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In The Dip – Thoughts from a Non-Brewer

 

What a busy summer it’s been! It’s time for me (Peter) the older brother, to weigh in on what’s been happening with our plans, and to give a non-brewer’s perspective on what the process has been like so far.

This whole thing, of course, was Noah’s dream to start with. A little over 6 months ago, taking this on was not on my radar. I was happily plugging away at my life. I knew my brother would ultimately end up in this industry in Read the rest of this page »

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A Visit to Oxbow

Last week, Peter, myself, and my good friend Seth decided it was due time to make a visit to the Oxbow brewery. I’ve been a big fan of their beer since I first tried their flagship product, Farmhouse Pale Ale, last fall. It took us much longer to get there than anticipated, but the weather was beyond beautiful so a few wrong turns down windy coastal roads only heightened our enjoyment.

Read the rest of this page »

Hi There.

Hello again!

It’s been a couple of months since we last posted anything on this blog. This may have led you to believe that Bissell Brothers Brewing had been cast onto the back burner or entered a period of developmental stagnation. The truth, however, is quite the contrary. While life as a whole has been really busy (I just graduated college and moved to Portland), we’ve both been working toward turning our vision into reality with more drive and focus than ever before. With that said, the nature of this process had necessitated that we set our sights on educating ourselves on the dry legal aspects of opening and operating a brewery that, quite frankly, are far too boring to ever even consider blogging about. Though this side of the business never goes away (the further into the process, the more complicated the paperwork), we feel like we’ve now acquired the minimal degree of comprehension of zoning, distribution, taxation, and general industry laws needed to return a portion of our attention back to the more enjoyable aspects of what were progressing toward. In other words, we’ll be brewing even more (we’re averaging about a five-gallon batch every four days at the moment) and writing about it. A lot.

As always, please contact us if you’d like to try some of our beer as we continue to develop our concepts. We’d love to hear what you think.

Talk to you soon. Cheers!

Brewing This Moment

The present is a really fascinating thing. In one sense, it’s constituted of one’s entire life, yet can also be understood to consist strictly of that which is immediate. I’ve come to see the present as the result of all the different facets of the human experience – consciousness, emotion, sensation – synthesizing a summation of everything life is at a particular moment. This perspective on now was introduced to me through Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Pirsig articulates the idea just perfectly:

“The past cannot remember the past. The future cannot generate the future. The cutting edge of this instant right here and now is always nothing less than the totality of everything there is.”

That book first presented me with this perspective about six years ago, but I will never be able to forget it. It’s just so profound, to see life consisting entirely of an infinite string of frames that encapsulate everything you are. This frame, right now, is built from all the frames before it and will influence all those after it, but ultimately, this instant is the only thing in the universe you have. Life is a constant ephemeron.

I’ve recently become totally resolute to make a beer that captures this concept of the present and all that it entails. I guess this is the purpose of any art – to effectively recreate an inspiring idea in a new medium. I’ve decided to try to manifest this sentiment in a wheat beer, hopped to a relatively high degree with New Zealand varietals and finished with chamomile flowers (here’s the recipe from the latest attempt if you’re interested). When this beer becomes what I intend it to, it will represent (to me, anyway) both the delicate and rugged dimensions of life and balance them in manner that corresponds to the way each instant of existence balances surface simplicity with inherent grandeur. The moment all this falls into place will, like all other moments in life, contain an unthinkable amount of magnificence. I have to admit I’m really looking forward to that frame of the present. But for the time being, I’ll take comfort in right now. This beer wouldn’t have it any other way.

Open Source Brewing

There once was a time when brewing was an esoteric art. Its methods and science were closely guarded, passed down from a select few to another generation of those talented enough to be deemed worthy.

This age is gone.

A myriad of information on all aspects of beer is now available to anyone. With all of these resources – books, articles, online forums, blogs, podcasts – anyone can learn to make world-class beer if they have the motivation to do so. The old-world secrecy surrounding brewing techniques has essentially become obsolete. Yet some brewers still operate under the pretense that they’d be foolish to provide one of their own recipes or techniques to someone else. This bugs me.

For the most part, there is a great sense of community within both home and craft brewing, and the tendency toward group-mindedness this sense fosters has allowed American beer to become what it is today. Without the sharing of ideas between American brewers, our beer simply wouldn’t have come as far as it has. The creativity that drives so many brewers stateside is quite rare in the rest of the world, and it is speaks directly to the power of open sourcing. So, it really hits a nerve in me when a brewer doesn’t want to be part of helping craft beer as a whole grow.

I just don’t understand what these types of brewers are afraid of. As I see it, there are two basic types of people who want to make beer: those with genuine motivation, and those without. Those with that true drive want to make someone they can call their own. They respect brewing as both an art and a science, and understand the immense research and repetition it takes to make truly excellent beer. Those without it might just see brewing as a fun hobby or think there’s a shortcut to making beer in the same vein as their favorite commercial products (trust me, I’ve been there). If a skilled brewer provides any type of beer-related information to someone with that kind of motivation, they’ll just use it as a tool to continue to better their own skills and philosophy. If that information is provided to one without the drive, they’ll inevitably just produce a poor replication of the recipe and leave it at that. This difference in outcome stems entirely from the fact that, unlike the driven brewer, the unmotivated brewer hasn’t done his homework. At the end of the day, the only brewers skilled enough to actually recreate a recipe successfully have no interest in adopting it as their own. They’re far too focused on making a recipe that’s even better, and making craft beer itself stronger in the process.

That’s a really beautiful thing. There’s no room for fear in the presence of beauty.

To avoid any indication of hypocrisy, here’s the latest version of my Resurgam recipe. If you’re ever curious about any of our recipes, process, etc., PLEASE, just ask!

Beer is My Teacher

“This tastes like an old ashtray.”

That is the single most important brewing-related sentence I’ll ever hear. It was something my brother once said to me, and unfortunately, he was referring to a beer I’d just made. I was very new to homebrewing at this point, and had a grand total of four extract kits notched on my beer belt. I had seen no evidence of any of my batches inducing vomit, so I had somehow managed to develop a bit of a swagger. Beer was cool. I could (kind of) make it. The way I saw it, that made me pretty damn cool myself. But still, my new, totally unfounded pretense of sophisticated brewer dude took a much-needed hit when my own brother likened my latest offering to a cigarette receptacle.

Though I was indignant at first, my feeble attempts at rationalization quickly fell apart, and back to Earth I went. But the sting of Pete’s honesty didn’t go away. He had called my bluff – I had been operating under total delusion. I really knew nothing about beer. I had been drawn to the hobby primarily because of how it would make me appear, rather than what it could actually teach me. It quickly became clear that if I was going to keep going on with homebrewing, I needed to completely shift the way I approached it. If I was ever going to produce something I could genuinely be proud of, I needed to start respecting beer.

From there, I delved headfirst into what I initially saw as a mission: I was going to learn everything there was to know about the stuff and how to best create it. I bought every homebrewing book I could find, scavenged forums online, and absorbed every nugget of lore I came across. I came to realize this liquid contained just as much scientific precision as it did artful transcendence. It was undoubtedly the most deeply interesting and complex thing I’d ever encountered. I wanted so strongly to understand it wholly. But the more I learned, the more ignorant I felt. The breadth of things beer was built upon – its history, ingredients, and production – rendered mastering it utterly impossible. My goal was futile.

Even after my initial “revelation”, I still had gotten things wrong. My goal should never have been to master the beer and the brewing process, but to simply form a strong relationship with what I was making. There’s no way I’ll be able to every fully understand it. It’s just too damn complex. I can and will learn more, but I’d never learn it all. This beverage would always be bigger than me. But there is insatiable excitement I find within this fact. Never “knowing it all” means there’s always more to discover. Every time I heat up my mash tun or boil some wort, I’m presented with the limitless opportunities for creativity. I’ve come to embrace the fact that if I don’t learn something on a brewday, then I don’t deserve to be brewing at all. Beer will always be my teacher. I can all only hope to be a good student.

Resurgam Red Logo

Hello all! Our second offering, Resurgam Red, is currently bottle-conditioning. The labels have been finished, and there’s not a lot to do now but wait! Please, email us or get in touch on Twitter or Facebook if you’re interested in getting a bottle of Resurgam (Or if you’re interested at all in what we have planned for the future when we’re actually selling). With that in mind, I did want to quickly clarify something-

We’re not a brewery…..yet. We are working hard at this and hope to be up and running as soon as possible. But we’re not going to wait until then to start sharing our creations with you. Labels and all, we want people to be able to taste the incredible beer we’re making, and enjoy our brand at the same time. The story will be documented right here.  So please, if you’re interested in a sample, let us know. And help spread the word!

The following is an excerpt describing our red ale, as well as the label graphic. Cheers!

Resurgam, like many fellow American amber ales, pours red in color. That’s where the similarities end. Our conceptualization of this classic American beer style utilizes German Vienna to supply the majority of its malt flavor, with German Munich, English crystal, and American wheat rounding out its grain bill. These cereals play a very unique supporting role to an abundance of American hops – Centennial, Santiam, and Willamette – whose floral, earthy, and spicy characteristics combine beautifully with both one another and the beer’s rich assortment of malts. This ale is shares the same spirit and inspiration as the city it pays homage to. Resurgam.