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From California to Norway - the American dream came true in a local brewery and distillery

The road from the perfect, sunny seaside life in California to cold, snowy Norway is something most people would picture in reverse – but Evan Lewis and his wife cannot picture the journey the other way around. When the couple had the chance to take over a local business in Flåm, Sogn og Fjordane, in 2004 the two of them packed their bags and left their American paradise for a whole new adventure.

Camilla Huuse/Scan Magazine - Lars Ole Ørjasæter (Photo)

 “My wife was really against it at first,” Evan Lewis, who is born and raised in America, recalls. “We had our whole life in California and were both in successful jobs. I was the one most insistent on going, but also know that you don’t pick a fight with a girl from Sogn.”
   When moving across the shores, Lewis did not only bring his cowboy hat along, he also brought with him the attitude infused in the US population by the America dream. “We can do it,” Lewis kept repeating to himself and his wife – and today the couple run one of the most successful breweries in Norway. Ægir Brewery, which includes a large pub/restaurant and a hotel, offers drinks, food and activities to tourists and locals alike.
   Lewis, who knew little Norwegian when he fist moved across the shores, now speaks the language, and understands the culture, perfectly. He described beer brewing as having been a hobby of his since the age of 17, when he started homebrewing with a friend in their hometown of Rochester, New York.
   “When I moved here my mission was to teach Norway to understand beer,” Lewis says. “Norwegian people would go into a pub and order a pint – without specifying what they wanted a pint of-- and I would think ‘pint, that’s not a type of beer’.”
   Coming from a country where there are 2,500 independent breweries, Lewis was shocked to find the local alcohol outlet’s beer shelves lacking variety. However, there was one bottle that caught his attention, a handcrafted Pale Ale that turned out to be excellent. That is when it dawned on him that while Norway seemed to have little beer culture, it was possible to start a small brewery making exciting beers. It was then the decision was made to start Ægir Brewery. In 2012, the brewery won the “best Norwegian beer” prize and the following year they sold 632.000 litres of beer.
   Even though the cowboy hat is put aside and he today speaks Norwegian confidently, Lewis still lives out the American dream. When the couple moved to Norway in 2004, they decided to give it five years. But today, ten years later, they are still here. Lewis smiles when asked if he can hear California calling. “ You know what, I can’t, ” he says. “I think we are here to stay”.

Today Ægir Brewery also have their own distillery with aquavit production.

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Brewer and distiller: Evan Lewis.

Yggdrasil and Illmur: Local aquavites with Norse names.