Charles Magne Melhus, head brewer and co-owner of Norway Brewing Company, pours a sample of his upcoming brew, a pilsner called Maine State of Mind. Jon Bolduc/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

NORWAY — Grumpypants. I Heart Mom. Grumpalumpagus.

Norway Brewing Company releases about 25 to 30 different beers a year, and those are a few of the more creative titles from beers past.

Charles Magne Melhus, head brewer at Norway Brewing Company, is the brain behind the brew. On Saturday, the brew house released its latest concoction, Guavaberry Weisse, a Florida-inspired beer that — when held up to the light — looks like rose wine, and tastes rose as well. The beer, released during brunch hours, had special food pairings to go along with it, including an intriguing guava-flavored doughnut.

“It’s rose all day . . . this beer is meant to bridge the gap between beer and wine . . . it’s tart beer with fruit added. But the flavor profile is right there with some naturally fermented wines that I’ve had,” said Melhus. 

And, as it turns out, brew-fection takes some time. In summer of 2018, the beer was brewed using malts from Lisbon Falls and grains from Skowhegan. Fermented in barrels, living organisms, saccharomyces (a fancy word for yeast) begin to develop, and Maine blueberries were added into the mix.

Almost all of the ingredients in the Guavaberry Weisse come from Maine, spare the namesake guava. That secret ingredient came after Casey Hughes from Copper Tail Brewing in Tampa came up north to speak at the Maine Brewer Guild’s Brewfest this past summer. A collaboration was born, and Hughes sent some guava from Tampa to Maine.

“We blended those and let it age, and it turned out like rose wine,” said Melhus. 

Melhus said some beer ideas stem from a creative spark, like pancake-inspired beer. But some beer, like Guavaberry, is born of convenience.

“I have this beer in these barrels, I have these blueberries, what can we do to have a collaborative spin on this lightly tart beer . . . guava was the answer,” said Melhus. 

But there’s another component to the beer brewing process: the labeling and art. Erica Melhus, co-owner of the brewery and Melhus’ partner, has that end covered.

“She’s the illustrative force behind the label design,” said Melhus. And for Guavaberry, Erica chose a psychedelic portrait of a guava-berry, surrounded by blueberry branches, and a swirl of yeast. 

Melhus said the next beer on the docket for release is coming next Friday: a single malt, single hop pilsner with all Maine grown ingredients, called Maine State of Mind.

According to the national Brewers Association, there are nearly 120 craft breweries now operating in Maine, producing over 350,000 barrels of beer each year, making it one of the nation’s top producing states per capita. Craft beer production has been on a steady rise here since 2011, and now contributes more than $656 million to the state’s annual economy.

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