Norway Brewing Company
People venture to Maine’s small towns to bask in the warm sun and soak in the cool waters, but it’s easy to overlook the fact that not all local businesses experience the warm months as a leisurely holiday. Nestled in downtown Norway, Maine, Norway Brewing Company gears up for the summer by opening its seasonal beer garden, so more people can enjoy the excellent beer and food it offers year-round. Charlie Melhus, owner and head brewer, said, “People love sitting on the wooden benches and picnic tables, so we’ll have 100 more seats outside in addition to our restaurant seating.”
Originally from Norway (the country), Melhus later laid down his roots in Norway (Maine) at a young age. After being an inspired homebrewer, he vowed to start a brewing company. He met Ken Collings of Freeport Brewing Company while working in the kitchen at the Broad Arrow Tavern in Freeport. “Ken taught me how to all-grain brew, and I helped him with a few of his own brews,” he said. “I remember telling him that I would start Norway Brewing Company.”
Melhus then moved to the country of Norway in 2008 and landed a job at the Lervig Brewery. “Working there influenced my brewing style,” he said.
Returning to Norway, Maine, in 2014, he and his wife Erika labored to start their brewery. Each having a culinary background, they opened a brewpub to norwayoffer a more holistic food and beer experience. “Our brunch menu is often paired with a new beer, so you have that immersion of flavors, which gives people a more defined experience than waiting in line for a taster.”
From Our Tank to Your Table is imprinted on 32-ounce growlers sold on site because they are committed to local businesses. “We keep that focus on Maine agriculture,” said Melhus. “Our goal one day is to make beer with 100% Maine ingredients.” Norway can fulfill anyone’s palette with a variety of bold dark beers, IPAs, and bottle-conditioned farmhouse ales. The Lust 4 Lyfe IPA has a nice balance of citrus and dry, piney notes. Summer beers include a dandelion saison, a barrel-aged peach, and a rye gruit collaboration with Urban Farm Fermentory. Their farmhouse ales and saisons have rustic and fruity esters.“By bottle-conditioning beers that have volatile aromatics, they continue to get better, not deteriorate,” said Melhus.
If you want to escape this summer, drive to Norway for the Norway Arts & Music Festival (July 13), the Foothills Food Festival (August 10), or for fresh beers in the sun. As for Charlie Melhus, he’ll keep working tirelessly to move his brewpub forward. His job may not always be a vacation, but it’s certainly a dream come true.
— Text & Photos: John Breerwood. John is a cellarman at Shipyard Brewing Company and is currently trying to get his first novel published.