HoppyBoston goes to Portland Part 2: Foundation Brewing and Bissell Bros.

Industrial Way in Portland might be slightly off the beaten path, but it is an embarrassment of riches for craft beer fans. I reviewed my stops at Allagash and Austin Street Brewing Company yesterday. Today I’ll cover the other two breweries on Industrial Way, Foundation Brewing Company and Bissell Brothers. Both breweries are located in One Industrial Way, the craft beer incubator that previously gave rise to Maine Beer Co. and Rising Tide.

Foundation BrewingFoundation Brewing Company consists of a moderate size warehouse with brewing equipment, fronted by a small tasting room where they pour samples and fill growlers. Their beers tend to be Belgian focused, with an in-house saison yeast strain that started as a commercial yeast used in a long-ago homebrew recipe and has evolved through many years and many batches of beer. I had a great chat with their brewer John about the importance of yeast in brewing, and how controlling the cultivation of the yeast and the resulting flavors it imparts on the beer is still underdeveloped. John is a fellow scientist, so we had plenty of nerdy things to talk about. Many of Foundation’s beers meld the tastes of their house Belgian yeast strain with liberal additions of hops, a flavor combination that regular readers of this blog know is right up my alley.

On our visit Foundation was pouring three beers in the tasting room. One of their flagship beers is Eddy, a light, drinkable saison with plenty of fruity and spicy ester flavors and a clean dry finish. Blaze is a Belgian IPA, combining the house yeast with a variety of popular American hops. My personal favorite was Wanderlust #1, their dry-hopped spring saison. The citrus and tropical fruit from the hops meld seamlessly with the esters from the yeast making a flavorful, complex and easy to drink beer. Overall I was very impressed with Foundation’s beers and the friendly and talkative brewery staff. I’ll be interested to taste some more of their creations on further trips to Portland (and hopefully their beers will make it south at some point in the relatively near future).

Bissell Brothers 1Next door to Foundation is Bissell Brothers Brewing. Bissell Brothers has a larger tap room and a small patio out front with seating. The decor is very unique, with spray-paint artwork and tables made from old oil barrels. Bissell Brothers is founded by the namesake brothers, Noah and Peter, along with their friend and GM Seth Vigue. They have generated an enormous amount of hype recently with their flagship beer The Substance, an American IPA. Tasting this hop-forward IPA is one of the main reasons I wanted to make the trip out to Industrial Way, a cornerstone of our weekend in Portland.

Bissell Brothers 2I have read many opinions on The Substance, and the vast majority are positive. Some have gone so far as to favorably compare The Substance to Heady Topper and other highly regarded/hard to find American IPAs, which is incredible praise. At some point I will get some cans and do a proper review of this beer. On the day I was there the brewery was sold out so I was only able to sample a little on draft. The beer is delicious, tons of the citrus, tropical fruit and pine hop flavors that you expect from a good American IPA but still very drinkable. I can understand why The Substance is so popular and why it sells so quickly. Hopefully Bissell Brothers will be able to expand production to catch up to demand (so they can at least keep the brewery stocked). It will also be interesting to see what they come up with next.

That concludes part two of Hoppy Boston’s trip to Portland. Tomorrow or Thursday I’ll post part three which will feature reviews of some of the beer bars we visited in the Old Port including Sebago Brewing Company, Novare Res Bier Café and The Thirsty Pig.


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