The Substance | Bissell Brothers Brewing Co.

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The SubstanceThe Substance
The SubstanceThe Substance

Brewed by:
Bissell Brothers Brewing Co.
Maine, United States

Style: New England IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.60%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Our flagship; a brightly dank ale that threads many needles.

Hops: Falconer's Flight, Centennial, Apollo, Summit, Chinook
Malts: 2-row, flaked Wheat, Flaked oats, Flaked Barley

OG: 1.060

User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 224 | Ratings: 1,697
Photo of avalon07
4.06/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

L: Had this beer on-tap at Growlers to Go - Short Pump, poured into a pint glass. Had a bright yellow color and a cloudy consistency. There was a massive, creamy, very long-lasting head. Excellent lacing.

S: A solid aroma of dank hops, malt, citrus fruit, and pine.

T: Tasted of a decent bit of citrus fruit (orange, lemon), light pine notes (not overly present), lots of dank hops (pretty bitter), and some light malt notes (mostly in the finish). A solid flavor that's almost a throwback. They don't overdo the fruit elements, rather letting the hops do the heavy lifting. In general, pretty tasty stuff.

F: A fair amount of carbonation with a dry, smooth finish. Medium-bodied.

O: Not a mind-blowing beer, but definitely a solid one. Worth a try.

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Photo of shkin
2.56/5  rDev -40.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Really disappointing. No date on the can, so cannot tell if it is old. It also doesn't smell or taste spoiled, but rather really artificial and off-putting. Like someone added bug repellent to a nice beer.

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Photo of Imakoniver
4.4/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is an excellent ale. It pours out of the can as a foamy hazy orange color and smells of citrus. It has a nice full mouthfeel and tastes citrusy with a subtle hoppy aftertaste. I would gladly drink this again and again.

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Photo of scotorum
4.41/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Been wanting to try this since it first became popular in early five years ago. Nowhere I went in Maine ever had any. My daughter recently got me some at the brewery. Can date is 3/8/19.

a: Hazy orange with a thick inch plus white head which receded to very thick surface foam and dense lacing.

s; Mild citrus leaning to orange/grapefruit.

t; Ripe light fruit with some dankness and moderate bitterness on a mainly dry finish. Later fresh hoplike vegetal notes develop and become fairly prominent.

m; Solid medium, very good body and some carbonation tingle.

o; As outstanding as expected, especially for a sessionable IPA, albeit at the higher ABV end.
very tasty and satisfying,

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
4.34/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A 16 oz can that looks like a fermenting tank sent from Sierranevallagash dated 2/27/19 poured into Odell Teku.

Super juicy, luscious and plush body with a heavy whipped head of 3 fingers. Lots of lace left behind as it recedes to a finger stable.

Aroma is insanely juicy and ripe, like several freshly squeezed fruits at the breakfast table. Grapefruit, oranges, nectarine, mandarin, and mango. Slight sharp pine needles in the distance.

Flavor brings a firm stony, piney bitterness to start which gives way to a birth of honey malt, grass, white grapefruit pith, orange peel, and apricot.

Feel is juicy and acidic, with lots of tingling carbonation, and much like orange juice it continues to sizzle and acidify on the tongue and palate.

Overall, a very tasty, acidic, pungent NE IPA that I'd gladly have again.

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Photo of Izzo
3.93/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Great head with about an inch poured into a tulip glass, definitely on the more bitter/hoppy side, very hazy in color and has a piney/tar/apricot flavor profile. Not sure if I like this or not but it's different for sure.

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Photo of Craig-er
3.79/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Look is very nice with lovely carbonation that sticks to the glass. Smell is extreme citrus grapefruit. Taste is over the top hoppy grapefuit bomb. Too much for me. Where is the malt.

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Photo of The_Beer_Guru
4.33/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Solid NE beer that is sort of a hybrid. Juicy NE taste with a bit of an old school IPA dankness but not over the top bitter just a perfect balance and an interesting concept. Overall well done.

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Photo of npolachek
4.25/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours yellow hazy. Smells of pine and citrus like a typical Vermont and Maine IPA. Tastes of dankness with strong citrus fruit flavors. Good complexity in the palate- I liked this better than Swish.

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Photo of metter98
4.31/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: The beer is hazy yellow in color. It poured with a thin white collar around the edge of the glass and lots of specks of bubbles on the surface.
S: Moderate aromas of dank pine, citrusy and tropical fruit hops are present in the nose.
T: The taste is a little dank and has strong flavors of stone fruit, pine, citrus and tropical fruits.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied and a little juicy on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This New England IPA is very complex and is interesting both dank and juicy.

Serving type: can

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Photo of colts9016
4.24/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The beer has this bright white head that is foamy and creamy. The head is two fingers thick and slowly dissipated and left no lacing on the glass. The beer is 45 degrees and served in a tulip glass. The color of the beer is SRM 3 a pale straw with yellow hues. The clarity of the beer is moderately clear with a touch of haziness. The head is a ring around the glass. Overall the beer is has a good appearance.

The initial aromas in the beer are oranges, mango, pineapple, and a touch of lemon. Next, I get herbal, biscuit, bread, resin, and toasted malts.

I first taste get oranges, floral, pineapple, and lemons. Next, I get grapefruit, resin, biscuit, pine, musty, toasted malt, and yeast.

The mouthfeel of the beer is astringent and sharp.

The body of the beer is medium, medium carbonation, and a long finish.

The beer is a good IPA but needs a stronger backbone to support the huge hop profile. This beer is just good for me. The label this beer a NEIPA but I am not getting the juicy fruit notes that are associated with this beer.

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Photo of MacMalt
4.28/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Canned on 10/26/2018 and poured into a Spiegelau IPA glass. It pours cloudy, bright tangerine color with a large, fluffy, bright white head and copious lacing inside the glass. The fragrant nose features lemon peel, tangerine, pine needles, and a crackery malt. The taste is a lot fruitier than the smell: tangerine, lemon, grapefruit, a hint of tropical fruit, along with oats, resinous pine, and a hint of caramel. The blend of Apollo, Centennial, Eureka, Chinook, and Falconer's Flight hops is very flavorful but not overly bitter. One of the best attribute of The Substance is its mouth feel: creamy and viscous with moderate carbonation, and an easy drinking 6.6% ABV. Overall, for a "flagship" single IPA, The Substance is really good! Anyone who gets distro of this gem should count themselves fortunate.

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Photo of SierraNevallagash
4.31/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pint can dated 10/26/18 poured into a tulip at 46F

Pours a hazy, but not murky or creamy looking honey orange. Two finger creamy white head sits atop the body, receding slowly, and leaving some lacing.

Nose is piney and citrus hops, with notes of grapefruit and oranges, with lesser notes of pineapple and mango.

Palate: The hops have a real west coast flavor style to them, but the bitterness is dialed WAY back, in true New English fashion. A little bit of dank earthiness as it warms. This is shockingly refreshing and crisp. A thin malt backbone and a good balance of hops for both flavor, and supreme drinkability. Finishes quick and dry with zero bitterness hanging around, and a slow fade of pine and grapefruit once again.

Mouthfeel is on the heaviest side of light. Just getting into medium territory. It's not thin and splashy, but it's also not a can of Julius. This is really somewhere in the middle. A creamy West Coast feel, or a thin New England feel. Carbonation is solid, on the slightly higher side compared to most NEIPAs. Dry and crisp.

Overall, this one is interesting. I was hoping for a thick NE juice bomb. That it is not. However, this is almost like the greatest West Coast style IPA that never was. It's juicy and and hoppy and utterly UN-bitter like a NEIPA, but it's crisp, refreshing, and uber drinkable, like a West Coast style. I don't know. If we're just calling this an IPA, it's absolutely fantastic. A wonderful (sjfkshfjk)IPA.

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Photo of Ronl12
4.27/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

16 oz can into IPA glass. Dated 10/4/18.
Look is great golden orange cloud. Smell is dank with citrus/fruit on top. Taste follows nose and ends with nice bitter grapefruit end. Feel is smooth and creamy. Overall an excellent NE IPA that has everything required for the style.

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Photo of gearinches
3.99/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very nice beer, had it at the same session I was having a Treehouse Julius and preferred it to that. Smoother and more complex. That said, I wouldn't drive an hour to get it and stand in line for another 30 minutes, like the Julius experience. But if it was available with reasonable effort I'd definitely be keeping it in the rotation.

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Photo of dzni
4.15/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Nice bright, hazy orange color, good head and retention.

Dank and citrus on the nose.

Taste is of stone fruit, citrus, and pine.

Medium body and carbonation.

I've had this a number of times, and it always strikes me as a good balance between bitter pine and some of the hazy citrus character. Plus, I can appreciate the dankness as another layer of complexity. Easy drinking beer for me despite the complexity.

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Photo of thebeers
4.25/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Cloudy gray-hued yellow with a finger of white head. Sloppy lacing. Big dank aroma with weed and fresh cut grass. Maybe a hint of mint as well. Similar tasting with some subdued citrus (lemon, clementine) and a nice grassy, bitter finish. Medium to heavy bodied with strong carbonation. This is excellent.

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Photo of csmrx7
3.94/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

I can understand why people rate this beer high. It is very approachable and non offensive, but I don't find it at special as some of their other beers.

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Photo of DoctorZombies
3.76/5  rDev -13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Cloudy peach colored gold with huge fluffy white head; long cap retention; heavy lacing. Weak lemon rind earthy hop nose. Up front flavors of lemons, bitter citrus rind, earthy hops, mango, papaya, melon; and a raw doughy cardboard (house yeast?) taste. Almost full and fluffy body, somewhat juicy feel; moderate carbonation. Overall the feel is soft and not overwhelming like some other NEIPAs; it’s not very bitter for 80 IBUs; I like the juicy fruity hops, but there is a flavor/aftertaste unique to some Bissell beers that I’ve had that doesn’t taste good to me.

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Photo of woodsman13
4.12/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Tasted at the Bissell Bros tasting room. Pours an opaque, almost milky light haze. Smell is a piney dank. Perfect amount of full bodied haze and light carbonation on the mouthfeel. A classic hoppy but slightly less fruity version of the NEIPA. Very solid offering that competes with the best of the NEIPA category.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.37/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Can: Poured a hazy bright yellow color ale with a medium size white foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of intense citrusy and tropical fruit notes with some dank notes and light residual sugar notes is quite enticing. Taste is a great mix of citrusy notes with light tropical fruit notes with some dank notes with some residual sugar notes. Body is full with limited filtration and good carbonation. World-class NEIPA.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sample at Mikkeller Beer Celebration Copenhagen 2018, Blue Session. Hazy golden color. Aroma is hoppy and dank with milky yeast notes. Taste is hoppy, dank, juicy and bitter on the finish. A really legit IPA with a good balance of flavors.

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Photo of ichorNet
4.22/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Likely the premier hazy NEIPA out of Maine, The Substance has been a staple of the movement since it was first released, and Bissell Bros. has ridden that wave for quite a long while. I haven't had many of their beers (no distribution in MA yet), but what I've had has generally been solid. I've only ever had this on tap in the Portland area, most notably at The Great Lost Bear, which is far-and-away one of my favorite places to grab some all-American food in Portland while slinging back a few high-quality beers while I'm at it. This two-and-a-half-week old can comes to me by way of my good friend and homebrewing partner, Pat. Thanks dude!

Pours a completely opaque body with a creamy appearance to it if held up to light. Hazy sunburst orange in hue with a nice, consistent head of pillowy bone-white foam. Great lace that's kinda all over the place but nevertheless shows up with quite a bit of intensity. Surface is clouded over and consistently covered in foam. Three fingers of foam cap this off at max height, and it eventually settles down to about a finger with some solid legs. Somewhat sloppy appearance, if I'm being honest, but every element of it is in tune with the NEIPA style, just slightly less "refined" than the best examples I've had from MA.

The nose here is dank and pine-forward with weed-like, grassy notes combining with light melon and orange peel. Candied grapefruit comes out as well, along with some light green onion-like suggestions. Not over-the-top chive-ness but just enough to blend in with the "green" overall nose. A lot less mango and overall tropical fruit than many dry-hopped NEIPAs, this one is more in-line with earlier versions of Trillium's Fort Point Pale Ale.

On the palate, semi-harsh oily bitterness is backended by a surprisingly-smooth and soft feel and malt flavor. So many flaked malts in this beer which contribute to that pillowy mouthfeel that's all the rage these days. I get flavors of grapefruit, fresh-cut grass, juicy papaya and light notes of orange-tangerine juice with some green onion mixed in there for an added herbal/green flavor. Not bad, but hardly exciting to my palate. A standard but well-put-together flavor profile for this style.

Feel is excellent; slightly-chalky and heavier bodied than most beers in its weight class, mostly owing to the yeast and protein in suspension as well as the hop solids no doubt floating in the finished beer, but it's smooth-drinking and has a palate-coating bitterness that impresses quite handily. I wish I could get this more often, but I also see a decent amount of Tree House and Trillium end up in my glass, so I guess things could be a lot worse. Should make a trip to BB next time I'm in Maine, however!

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Photo of jngrizzaffi
4.21/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a cloudy golden color with a thin foamy head. Head retention is mild. Lacing is good. Citrus aroma but more piney resin than anything else. Aroma is a little weak. Not as juicy as I would like on the taste. Low citrus and heavy piney bitterness. Not typical of a NEIPA. Still good, though.

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Photo of gbiello
3.68/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Look - moderately hazy golden brew
Smell - very little of anything on the nose, very mild tropical fruit
Taste - a little high on the IBU, and low on the juice factor
Feel - a bit thin on the palette.

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The Substance from Bissell Brothers Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.32 out of 5 with 1,697 ratings