Bissell Brothers Brewery, Portland, ME

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Bissell Brothers Brewery is in Portland, ME, outside of the downtown area. This was our second stop on our most recent trip to Portland, after New England Distillery a mile or so down the road.

 

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They are in the same industrial building as Austin Street Brewery and Foundation Brewing Company, and right across the street from Allagash.

 

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They have only been open since 2013, but have been creating a lot of buzz. So much so that there is a limit on how much you can buy, and people wait in line for some of their special release beers. They are beginning to offer more and more beer as time allows.

 

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The beers on tap during our visit…

Substance Ale
Flagship IPA – 6.6%
Mark thought this had a really good flavor, not a hard bite of hops, but still quite flavorful with a slightly more floral taste. Jason agreed, not too bitter, good taste.

 

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Single Hop Pale Ale
Lemondrop – 5%
Smooth, fairly light flavor, especially after Substance. Only a hint of lemon, all 4 of us expected more lemon. Good overall taste.

 

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The tap room is a little small, especially since they are so popular, but certainly not the smallest we’ve been in. It has a cool feeling though, people talking, having fun, music playing, a pinball machine you can play.

 

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Graffiti style artwork cover the walls

 

 

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Steel barrels with wooden tops for tables

 

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They usually have a limit for the beer they are selling, and most people in there had purchased their limit of four 4 packs. They recently expanded their brewing capacity by 66% and are just starting to see that extra capacity coming out.

 

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The 4 packs of Substance sell for $13, which is on the expensive side. It is good beer, but we won’t be buying too much of it at that price.

 

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They have a small area for merch and swag.

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The disappointing thing was there were only 2 beers on tap for us to try. Looking at facebook this past week, they have three in cans this weekend- so we expect more to come!

Want to visit?
Check out their facebook before heading out for special releases. It is good to know, in case you want the special release or want to avoid the crowds. We have heard of over one hour waits on a release day!

 

 

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New England Distilling, Portland, ME

 

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New England Distilling is located in Portland, ME. This was our first stop on our most recent trip to Portland. We went up with Mark’s brother Jason and his fiancée Maureen.

 

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New England Distilling was started in 2011 and in 2012 started releasing Gin, Rum and Rye Whiskey. They are working on a Bourbon Whiskey now, but that will not be ready for at least a year and a half.

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Ned is the owner and distiller at New England Distilling, NED for short. He is a 6th generation distiller with family history in distilling going back 150 years to Sherwood Whiskey being made in Maryland.

 

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Original Sherwood Whiskey bottle…

 

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with a prescription on the back! This was used during Prohibition.

 

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Old pictures and bottle from the family history.

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Matt explaining the distilling process

 

The whiskey and gin are both grain based, and are first made into a distillers beer. They take special care in this process, it is where the flavor starts. The rum is made from a sugar water base.

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Rum fermenting

 

Each batch size is about 450 – 500 gallons. They ferment on the grains, which is not done while making beer because it can spoil or alter the flavor.

 

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Grain shaker machine

 

They give all the spent grains to a local farmer to feed the cows.

 

The still they use is not a super high efficient still, but it keeps more of the flavor.

 

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They have 2 copper stills

 

They run the whiskey and rum through the still 2 times at different temperatures. They run the gin through a third time with extra botanicals added for flavor.

 

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They use charred, white American oak barrels. They can only use them once, by law, to make American whiskey. A lot of the flavor comes from the barrel, and the charring in particular. The charring helps to release natural flavors and sugars from the wood.

 

They are considering making a non-American style whiskey so they don’t have to turn over barrels so quickly.

 

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Maureen tasting the rum

 

Eight Bells Rum
This is a New England style rum. It starts with molasses, instead of sugar cane which is used in Caribbean rums. The rum is aged in the barrels for 22 months.

The name Eight Bells comes from the bells rung during a duty period upon a ship. The bell was run at every half hour interval for a four hour duty period. Once the eighth bell pattern was complete, your duty was. End of duty meant time for your rum portion!

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The Eight Bells logo is a Winslow Homer painting. They were given permission to use it from the Museum of Art in Portland.

 

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Gunpowder Rye Whiskey
This is a Maryland style rye whiskey, there is no corn used to make this.

 

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It is aged in the barrels for 12 – 15 months in the smaller barrels, 2 years in the 53 gallon barrels.

 

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Grains in the whiskey

 

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Mark and Megan tasting

 

 

Ingenium Gin
The Gin has a floral smell and a floral taste, along with the gin taste. Good balances of flavor, not too much juniper. Both Jason and Megan purchased a bottle of gin!

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Gin

 

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Jason and Maureen having fun

 

 

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Hand bottling ‘machine’

 

IMG_1192They have a lot of stuff in their little gift shop.

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Candle holder made from wine barrel staves

 

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Want to visit?

 

Hours of Operation:
Monday-Friday 12-4
Saturday 10-4
Tours on the hour

Check out their facebook page for more information!

Other places we have visited in Portland:

Urban Farm Fermentory

Shipyard Brewing Company