Home

You are here

A Guide to Kveik Yeasts

Tasting the new hotness in yeast strains - the Norwegian Farmhouse Strains collectively known as Kveik

The new hotness in yeast is actually an old hotness in yeast. Thanks largely to the exploratory and documentary efforts of Lars M. Garshol, we've been reintroduced to traditional methods of Norweigan (and Baltic and Russian) homebrewing. The brews represent long traditions and this page (unlike my Saison page) is not an attempt to capture those traditions, but instead to explore the yeasts (Kveik - think "quake" and you're somewhat near the truth) that have come to light after long years of use. They have "magic" properties that may revoluntize homebrewing. (Also, read Lars' notes or the Milk the Funk Wiki on Kveik strains - this is really my notes on my perceptions)

What's So Magical?

First things first - the farmhouse brewers aren't using pure cultures in the way that we're used to thinking in most Western brewing. We've gotten used to isolating single cultures and growing those up to produce reliable and known performers. The Kveik cultures are, traditionally, a mix of microbes. 

In the tasting guide below, I'll try and note the sources where possible and indicate if things are a "pure" or "mixed" culture.

Ok, magic time - these yeasts like to ferment hot. Y'all thought Saison liked heat? Kveiks perform admirably - cleanly - up into the 90°F range with others reporting success near/above 100°F (32-38°C). They like rich high gravity worts and they eat like monsters from your childhood dreams - rapidly. Reported ferment and maturation times are in scant days (3ish). 

In other words - these are yeasts that need little care in terms of temperature control, laugh in the face of your groaning table of sugar and give you beer in the blink of an eye. If this is really true, then what's not to love?

Commercial brewers in the US have been utilizing Kveik strains to create fast fermented Pilsners, IPAs and more. Some have even been running with one of these strains as their primary house culture. 

A Test Kveik Fermentation Schedule(s)

Here's the basic approach on fermentation that I take. This is designed to run Kveik to it's supposed strong suit - hot, fast ferment. Many of the farm brewers hot pitch their strains in the 80-90°F range. Here in the early days of my own testing, I'm still sticking to my Belgianesque pattern of chilling and allowing to rise to fermentation temperature. 

There's also some indication, unsurprisingly, that fermenting cool will give you "cleaner" character.  So because of that I want to do a secondary trial where I'll keep the strains cooler and note differences.

  • Chill the wort to 64-66°F (17.7-19°C)
  • Oxygenate/Aerate the wort with about a 30 second blast of oxygen through a stone.
  • Pitch a very healthy starter - I use 2-4 quarts per 10 gallon batch.
  • Hot Test:
    • Place the wort in a temperature controlled environment at 65F (18.3°C) and allow the yeast to start showing signs of activity before unleashing the hounds and allowing the wort to actively rise to 90°F (32°C)
      • Unlike Saison, I haven't noticed an off character to actively driven fermentation and have yielded good results with a 100W heater driving the fermenter to 90°F (32°C)
  • Cold Test
    • Place the wort in a temperature controlled environment at 65F (18.3C) and for fermentation length.
  • So far in early trials Kveik strains seem to benefit from a strong cold crash to clarify. 

 

The Test Recipe 

Hey, isn't this your test Saison recipe? 

Why - yes, yes it is. 

Why? 

Because I know this wort by heart and it makes a pretty tasty beer. I'm interested in the flavors of the Kveik strains, not in recreating traditional ales or pushing for strong non-strain produced characters.

Kveik Experimental 

For 5.5 gallons at 1.048. 20 IBUs

Malt/Grain/Sugar
8.75 lbs Pilsner Malt
0.5 lbs Flaked Wheat
1.0 lbs White Table Sugar
Hops
0.5 oz Magnum (12.9%) 60 min
Mash 
149F (65C) for 60 minutes
Yeast
Whatever strain your heart desires.

Yeast Taste/Aroma Guide

* = Mixed Kveik Culture 

Omega Yeast (website)

Voss Kveik (OYL-061) [Sigmund] Hot Test Cold Test
  Surprisingly clean for a beer fermented at 90°F. Pilsner malt stands out as a long base note in the aroma. Strong aroma of sour seville style oranges. (aka more earthy leathery orange rather than bright peppy orange). Flavor is spiced with coriander and black pepper with a more of an orange rind and pith flavor. Finish is just lightly sweet seeming. N/A

 

Still Waiting Formal Tastings

Am I missing any strains/providers? Contact Drew and let him know! (drew@maltosefalcons.com)

Escarpment Labs

  • Hornindal Kveik Blend [Hornindal]*

Imperial Organic Yeast (website)

  • Loki (A43) [Sigmund?]

Maniacal Labs

Omega Yeast

  • Hornindal Kveik (OYL-091) [Hornindal] *?
  • Hothead (OYL-057) [Stranda]

White Labs (website)

Wyeast (website)

  • None Available 

Yeast Bay (website

  • Sigmunds Voss Kveik [Sigmund]
Brewing Tech Categories: 
Drupal theme by pixeljets.com D7 ver.1.1