NORWAY — Charlie Melhus loves the outdoors. He also loves beer.
With the pandemic limiting the number of customers he can serve in his microbrewery and restaurant, the part owner and brewer at the family-run Norway Brewing Company found his solution outdoors.
It may be winter and the temperatures are below freezing, but the outdoor patio and beer garden is bustling with activity. Melhus reopened the patio Feb. 4 following a renovation to winterize the outdoor space. The area has proven popular with beer lovers, skiers and locals looking for a safe place to relax with friends.
With 10 beers generally on tap, and more in cans and bottles, Melhus is always looking to craft that next special brew.
Name: Charlie Magne Melhus
Hometown: Norway, Maine
You’re from the country of Norway. How did you end up in Norway, Maine? I was born in Tromso, Norway, to a Norwegian father and an American mother. When I was 1½ years old, we moved to Augusta, Georgia, then to Durham, North Carolina, where my dad did his residency as a pathologist at Duke University Medical Center. When he was done, he travelled the country with my mom looking for a practice to join. He happened to find one based at Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway, and we moved here when I was 12, in 1994.
How did you get started making beer? What was your first craft beer? I started making beer in my dorm room closet the first year of college at Orono. It was basically a couple packets of powder you dumped in this plastic keg and mixed with water. It was awful! I continued to home brew at my next apartment, though, and things got better. By the time I moved to Portland to study culinary arts, the result was fairly drinkable, but the real breakthrough didn’t happen until I met Ken Collings from Freeport Brewing Co. He was a breakfast and line cook at the Harraseeket Inn (in Freeport) where I had just started working, and brewed three-barrel batches in a garage after work. He needed someone to mash in and run the wort off into the kettle, so that summer I learned how to brew directly from barley malt instead of using malt extract kits. It was a game-changer for sure. That year we brewed some awesome batches of home brew and had some legendary parties. I guess the first craft brew I had was probably at the Bear Brew in Orono; I imagine it was either an English-style pale ale or West Coast IPA.
How did Norway Brewing get started? The idea for Norway Brewing began to form while I was working for a craft brewery in Stavanger, Norway. I was meeting lots of great people in the…