The Ægir (pronounced Ay-geer) Bryggeri opened in 2007 and is set amidst the epic backdrop of Flåm in the Sogn district of Norway. Overlooked by steep mountains and set alongside the Aurlandsfjord it’s a pretty spectacular location. Albeit a little unusual for a brewpub and hotel.
So how did Evan Lewis, an American from Rochester in Western New York State, end up in brewing beer in Norway?
“ The short story is that I met a Norwegian girl at Buffalo Bill’s Brewpub in Hayward, California and we married a few years later. The longer story is that my wife, Aud, had been living in California for many years and had no intentions of moving back to Norway. I was burned out working as a design consultant in Silicon Valley (San Francisco Bay Area) and was looking to do something else. Then came the call that changed everything: my brother-in-law had been looking to invest in a cafe, restaurant and B&B near my wife’s hometown but needed the right people to run it. He hoped that the three of us could buy a 1/3 share each and that Aud and I could move to Norway and run the business. She immediately said NO WAY! But I was up for the challenge. So after a lot of discussion we decided to give it a go. We moved over here in 2004 and went to work planning. The brewpub opened in 2007, a new hotel in 2008, and production brewery in 2012.”
The brewery takes the name of a sea giant in Norse mythology. Each year Ægir would invite the Norse gods (that’s Odin and his mates) to a feast in his great hall. In this Norse brewpub, lit with gold was a mile wide copper kettle which Thor and Týr stole for Ægir to use on such occasions. Odin reckoned that Ægir brewed the best ale and seemed like a good landlord. He wouldn’t let the Norse gods cause trouble and would barr them for all eternity if they fought. It’s not often that we get to talk about Norse mythology when writing these short pieces for our beer of the week.
With Ægir as their inspiration, Evan and Aud have created a brewery and alehouse in the style of a stave church. Inside there are driftwood walls, dragon heads, reindeer antlers as tap handles and a fireplace reminiscent of the stolen kettle.
The food served is another example of why we’re all a bit in love with all things Nordic right now. Each course is paired with and inspired by the beers and spirits created there. These include a 13.2% honey mead and their own distilled Aquavit.
We asked Evan about this week’s beer, Dag.
“ We feel that lower alcohol beers need not be a compromise and that these can be created as nice and flavorful alternatives to their bigger siblings. So with Dag, we set out to do a pleasant and quenching pale ale accented with orange peel, at only 4% ABV. It has become a huge seller for us, both in Norway and abroad. ”
In Norway this relatively low abv means that this beer falls outside the restrictions placed on the sale of alcohol. But what it lacks in stature it more than makes up for in terms of taste. On the subject of this week’s beer, have you noticed the odd ring pull on the can yet?
“ That is the Crown 360 End (TM). We were actually the first brewery in Europe to adopt it, though a few others have followed shortly after. Its a no-brainer really, big opening = aroma to your nose for a more complete flavour experience when you don’t have a glass handy. A picnic, walk in the woods, or hike up a mountain will never be the same again! ”
We think we’ll be seeing a lot more of these over the next few years. And a lot more Ægir too.
As the brewery turns 10 years old this summer we’re expecting the sort of party that the Norse gods would approve of. Rumours of their own whisky, gin and a raspberry pale ale made with local raspberries abound. Follow Ægir on FaceBook, Instagram and on their website to make sure that you don’t miss out.