Think about someone that has greatly impacted your life. Think about the first time you met, and just how much he or she has taught you since that first meeting. How many laughs—or tears—you have shared together. How many countless hours you have spent together, conversing, debating, arguing, collaborating, building, creating, living. Think about all the significance that this person imparts upon yourself, and those around you. Now, think about if you never had had that first meeting. Woah.
Forrest J. Stone, a self-described artist and metal fabricator, based out of Portland, Maine, was someone that we almost never met. Not to jump too far ahead here, but woah.
Back before we opened the brewery, way back when Noah was still tending bar at The Pig, Hester—Noah’s girlfriend at the time, now Noah’s wife and also our General Manager—discovered that she had a cousin living here in Maine. Hester’s cousins name was Lindsay, and through happenstance and coincidence, as often some of the best relationships are formed, Forrest just so happened to be Lindsay’s (at the time) boyfriend.
Naturally, Hester and Lindsay hoped that Noah and Forrest, respectively, might become friends. And if you know their personalities, that was perhaps a lofty, yet laudable goal. There was a meeting arranged, all of them getting together at The Pig. But, neither Noah, nor Forrest, really wanted to go. It would have been much easier, much more convenient and enjoyable to have just stayed home. But they all ended up meeting. Woah.
Forrest was making furniture at the time, and as we were opening the Taproom in the old house, out at the Industrial Park, we needed seats for the people who (we hoped and prayed) would show up. Hester decided to give Forrest a shot, ordering 18 stools from his outfit. And man! Did those stools seem to be the most expensive things, even amidst the buildout of an entire brewery! But they were ultimately worth it, both in quality and in the fact that that project proved Forrest to us as someone, as an artist, that we trusted and who we liked working with.
By the time that we were relocating to our new house at Thompson’s Point, Forrest had numerous odd jobs under his belt for us—various hard-piping rigs and modifications made in the brewhouse, as well as a small wooden-ripple sign with the Bissell Brothers emblem hanging in the front-of-house—and, more importantly, Forrest and Noah had become true friends, just as Hester and Lindsay had hoped all along.
Creating the front-of-house experience at Thompson’s Point, the aesthetic, was one of the most important things to us during the relocation. A critical element, in our minds. And the space was a true blank slate, just a warehouse with high ceilings and a dirt floor, nothing else. We put our trust in Forrest to create the Bissell Brothers front-of-house vibe, in not all, but many, many aspects. And if you’ve ever visited our Taproom as it currently exists, you know.
Noah and Pete and Forrest walked around that empty warehouse, dirt grinding into their boots, Forrest pacing off the space by foot. Thinking, dreaming, what it would feel like to drink a beer in the space. And, like I’ve said, if you’ve had a beer here, you know, but you likely did not know that Forrest envisioned and built so much that goes into that experience. The bar itself, the signage, the displays, the drip tray for the tap system. The wooden-ripple wall (no longer just a mere sign), an otherworldly, magnificently beautiful facade to the front-of-house. The awe-inspiring, lit-up Bissell Brother emblem in its center. All of it, save the tap handles, is Forrest.
And, as much as Forrest has made an impact on the front-of-house operations at Bissell Brothers Portland, he’s been equally impactful on the back-of-house operations at Bissell Brothers Three Rivers up in Milo. Forrest built us a coolship for up north, a thing of beauty and function, all at once. The enclosure, the “tiny house” for the coolship room was also built by the man. He’s built us a brand new foeder, and he’s worked side-by-side with Noah to maintain and restore some of the old foeders that we’ve purchased, both student and teacher, all at once. So much of what the Milo beers are, and will be, can be accredited to the teamwork of Noah and Forrest up North.
It’s important to call it work, however, because these guys, including Forrest have been grinding the past year. So much blood, sweat, tears have gone into Milo. But to Forrest, it doesn’t necessarily feel like work. Up in Milo, with the guys in the “zone”—specifically, after midnight, drinking Red Bulls and Bud Light Limes, when the Katy Perry kicks on the stereo—it’s fun for Forrest to be able to collaborate with his friend, Noah. Although the two focus on different specialties, and come at their work from different perspectives, they embody a symbiotic working relationship that derives respect from each other and engenders passive learning, always, between them both.
The work done up in Milo, as is all of Forrest’s work, is done with purpose. I keep saying it, but if you’ve been to either of our locations, and have had a beer in those spaces, you know. And if you haven’t yet, please come see, experience it, for yourself.
You sure as hell will be glad that we met Forest Stone. Woah.