other Bissell Brothers beers they create will be available only on draft, at least at the beginning.
The company’s Facebook page does show a label for Toddard Hill Limited, which – if all goes well – will be an autumn ale brewed with hops from the Bissell family property in Milo. That sounds like it will be good – another offering from the buy-local movement.
AUSTIN STREET BREWERY is aiming to start selling beer in February of next year, and is going to be selling two beers at a time from its tasting room at 1 Industrial Way, said Jake Austin, the brewer. Some will also be put in 750 milliliter bottles.
“We aren’t going to do every single style of beer,” Austin said, “but we don’t want to lock ourselves into anything.”
Austin Street will be beginning with a one-barrel brewing system, so production will be limited at first.
Back in May Austin held a party at his Austin Street home in Westbrook at which he offered several of his beers, and there was as wide variety of good offerings. They included a hoppy pale, a session-strength black IPA and a summer wheat with hibiscus. They all were tasty and showed some good innovation.
IN ADDITION, I have been following the Facebook page of SoMe Brewing Company in York, and left a message on the page for the brewers to call me but did not get a response. I think they are busy.
I know it is going to be selling beer soon, will have a tasting room, and I saw a picture of some growlers, but I do not know what styles of beer they are going to make.
I don’t even know how the name is pronounced. Is it like, “I need some beer,” or is SoMe an abbreviation of Southern Maine and pronounced “Sow Mee” or something like that.
Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to trying it.
Next week I’ll write about Banded Horn Brewery and Foundation brewery.
Tom Atwell is a freelance writer living in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at: