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The Substance | Bissell Brothers Brewing Co.

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148 Reviews
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The SubstanceThe Substance

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

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.60%

Availability: Year-round

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

vailability: weekly production
ABV: 6.6% OG: 1.060
Hops: Falconer's Flight, Centennial, Apollo, Summit, Chinook
Malts: 2-row, flaked Wheat, Flaked oats, Flaked Barley

Added by Bowdoinbeerboy on 12-11-2013

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Reviews: 148 | Ratings: 1,257
Photo of BEERchitect
4.31/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

If the goal of the American IPA is to simply become a grapefruit juice with alcohol, then the Bissel Brother's flagship IPA would be end game. The review could simply say, "grapefruit juice" and be done with it. However, getting underneath the fruit there's an understated would of ale flavors that play out under the radar of the senses.

Its heavily hazed straw appearance is a testament to The Substance's unadulturated taste, texture and nuances. And as those manifest in aroma, they do so with a huge overcast of straigh-up grapefruit juice with tinges of hawaiian punch, orange juice and the herbal stemmy perfume of lemon verbena, sassafras, and curious whiffs of cannabis.

As the grapefruit flavors saturate the palate with utter ease, its taste is intense, juicy and nearly teeth-churning in its tangy and tart mouthfeel. As its more herbal presence rounds out the flavor, the piquant bitterness of hops easily supplant the rapidly dissolving malt sweetness that's disguised as citrusy fructose. Simultaneously, the ale takes on the fragrancy and spice of fresh wood shavings.

Medium-full in body, the beer trends dry while remaining creamy and pillowy. Still, a dusted arid taste harks to dried grapefruit, gooseberry, gin, riesling and mimosa while the finish assumes a clean and crisp nature. Its a seductive taste and texture that easily circumvents its seemingly dimensional grapefruit character.

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Photo of jlindros
4.39/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Tap at the brewery.

Pours a huge fluffy foamy head that fades semi slowly, tons of lacing, hazy little murky pale golden color.

Nose juicy hops, little dank musty, raw hop juice and tropical, hint pineapple and papaya, tropical generic, hint cereal grain.

Taste brings more sweet like malts, grainy smooth malts, into big hops, little earthy spicy notes, mild dank, then into big tropical notes, papaya, pineapple, little dank citrus, fruity notes, guava, etc. Creamy smooth malt, fair bitterness. Finish is dry, fair bitterness mild spicy hop, bit more tropical notes, dank, etc, hint of banana.

Mouth is med bod, creamy, nice carb.

Overall nice, not as crazy as I expected but got better, then tropical came through nicely, maybe not quite as much as the hype, but def deserving of a great IPA.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.27/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

thanks to Brandon for sharing this enjoyed from the can in a glass.

the color is golden with hazed appearance and white head that recedes with fine bead. the smell is very nice with a floral and citrus aroma with mild yeast ester. the feel is good with medium bitterness and moderate carbonation with a slight chalkiness in the dry finish.

The taste is very good with a nice presence of hop in the citrus and fruity arena with a slight dank herbal accent with low malt and yeast mainly a hop focused flavor with a dry finish and low alcohol in the taste. I was glad I was able to try this, thanks Brandon for my first taste of Bissell Bros.

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Photo of Kurmaraja
4.41/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a hazy yellow, almost greenish tinted, tight head that sticks around. Smell is over ripe tropical fruit - guava / papaya - along with some definite spicy vegetal notes - wet grass, crushed leaves, freshly turned compost. I can see why this isn't some people's bag, but I love the earthiness. Flavor carries through, pungent with sweet tropical notes woven in. Finish is a bit flabbier than I'd like, particularly as it warms.

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Photo of Jason
3.6/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 2.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the brewery.

Extremely cloudy pale golden color, great looking head though. As the brewers says... this is a dank ale. Lots of piney resin, citrus rind and pith, green tea, & faint tobacco in the nose. Huge on the hop flavor front, yeast and grain are a bit of a mess. Seems to be a lot left in this brew, too much IMO. Would love to see this beer cleaned up a bit, lots of potential.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.53/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Draft at the source. Hazy yellow body with a soapy, white head. Lovely aroma of tropical citrus and uber fresh hops. Similar flavor. Refreshing and easy. Teeming with flavor. So juicy. Terrific.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.5/5  rDev +5.4%

My undying gratitude goes out to my current "Character", Justin Chlan, who knows to look for CANned beer for me in his travels. He brought this back from a recent foray up to Maine in support of The CANQuest (TM). Cheers!

From the CAN: "The Substance Ale, a creation two years in the making, represents the past, present, and future of beer - Drawing from the wealth of knowledge of those that came before us while creating something entirely our own, waves of hop flavor permeate the senses as you [CAN]sume The Substance. We started Bissell Brothers for one reason - To use the short time that we have to live to make something awesome and share it with the world. Thank you for enjoying the fruits of our labors."; "keep maine beautiful. recycle."

No problem with that last as the spent CAN will be given to Jeff Lebo for his House of CANs. The Crack! gave me a little spritzy squirt across my fingers! This is usually the indication of good things ahead. I began with an inverted Glug, but I had to back off due to the pint-sized CAN. I was rewarded with three fingers of dense, French Vanilla-colored head with reasonable retention. Color was a cloudy Yellow-Gold (SRM = 4 -5). Nose was very piney and now my hophead mouth was beginning to water. Mouthfeel was medium. The taste was a combination of grapefruit rind and pine needles and now my tongue was dancing in unbridled joy! Amazingly, though, after the initial wash of hops, it became very mellow and easy-drinking. I ran through that CAN like a hot knife through soft butter. The tastes commingled beautifully and I really enjoyed its finish. The finish was very citrusy and tickled the back of my throat going down. It was dry, but just enough to lead to the next sip. I definitely recommend this one for my fellow hopheads. Others should just leave it for the rest of us.

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Photo of stakem
3.53/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pounder can into a snifter appears a hazy pale copper color with a darker tanned to khaki cap a finger strong that fades leaving stringy lace.

Citrus rindy nose, pulp, pith and herbs are all present. Pine and almost a peculiar smokey aspect.

Tastes bitter rinds and slightly vegetative with a bite of green yeastiness.

Medium in body and modestly carbonated. Almost creamy and yeast filled but enjoyable nonetheless. I appreciate the chance to try this but it falls a bit shirt in my opinion.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.13/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16 oz. can poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Hazy orange body. Nice white head. Great lacing.

Smell - Herbal hops. Grapefruit. Light rye.

Taste - Very herbal and kinda dank. Very intense on the rye here. Makes it kinda toasty. Grassy hops in the back end. Very nice.

Mouthfeel - Very bitter. Medium body. Well carbonated.

Overall - Intense. Works very well. Love the rye component.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.23/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Can from MrBarleywine, thanks for the opportunity Mike!
Slightly hazy deep straw color with a huge bubbly white head that persists forever. Aromas of earthy citrus tropical pine resin and dankness. Oh yeah that smells good. Light bready malt, maybe. The flavor is much the same as the aroma but adds a bit of alcohol. Medium body with a moderate level of carbonation. Very nice ipa I enjoyed the hell out of it.

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Photo of vfgccp
4.05/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Hazy ginger colored body. Minimal head with big bubbles and some light lace around the glass.

S - Pear, grapefruit, grassy hops, and pine.

T - Strong dank resiny hop, orange, pineapple, and wheat.

M - Full, pulpy feel.

O - Your typical New England IPA.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.59/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a tallboy into a shaker pint, the beer is a hazy, opaque, yellow-orange coloring, with a fluffy, bubbly, clingy, tall, white head. Aromas of bright orange rind, subtle grapefruit, lemon zest, and a subtle caramel backbone. Very juicy, with a balance nose of pine and dried grass. Flavors are very juicy and sweet forward, heavy on lemon zest and dried grass. Wow! Super juicy and insanely balanced. Solid grapefruit and subtle tropical fruit notes in there, too, with subtle pine tassel characteristics, as well. Smooth, light body that supports the overall juiciness perfectly. The aftertaste is more lemon heavy citrus and tropical sweetness, again with a subtle grassy and piney component. The dank and resinous pine notes build as you drink, too. Solid sweet and bitter linger past the dry, slightly acidic finish. Great beer!

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Photo of tempest
4.18/5  rDev -2.1%

Ah, a fresh delicious IPA in a can. We can never have enough. I'd call it West Coast-style for the lighter body, making all too drinkable. The big, juicy hops are rich enough — with pine resin, light pepper, floral spice, and tangerine — that it's satisfying in any weather, but still drinkable in the summer. More please.

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Photo of Gavage
4.32/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: pours a very cloudy pale golden yellow color with a 1/2" head that breaks apart immediately.

Smell: citrus tones are most noticeable.

Taste: caramel. some wheat or grassiness, lemon zest, orange, mango, and a moderate bitterness.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer. Crisp to start, less crisp at the finish. Citrusy aftertaste.

Overall: this is a real quaffable IPA that is refreshing on a hot summer day.

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Photo of BillRoth
3.98/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Had on tap at brewery during Beer Safari in Portland. Had gotten good nods from reading BA, and then heard big love about BBB from Trillium team when I stopped there earlier in the day. So went in with high hopes.
Well...good beer but just didn't leap out as something much better than others have. Good drinkable beer and apparently a crazy load of hop varieties.
Recommended, but not best IPA in the (Industrial) lot.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.7/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Bissell Brothers in Portland, ME.

This one pours a super hazed deep yellow/orange, with a small head, and lots of lacing.

This smells like like intense juicy hoppiness, dank marijuana, pine, orange, grapefruit, and mango.

This is really wonderful. It's definitely got an interesting hop character to it, that makes it really dank while also being super, super juicy- orange, grapefruit, and mango, with cut grass, pine, and marijuana. I don't get a whole lot of malt character.

This has a medium body to it, slightly creamy, with a good level of carbonation.

This is an absolutely great IPA and a near perfect example of the controversial NE IPA style.

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Photo of puboflyons
4.38/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From the can dated 4/30/15. Sampled on May 3, 2015. Only four days old.

The pour is a slightly hazy yellow color with lively carbonation building up to a tremendous white foamy head. The head sticks around.

Such a vast array of malt and hop aromas to choose from. The hops present themselves the most forward with their citrus, orange, grapefruit, and grassy sensations. The malts are toasted with a hint of barley and wheat.

Medium body. Smooth.

Toasted malts and sweetness start things off in the flavor but those many different grassy, citrus, lemon zest, floral, and orange hop flavors combine into a definite bitter finale. High quality beer.

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Photo of dar482
4.42/5  rDev +3.5%

The beer comes in slightly transparent golden orange.

The aroma offers sweet oranges and grapefruit, almost syrupy. In the back, a bit of bright green grass, and hints of the dank garlic of Summit.

On the flavor, a touch of Maine Beer character. Sweet citrus of orange, tangerine up front, along with a touch of bready sweetness. A good amount of fruity character in the front, but then the beer aggressively transitions to this big bittering and drying. Slightly green, pine, pure bitterness of grapefruit and pushing towards astringent.

The mouthfeel is medium to medium minus.

The lighter mouthfeel and strong bitterness reasonably detract from this stand up there with the big boys.

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Photo of rudzud
4.32/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Picked up half a case while at the brewery. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

A - Poured a nice hazy golden hue with a big fluffy two finger white head that fades slowly to leave a creamy blanket and great side lacing.

S - Aromas of very light almost generic tropical hops, cereal grains, little bit of dankness.

T - Taste is similar to the nose. Decent amount of cereal grains, little crackery, grain. Light citrus, pineapple, faint mango, guava, papaya. As it warms the tropical notes pop a bit more, same with the citrus too. Warming up definitely makes a big difference.

M - Mouthfeel is lightly carbonated, a bit fluffy.

O - Overall, this beer was tasty. Really shined as it warmed up. Nice appearance and really solid citrus/tropical taste.

Serving Type: Can

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Photo of VelvetExtract
4.54/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A-The Substance pours a milky, cloudy yellow hue with a tight, skinny, white head that doesn't do all too much for lacing. It almost has an oily consistency to it when I look at it. I often find that hoppy beers that come out looking like this usually offer a specific hoppiness that I really enjoy, so I am quite excited.

S-Immediatley delivers with a puréed tropical fruit juice medley of aromatic hoppiness. Citrus, pineapple and guava. More hoppy aromas of pine and herb. A pale malty character that isn't overly detectable and a sweetness that probably comes from both hop and malt.

T-The initial flavor is exceptional. Juicy hops that stress tangerine, pineapple and maybe even some unripe pear; like a purée of exotic fruits. Grassy as well. Sweet, cracker or light biscuity malt. My only criticism is that the flavor sort of dies off quicker than it should; I want this flavor to linger longer!

M-Not excruciatingly bitter. Medium to soft carbonation. Medium bodied. I had about six pints so it was very drinkable.

O-Recently went to Maine, trying several beers and this one was the champion of the trip. The Substance gives off flavors that are set specifically to my taste buds. Delicious. Happy to scratch a notch into the bedpost after this one.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.34/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L - Pours a cloudy, hazy golden yellow color, opaque, thin white lacing.

S - Tropical fruit, mangos, papaya, juicy dank citrus.

T - Very dank and earthy juicy tropical fruit and tropical fruit rind: mango, papaya, juicy red grapefruit, passion fruit, some orange and a lingering bitter fruit goodness.

M - Medium body, gentle carbonation, semi-dry finish.

O - This is an outstanding IPA, highly recommended.

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Photo of Stevedore
3.81/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

16oz can. Served in a snifter.

Appears darker straw yellow body, hazy and cloudy, three finger white head with a lot of retention time and film. Nice expansive lacing. Smells fairly tame, grainy pale malt sweetness, mild caramel, a bit of citrus. Not much else. Flavour is a bit more interesting; grainy, sticky caramel malt, minerals, a bit of citrus aromatics and earthy bitterness. Mouthfeel is solid, medium body, good carbonation, nice soft feel. Moderately bitter, but not overwhelmingly so. Overall, decent IPA with a fair bit of bitterness, but not a ton of interesting flavours. Still very good.

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Photo of costanzo_mike
4.35/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Picked up some fresh cans from the brewery, canned that day 2 hours earlier.

A: Light yellow color, hazy, foamy head

S: Crisp citrus smell, some tropical on the nose as well

T: Bursts with citrus flavor, resiny, earthy towards the end

M: Somewhere in the middle, some carbonation present, nice and light

O: Very drinkable IPA, delicious taste. Every time I stop by the brewery I am sure to pick some of this up

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Photo of jmdrpi
4/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16 oz can

Appears cloudy opaque pale yellow, good head and lacing. Nice well rounded hop aroma. Taste is hop dominated and low bitterness. Full mouthfeel

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Photo of Jwale73
3.94/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a sunny gold with a loose, off-white head that dissipates into a slick. Nose expresses citrus rind, a hint of noble hops and a slight yeasty character. Taste consistent with nose; however the flavor are a bit duller - there's more bitterness and less citrus than suggested by the nose as well as a suggestion of onions (Summit?). Mouthfeel is light-medium in body with a lively carbonation and some acidity. Overall, I thought it was a pretty good IPA, but don't understand the hype - I was told it may have been an older can, so perhaps I'll revisit with a fresh one if the opportunity presents.

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The Substance from Bissell Brothers Brewing Co.
4.27 out of 5 based on 1,257 ratings.
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