In this episode I sit down with Peter Bissell, co-founder of Bissell Brothers brewing in Portland Maine, and discuss what it takes to bring beer to the masses.
Peter and his brother Noah have come a long since first opening Bissell Brothers at 1 Industrial Way. They’ve relocated to Thompson’s Point and are surrounded by an eclectic gathering of business ranging from a circus conservatory training performers to an international museum of cryptozoology. But locations aren’t all that have changed for Peter and his brother. Their relationship had to evolve and be reshaped during the 2 year process of getting their brewery up and running. Peter goes in depth on what it takes to handle the stresses of opening a brewery while learning to accept a new concept of his brother and a new concept of himself as well. Through all of these trials, self-acceptance, and success Peter has learned to stay in awe of the brewing process and patrons sitting down and drinking from their glassware.
Round 1: Dangol – Adjunct Ale With Lime (ABV 5%) This beer was inspired a bit by Bud Light Lime. They wanted to ferment with something other than malted grain, and went with rice and corn to add a specific kind of thinness to the ale. Peter and friends have to zest 400 pounds of limes for each batch, making the beer great for summertime activities. They find that this is a great gateway beer for people who haven’t taken the plunge into the craft beer scene and Bissell loved the challenge of experimenting and taking risks with a new brew.
Round 2: Sibling Partnership Story – Peter and his brother, Noah, have discovered a lot about each other in the process of opening Bissell Brothers. It took 2 years to go from the brewery concept to actually opening, and much of that work happened between February and December of 2013. It’s not hard to imagine the kind of stress that places on a relationship. Peter had to “renegotiate” his relationship with his brother in a lot of ways—shedding preconceived notions of Noah that he had held growing up with him. But in learning to accept one another’s traits and their different styles of handling problems and stress, Peter and Noah learned the technical aspects of brewing and successfully launched Bissell Brothers (even if they still didn’t quite know what they were doing on opening day).
Round 3: Beer Memories – Peter remembers brewing at 1 Industrial Way and the smell of fermentation in November. He was learning the equipment and process of how to brew from Michael LaCharite. Every day he was being exposed to something new whether it was a fresh brew or the machinery of their canning line. He remembers unloading their first cans by hand because they didn’t have a forklift at the time. Peter fainted at one of their first tastings and fainted due to succumbing to the terror of figuring out how to keg the beer properly. Those days were full of incredible highs and lows, they spend everything they had to open and it took effort not to get jaded while barely being able to pay themselves.
Round 4: Q & A
Question 1: Who is your hero?
Amanda – Two (very flawed) people that I consider to be my heroes would be Johnny Cash and Walt Disney. Both were able to inspire so many people and accomplish incredible dreams despite great resistance and their own issues.
Question 2: If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life what would it be?
Peter—Steak tips, grilled medium with sea salt, black pepper, and chimichurri – that’s everything he needs.